From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

Sumo and Discrimination

I read a short but interesting article about Sumo(相撲), a traditional style of wrestling in Japan, in the February issue of the Nihongo Journal yesterday. It gives a brief insight into the present day aspect of Sumo. For example, it talks about how and when sumo championships are organized, the career as a sumo wrestler, the background of the current wrestlers ---Rikishi (力士)---their salaries compared to professional players of soccer and baseball, and past and present championship winners.

But one unpleasant fact I just learned from this article is that unlike other types of sports in Japan--K1, or Boxing, for example, where you usually see girls appear on the ring to announce the start of a new round-- women are not allowed to enter the sumo's ring. The main reason, according to the article, is attributed to the fact that sumo is closely intertwined with Shinto( 神道), a religion unique to Japan. Sumo is a sacred sport, and in the past, traditional male rikishi(力士) wrestled each other in order to please God. Meanwhile, Shintoism considers women as impure( for a reason I'm not going to mention here) and thus are not allowed into the competition's area, which is believed to be a sacred place.

Moreover, sumo championship is organized alternatively at various places in Japan, namely Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and so on. Traditionally, on the final day of the competition, the top officer( usually the governor of the City) would be asked to present the championship cup to the winner in the ring. But, this is not possible in Osaka as the present governor is a woman, otherwise it will go against the sport's rule.

The article goes on to say that while there is outcry from critics over such age- old rule, there is no sign that it's going to change soon.

As for my personal opinion, I find it a little surprise that such outdated practice is still allowed to exist in a modern and advanced country like Japan. Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of this sport, but I'd still join the critics too. It's time to change the rule.

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No courage to read

I've come across the translated (Japanese) version of this book several times at the library. But I had no idea it is a national bestseller, a recipient of a 2001 book award, or that it has been translated into nine languages, including Khmer, until I came accross the author( Loung Ung)'s website the other day. All I knew about this book is that it is a horrible account of the writer's life during the Khmer Rough era.

Honestly, I never want to go through its content. It's not because I am not moved by its title, nor because I dislike such books.

It's because I lack the courage to read it. Growing up in Cambodia, I'm used to hearing stories of unbearable hardship, brutal killings, starvations and struggling during the murderous regime from all sort of people--- most frequently from my parents, my grandparents; and occasionally from my teachers, my friend's parents, people I know and I never know.

The stories have been told and retold to me since the time I was able to speak and understand Khmer. At home, my parents would often recount their horrible experiences during the Khmer Rough era (My mom lost one mother and eight of her 12 siblings, not to mention dozens of her relatives). At school, my teachers would tell their own accounts which were equally terrifying. In the school's text books ( at grade 2, 3 and 4) , there were written stories of the suffering of people and brutal killings with illustrated images, which were no less unpleasant and painful. In the media (National TV and well as Radio) back then, similar accounts were often widely broadcasted.

So sometimes I feel I have heard enough of these stories. It's unpleasant, sad and horrifying enough to have absorbed all these traumatized accounts in your head. It's time to move on, to read and to search for something else.

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Iraq Iran

The title of this entry is misleading. This post is neither about Iraq war nor Iran nuclear issue. It's about a song: a Khmer song written by Mr. Fay Sam Arng and produced by SSB production company. It appears SSB has recently made so many songs in a short period that song writers can no longer find any interesting title for their songs. So they are forced to pick an odd title for a newly released song. It's called " Iraq Iran." Disappointingly, like the title of my post, the title of this song is misleading.

Check the below video, if you want to find out whether the song has anything to do with these two middle east countries.

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