Daily Archives: 14 September 2006

Asia Watch on "Sea of Japan" vs. "East Sea"

Asia Watch presents a 27-point rebuttal to a Korea.net video that argues for renaming the Sea of Japan as the East Sea.

In summary: This video ignores the claim that “Sea of Japan” came into widespread usage in the early 19th century. Instead, it presents studies of pre-19th century maps, none of which discredit the findings of Japanese researchers with regard to the 19th century. After failing to discredit Japanese claims, it shows that the name “East Sea” has been used by Koreans for 2000 years. It then claims that the entire world is obligated to print foreign terms for seas alongside their traditionally-established native language terms, in accordance with a recommendation of a UN organization (but only in the case of the “East Sea”). The video attempts to disguise the anti-Japanese Korean ultranationalist agenda behind a thin veil of academic arguments, and does a remarkable horrible job. If this is the best argument the Korean government can produce, I doubt they’ll be winning over many converts through the spread of this video.

via Japundit

Why stop at the Sea of Japan? How about the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Marianas Trench, the Gulf of Siam/Thailand, and the Gulf of Mexico? Who gave the Coral Sea to the coral? Don’t the sea cucumbers have as valid a claim, or the moray eels? I say let’s restore the proper name for the English Channel: The Sleeve.

UPDATE: I was going to ask who gave the Bay of Pigs to the porkers, but its Spanish name is Bahía de Cochinos ‘Bay of Triggerfish‘. Cochinos are only metaphorically disgusting in behavior or appearance—like pigs, though nowhere near as intelligent. Also:

Some species of triggerfish are known to make a sound akin to a grunt or snarl when taken out of the water.

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Origins of Sharecropping in Mississippi

THE DELTA had always been too wild for one man or one family to subdue, and from the first, settlers had brought slaves and organization with them. Immediately after the Civil War, Mississippi and other southern states tried to resolve labor and racial questions by passing a “Black Code” that effectively reestablished slavery. One Mississippi provision required blacks to sign annual labor contracts or be arrested for vagrancy; the local government would then sell their services to contractors. Congress reacted to such laws with anger and instituted “Radical Reconstruction,” setting up new state governments that threw out those laws and putting a buffer of federal power between southern whites and blacks.

[MS Senator Charles] Percy recognized both the economic problems and the need to accept a new order, and advocated a solution. Planters had land but no cash. Blacks had labor but no land; they also resisted working in gangs under a foreman, which smacked of slavery and overseers. So Percy, who understood both the capital shortage and the importance of making labor content in order to maximize efficiency, advocated sharecropping. One man even credited Percy with inventing the system, and contemporaneous reports in other southern states did attribute the system’s beginnings to Mississippi. Planters supplied land; blacks supplied labor and gained some independence. Profits were theoretically split fifty-fifty (the cropper got more if he had his own mules), making blacks and whites partners and by implication comparable if not equal. However abusive sharecropping later became, because of the system’s implied partnership of white and black, initially whites resisted it while blacks welcomed it.

Sharecropping may have helped alleviate the Delta’s desperate shortage of labor in another way. Planters and their labor agents were scouring the rest of the state and the South recruiting former slaves, promising—and delivering—better pay and treatment than elsewhere. The new system may have helped attract blacks, for in a steady stream they came. From one Mississippi county outside the Delta, a single Delta plantation recruited 500 workers. From Columbus, Mississippi, near the Alabama line, 100 black workers left for the Delta in a single week. From Uniontown, Alabama, 250 blacks boarded a single train, heading for the Delta. From Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia as well, thousands of blacks came.

SOURCE: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, by John M. Barry (Touchstone, 1998), pp. 102-103 (reviewed here)

My paternal grandfather was a (white) tenant farmer in southeastern Virginia. He sometimes managed the farms of landowning relatives, but never owned a farm himself. Not one of his children remained a farmer.

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Filed under economics, slavery, U.S.

Sumo’s Appeal for the Waka/Taka Brothers and Others

THE NAMES “WAKAHANADA” and “Takahanada” meant little of poetic significance. The “waka” and “taka” parts merely evoked their father and uncle, while “hanada” was their real last name. But among those watching in February 1988, it was understood that the boys would one day earn the right to take on the great names “Wakanohana” and “Takanohana.”

Why a young Japanese would want to take up the severe life associated with the national sport, while far less bizarre than when applied to an American, is a question that deserves attention. The total number of the [Sumo] Kyokai’s competitors usually hovers around only 800 in a country of some 120 million people, while baseball and soccer attract a far greater number of Japan’s promising athletes. Some join sumo, believe it or not, because the sumo world is a place where big guys can exist honorably without being teased. Teasing and bullying go on far past adolescence in Japan. Much is made in cultural definitions of Japan as a place of social conformity, and pressure to conform is indeed very real there. But rather than through some kind of Orwellian fear tactics, in practice the social pressure comes in the form of people being relentlessly annoying any time they see something even slightly out of the ordinary. A bigger-than-aver-age Japanese man looks different from most people, and thus becomes the object of constant ridicule, both from those he knows (in the form of obligatory fat jokes at absolutely every social encounter) and those he doesn’t (“Ah, Mr. Tanaka! It’s nice to meet you. Wow, you sure are big. How much do you weigh, anyway?”). For many overweight Japanese teenage boys who may never have had an interest in sport and who find themselves at the age when teasing is at its fiercest, sumo is a way out of mainstream Japan. The saddest part may be that the middle of the banzuke [‘rankings’] is clogged with nonathletic types with no hope of ever reaching the salaried ranks who’ve committed themselves to sumo as an alternative way of life: their topknots turn their size from points of obligatory ridicule to points of honor.

Other Japanese rikishi are recruited from rural areas with little economic opportunity. A former sekitori [‘professional wrestler’] explained, “Some kids, they come to the stable, but the ones the oyakata [‘stablemaster’] scout, they go to their house, they go to their parents, they give ’em a million yen. ‘Give me your boy for sumo.’ These boys are fifteen years old, and their parents are like, ‘A million yen!’ These guys are from the mountains; they don’t see that much money. ‘Oh, okay, okay! You go do sumo!'” They join sumo as a means of support and often toil for years in the lower ranks with no hope of making it, fortunate to be fed and housed. Other Japanese join in a rare show of national pride: “Because it is kokugi,” the national sport, one boy in the jonokuchi [lowest] division told me. Still others join as Jesse Kuhaulua [raised on Maui] had, as a natural progression of their junior high, high school, and/or college sumo careers.

Masaru and Koji Hanada joined because they were born into the sport. Sons of the great Ozeki Takanohana (the first) and nephews of the great Yokozuna Wakanohana (the first), they had sumo in their blood. While Chad Rowan had not known the meaning of the term “sumo-beya” [‘sumo stable’] until he was eighteen, the Hanadas had been raised in one. Young Koji Hanada entered his first sumo tournament when he was in third grade—and won. Six years after setting up his own Fujishima-Beya upon retiring in 1982, Fujishima Oyakata gave in to the relentless pleas from his boys by letting them formally become his deshi. Masaru Hanada’s 2000 autobiography offers a poignant account of the boys declaring themselves no longer Fujishima Oyakata’s sons, upon moving out of Fujishima-Beya’s top-floor apartment and down into a big shared room below, but rikishi under his charge.

By official registration day, Takahanada weighed a healthy 258 pounds, bigger than most of the other boys and a full 40 pounds heavier and nearly an inch taller than his older brother. And unlike the rest of the shin-deshi [‘new apprentices’] registering that day, Waka and Taka had already proved themselves on the dohyo [= ‘in the ring’]. Competing in high school, Masaru (Waka) had taken the All-Japan Senior High School yusho [tournament championship], while his younger brother had easily taken the Kanto District Junior High School yusho. Where Chad Rowan had come from nowhere into a sport as foreign to him as the language, these boys were sumo’s Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds.

SOURCE: Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan, by Mark Panek (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2006), pp. 122-123

Well, the money must hold considerable appeal for the foreign wrestlers. At the end of Day 5 in the September Basho: two Mongolians, yokozuna Asashoryu and maegashira-6 Ama, are 5-0. Just one loss behind, at 4-1, are Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, Japanese ozeki Chiyotaikai, Mongolian ozeki Hakuho, Japanese sekiwake Kotomitsuki, Russian maegashira-1 Roho, Japanese maegashira-11 Homasho, and Korean maegashira-15 Kasugao. I would dearly love to see tiny Ama win the tournament.

UPDATE, Day 6: Asashoryu lost, leaving Ama (now 6-0) in sole possession of the lead!

UPDATE, Day 7: Ama lost, so now two Mongolians (Asa and Ama), one Russian (Roho), and one Japanese (Kotomitsuki) are tied for the lead at 6-1.

UPDATE, Day 8: Kotomitsuki loses, leaving the other three at 7-1.

UPDATE, Day 9: Tiny Ama (185 cm, 115 kg) went up against the giant Estonian Baruto (197 cm, 174 kg) and won! Well, technically, Baruto defeated himself by fumidashi, stepping backwards out of the ring while facing Ama. Asa beat Roho in the hard-fought final bout, so the two Mongolians still share the lead at 8-1.

UPDATE, Day 10: Asa and Ama now share the lead at 9-1, with Roho and Ama’s Ajigawa stablemate Aminishiki one loss behind, at 8-2.

UPDATE, Day 11: Asa and Ama now share the lead at 10-1, while Roho and Aminishiki have both dropped back to 8-3, alongside Chiyotaikai, Futeno, and Hokutoriki. Unbelievable. Ama will certainly regain komusubi rank after this basho.

UPDATE, Day 12: Fellow Mongolian Hakuho lifted Ama up and out of the ring, leaving him at 10-2, one loss behind Asashoryu (11-1), who won his bout against Tochiazuma.

UPDATE, Day 13: Ama had the chance to get back into a tie for the lead if he managed to defeat Asashoryu, but he had no such luck, so Ama stands at 10-3, while Asashoryu lengthens his lead to 12-1.

Topix.net has two sumo photos of interest from a Sadogatake-beya tour of Israel in June: Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu in yukata and yarmulke at the Western Wall and stablemates Kotomitsuki and Kotoshogiku floating in the Dead Sea.

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Filed under baseball, Hawai'i, Japan, sumo