HORSE’S MOUTH: Women Sumo Wrestlers!


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on November 2, 2010.)


With so many women involved in this week’s political races, it seems that female involvement in any activity comes as no surprise these days.

Well, just a minute. What about women wrestlers in the next Olympic Games?

You heard it right. There is a push on to include women sumo wrestling in the next Games. And while Japan is involved in greeting their ancient sport into the Games, more European countries are pushing just as hard.

Men’s sumo, including in the U.S., has been gaining in popularity internationally since the mid-80’s and women participation has also been growing from that time.

Most European countries now have women sumo organizations, including Australia, whose President said it’s a good sport for women because it’s a body contact sport without being violent.

Although women’s sumo in the Olympics will be classified by weight class and Japan will not be considered among the top competitors with that rating going to the European competitors.

However, Shinsaku Takeuchi, head of the Women’s Sumo Federation in Japan, said Japanese women have been getting better and tougher. Takeuchi also said that what separates amateur sumo apart from the professional men’s sumo is the removal of the religious ceremonies, which are still very much a part of men’s professional sumo.

Of course, it is a well-publicized fact that in Japan women aren’t even allowed to step onto the dohyo (wresting ring).

While weight classes will give the Japanese the opportunity to compete  on an even level with their European counterparts, there are some big Japanese. One is an 18-year-old high schooler named Yuka Ueta, who weights 275 pounds.

Of course, in the U.S., if one walks down the street of any city, at least 30 percent of the women are overweight and tip the scale at 275 or over.

This past August, Ueta, competing among the world’s top women sumo wrestlers, won the Bronze Medal. She has the experience, however, to be one of the world leaders. She began sumo at the age of 10.

Hey, maybe if women’s sumo becomes popular in the Olympics, we might see more American women getting into the sport.

Perhaps someone will open a women’s sumo training facility right here in Los Angeles.

Maybe someone like Jesse Kahalua, the Maui Hawaiian, who became the first “gaijin” to perform in Japan, could come to Los Angeles and open such a facility.

A little more on sports.

Scott Fujita, who helped the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl last season  but traded to the Cleveland Browns, is labeled as “outspoken.”

So it wasn’t surprising that he touched on the subject of the new rule concerning defensive players “big hits” on ball carriers.

He feels the league is delivering a mixed message. “I’m absolutely saying they are being completely hypocritical,” the linebacker told the media. He added, “I like the idea of trying to protect players but it’s the same NFL that’s trying to make us play 18 games and that’s not going to help the safety of players.

“These are the same hits they are showing on the NFL Network, promoting the game showing these hits. It’s a paradox and it doesn’t make much  sense to me,” he continued.

Fujita believes players changing their habits in mid-season is not realistic. He was also quoted as saying, “Guys have to be coached differently because we’ve been coached a certain way our whole lives. I think people out there will be shocked at the the things players hear in their meetings with their coaches and the things they are supposed to do, the way they are taught to hit opposing players. That’s the reality of the game. Do we like seeing guys getting knocked out? Absolutely not. It’s part of the game, unfortunately, and it needs to be addressed at length but in the off-season.”

Well, if all goes according to pattern, I’m sure Fujita will face a stiff fine from the League or even suspension.

Well, that’s the way the old ball bounces.

I often joke about the use of English in the good old USA.

You know, about having to “dial one” when you call someone and want to continue the conversation in English.

Well, remember back in the year 2008, the LPGA because there are so many foreign players (mostly Koreans) on the golf tours, they proposed penalties and suspensions for players unable to communicate in English.

The conversational rule was aimed at the Koreans. Most Korean players relied on their caddies on things like how to read the putting greens.

Well, the LPGA has now tied up partnership with the Language Training Center to assist non-English-speaking players on their tours.

The article on this issue didn’t mention the Japanese players on tours, golfers like Ai and Mika Miyazato among them. I would assume that the Japanese players have enough command of the English language to not be affected by the LPGA’s “English only rule.”

Glad one of my sons volunteered to answer the door this evening, as I write this column.

It’s Sunday, Oct. 31 and you know what that means. It’s Halloween or more commonly known these days as “Trick or Treat.”

I’ve always been curious how Trick or Treat came to be.

When my kids were kids, they used to run around the neighborhood tricking and treating but all the kids were from the area.

Now that my neighborhood has changed and a lot of the homes which were sold to new families without kids, the knock on the door has more or less disappeared.

Since we never heard of trick or treat when I was growing up, I am curious ow the thing ever got started.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that when today’s generation of kids grow up to be adults, they sort of live by the Trick or Treat code.

Hey, when the kids knock on the door and they say “Trick or Treat,” they are  telling us, if you don’t give us a “treat” (usually candy bars), they will resort to some sort of “trick.”

Isn’t that some kind of threat? I mean, what will their “trick” be? Scrawling graffiti on our house? Leaving a pile of trash on our lawn? Trampling on plants in front of our house?

Just a thought.

The big news out of Tokyo this week is that Haneda airport has opened for international flights again.

Too bad I can’t travel to Japan. I’d like to land at Haneda instead of Narita.

During my heydays of travel, there was no Narita and Haneda was always the place where I landed and took off.

Landing there now might rekindle my old memories of Japan. That would be the Japan when it was the place to visit or live. In my case, I lived in Tokyo.

I saw photos of the new Haneda and it doesn’t look like the old place I knew.

Oh well, as long as Las Vegas is calling, I guess I won’t lose any sleep about not being able to land at Haneda.

Chatting about “living in Tokyo,” what city in the U.S. do you think most people want to live in?

Right, if you guessed New York. Of the 2,620 Americans surveyed, most responded New York.

Would you guess that San Diego was listed in second just ahead of Las Vegas?

Yup, good old Las Vegas.

And where do you think Los Angeles placed in the top ten? We were No. 6 behind Seattle and San Francisco. Rounding up the top ten were Nashville, Denver and Boston.

Ironically, on the list of ten cities people least like to live, Ellay was third.

Kind of hard to figure that one out.

I’m not sure what criteria was used to judge the cities in the “like to live” category.

This month, November, is a special anniversary for my wife and me. It will be our 54th year living in Gardena.

And would you believe it’s 50 years since we subscribed to the home delivery of the Los Angeles Times.

Needless to say, I think the Times has changed quite a bit since I received my first delivered copy. Also, what section I read first has changed just as much.

When I first started getting The Times, I used to scan the front section from the front cover to the last page. Then I would read the Sports section, especially when they used to cover horse racing more completely than they do now. Then I would casually scan the obituary section.

Today, I guess because of the passing of time and the passing of a lot of people I know, I go to the Obituary section first. Then  to the Sports page.

I don’t even look at the front page section anymore because I watch the news on TV and the front page News section doesn’t carry any news that I haven’t learned about on TV.

I n addition, I can now get a lot of the local news on the internet. I just click on and I can get local news all day long.

This also includes the sports  scene so I can get results and other sports information every hour.

Well, I guess that’ why the print media is facing tough times.

After writing about having to “hand deliver” my column to the Rafu the other day because the fax machine at the newspaper was  broken prompted three readers  to e-mail me with the message, “Why don’t you e-mail your column to the paper?”

The response to that one is easy.  “I don’t know how.”

Although I set my column on my computer, not really knowing how to operate the computer other than to set the type, I  guess I’ll have to get some computer expert to show me how.

I know that when I made the same comment a few years ago friend, Iku Kiriyama, said she would be glad to come over and show me how.

I know it sounds silly, but the room where my computer is located, is so messy I would be embarrassed to have someone of Iku’s stature in the JA community see all the junk that has piled up over the many years I’ve been writing my column for the Rafu.

I’m afraid Iku might pass out if she sees all the junk stacked up not only on my desk but all over the floor.

So, for the  time being, I’ll have to rely on the fax machine or hand deliver my column.

Or, the third option, retire from writing. At my age, that’s not such a bad option.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was being interviewed about my medical history by the director of a medical facility where I was assigned.

Among the questions she asked me was my birthday and age.

Then she asked me, “What do you do for a living?”

Her question kind of puzzled me because I told her my age.

I mean, how many guys my age are still employed?

Well, as it turned out, I told her, “I don’t have a regular job anymore, but I do write a column for a newspaper.”

Needless to say, when I tell that to anyone, the usual question which follows is, “Oh, which newspaper is that?”

It is then that I learn that many people don’t even know that there is such a publication as a “English/Japanese” paper.

And, I am always ready for the next question which is, “What do you write about?

When I explained, she said, “That sounds interesting. The next time you come in, can you bring me a copy of one of your articles?”

I thought about it and decided against it.

I‘m not sure a Caucasian lady would understand some of my babbling.

Of the four major Islands in the Hawaii chain, the one I have never visited is Kauai.

However, I have always been curious about the Island of Kauai because I often read stories about the place and it sounds like an interesting place to visit.

Take for example one of the stories I ran across.

It’s about 80,000 Newell’s shearwater birds, which populate Kauai. It’s hard to image 80,000 birds in an area the size of Kauai.

The reason the story was printed about the birds was that they caused the cancelation of a football game at Kauai High School and forced the school to switch all their Friday night games to Saturday afternoon.

That’s because the seabirds migrating to the ocean mistook the stadium lights for the moon and stars causing them to become disoriented and drop from the sky.

The residents of Kauai have been angered by the Friday night cancellation because the night games have been a tradition at the school. They say that canceling a tradition because of birds is ridiculous.

They argue that because Kauai is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, parents don’t have much to offer their kids on Friday nights. Lori Koga, whose son is a Kauai High player said her kids look forward to night games.

One other factor which angers the fans is the heat during the afternoon games vs. evening ones.

Fans don’t want to sit in the sun and the players also complain about the brutal daytime heat.

So, the birds get the first choice.

I never felt that popular, but I guess as a writer, I get a lot of invitations to “talk story over a cup of coffee.”

I try to accommodate those who are kind enough to “invite me” for a cup of coffee, but nowadays I try to keep my schedule pretty free.

Well, I guess some of the folks whom I have to turn down might feel a little upset.

I got an e-mail from one which included a little cartoon. It was a coffee cup being poured out of a coffee boiler. And, in the next scene, the boiler door opened and there was a parrot peeing into the cup.

Good thing it was just a cartoon.

Some of you may have wondered about the wording of signs you read  such as the following:

• Toilet out of order, please use floor below.

• In a department store: Bargain basement upstairs.

• In an office: Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday, please bring it back or further steps will be taken.

• In an office: After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.

• Outside a secondhand shop: We exchange anything—Bicycles, washing machine, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

• Notice in a health food shop window: Close due to illness.

• Spotted in a safari park: Elephants please stay in your car.

• Seen during a conference: For  anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a day care on the first floor.

• Notice in a farmer’s field: The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free but the bull charges.

• Message on a leaflet: If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.

On a repair shop door: We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the floor—the bell doesn’t work.

And here are a few “truths” some of you might enjoy:

• Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

• Beauty parlor: A place where women curl up and dye

• Chicken: The only animal you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

• Committee: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

• Dust: Mud with the juice squeezed out.

• Egotist: Someone  who is usually me-deep in conversation

• Handkerchief: Cold storage

• Raisin: Grape with a sunburn

• Secret: Something you tell to one person at a time.

• Toothache: A pain that drives you to extraction.

• Yawn: An honest opinion openly expressed.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



  1. Women sumo wrestlers? Good grief.

    I can’t wait to use Haneda airport. Narita is too far out in the country, but Haneda is so close to my beloved Kamata in Ota-ku.

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