New Emissary

iPad for Better Sumo?

Japan’s sumo association unofficially endorses Apple’s device. Is it a smart PR move?

One of the ‘big’ stories that came out of Japan this week has been of the sumo association’s unofficial endorsement of Apple’s iPad.

Even major news outlets like the BBC and AP had no problem using the phrase ‘fat fingered’ in their attention-grabbing headlines and reports, and pointed out that the 60 new iPads shared amongst 51 training stables in Japan were placed to increase the efficiency of communication between officials, wrestlers and their coaches nation-wide.

Not only will the iPad replace ‘old-school’ forms of communication like the phone and fax, but they’ll also allow the athletes themselves to send messages—the keyboards are more accommodating for the proportionately large fingers of the players, who apparently have a lot of trouble accurately punching the buttons on regular-sized devices like cell phones—including the iPhone.

This new and uncharacteristic move by the traditional sport’s national organization has no doubt had at least something to do with efforts to improve its tarnished image in Japan. Over the past few years, sumo has been shaken by various scandals including that of brutal (and sometimes even) lethal methods of hazing and, most recently, accusations of mob ties.

As it stands, the iPad does seem to stand a good chance at becoming popular, maybe even a communications ‘must-have’ amongst the country’s ample-bodied athletes. Meanwhile, some izakayas, or casual drinking restaurants in Japan, might also soon be welcoming the device into their businesses—the Sharp company is reportedly now testing the iPad in restaurants as a menu pad aimed to increased sales and offer more informative and user-friendly ways to consumers for ordering food and drink items in the fast-paced dining settings unique to izakaya dining.