Why is chanko nabe (sumo wrestlers’ stew) usually fish and chicken?

After all, if you want to put on muscle and fat, meat has to be best!

According to the (admittedly fairly unreliable) book Sushi and Beyond, it is because four legged animals remind one of a defeated sumo wrestler down on the ground, and are therefore bad luck for rikishi.

More coming from that book in the next few posts.


Why do some gruff guys say “oss”?

 My wife is convinced it’s an incredibly short and macho version of OhayogozaimaS (the polite way of saying “good morning”) but suddenly I’m not convinced, because the aikido fighters in Angry White Pyjamas (which I’m reading) say it when it definitely isn’t a greeting

Why are black belts black?

According to Robert Twigger in Angry White Pyjamas, because you washing them would dissipate the ki (mystic energy), so by the time you reached that level belts were already naturally black

Why “Yawara-chan”?

Being the nickname for the judoka Ryoko Tani (谷亮子 Tani Ryouko). According to Wikipedia (where else?), it comes from the name of a popular series of manga about judo.

The next question then is, why is she soooooooooooooo popular? That includes the ultimate compliment for any celebrity, starring more than once in the manga Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku (“English” title Super Radical Gag Family)

Why isn’t judo a spectator sport in Japan? Second attempt

Explanations that have come to mind after much time pondering and watching the Olympics:

-Traditionally there were few spectator sports. Sumo is the major exception, but that is because it started as part of festival rituals at shrines
– The philosophical mumbo jumbo of “the way” of judo doesn’t really lend itself to sport for fame and fortune
– If my recent viewing of the Olympics is anything to go on, it’s dull to watch-especially when compared to sumo

Why is the usual English translation for (sumo) beya “stable”?

相撲部屋 in Japanese, so no horses in the kanji. Bad English translation of Japanese or bad Japanese English translation of Japanese? Can anyone help?

Why do rikishi (sumo wrestlers) have their hair cut off when they retire?

At the end of the feudal period they were the only ones allowed to keep the samurai topknot haircut, so I guess that privilege ran out when they retired


Why is Bulgarian yoghurt so famous in Japan?

One of my students was guessing that Meiji Foods or another Japanese manufacturer picked the name for one of their yoghurts from a random encyclopedia entry and everyone else just copied it. I’m sure real Bulgarian yoghurt is great, it being in the right part of the world, but in the UK the yoghurt from neighbouring Greece and Turkey are much more famous.
This is a question I’ve long wondered about, but has come up again after the inevitable “now yoghurt isn’t the most famous thing from Bulgaria” comment in today’s Japan Times after the victory of Kotooshu in the sumo

Why does karate have less philosophical bs than other Japanese martial arts?

It was being used as a practical way for the Okinawans to defend themselves from the Japanese invaders at a time when the Japanese samurai had had 200 years of peace to get all navelgazy about kendo, kyudo etc