Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Hinkaku jiji

I wish I'd thought of the shirts earlier: walking through Namba on the way to the spring grand sumo tournament it suddenly hit me:

"Aw man, we should have got Hawaiian shirts for cheering on Asashoryu."

(This in reference to the incident recently when he ended up telling a newspaper reporter to drop dead. The tabloids had a field day with that one. Then something even better came to me.)

"Or Mongolian football tops! Damn we'd be the... well, the second least popular gaijin in the place."

Of course, the football incident led to Asa's enforced two-tournament suspension, during which his baby-faced arch-rival Hakuho bestrode the world of sumo like a gelded colossus.

This time out, both Yokozuna are going strongly: at the start of day eight, which I went to see with the VMM and Nico, Asa was one of three wrestlers with perfect 7-0 records, Hakuho one win behind with 6-1, as were several others.


So, there's a well-oiled Dan sitting up at the back of the Osaka prefectural gymnasium; Asashoryu warming up down below. I lend my voice to the support.


"Hinkaku!" comes a voice from somewhere behind me. Hinkaku... ah, yes: refinement or good conduct, evidently referring in this case to Asa's lack of the former and paucity of the latter. The VMM glances over, then tells me that the cat-caller is some OB a few boxes away. Had to be an OB. Of course, what would a gaijin like me know about hinkaku and bushido and stuff like that...

A few seconds later, I give vent to another "Asashoryu" and the OB is there again with "Hinkaku!" a snide echo.

This cycle repeated itself a few times. Of course, I thought, drunken old bigots heckling the Yokozuna, a living god, as if he was some hack actor or stand-up comic are in a fine position to preach hinkaku. Kintama to that.

Deep breath, top of my voice:

"Hinkaku o towazu, Asashoryu ga ii!"
(Hinkaku's got nothing to do with it, Asashoryu's the best!)

I was rewarded with a few giggles from surrounding boxes and silence from the OB. Evidently, his banter wasn't up to anything more than single words. Shame that.

Down in the ring, Asa's opponent, Russian teenager Wakanoho, delighted and alarmed me in equal measure with a feisty display of insolence during the pre-bout stare-out.

The bout itself was over in about three seconds. Asa left the dohyo with an 8-0 record and, thanks to other results, sole possession of the tournament lead. Not much in the way of hinkaku, though.

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