Monday, January 20, 2003

It's not over till the fat bloke tumbles

The big news in Japan today is the retirement of the Sumo grand champion, or Yokozuna, Takanohana. He's the bloke pictured above, and to give an idea of how popular he is, the first 20 minutes of tonight's News at Ten was about him, there was a long documentary about his career hastily put together and broadcast this evening, and old men were pictured weeping at today's Sumo tournament. He has a beautiful wife and when he makes public appearances he gets mobbed by screaming girls. He's almost as popular as Beckham. Read more here.

Butter and I went to a Sumo tournament last year and saw Takanohana in action. A lot of people think that Sumo is a pseudo-sport in which a couple of lardy-arsed blokes in bright loincloths trying to push each other out of a ring. And it is. But it's actually highly entertaining, and very athletic. It's exciting watching these mountainous men lifting each other off the ground and toppling out of the dohyo (the ring). There's a lot of pomp and ceremony surrounding Sumo too, and spectators are treated every night to the sight of the wrestlers performing a rather cool apron-lifting dance. It will be interesting to see if Sumo's popularity declines, as it did a few years ago, now that its biggest star has gone. Also, the remaining Yokozuna, Musashimaru, is Hawaiian and his only real remaining challenger is Mongolian - so the top two Sumo are not Japanese. Rather like the Premier League, Sumo has been taken over by fancy-footed (or should that be fancy-fatted?) foreigners.

Had a big karaoke sesh last night, with large quantities of beer consumed by all. Personal highlights included 'The Real Slim Shady', Wham's 'Freedom' and a riotous 'Walk Like An Egyptian'. Ah, karaoke wa dai suki desu!