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SUMO: 2017 Hatsu Basho (Day 6)

It’s Day 6 of the Hatsu Basho and only five rikishi remain undefeated—yokozuna Hakuho, ozeki Kisenosato, M10 Sokokurai, M10 Takanoiwa, and M15 Sadanoumi. In fact, the big story of the basho so far has been how shaky the yokozuna and ozeki have looked. 

The winners of the previous three hon basho—yokozuna Harumafuji (July), ozeki Goeido (September), and yokozuna Kakuryu (November)—all have 3–2 records, leaving them two wins off the pace. What’s more, ozeki Kotoshogiku is both kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] AND struggling , with a pretty terrible 2–3 record. But worst of all is ozeki Terunofuji, who is still obviously dealing with chronic knee problems and only has a 1–4 record to show for his effort.

On the other hand, a few of the young up-and-coming rikishi are putting in a solid performance so far. Shin-sekiwake [first time ranked at sekiwake] Shodai is 3–2 with a win over ozeki Kotoshogiku. It’s been awhile since there was someone who looked comfortable at sumo’s third highest rank. Takayasu was strong for a few tournaments last year but bottomed out in November. A lot of sumo pundits think that Shodai will be the next rikishi to earn an ozeki promotion . . . and in order to do that, he must perform well as a sekiwake.

Even more impressive has been M1 Mitakeumi, who is also 3–2, but who has notched wins over two yokozuna—Harumafuji and Kakuryu— plus one ozeki—Goeido. Personally, I think that Mitakeumi is likely to be our next ozeki candidate . . . and that if he and Shodai can avoid injuries (like the one that Terunofuji suffered just as he was starting his push to the top of the banzuke [ranking sheet]) they’re going to be leading the next generation of champions.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here are today’s matches.

SUMO: 2017 Hatsu Basho (Days 1–5)

Many of you may be wondering, “What the heck is up with Stan!? He didn’t make ANY posts during November’s Kyushu Basho, and the Hatsu Basho is one-third done and he hasn’t said anything about it yet. Has his love for sumo wavered?” The answer is . . . OF COURSE NOT. But the deadly combinations of day job, freelance work, and poorly timed head colds have teamed up on me during BOTH the previous tournament and this one. But I am DETERMINED to get myself back on track!

The short review for November’s tournament is this: Yokozuna Kakuryu looked like a REAL yokozuna and dominated from Day 1, winning the yusho with a 14–1 record (his only loss coming to ozeki Kisenosato on Day 11). Ozeki Goeido could have been promoted to yokozuna if he’d won this basho (after having won in September with a perfect 15–0 zensho yusho), but fell back to his old ways only managing a 9–6 record in Kyushu. Ozeki Kotoshogiku looked terrible with a 5–10 record, which makes him kadoban [in danger of ozeki demotion] in January’s tournament. Meanwhile, Ozeki Kisenosato finished second in the yush AGAIN (something he’s done more than anyone in sumo history) and managed to get the prize for most wins in the calendar year. Again he set a record by being the only person ever to do that without having actually won any of the tournaments (he’s also now the only current ozeki who has NOT won a yusho . . . though he is clearly the strongest among the ozeki, and for the past three years has probably been the second best rikishi overall after yokozuna Hakuho).

The Hatsu Basho [New Year’s Tournament] is one-third through, and we’ve seen a bunch of very genki [energetic] sumo this week. Well worth watching all the way through. There have been some unusual kimarite [winning techniques] and some incredible efforts of will. 

I’ll try to keep on a daily update schedule from here out. But even if I miss one or two, I’ll post links up through my Facebook Page.







It’s a new year, but we still have to catch up on the Japanese commercials from the final weeks of 2016! And the song we’re ALL going to be singing until the next video arrives is … LEG MAGIC! 

• Tommy Lee Jones gives us some of the back story for his “magic gaijin”
• A whole year’s worth of fun for the Folk Lore Buddies
• Ads for a few different New Year’s “Lucky Bags”
• … and the little pony who could!

Rebel Mole—A Star Wars Notion

Last night I dreamed of a Star Wars character concept that I think would be fun, though I admit that such a character may already exist (I’m not well versed in the past or present SWEU … pun semi-intended).

The idea is a rebel mole agent who was placed into the Imperial fleet shortly after the events of Ep. III. Her (my subconscious pictured the character as a woman … actually, it pictured her as Miranda Horner) assignment is to prevent any news, rumors, or reports about Luke and Leia from gaining any traction in the Imperial intelligence-gathering agencies … and in particular to keep even offhanded mentions of them from getting anywhere near Darth Vader.

The thought seemed to be that with a massive bureaucratic force like the Empire, SOME low-level researcher would have to come across hints of the twins’ origin, and would want to pass it up the chain … even if it seems ridiculous. The rebel agent would have to be placed well in Imperial Intelligence so as to block such reports … AND be a skilled assassin who would go out and eliminate the too-clever-for-their-own-good researchers.

By the time of Rogue One or Ep. IV, this agent would have spent close to 20 years on the job. She would certainly have gone up in rank, perhaps even landing on Vader’s personal staff, and she would have had to have killed (or have had killed) dozens, perhaps hundreds of basically innocent researchers.

What would that do to her standing with the Force? With the Rebels? Within the Empire? What would her internal monolog be like? What story would she tell herself about the work she’d done (and continued to do)? And how would all that change with Vader’s realizations in Eps. IV & V?


JAPANESE TV ADS: The Missing Weeks

As I said in an earlier post, I flat out fell down on the job when it came to spreading the love for these bi-weekly collections of commercials from the Japanese airwaves. Chances are you’ve already seen the Best of 2016 video (which includes some ads from these omitted videos), but there’s still a lot of head-scratching wonderment to be gotten from the rest of the ads, too. 

And so I can start the new year off with a clean slate and provide all new 2017 ads (so long as the YouTube channel continues to post them), here are the three volumes that I previously omitted.

JAPANESE TV ADS: Best of 2016

Somehow the whole month of December has slipped away without me posting ANYTHING . . . even the low-hanging fruit of the Japanese commercial videos that someone else goes to the trouble of putting online! I’ve got THREE bi-weekly collections that I haven’t shown yet, but I figure I’ll do a catch-up video later. Right now, the thing to see is the BEST OF 2016 collection, and I have to say this was a BANNER year for bizarre advertisements. 

I really wish one of Tommy Lee Jones’s commercials for Boss canned coffee had made the cut (they’re so wonderfully off kilter) . . . but overall, this collection represents the year very well, including:

• A snappy appearance by the Pocky boy band.
• The all-school “do your best” dance for Pokari Sweat.
• The Shin Gojira crossover with the SoftBank talking dog.
• The very touching origin story of the Three Taros.
• And a whole lot of fairly inexplicable nonsense.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, long time visitors to this blog will know, is my favorite holiday. It’s not about venerating one ideal (inevitably over others) or celebrating a victory (at which some must have suffered defeat) or a particular personage (who may be disliked or worse by some segment of the populace) . . . rather, Thanksgiving is just about being reflecting on the good things in your life, the things for which you are thankful.

 Certainly, in some years the thanks is more bountiful than in others. Indeed, in some years the things worthy of regret may seem, feel, or actually be more plentiful than those for which we give thanks. But when all the marks are tallied, there invariably ARE things worth venerating . . . and that in itself is worth being thankful for.

On the whole, most people I know are pretty underwhelmed with how 2016 has progressed thus far. The grim reaper has claimed a larger than usual number of influential musicians, actors, and pop cultural icons. Within my personal sphere of connectivity there have been several deaths, a handful of completely unexpected endings to long term relationships, major surgeries, chronic illnesses, and the usual collection of smaller “slings and arrows” that pepper our lives with regret and dissatisfaction. And don’t even get me started about the only recently concluded election season.

And yet, I am fully prepared to raise a glass (or a turkey leg) at today’s gathering and celebrate all that I DO have to be thankful for—friends and family, health, success in a career I love. But perhaps the thing I overlook most often, and one that I am keenly aware of this year, is that I am thankful to be living in a time and a place where I’m afforded the opportunity to try again. If life pulls the rug out from under my feet, or I make a critical error, or bad luck just settles on my shoulders for an inexplicably long period of time . . . I can roll my sleeves up and try again.

With all the problems the world is facing right now . . . with all the errors we seem to have made . . . with all the bad news we see crawling across our computer screens . . . despite all of that, we have the chance to get up tomorrow and try again. Try to fix the things that are broken. Try to steer the course of our lives (personal, public, political, cultural) into calmer, saner waters. Try to spend more time doing the things that really matter to us. Try to help those around us. Try to leave a positive mark on the world, so that when we’ve gone those who remain will be able to raise their glasses and give thanks for the legacy we’ve bequeathed them.

So whether you celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday or not, I hope you’ll join me in this little ritual.

Stop whatever it is you’re doing. Raise the glass, cup, can, bottle, or canteen of whatever it is your drinking (or simply take a moment of silence if you’re not drinking anything), and think or speak a few quick, personally meaningful words of thanks for the truly important things in your life. Appreciate what you’ve got. Because in this life fortunes can change in an instant . . . and we should try our best never to take the good things for granted.

 Happy Thanksgiving, all!


Oh look! Another collection of bizarre TV commercials fresh off the Japanese air-waves. This time the bundle includes:

• A bunch of “Halloween goods” commercials . . . showing that in the 20 years since I last visited Japan, Halloween has grown to be something that they celebrate . . . somehow. I throw that last part in because aside from wearing costumes, it’s unclear what the Japanese to mark the holiday. For one thing, all the ads show adults (or young adults) dressing in costume, but none of them show kids. And none of them show anything that looks even a little bit like trick-or-treating. So how DO the Japanese celebrate Halloween? I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year to try and suss it out.
• Pen-Pineapple-apple-pen . . . yeah . . . I don’t get it either.
• Magic gaijin Tommy Lee Jones is a river taxi driver who not only saves a man’s day with canned coffee, he shows some real-world pictures of a section of Tokyo that was featured in the anime “Miss Hokusai” (which I just saw the other night).
• An ad for a live-action Death Note film.
• An oily personification of credit card transaction fees. (Ooo! I wanna bop him right in the snoot!)

JAPANESE TV ADS: Dancing Fools

Time for another collection of TV commercials fresh off the Japanese airwaves. Just the thing to give you a moment of inanity before putting the finishing touches on your Halloween costume! Or maybe it will give you an all new inspiration for a costume that NO ONE will be able to figure out.

• The Snickers time-out comes to Japan.

• Tommy Lee Jones is back as . . . ummm . . . a coffee swigging robocop?

• Return of the haunted ramen.

• Hula dancing, Bollywood dancing, and plenty of J-Pop!

JAPANESE TV ADS: Everyone’s Cookie

The leaves are turning and new TV commercials are falling like leaves. Here’s another collection of inexplicable advertisements fresh off the Japanese airwaves.

• The Japanese version of “Cups” . . . using insect powder. (Ewww!)

• The official Pokari Sweat dance.

• The boat race ninja lady promoting recycling . . . “Change yourself!”

• The origin story for the Folklore Friends.

• And Furuta … EVERYONE’S cookie!