Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya: Takanoyama Shuntarou

The Grand Sumo Tournament began yesterday in Nagoya. It lasts until the 24th of July. That's a lot of Sumo for any enthusiasts in the Nagoya area. I wonder if my host father as tickets! If you happen to be there try visiting the official event site. Otherwise, you can see match results in English and watch it streaming (if you have WM11 installed) here.

Today the Asahi Shimbun's English edition had an article about a Czech-born wrestler who, after 10 years in Japan, finally moved to the second-highest level, 十両 juuryou,from the third ranking 幕下 makushita division in the wake of a bout-fixing scandal (八百長・やおちょう) that banned many of the top-ranking wrestlers from competition. Incidentally, did you know if you type 相撲 into Google, the third suggestion down is 相撲八百長?

Anyway, what I thought was interesting about the Czech sumou wrestler, whose wrestling name is Takanoyama Shuntarou, was his (comparatively) diminutive stature. And yet he can really hold his own, if this video is any indication. It's a pretty exciting bout.

 He doesn't do so well here, though.

You may say, "What about the fact that he's a foreigner doing sumou? Isn't that impressive?" I will say I was surprised when I first realized that foreigners did sumou - officially, and in Japan! But yes, foreigners also participate in sumou, and even reach the upper-most ranks. Asashouryuu, who I wrote about earlier, is from Mongolia, for example. Most seem to be from there; others are from places like Russia and Georgia, South Korea, China, even places further abroad such as Brazil and the United States. But I've never seen such a (relatively) tiny sumou wrestler before. I don't watch much sumou, but he's definitely rare for his size. Takanoyama is around 230 pounds, 160 pounds or so lighter than most wrestlers.  Of course size is not necessarily a determining factor - there was a sumou wrestler in the late 90's named Mainoumi who was lighter and smaller than Takanoyama (so small that he had silicone implanted in his head to meet the height requirement) and still made his way to the top. Check him out in action:

Takanoyama trains at Naruto Beya in Chiba, which has a 'diary' blog if you're interested in sumou and want to work on your reading skills!

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