Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Asashoryu Got Horsed By the J.S.A.

Life in Japan can be pretty cut and dry sometimes. In a nation which image and pride is often more important than doing the `right thing` or even making smart decisions, a person can have their life crushed with just one small mistake. There are countless examples I could site of image and pride taking priority over sound decision making. All you need to do is look up the latest punishment handed out in political and celebrity scandals for classic examples. Yet, I am gonna focus on one such clear example of stubborn image and pride clouding sound decision making.

As the title of this post infers, the recent fate of Sumo great Asashoryu falls nothing short of exposing the pitfalls of a society which can sometimes victimizes itself over image and pride. Asashoryu is one of best Sumo wrestlers of all time. The man won 25 championships over the course of his career. Although, you would never be able to tell his is one of the greatest judging from the way his career ended.

Asashoryu was forced to `retire` because he was not `Sumo` enough. Sure, the man was a bit tough at times. He turned a few heads with his behavior both inside and outside the ring. The media sometimes refers to him as the `bad boy` of Sumo. As the world changes and more non-Japanese wrestlers enter the sport and gain success, the J.S.A(Japan Sumo Association) seems to cling onto strict ideas of what is a Sumo.

Truth be known, interest in Sumo has sharply declined in Japan over the past several decades. The sport struggles to appeal to a new generation of Japanese who regard the sport as boring, outdated and out of touch with modern Japan. Asashoryu presented a change to raise interest in the sport with this head turning behavior. While taking it too far sometimes, he at least got people interested in `what is going on in Sumo these days.`  His behavior could have been mentored and kept within manageable limits. This did not happen due to the image that a yokozuna needs no one to give him advice on Sumo behavior and manners. These is also the pride of his Sumo stable which failed to guide him because it would embarrass them and lower there pride. Instead, they sat back and displayed a implied opinion that they have produced the perfect Sumo who needs to guidance. In the end, the entire image and pride of Sumo has been damaged due to lack of proper actions taken by everyone involved due to image and pride.

So, instead of trying to provide proper guidance to a amazingly gifted wrestler they simply force him to retire and pretend everything is now rosy.  Asahoryu got horsed by the J.S.A. Their own pride and stubbornness ended the career of one the greatest Sumo wrestlers Japan has ever seen.  


Orchid64 said...

The Sumo Association is notoriously conservative and has forced out Japanese wrestlers in the past for non-yokozuna-like behavior. That being said, none of them were as egregious about acting act as Asashoryu. What he did is simply "not done" in the sumo world.

You're right when you say that sumo is seen as behind the times. I think though that the biggest problem is the fact that the system is set up to give significant advantages to powerful stables rather than to allow individual good wrestlers to shine or show their talents. I was a big sumo fan until the Waka/Taka days when Futagoyama beya dominated. Since wrestlers from the same stable don't compete against each other, you would have someone like Akebono fighting 5-7 tough guys and Takanohana and Wakanohana facing 2-3. It just was so lopsided.

There's also the problem of yao-cho (fixed bouts) which draws sumo closer to pro wrestling. :-p

Chris said...

"There's also the problem of yao-cho"

This is a subject that is grossly unreported.

I think that this could have been done a better way with everybody showing a little more respect to each other and the ending could have (if it was truly necessary) been handled much better.

The woman who was on the JSA looked like she died 3 years ago but no one told her to lay down. She was freaky weird.

Nice post Freedom and I have added you to my blogroll if that's o.k.?

TheGhost said...

You are right it could have been handled a lot better. He did not have to be forced out.

Thank for adding me to your blog roll.

`The woman who was on the JSA looked like she died 3 years ago but no one told her to lay down. She was freaky weird.`

Billy W said...

So much of what you see on TV in Japan is ultra-lame. Yeah, you could say because I'm a foreigner I just don't get it, but if Japanese people were completely satisfied with the programming here, American dramas wouldn't dominate the rentals at Tsutaya.

That's a shame because there have been and still still are many Japanese people capable of putting out amazing works. But 99.9% of the time, the decision to produce a movie or TV drama is made according to which J-Pop artists they can get to star in it. And with that being the case, knowing that people will watch just because the Arashi boys are "sutekiii!", everybody involved says "We'll we don't need to tax our brains with creative efforts here; just roll the cameras, edit for lots of shots of Matsu Jun's face, and air it by April... and watch the ratings soar.

Diluted and lame, over and over again. That's what's happened to Sumo with the leaving of Asashoryu; the sport which actually attracted the attention of some members of the younger generation has been made less interesting to them because some stodgy old farts can only think one way.

Why the fuck does this country let everything be run by old fuckers. They've used their creative energy, they're out of touch, they've achieved financial stability... they're not hungry anymore. Just enjoying a good meal here and there, hoping for a good bowel movement each morning. They've become children in decaying shells. Why do they have so much power here?


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