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"Topknot-Cutting Ceremony Held for Former Yokozuna Hakuho"

Learn Japanese from the News

Broadcast on February 27, 2023 Available until February 26, 2024

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News." In this program we learn Japanese and more about Japan from news stories presented in simple Japanese. Today's headline is "Topknot-Cutting Ceremony Held for Former Yokozuna Hakuho" which was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on January 31, 2023. Keywords include「横綱(よこづな)Yokozuna」"Grand Champion" and「引退(いんたい)intai」"retirement."



"Topknot-Cutting Ceremony Held for Former Yokozuna Hakuho"

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News."
Join us as we learn Japanese and about the country from Japanese-language news stories. Today's headline is…

おととし引退(いんたい)した横綱(よこづな)の白鵬(はくほう) 髪(かみ)を切(き)る式(しき)を開(ひら)く
"Topknot-Cutting Ceremony Held for Former Yokozuna Hakuho"
This news story was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on January 31st. Now let's go over some vocab words that will help us understand what's going on.
Grand Champion
This refers to a sumo wrestler's topknot, which is considered a sacred part of their body.
Let's keep these words in mind as we listen.
A topknot-cutting ceremony was held for the Mongolian-born former Yokozuna Hakuho, who retired in 2021.

Now we'll break down a few sentences from the story that contain helpful expressions and keywords.
Let's start with the following sentence.
On January 28, a ceremony was held at the Kokugikan in Tokyo to cut the hair of former Yokozuna Hakuho.
横綱(よこづな)means "Grand Champion." It's the highest rank in sumo. The second-highest rank is 大関(おおぜき).
It takes more than technique to become Yokozuna.
To become a Yokozuna, a wrestler must also have 品格(ひんかく), that is, "dignity" or "class."
They must be outstanding both in terms of performance and poise. Hakuho held the rank of Yokozuna for 14 years. 
OK, let's move on to our next sentence.
Mongolian-born Hakuho won 45 championships, the most ever in sumo, and retired in the fall of 2021.
大相撲(おおずもう)means "grand sumo."
The 大(おお)in 大相撲(おおずもう)means "grand". It is the same as 大(おお)きい.
Also note the fact that the pronunciation of すもう changes to ずもう. When we combine two words into a compound, the initial consonant of the second word often becomes voiced. For instance, when you combine 本(ほん), which means "book," and 棚(たな), which means "shelf," you get ほんだな — "bookshelf."
Technically speaking, this phenomenon is called "rendaku." It's not yet fully clear when rendaku occurs and when it doesn't, and why it happens in the first place. And this is something that native Japanese speakers often have trouble with, too.
OK, that's all for today.
I've been fortunate enough to attend a few「おおずもう」tournaments. Seeing the wrestlers clash in the flesh is truly a sight to behold.
Yes, it's incredible. I recommend checking out the Grand Sumo Highlights on the NHK World website.
Tune in next time for more!

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