Aki: Sekitori Rememberance


With the Aki 2017 basho now in the rearview mirror, let’s pay tribute to two rikishi and former sekitori who announced their retirement during the tournament.

Wakanoshima (former Juryo 7)

Wakanoshima (latterly of Shibatayama-beya) finished his career with a kachi-koshi in Makushita. The 32 year old took the long and winding path to achieve sekitori status, entering the banzuke as a 15 year old in 2000. He managed 7 basho at Juryo level over his career, across four separate trips to the professional ranks.

While Wakanoshima never scored a yusho at any level, he did manage to put dirt on familiar recent makuuchi names like Chiyonokuni, Chiyomaru, Ichinojo, Kagayaki, Shohozan… and he loved to face Ishiura, beating the latter five times out of six career matchups. The rikishi his career tracked most closely with was another Juryo yo-yo man in Kizenryu, and the pair split their 18 career match-ups evenly. He might be one of few men who can look back on their career and brag that the great Ozeki Takayasu never got the better of him, having bested one of sumo’s popular men in both bouts, in Takayasu’s younger days.

Wakanoshima, real name Fumiya Saita, finishes his career with 398 victories in the dohyo, and let’s remember him appropriately, with a sukuinage win over his longtime foe Kizenryu:


Rikishin (former Juryo 10)

We have often covered the battle that rikishi must endure to remain healthy, and so it is very sad to wave goodbye to the promising 21 year old and appropriately named Rikishin, who reached Juryo this year. He retires due to injury.

Another rikishi who started as a 15 year old, Rikishin’s achievement where so many others have failed in reaching the professional ranks should be commended. While his career was short, he still managed do to battle with several names with which Tachiai readers will be familiar. His greatest foe might have been Nagoya Juryo winner Daiamami, whom he bested on 3 of their 5 meetings.

Rikishin, real name Tatsuki Kubota and of Tatsunami-beya, finished his career with 158 victories. He also managed one division championship in his career, scoring a zensho yusho in the Makushita division in Nagoya three years ago. Here he is, dominating a Tachiai-favorite in Osunaarashi, marching him along the straw bales before finishing him off:


We wish both men the very best!

9 thoughts on “Aki: Sekitori Rememberance

  1. That’s too bad for Rikishin, he had is whole career ahead of him. Are there other positions within The Sumo Association for men like him? I’ve noticed that many of the security guards who stand at the entrance to the locker rooms have Chonmage, are they also rikishi who have retired from combat but remained in the Association?

    • As far as I know, once you retire from active professional Sumo, your mage is cut off. If you saw people with chon-mage, then they are active rikishi, or possibly retired rikishi who have not yet had their retirement ceremony.

      All the guys that hang around the high-ranked rikishi and do their bidding are lower-level rikishi. Each sekitori is assigned at least one “tsukebito” (personal attendant). And in general, menial work is done either by low-level rikishi or by yobidashi (with the yobidashi mostly doing dohyo-side works).

      • Right, pretty hard to miss the tsukebito, especially the ones with luxurious tiger print yukata! The guys I’ve seen typically sit halfway down the walkway rikishi use to enter the arena, and they wear blue jackets with the Association crest on them. I did a bit if reaserch and from what I found most of them are older men without their mage, I could only find one or two younger guys with their mage still intact. Just like you said, they’re probably post retirement rikishi, which makes sense since they’d need someone strong to push the giant wheelchair!

        • What I love about tsukebito yukata is that they usually wear something with the name of their master on it. There is this famous photo that was all over the Japanese media when Terunofuji was injured this basho and he leans on his loyal Shunba as they leave the Kokugikan. And they both wear the same yukata with “Terunofuji” written all over it. :-)

          Though it’s actually considered uncool to wear a Yukata with your own name on it, some do. I ran into a series of pictures in the Jungyo showing Chiyomaru wearing a Chiyoshoma yukata, and then Chiyoshoma… wearing a nearly identical Chiyoshoma yukata. Hey, that’s not fair!

          Anyway, if indeed those hanamichi workers are recently retired rikishi, then maybe Rikishin can do that. The thing is, if he’s 22 years old, there is really no reason he shouldn’t just start a normal career – get a high school diploma if he doesn’t have one, maybe go to university, find a job, get a life.

          • Why can’t I buy a Terunofuji or Chiyoshoma brand yukata? The kokugikan online store is leaving money on the table. Though knowing my luck with ordering things from abroad, I’d end up with something like this

            At 22, I’d assume he should go back to school, and try to find a career he’s excited about. Even with the somewhat iffy youth job market, there seems like there’s a lot of work to support the upcoming Olympics.

          • Maybe they ran out of material for Chiyomaru’s yukata? That’s hilarius! I genuinely didn’t know that, but now I’m going to have to keep an eye out for what the tsukebito are wearing from now on! I guess he could get a job and life, but I bet it’ll be hard for him to leave that sweet heya life!

  2. Meisei put a beautiful tribute to Rishikin on his Instagram, charting their many adventures together, as well as his new haircut.
    Hopefully with being so young he will be able to transition well into his ‘second life’.

  3. Best of luck to them in their post-sumo lives, and thanks for providing us with noteworthy matches over the years.


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