<DATE> Contents

SOS - Shinjinrui on Sumo
Chris Gould
Chris sinks his teeth into how sumo can go about pulling in the younger fans - currently so noticeable by their absence. The first of a three-part series.
Sumo World Championships
Mark Buckton
Mark Buckton reports from Sakai near Osaka, site of the latest Sumo World Championships.
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda finishes off his look at former yokozuna Minanogawa.
Sumo 101 / Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric expains sumo fan terminology - with the inevitable twist - for those just getting into the sport and still subject to the know it alls.
Age stands still for no man
Joe Kuroda
Former ozeki Kiyokuni will retire in November under the compulsory '65 and you are out' rule. JK takes a look at this quiet earth mover.
Feel the Sumo
Eduardo de Paz
Read and feel the renowned Leonishiki's passion for all things sumo at his first live event.
SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews Colin Carroll - again - Irish star of Sakai.
Photo Bonanza
See the Aki Basho bonanza as well as the largest collection of pics you are likely to see on the Sumo World Championships earlier in October.
Aki Basho Summary  
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the September Aki Basho and throws in some henka sighting results for good measure.
Lower Division Rikishi  
Mikko Mattila
The lower divisions, their members and results get the once over thanks to Mikko's eye of things 'beneath the curtain'.
Kyushu Ones To Watch  
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn shares her thoughts on whom to keep an eye on in Fukuoka.
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest clarification of several of the sport's plethora of kimarite.
Amateur Angles  
Howard Gilbert
Howard Gilbert - manager of New Zealand's amateur sumo team takes a look at the approaching Russians.
Kokugi Konnections  
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's bimonthly focus on three of the best sumo sites online.
Fan Debate  
Facilitator - Lon Howard
Jesse Lake and Rich Pardoe hammer out their differences on a current furor - promotion criteria.
SFM Cartoons   
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and enjoy Benny Loh's offerings and put a caption to Stephen Thompson's picture to win yourselves a banzuke.
Sumo Odds ’n’ Ends   
SFM's interactive elements including Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Lets Hear From You  
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Kevin Murphy reveals all.
Readers' Letters  
See what our readers had to say since we last hit your screens.
Sumo Quiz   
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

(Shinjinrui on Sumo)

by Chris Gould

youngster – a waitress in the Harrods sushi-bar – asked if my love of sumo was a mental illness). As a result, while the Akis of this world flock towards K-1, baseball, football and tarentos  (TV “stars”) with outrageous – yellow, pink, red, blue - hair colours, sumo appears worryingly reliant on the grandparents of Aki, predominantly too old to attend and too frail to champion its cause.

For sumo to continue thriving, it must somehow cultivate sizeable support among Japanese youngsters. Japan’s under-30s, termed the shinjinrui or “new race,” appear to have three key grievances with sumo, namely: that it is unattractive to watch; that sumotori are uninspiring; and that the structure of the sport is insufficiently user-friendly.

This article analyses the contention that sumo is unattractive to watch. It looks at whether shinjinrui might find sumo more appealing if sumotori lost weight, altered their style of combat, spent less time tossing salt, and proved themselves superior to K-1 athletes.

Weight problems?

With Japan having frequently boasted the lowest obesity rate in the world, sumotori have always stuck out from the crowd. Traditionally, their bulk has still not prevented them from assuming sex symbol status – especially if under 130 kg (287 lbs.) in weight. However, Japan’s


In the first of a three-part series, Chris Gould examines why so many young Japanese are sumo-averse, and suggests ways in which sumo may overcome the problem.

On 11th September 2003, my outlook on sumo changed profoundly. In a palatial Saitama residence, I sat and watched NHK’s live sumo broadcast with the octogenarian grandmother of a 23-year-old medical student named Atsushi (Aki). The grandmother was more chicken-like than human. Literally bent double after years of slavish labour in the rice-paddies, her miserable existence was doubtless rendered more tolerable by sumo broadcasts. But of all the people I met during that trip to Japan, she was the only one to accompany me through a full two hours of televised sumo.

The enthusiasm she harboured for Japan’s “national sport” was woefully absent from her grandson, who only bought a Kokugikan ticket after a full week’s arm-twisting. When we finally entered the Kokugikan, Aki spent most of the afternoon laughing and feeling totally vindicated in mocking my love of sumo. He believed that if ever evidence were needed to condemn sumo as “a sport for old people,” it could be gleefully gathered from the surrounding audience, the average hair-colour 
of which lay somewhere between light-grey and snow-white.

Within a year, Aki would have yet more cause to feel vindicated. Isegahama oyakata, a popular former ozeki, alleged to a Japanese daily that the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (NSK) was concerned about attendances and that he was actively advising the NSK on the issue. To anybody who had entered a half-full Kokugikan at the time, this development could hardly be described as a shock. However, this was the first instance of a senior NSK figure going public on the question of attendances, and a clear sign of ruffled feathers in sumo circles.

Sumo has indeed taken rather a battering from the changes sweeping Japan in general. The values sumo upholds – fukoku-kyohei (a strong society) and bushido (the way of the warrior) – are deemed by the vast majority of Japanese youngsters to be hopelessly at odds with the affluent, semi-westernised society surrounding them. Most youthful Japanese cannot find beauty in being fat any more than they can find sense in exhausting one’s body for moderate financial reward. They have little time for doctrinaire interpretations of the Shinto religion and for the emotional restraint which sumotori must exercise in defeat  or victory. (Indeed, one 


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