A status update of sorts.
Soon, the last chapter of Genshiken Nidaime will show up on various grey places on the internet, with magically shooped-in english words. To say that I am feeling withdrawal symptoms already would be an understatement.
Rest assured, I will keep this blog going: the search is on for a viable approach to the continued examination of how Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture and its artifacts do so many neat things with fan desire. It is just going to get a bit bumpy as I fit new landing gear to this thing.
Meanwhile… Diversion Time!
From the 11th, on through to the 25th, the September Grand Sumo Tournament is on!
Don’t ask me how I became a somewhat-fan of Sumo. I loathe professional sports. I loathe professional sports on a visceral and intellectual level. Do not go there, Just think of everything you despise and hate, add logical arguments for your feelings plus a gut-level disgust and then multiply by a factor of as much free time as you can muster. I have lots of time.
Fortunately, Sumo is different.
It is a socio-religious ritual.
No tournament, no more Sumo?
Perhaps the sun will not rise tomorrow.
This leads to a few considerations:
- If it is 4pm through to 6pm in Tokyo, what time is it in my time zone?
- Why must the Japanese Sumo Association and NHK be so freaking tight-fisted about live-streaming the tournaments? $10 a day on Ustream or a cable subscription to NHK sports, IF the local cable co has it and IF I have cable.
- Highlights and daily summary videos don’t cut it. It is all WHOMP when the wrestlers launch at each other and then one of them is out of the ring. No build-up, no drama, NO RITUAL! In short; it is treated like a sport. Add one more thing to the “why I hate” pile. It has to be live feed to capture the drama and the spectacle.
However, If I find that a Japanese government cultural initiative has made the live NHK feed of the tournaments available to an asian country’s national broadcaster, on the basis of that country’s longstanding interest and involvement in Sumo, and that for some reason, their web streaming service is available to me…
There goes my sleep schedule.
Here’s a pile of web links:
Official NHK site: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/sumo/
Good sports fan site: http://www.cibersumo.com/index.php/en/
(you’ll need a throw-away email address to reg up on the streaming site, plus Google Translate to navigate)
A live Sumo tournament is a wonder to behold, even if one is way back in the cheap seats during a weekday, early on in a tournament. Actually there are no “cheap” or “seats” but you and a friend might manage to get an entire four-cushion railed-square to yourselves. Yes, you take your shoes off and don’t spill your food and drink on the carpet, please! The crowds are well behaved, except for the drunk oyagi who yell out their fave’s name and sing randomly during matches. If a high-ranking wrestler wins a difficult bout that clinches a loss-free tournament, the crowd might toss their cushions in celebration. These displays invariably only happen after the last, highest ranked match of the afternoon. Everything is usually over by 6pm.
Unlike western pro sports, the wrestlers make a show of good sportsmanship, modesty and serious behavior in the ring. There is no trash talking, prima donna acting out, or cheap shots. The closest I have ever seen to a foul was what looked to me like a masterful fake-out: a high-ranked veteran, nursing an injury on his left side, faked to one side, then dodged to the other during the face-off and effortlessly face-planted his bewildered opponent with a light tap on the back. To me, it looked like a genius move but it earned the winner the vocal disapproval of the crowd and later, a warning from the association. It might be a “legal” move but it was considered a cheat to the fans, who paid to see the wrestlers wrestle.
So: a holy rite. Stop with the TV coverage that treats it like a mere “sport”.
If I had the ears of the highest ranks of the Japanese government, I would beg they knock heads at the NHK and the Sumo Association, then drop a nice hefty subsidy on both in the name of tourism and cultural exchange, that the tournament feeds be made available free for a worldwide audience.
Make sure the bow ceremony at the end doesn’t get cut out, DAMMIT!
That also means showing the entire award presentation at the end of the tournament too, down to the last 40kg bag of rice and chromed tractor engine (the awards get odd, it becomes a charming form of product placement) that the lucky tournament champ has to lift to accept. I swear, I would never get tired of it.
Damn! It’s 5am!