Monday, February 14, 2011

The Sumo Match-fixing Scandal

The Japan Sumo Association is embroiled in the worst scandal in the history of the national sport. Evidence obtained from wrestlers' cell phones during an unrelated investigation into illegal gambling revealed the not-illegal, but certainly unsportsmanlike, practice of match-fixing among a number of wreslers just below sumo's upper division.  The term yaocho refers to this practice, and the word has an interesting derivation. It seems there was a greengrocer, one Chobe, who lived during the Meiji Era. Now the Japanese for "greengrocer" is yaoya, and as Chobe was the tencho, or manager, of his shop, he went by the appellation yaocho.  Chobe was an avid and accomplished player of the Japanese game of go, and a frequent visitor to his shop was a former sumo wrestler who fancied the game himself.  Rather than risk offending this customer and losing the man's custom, Chobe, the superior player of the two, would allow his opponent to win.  And this is how throwing a sumo bout came to be called yaocho

The Matoi, or Fireman's Standard

The fireman's standard, or matoi , is not just for firemen or the fully clothed.