Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Sumo adopts iPads, could arrive in the 21st century at last

by Larry Geller

While living in Japan we seldom went to sumo matches. Usually, a visitor from the company would ask to go and we’d set it up. It was an expensive endeavor, and I had to pull strings through our join-venture partner each time to get a good spot. In addition to the price of admission, there were mandatory gifts, and all kinds of collateral expenses and obligations. It took my secretary a couple of days to finalize all the arrangements.

Once seated in the stadium, there was a lot to say for sumo. It was like entering a time warp and popping out in medieval Edo. Sumo wrestlers were larger than life, not “obese.” The incursion of foreign wrestlers, from Hawaii no less, was like a re-run of foreign struggles to break through exclusionary barriers that kept Japan safe from conquest for so long. Foreign or not, wrestlers were bound by tradition and had to fulfill the rituals carefully and accurately.

I can’t imagine sumo wrestlers texting or tweeting at all. It’s an anacrhonism. Apparently fat fingers also present problems that make tiny cellphone keyboards unusable, so there was not much fear of unwanted modernization. Until now.

Now that we have iPads, it’s the end of an era. Apparently fat fingers can email comfortably on these new-fangled devices.

With the sport’s reputation tarnished by recent scandals, the Japan Sumo Association is distributing about 60 iPads among all the 51 training stables and top association officials from this week to help improve communication.  [National Post (AFP), Apple’s iPad a solution for fat-fingered sumo wrestlers, 8/25.2010]

If you’re not familiar with sumo, google around a bit. Check out what the wrestlers eat, how they live, and how a sumo match is run.  Hurry, I think all that is in danger of imminent modernization.

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I do almost all my web surfing on my iPad. The iPad is much easier to type on than my iPhone. I don't claim to have large fingers like sumo wrestlers but I think I can hold my own in a typing match with them.

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