Kejime wo tsukeru

Read in Japanese

Asashouryuu, the top sumou wrestler, has been in the news a lot lately. The other day as I was watching the television, the phrase that kept coming up in conjunction with his name was kejime wo tsukeru (けじめをつける). I asked my host father what kejime was and really put him on the spot. It seems like a very hard word to explain.

The thing about Asashouryuu is this: as a yokodzuna 横綱 (a position you have to be elected to with regards to your 'winningness', power/skill, grace, etc), he has the job of maintaining an image for the public. He sustains not only his own image, but the people's image of sumou, a sport which is quite popular (and exciting to watch, if you haven't). He has to maintain dignity. But it seem his image has slowly been tarnished by various incidents, the latest of which is his assault on a private individual, so he's getting pressure to resign. Of course, being forced from your position doesn't leave a good impression, so Asashouryuu has decided to kejime wo tsukeru, and retire from sumou, saying 「けじめをつけるのは僕しかいない」. I understand the phrase as “take responsibility for one's actions,” but I'm not sure of its nuances.


  1. In English, you would say "To pay the piper."

  2. Michael D. Reileyさん、

    Thank you for the colloquial equivalent! For me, equating one phrase to another can often be more helpful than a more drawn out explanation of the terms.