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Futogayama's marriage on edge of dohyo

Futogayama's marriage on edge of dohyo 
Sunday, Mar. 11, 2001 Mainichi Shimbun


set the site for a photo, not too flattering though (Fed-up Noriko set to
bolt the Futogayama stable)
It must have been a stormy marriage, beneath the veil of calm blue sky.
Certainly the separation proceedings are titillating -- a saucy wink behind
sumo's stiffly decorous back. Josei Jishin (3/20) gives us shove and
counter-shove: she wants the Karuizawa house, the Tokyo condo being too
small; oh, and she wants another condo too -- Karuizawa's no place to spend
the winter. Fine, says he; anything to clear the stable of her. 

The rift between stablemaster Futagoyama and his okamisan, the former (and
present) Noriko Hanada, surfaced last summer with rumors of an affair she
was allegedly having with a doctor 18 years younger than her 53-year-old
self. Now -- it's come to this. When will it end? Probably not till after
the spring basho has closed and the cherry blossoms have scattered, sighs
Josei Jishin. 

You'd never know she wasnÕt a born entertainer, says Flash (3/20), admiring
the poise with which Noriko (she prefers "Noriko-san" to "Hanada-san,"
claiming the latter sounds strange after 31 years of being addressed, as
befits a sumo wife, as "okamisan") wielded her microphone at her maiden
dinner talk show on Feb. 28 at the New Kyoto Hotel. This was just hours
before the sports tabloids went public with the first reports that a
divorce agreement had been reached. For 70 minutes Noriko regaled her
capacity-plus audience of nearly 500, who had paid 9,800 yen a head to hear
her say, among other things, "I want to be free." 

She is best known as the mother of Yokozuna brothers Wakanohana and
Takanohana, but, she told her auditors, over the years she has been
surrogate mother to some 200 young wrestlers. Is that what she wants to be
free of? Not so much that, Shukan Post (3/16) has her explaining, as the
ceremonial strictures within the sumo world -- such as, for example, a
wife's obligation to walk three paces behind her husband. "But my stride is
longer than [FutagoyamaÕs], and I walk faster," she said. "Before I'd know
it, he'd be behind me!" 

"But of course you were once an actress, weren't you?" asked the talk-show
moderator, unable to get over Noriko-san's easy professionalism behind the
mike. "Oh, not much of one," Flash says she replied with a smile. Be that
as it may, there's plenty of room for her on TV, and that, says Flash, is
where she'll likely find her post-okamisan place in life, following in the
footsteps of her son Wakanohana, now retired from sumo and reborn as a TV

(Michael Hoffman, Contributing Writer)