Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Historical Sumo Weekend

Bulgarian wrestler Kotooshu (L) and opponent on May 18th

Today was a historical day for the Europeans and they probably don’t even realize it. Sumo has been dominated by Mongolian Asashoryu for years; you could say he is like Tiger Woods is to golf. But due to recent injuries and bad press for being caught playing soccer in his native Mongolia (totally against sumo rules, apparently), he hasn’t been up to par. This May tournament’s star has been Bulgarian Kotooshu.

Sumo legend Asashoryu performing ceremonial entrance
Kotooshu, whose real name is Kaloyan Mahlyanov, is like Beckham was to soccer. Girls swoon over this guy. He was doing so poorly the last tournaments that he was almost demoted in rank, but has since rebounded and won almost every bout this May (each sumo tournament lasts 3 weeks with each player doing one bout per day). Even though he is not Yokozuna, the highest ranked Makuuchi wrestler, he has done so well this year that he only needed to win either today or tomorrow’s match to win the whole tournament. That would make him the first European ever to win grand prize in a sumo tournament. And he did it just 15 minutes ago! Watch your TVs tomorrow for the ceremonies after the final bouts, should be interesting! He'll be given trophies and cash and a year's supply of meat or pickled plums or whatever the grand sponsors are awarding this time.

Sumo advertising and---oops, Kotooshu's white behind
I decided to surprise Ravioli and take him to sumo last Sunday. Tickets are freakin’ hard to get on Sundays and our seats were way back in never-never land, but we had a good time.
We had sumo lunches, each dedicated to a different champion wrestler. And of course we partook in plenty of beer and chu-hais (rice-alcohol cocktails) and plum wine in a can.

The most impressive thing about this tournament for me was found in the bathroom. The sumo toilets have the most technological control panels I have ever seen, look at this thing! If you didn’t read Japanese how would you flush!? I just had to take a picture.

The buttons read (from left to right) Stop, Butt powerful/Butt mild, Bidet, Fan (high, medium and low), Water Pressure Control. Then at the top you have buttons for positioning the water spray, a screen with water temperature and current settings, Massage on/off, and Turbo Stink Eradicator. Out of curiosity I tried the Turbo Stink Eradicator and air started blowing from inside the toilet bowl---EW!


Anonymous said...

Hey Shannen:

Thanks for the cool Sumo blog. Sana and I have been watching the May tournament everyday. This one has been unbelievably exciting precisely because of Kotoushu's remarkable performance. You're right. He has quite simply sucked for more than a year now. It's amazing that he's turned things around this time. Must be eating his Wheaties or extra helpings of chanko nabe!!

Glad you could go to the basho. It is a great way to spend the day. Question for you: Kotoushu is an Ozeki rikishi, one below yokozuna the highest rank as you know. Can he be in the Makuuchi division? I'm not sure that's right.

Anyway, great fun! Kotoushu rocks! haha (this time)


Anonymous said...

oops... I erred in my statement about the Makuuchi division. Sana clarified it for me. Yes, that is the highest pro-level division. But he is ozeki which is a very high rank in that div.


Shannen said...

*Hi Max-kun!*

Great to hear from you again! Yeah, it sure has been an exciting tournament! Asashoryu's match yesterday was really cool, too, just picking up the other guy and casually dropping him onto the ground.

Thanks for the tip about Kotooshu's rank, I fixed my wording there. Yeah, Juryo are lower ranked professionals and Makuuchi higher with different levels within the Makuuchi division.

It was cool to see Kotooshu's dad waving his Bulgarian flag. I hope he keeps up this Wheaties diet and can move up to Yokozuna!

Anonymous said...

A toilet you've joined the rest of us with foreign toilet pics! I must agree that it is very interesting and I liked the info.

I heard that Sumo is sometimes rigged. Could this possibly account for the comeback?


Bruno said...

I'm really jealous, that you're travelling again! 'Hope to read more often in your blog.
These crazy Japanese, they're still addicted to technology. I mean this interface to operate the toilet, crazzzy!


Shannen said...

*Hi Okaasan!*

Thanks for your comment! I don't think they rig sumo, but I've heard they do pro-wrestling games where people make bets. I don't think people actually bet on sumo.


Thanks for your comment, great to hear from you! I'm actually "home" again here in Japan, not really travelling, ha ha. But I will still try to update the blog with crazy Japanese quirks. Yeah, the technology here is so much fun to explore!
How about you, have you been climbing many mountains this spring?