Takanoiwa’s Danpatsu-Shiki

Today, Takanoiwa’s danpatsu-shiki, the ceremonial cutting of the top-knot, took place on the dohyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. Sumo fans who did not read about the reconciliation between Harumafuji and Takanoiwa, may have been surprised to see this:

Harumafuji, participating as promised in the hair cutting ceremony

And even those who knew about the reconciliation, may have been surprised at another consequence of it:

Yokozuna Hakuho, also cutting a strand

And, perhaps less surprisingly, Kakuryu was there as well:

Kakuryu: “Thanks for the hard work. Let’s see each other again”.

Indeed, it seemed every Mongolian sekitori showed up: Tamawashi, Arawashi, Chiyoshoma and, of course, Ichinojo, all snipped a strand of hair, as did members of Takanoiwa’s own heya:

As has been speculated, Takanoiwa’s original stablemaster, Takanohana, absented himself from this ceremony, and chose, instead, to show up for an assembly of his support group in Nagoya. Comedian Kunihiro Matsumura, known, among others, for his impressions of the former Takanohana, filled in:

Spitting image

About 370 people participated. This may seem a small number for the 12,000 seat Kokugikan, but it should be noted that the tickets sold for this event all included both the ceremony itself and the party that followed it, so the limiting number was the capacity of the banquet hall, not the Kokugikan itself – and the tickets sold out. The other day I reported that only 90 tickets were sold – but in fact, whatever was allotted was sold. Here is a summary of the ceremony:

A quick shave-and-a-hair-cut, and I give you Takanoiwa in his new form:

Adiya Baasandorj, formerly known as Takanoiwa

The party after the ceremony included a Mongolian band:

As well as karaoko! Here is the man of the hour:

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you Chiganoura oyakata’s karaoke, because he is one of the best singers in the Sumo world.

And so, it appears that the reconciliation indeed helped the ceremony become a respectable, well-attended occasion.

But it may have done more than bring Hakuho to softly lay his hands on Takanoiwa’s shoulders.

Meet Takanoiwa’s nephew, Sukhbat

In March 2018, Takanoiwa’s nephew, Sukhbat, son of his second eldest brother (Takanoiwa is the youngest of five siblings) was looking for a heya.

Sukhbat was 19 at the time, graduating at the same time as the famous Naya, and from the same school, Saitama Sakae, which has a very strong sumo program. This is the same school Takakeisho graduated from.

This was before Haru 2018. The boy was practicing with his uncle at Takanohana beya’s Osaka facility, but of course could not join that heya, as Takanoiwa himself occupied the foreigner slot. So he was looking for a heya that was willing to take someone who finished third in the inter-high sumo tournament, in time for the new recruits exams of the haru basho… but there were no takers.

This was in the middle of the Harumafuji scandal. Haru 2018 was the first basho Takanoiwa was to attend after the “incident”. And heya were distancing themselves from the matter, apparently.

But he didn’t find one in Natsu, and in Nagoya, and in Aki… you get the drift. With his uncle’s own retirement, it seemed that the world of sumo was willing to give out on this supposedly talented wrestler.

And then we had the reconciliation. Then suddenly…

Left: Takanoiwa. Right: Sukhbat

Sukhbat is going to join Onoe beya. He will probably undergo the new recruit examination in Haru, but will only be able to do his mae-zumo in Natsu, as is usual for foreign recruits.

So, of course, temporal succession does not necessarily imply causation. But with foreigner slots being a limited resource, and the Japanese natural suspicion of anything foreign, it makes sense that any foreigner wanting to join the world of sumo would need an intercessor or sponsor to speak for him. Apparently the well-oiled Mongolian recruiting machine was not working for Sukhbat until just recently. He is now 20 years old. Let’s hope he has kept himself in shape!

17 thoughts on “Takanoiwa’s Danpatsu-Shiki

  1. I don’t know that I blame Takanohana for the way he acts — for whatever reason, CTE or personality disorder or what have you, I see a man who’s grasp on reality is tenuous. But I sure am glad that with him out of the picture the other people involved in this incident have found a resolution that makes them happy (or at least allows them to present a united front).

    • I had a similar thought. Without his involvement, everybody managed to resolve the problem without major drama. I feel that the personality disorder theory gained some support by his choice to spend time with his supporters so he could have his ego massaged.

  2. So sad. I’m sure everyone involved, had they the proverbial ”do-over”, would have acted differently last year. A thoughtless comment and an inconsiderate gesture coupled with an ill-advised response can have so many repercussions going forward. Very very sad indeed.

  3. It’s good to see some additional resolution here. It’s still a bad situation all around, like Rich said, but I’m glad that everyone expect Takanohana has had a chance to do away with acrimony. Thanks for your reporting.

  4. Thanks ! A lots of info. Just imagine a world of sumo without restrictions, I mean foreigner restriction…..

  5. Holy smokes, Herouth! You definitely are right about Chiganoura oyakata. That was no easy song to sing, but he nailed it! I liked that Mongolian group, too. Thanks!

  6. OK, decided, Chiganoura-Oyakata and Ikioi need to release an album. The money can go to improve the A/C in Nagoya x.x

    I love how “missed” Takanohana was ;p They could’ve just pretended he never existed, but with the permission of every relevant person, they actually rubbed Takanohana’s nose in it (and deservedly so!) I laughed way, way too hard…

    Any word yet on the future plans of Adiya Baasandorj? Besides, I presume, moral support/advise to his nephew…as long as that advice isn’t on how to handle violence, I suppose. Ah well. Does this count as “All’s Well that Ends Well?”

    • He doesn’t know, yet, what he is going to do. Said something generic about taking on new challenges. I hope he doesn’t end up just wasting all the money I assume he got from Harumafuji as compensation (supposed to be a few $100k).

  7. thanks for this report – felt happy for him that his ostracism appears to be at an end now that reconciliation has taken place, and as for Chiganoura-Oyakata – to get behind Takanoiwa/Adiya the way that he has – not to mention the adoption of his new rikishi-tachi, very generous and kind hearted man indeed.


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