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 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