Who will be crowned champion, and take the Emperor’s Cup this time?

Sumo bout

GRAND SUMO Highlights, November 2016, day 1

  1. NHK World is streaming daily highlight packages from the Fukuoka sumo tournament, which runs from 14 to 28 November. They cover the top division (makuuchi) in English, and the commentary does a good job of explaining what is going on.Each bout lasts from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, tops, and the daily highlight package runs for 25 minutes.
  2. While there are 82 recognised winning moves, all you need to know is that there are really just two ways to win: force your opponent out of the ring, or force your opponent to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet. (There are a few other technical violations, but they’re rare. If you need to know more, here’s an introduction for the Japanese Sumo Association.)
  3. On our first trip to Japan, we were fortunate to be able to attend a sumo tournament at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The clear crowd favourite at that tournament was Endō, who was a popular amateur who had decided quite late in his career to go professional, and who had recently been promoted into the top division. Since then, he suffered a knee injury and was relegated to jūryō (second division), but is back in makuuchi and climbing the ranks. He’s 1-0 after the first day. The other wrestler to watch is Goeido, who might be promoted to the top rank of yokozuna if he performs strongly this fortnight.
  4. On our second trip, we were out of season so didn’t get an opportunity to see another tournament, but we did head back to Ryōgoku anyway to eat chankonabe. It’s a delicious stew that wrestlers eat in their stables, and many retired wrestlers open restaurants specialising in the dish. It’s packed with so many different ingredients that the flavour changes noticeably as you work your way down the pot. So good.
  5. I’ve barely scratched the surface, but this FiveThirtyEight analysis of sumo looks fascinating.