Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Takamiyama: The World of Sumo.

Takamiyama: The World of Sumo by Jesse Kuhaulua with John Wheeler.  Hardcover published in 1973. 

Jesse Kuhaulua also known as Takamiyama Daigorō (高見山大五郎), was a Hawaiian born Sumo champion who began Sumoing in the 1960s and finished in the 1980s.  Your probably aware that Sumo has had its ups and downs in the west and realistically, it has never really taken off and despite all the best efforts and promotion, its still mostly considered a novelty (this is a gross generalisation and any Sumo fans who wish to comment, please feel free to do so).  This book is not only autobiographical it is also about the art and practice of Sumo.  Flicking through it, it looks to me like the book was intended to promote the sport in the west and what better way to do it than with the outsider who had crossed the cultural and racial barrier to become a champion.  What I find most interesting about this book is the stunning photography.  The photographs are all black and white and deliberately a little grainy giving the whole book a slightly arty retro feel… beautiful.

I mentioned Takamiyama and this book to a Japanese friend who informed me she was well acquainted with the phenomena of this large Hawaiian… she then proceeded to laugh and mentioned his sideburns… strange but true.

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