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Posts tagged yamamotoyama


You can jab your fingers into your eyes all you want sometimes; that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t unsee what you have seen.

Is Yamamotoyama guilty of fixing his sumo matches?

There are reports that Yamamotoyama (facing away in the above picture) is one of the sumo wrestlers who is being investigated for fixing sumo matches. He said today that “he hasn’t.” (やってない) The cell phone text in question is “俺は誰に借りているかな? 貸しは光龍と山本山だけだよね。” (“Who am I indebted to? I only have a loan with Koryu and Yamamotoyama, right?”)

Of course the “debt” in this message could mean anything. It need not be bout fixing. Apparently three sumo wrestlers have admitted wrongdoing. We’ll find out soon, I imagine, who they are and if Yamamotoyama is found guilty.

Stay tuned.

Yamamotoyama 山本山


For 14 straight days I was spoiled by sumo on TV from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Of course, I wasn’t usually home to watch it for 4 hours a day, but it was nice to know that I could. On the 15th day I got to see sumo live and in person. Now that the tournament is over I’m going through withdrawals. It’s disappointing to turn on the TV at 5 and not have sumo as a choice. Oh well, in 45 more days the next tournament will begin in Osaka.

I’ve shown pictures and discussed Yamamotoyama before. You never know what you’ll see when you watch his bouts. Sometimes he is overpowering. Other times he looks laughable, losing to someone less than half his size because of poor technique and/or a lack of agility. On the final day of the January tournament his opponent, Nakanishi, a makushita (lower division) with only three wins in the tournament, should have been an easy rikishi to defeat. However, at over 580 pounds (264 kilos) Yamamotoyama was tossed out of the ring by Nakanishi to end the tournament with a losing 7-8 record.

Yamamotoyama, getting back into the ring in order to bow to the victor, is not the prettiest sight.

Here you can see the scoreboard after a few more bouts took place. Yamamotoyama’s name (山本山) does not have the red light next to it. This indicates that he lost. Tamaasuka (玉飛鳥) won, as did Masatsukasa (将司). Masatsukasa is one of my favorites, in part, due to the large amount of salt he always throws into the ring.

I liked Tamaasuka’s outfit so I asked him if I could have our picture taken together and he agreed.

The first video below is of the entrance of the Juryo ranks from the east. Tamaasuka is on the far left when they are standing and his foot is about to hit the ground after stepping down from the ring at the very end of the video.

This second video is of the entrance of the Juryo ranks from the west. Yamamotoyama should not be hard to spot in his orange keshomawashi.

Futomendo Ramen (太麺堂)

line for futomendo takadanobaba ramen

Near the corner of Waseda Street (早稲田通り) and Meiji Street (明治通り) a ramen shop opened last month. Since then a steady line of about 50 people (even in rain) have waited outside to enter. Sometimes the line grows to more than 100 people. Within eyesight of this establishment are at least 5 other places selling nearly the exact same thing. Within a 5 minute walk are more than 20 other places selling ramen. Yet none of them ever have a line to get in. Ever.

People latch on to popular things all over the world simply because they are popular. In Japan this is taken to a higher level. The popular product rarely seems to be better, less expensive, or unique either.

Two Saturdays ago the weather was great, and we had nothing in particular to do, so we got in the above line to see if Futomendo Ramen was somehow special.

futomendo fat noodle house takadanobaba ramen

Once we made it to the front of the line there was something like excitement inside me. I was hungrier, too, so that enhanced the experience. It sort of felt like we were about to get on a roller coaster at an amusement park after such a wait.

In the above photo you can see, in the lower-right corner, that they have even posted instructions on how to line up to get in. I’ve seen brand new restaurants post similar instructions in the hope that lines will form even though they never do.

ellie case crossing waseda doori one piece manga billboard

We had so much time to wait in line that Ellie actually had time to walk home and back. She probably could have done so four or five times.

power lines blue sky tries on waseda doori

To pass the time we listened to comments made by those walking past us, learned some Japanese, and took pictures of our surroundings.

tokyo buildings near corner of waseda street and meiji doori

Once we got in I didn’t take any more pictures. Sorry.

The first character in the name of the place (太麺堂) means “fat.” The name is literally “fat noodle shop.” Customers were supposed to fill out little cards, writing a phrase or sentence using the fat character. For instance, you could write “My dad is fat.” or “These fat noodles are delicious.”

Ellie came up with a clever one all her own. She wrote, in English, “My favorite sumo wrestler is Dragon Fat.” Underneath, I wrote the person she was talking about in kanji–山本山 龍太. The waitress didn’t know anything about sumo, but we had a fun discussion when she picked the card up anyway.

So how was the ramen you ask? It was good. The ramen noodles were fatter than normal, though not as thick as udon. It didn’t warrant the wait, but we had a fun experience anyway. The taste was a bit different than the norm, but I wouldn’t consider it superior to many of the places, without a line, in the neighborhood.

Sumo – Part 3

yamamotoyama flag ryogoku tokyo japan

The flag to the left is for 山本山 (Yamamotoyama) the largest Japanese sumo wrestler ever. Many sumo wrestlers have mountain (yama) in their name, but Yamamotoyama has it in his name twice–he’s that big. His other name is 龍太 (dragon fat), very fitting. Weighing in at almost 600 lbs. he is hard to miss.

山本山 龍太 yamamotoyama sumo wrestler japan

Entering the day I saw him he had four wins and just one loss. But on this day he was a pushover for his much smaller opponent.

yamamotoyama 山本山 龍太 sumo wrestler largest japan

During the September 2009 tournament he was easily defeated every time I saw him (once in person and three times on TV). Maybe I’m just bad luck or something as he ended the tournament with a decent record of 9-6. On the days I witnessed his bouts he seemed to need much more strength to eventually be able to contend with the best.

chiyonofuji sumo wrestler japan 千代の富士

Speaking of strength and the best… perhaps the greatest sumo rikishi ever was Chiyonofuji. I saw him win in person back in 1988 and followed him until his retirement a few years later. He was incredible. Even though he was smaller than nearly all of his opponents he seemed several times more powerful than them all.

He is now doing commentary for NHK during their live coverage of the tournaments. It seems wrong somehow to hear Chiyonofuji talk about his secrets, strategies, and successes. To me, it seems like he should be above sumo at this point, living in a castle somewhere like the emperor. I suppose it would be like hearing Babe Ruth do color commentary for Fox Sports, just not right. Legends, somehow, shouldn’t appear before the public.