Yesterday, news came via the Hakkaku Twitter feed that Amanishiki (海士錦) had his haircutting ceremony. This touches on a discussion we’ve been having about rikishi, fans and social media. Because of social media, we get a deeper glimpse into the lives and careers of wrestlers but that image is carefully controlled by the heya.
Who is Amanishiki? The first challenge was with his shikona. I couldn’t find Kaishinishiki…I could not figure out his shikona. He’s not listed as retired yet on the SumoDB. I knew the “nishiki” was the last character and Amanishiki is the only nishiki listed at Hakkaku beya. I confirmed it by checking his rank on the Japanese banzuke, and sure enough, 海士錦 = Amanishiki.
From the images above, we see several of his stablemates taking part in the private ceremony, cutting a strand of his hair. And below, we see his younger brother, Amanoshima, taking his turn, with Okinoumi waiting in the wings. There is a Shimane connection here between Okinoumi and the Uno brothers.
The Uno brothers hail from Ama on Nakanoshima. It’s a small island among a cluster in the Sea of Japan, the biggest of which being Okinoshima. The younger brother joined the sumo world first, in 2011, with Amanishiki following in 2013.
What kind of fighter was Amanishiki? We can find out by digging into YouTube and the data from the SumoDB. What kind of brother, stablemate, and friend was he? Well, that’s what we would be able to learn if there was more interaction via social media. Maybe one day? In the meantime, we’ll look through what we have and I think we have a character I would love to watch. As YouTube culls content on the basis of IP, some videos have been removed but we’ve got this great one from last summer against a guy whose shikona is a rather long, Ookuniasahi.
Ashitori! I love ashitori. It turns out, that’s a rather reliable tool for Amanikshiki. The youngster is clearly a smaller guy when it comes to the sumo world, so the fact that most of his wins come from hatakikomi should not surprise. What is surprising is that it was about as reliable as ashitori and yorikiri. The wily one likes a belt battle.
In this bout with Wakaichiro from last year’s Aki tournament, we see the contrast in styles. Wakaichiro comes out with powerful tsuppari, pushing him backwards with straight forward oshi zumo. Amanishiki turns the tables by grabbing Wakaichiro’s belt and asserting his yotsu-style.
We get a clue to a possible reason for the early retirement in this video. He’s got bandaged knees and there’s one point in the bout where it appears his knee may have been about to buckle, or at least was a bit ginger on it. He had a prolonged kyujo for a few tournaments in 2017 but recently had been on a rise with 5 kachi-koshi records in his 6 tournaments since coming back — including two 4-3 records in Sandanme.
I would love to have followed this guy…if I’d known about him. This is where I hope the kyokai and the heya begin to extend their involvement on social media. It could be a great tool for sharing highlights and connecting with fans. Several rikishi do share streams on Instagram. The heyas themselves could cultivate a much closer relationship with fans on these platforms.
In the meantime, I’m going to pay closer attention to his brother. Amanoshima also likes ashitori but he seems to be about as reliable on the belt as he is with oshi-zumo. He’s cracked makushita a few times but will slip back a little deeper into sandanme in Osaka.