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After a year or so offline, I’m reposting “In the Hall of the Mountain Kings,” my blog chronicling life among sumo wrestlers. I had taken it offline while I used its entries as notes to write the magazine-length story that served as my journalism school master’s thesis. With that project long finished, I decided there’s no reason not to repost.

I must apologize for never really bringing any closure to the story I told about the wrestlers of the Hanaregoma sumo stable. I started off with daily posts from the stable, presenting my experiences there as I had them. Toward the end, though, I was back at school and struggling to find time to turn my notebook entries into blog posts. I wound up posting only once every couple weeks about events that occurred months earlier, before petering out altogether.

Here’s one final funny story, though:

Soon after starting the blog, I began using to keep track of visitors. A few dozen posts in, I noticed that I was getting hits through a linkage with the French-language sumo fan site When I checked it out myself, I saw that someone was translating my blog into French. Flattered, I got in touch with the translator and asked him if I could cut and paste his renderings into a French-language mirror image of my blog that I called "Dans l'antre du roi de la montagne." He was generous enough to let me do so. But I had no way of knowing how accurate or faithful his translation was; I don’t know French.

Anyway, I checked up on "Dans l'antre du roi de la montagne"’s traffic every so often and saw it was getting a few hits each week. But a few weeks after the French version went up, I saw a drastic spike in traffic to the site. I was suddenly getting thousands -- literally -- of visitors each day. And they were all coming from the same place:

“…?” I thought. “Does that have anything to do with the French president?”

I logged onto that site and saw that, yes, it did have something to do with famously sumo-loving Chirac. “Le Blog personnel de Jacque Chirac” it said along the top of the screen: Jacque Chirac’s personal blog. And then, along the “Liens” column to the right of the screen -- between “Le site de Johnny Hallyday” and “Le Blog de Dominique Strauss-Kahn” was a link to the Francophone rendering of my own words.

“Oh my god…,” I said to myself. “The president of France digs my blog.”

I spent the next week or so beaming with pride at my trans-Atlantic success. I told countless friends and acquaintances -- and especially enemies -- “The president of France digs my blog.”

Now, it just so happened that a technology reporter for Le Monde was in residence that semester at my journalism school. If anyone was going to be taken by such a tale of cross-cultural linkage across the blogosphere, it would be him, I figured. I sat down at my computer one afternoon and told him the whole story.

His reply: “Fun. I am not sure the site is exactly what it says though...”

In other words: “You’ve been punk’d.”

It turned out that was a hoax. It was a site parodying the French president, something I would have known if I had spoken French.

At any rate, thanks again for reading. Check out the version of my Chanko Nabe entry that ran on the Associated Press’ new asap service: Grappling with a weight issue.