Le Monde du Sumo
N°12 - october 2005
(Click on the picture to download
the full french issue, with pictures,...)


Francine Perrin, Fabrice Haldi, Nicolas Schuler
translated by Jelena Macan
proofread by Todd Lamber

An Interview With Fujishima Oyakata

Fujishima oyakata greatly honoured us by granting several minutes for a private encounter in his dressing room at the Olympic Museum, on Saturday April 6th 2005.

Fujishima oyakata, during the conversation

Le Monde du Sumo: To start with, we would like to thank you for granting us this interview Fujishima oyakata. This is an honour for us.

Fuhishima oyakata: Thank you.

LMdS: What was your favourite sport when you were a child? Was it already sumo?

FO: I started doing sumo in the 4th year of primary school when I was about 10. Until then I practiced swimming and baseball, but my father was an amateur sumo wrestler and that is why I started doing sumo too.

LMdS: Who were your idols at the time?

FO: Chiyonofuji-san

LMdS: Did you enter sumo because you were passionate about it, or was it to please your father?

FO: At first I didn't like sumo since I wasn't very strong. But the more I trained the stronger I became and the more I loved sumo. I decided to completely devote myself to it.

LMdS: Now that your career as a rikishi has ended, what are your plans?

FO: For the moment I am a coach in a heya; I don't have my own heya yet. But in any case, I have no plans unrelated to sumo.

LMdS: Do you intend to open your own heya?

FO: Yes, I'd like that.

LMdS: The Fujishima-beya?

FO: (laughing) Yes, that's it!

LMdS: When you were still active, who was the wrestler you liked to fight the most, and whom did you least want to encounter on the dohyo?

FO: The wrestler who was the closest to me, even in age, was Kaio. On the other hand, Wakanohana and Takanohana frightened me a little because they were very, very strong.

LMdS: You suffered numerous injuries during your career which often handicapped you. Do you think you would have become a yokozuna without these injuries?

FO: I don't think so. Those who had become yokozuna have also had to suffer through serious injuries, and they still became yokozuna.

LMdS: We think that it would have been possible!

FO: (modest smile) Oh, thank you.

LMdS: What memories do you have of your yusho in the 2000 Haru basho, won with a record of 13-2, when you were a sekiwake?

FO: It was a time where I was very confident and I felt capable of winning.

LMdS: What do you think of internationalisation of sumo, of the fact that the foreigners are being recruited? Do you think that sumo should be 100% Japanese?

FO: I am very pleased that foreign athletes had come to sumo. Thanks to their cultural differences sumo has gained an additional richness. The Japanese should train more.

LMdS: What exactly is it that the current Japanese wrestlers lack that prevents them from reaching the summit, in your opinion? The motivation? The training?

FO: There are good rikishi and I respect them. But I think that Japanese wrestlers should work in accordance with their foreign opponents. Since foreigners train a lot, the Japanese should train even more, that's all.

LMdS: It is said that currently there is a decrease in sumo popularity. Do you have an idea, a solution for refreshing the appeal of sumo, so that the audiences would return in great numbers to watch the sumo tournaments with enthusiasm?

FO: I ascribe this decrease of interest in sumo on the arrival of very attractive sports in Japan, such as football and baseball. I think that the rikishi should train more in order to give good shows, to be good athletes, and be good role models.

LMdS: Whom do you see as a future yokozuna?

FO: I think there are many good rikishi, but I'd lean towards Tochiazuma or Kaio.

LMdS: And among the youngsters, do you see some hopes?

FO: Yes, Kotooshu and Hakuho, two foreign wrestlers.

LMdS: Is this your first time in Switzerland? Did you have time for sightseeing? What are your first impressions?

FO: I still didn't have time for sightseeing since I have just arrived, but I think that Switzerland is a very lovely country with magnificent landscapes. And the food is very good.

LMdS: Do you have other interests, other passions beside sumo?

FO: Since my retirement, I play golf.

LMdS: Do you like cinema? What sort of films do you like?

FO: I like going to the cinema a lot. The films I like are the ones about sport.

LMdS: We found out that tomorrow you are going to be present at a championship of Swiss wrestling. Did you already have an opportunity to see it?

FO: I have already seen the photos in books, but never the real thing.

LMdS: Would you mind if we come with you to take some photos?

FO: No, I don't mind one bit, please do.

LMdS: We will leave you now to prepare for the exhibition that is starting soon. We thank you so much for devoting this time to us and answering all our questions!

FO: Thank you.

Fabrice, Nicolas, Fujishima oyakata, Francine and Tokotake