Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sumo: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Japan's National Sport” as Want to Read:
Sumo: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Japan's National Sport
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sumo: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Japan's National Sport

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Sumo is a fresh and funny introduction to the fascinating world of sumo, Japan's national sport. Author David Benjamin peels away the veneer of sumo as a cultural treasure and reveals it as an action-packed sport populated by superb athletes who employ numerous strategies and techniques to overcome their gargantuan opponents. Sumo provides an engaging, witty, behind-the-sc ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Tuttle Publishing (first published 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sumo, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sumo

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  62 ratings  ·  14 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sumo: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Japan's National Sport
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I first found "Sumo" by David Benjamin at a local shop in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles). The cover was visually intriguing and the subtitle "A Thinking Fan's Guide" drew my interest. Over the years, my pallet for combat sports writing has matured from cranberry & vodka to a (minimum) 10-year single malt scotch. "A Thinking Fan's Guide" ostensibly implied an intellectual and well-thought out approach to sumo. Also Benjamin's book is marketed as a humorous and insightful take on sumo. Sadly, it is ne ...more
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sumo fans!
In this revised edition of his classic book, David Benjamin gives the newbie Sumo fan everything they need to know to enjoy Japan's most famous sport.

Benjamin's approach is this - strip away the culture and mystic and sumo is a sport where two fat guys try to push each other down. So what does all that mystic and culture do for the game and which bits of it are important and what does it all mean anyway?

By using gently mocking nicknames for the wrestlers, and by constant comparison to other spor
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Japanologists, World Sport Lovers
Sumo, as a sport, too often gets deified and lost in the Shinto ceremonies that are blatantly evident to all who watch, from the throwing of salt to the traditional mawashi(loincloth) the wrestlers wear. David Benjamin does a great job in smashing down the ivory tower of Japanese culture in order to reveal Sumo as what it truly is, a fascinating sport. Irreverent and stocked with colorful antidotes from Sumo history, this book is great for anyone wanting to learn more about Japan's national spo ...more
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, insightful, totally irreverent introduction to the world of sumo. A true fan's guide, this one's probably not for the self-proclaimed Japanophiles bound by sumo's entrenched rituals and religious pomposity. This book explores details of sumo in a way rarely done in typical (Japan Sumo Association-approved) books on the sport. Although the numerous references to US sports like baseball, football and basketball can get annoying at times if you don't follow them, the comparisons made do provid ...more
Read this book before my first sumo match at the Kokugikan. Includes a nanosecond-by-nanosecond blow-by-blow of a very important match between 2 sumo greats that spans 8 pages and useful translation of sumo interviews (Wsrmsht = I don't remember). Fwah! Sumo is all drama - posturing, death glares, leg lifting-squat-stomp, bitch slapping, throat grabbing and jiggling mounds of flesh. And it's over in seconds! It is my new favourite sport. ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not a perfect book mainly because the first half is just a rewrite of Benjamin's early The Joy of Sumo. The second half is all new though, and Benjamin is very insightful. He comes at sumo from a different angle than most, and did it before many Johnny Come Latelies, some of whom (yes, freakonomics, I'm looking at you) never gave him credit.

If you don't mind some irreverence, Benjamin will help you understand sumo, which despite all its faults, is a wonderful combination of sport and culture.
Tjibbe Wubbels
A great book for the fan or would-be fan of sumo. The focus is on the joy of the spectator, not so much on the technical mumbo-jumbo and that really works for me. It's a really fun book to read and in the meantime you increase your knowledge of the sport and start watching sumo in an different way. Good stuff. ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to honestly like this book. But, for me, it wasn't an enjoyable read. By page 55, I was struggling to want to continue. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of David Benjamin's book is that the author wrote it so the reader could become a better fan of Sumo. However his writing and disrespectful sense of humor leaves you with a bad impression.

He's clearly passionate about the sport, but calls the wrestlers "Fatsoyama" and describe them as "...jocks - big, dumb, immature, sheltered guy
R Fontaine
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
Biography of Chad Rowan/Akibono.
(book pictured a representation)

The bio sheds light on how numerous Hawaiian/Polynesians moved to Japan to train as Sumo wrestlers.
Chad, as Akibono,became a Yokozuna (as did another Hawaiian, Musaha Maru) the most exulted level of Sumo.
Key Japanese Sumo translations:
Gaman-perseverance Saigo-to the end Gambarimasu - I will try my best
Honne-true feelings Tatemae-the face in front
Oliver Bateman
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely good, if extremely impressionistic, guide to the sport. Benjamin's a talented writer, and he gives you a very "fan's eye" view of a sport he has enjoyed for years. A bit too "writerly" at points, I suppose, and too clever by half, but otherwise quite good. You'll learn the names of a lot of key players and get a general sense of the past thirty years of the sport, as well as the rules/rituals of the game. ...more
Ari Sharp
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haiku Review:

When the big men fly
You too can pontificate
Like one in the know.
Manny in da house!
it definitely has some interesting parts in which you can learn quite a bit about sumo and its place in japanese culture. the sections in which the rules, different holds and moves, and the cultural aspects of sumo are discussed are incredibly insightful and can enhance one's interest in and knowledge of sumo very much!

but...... have you ever been stuck in a room with someone who thought they were a lot funnier than they actually are? and they need to remind you of their (self-proclaimed) amazin
Sumo Chris
I think what happened was the publishers said "David, sumo's foreign fan numbers are bulging and we need you to revise your 1980s book in three seconds flat." So Benjamin revised his 1980s book by changing the names of wrestlers but keeping most of the text in tact. And he devoted about 80 pages to describing 1980s matches - with hardly any attention given to the present day. Hopelessly out of date. ...more
David Horney
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-42nd-year
funny, irreverant and insightful. a must read for aspiring sumo nerds
Diane M. Kampe
rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2021
rated it it was ok
Dec 29, 2020
Dave Murray
rated it it was ok
Dec 27, 2019
rated it it was ok
Oct 17, 2016
rated it liked it
Dec 27, 2016
Chad McHugh
rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2016
rated it really liked it
Sep 23, 2015
John Clapp
rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2017
rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2018
Liam Reardon
rated it did not like it
Aug 07, 2020
rated it it was ok
Mar 29, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2012
rated it liked it
Dec 03, 2015
rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2021
rated it really liked it
May 15, 2018
rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2018
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ion
  • Sumo
  • Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time
  • Newborn Puppies: Dogs in Their First Three Weeks
  • Trees: A Visual Guide
  • Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity
  • Let Them Talk
  • Opium and Absinthe
  • Raptors: Portraits of Birds of Prey
  • The Common Reader
  • The Solace of Open Spaces
  • Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus's Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior
  • Love in the Stacks (Love in New Bedford, #2)
  • Sacred Tattoos of Thailand: Unveiling the Magic, Power and Mystery of Thailand's Ancient Tattoos
  • The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete
  • The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
  • The Last Full Measure (The Civil War Trilogy, #3)
  • Wedge's Gamble (Star Wars: X-Wing, #2)
See similar books…
David Benjamin became, at least in his own mind, prose laureate of Wisconsin with the publication of his Random House memoir, The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked.
Raised in Tomah, educated in Madison and Beloit, Benjamin paid his dues as a writer, journalist, essayist and author in regions as far flung as Paris and Tokyo, Brooklyn, New York and Mansfield, Massachusetts.
Last Kid Books, an impr

Related Articles

  Speaking with Adam Grant feels like having your brain sandblasted, in a pleasant sort of way. As an author, professor, and psychologist,...
70 likes · 1 comments