Board Meeting News

On May 27th, a regular meeting of the NSK’s board has taken place. The main points of interest are:

Araiso oyakata to start a new heya

The board approved the request of former Kisenosato, now Araiso oyakata, to split away from Tagonoura beya, and start his own heya. Araiso beya will become reality as of this August. At first, it will take residence at Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture (Araiso’s home prefecture), and a permanent one will be built in the city of Ami in Inashiki District of the same prefecture.

Araiso is to take 4 wrestlers and a gyoji with him. The wrestlers are freshmen Nishihara, Taniguchi and Kato, who have joined Grand Sumo in Haru, and set foot on dohyo for the first time in Natsu basho, and veteran Adachi, who joined at around the same time Kisenosato did.

(Usually an oyakata who splits off takes only his uchi-deshi – rikishi he recruited with the intention of establishing his own heya – together with him from his old heya. Adachi is an exception, and I think the reasoning behind it is that with three complete novices, a heya required a seasoned anideshi to teach them the off-dohyo “way of sumo”).

Decision about Asanoyama has not been made yet

Apparently, the investigation into Asanoyama’s shenanigans turned out to be complex, and is still on-going. Another board meeting is set for June, but Shibatayama oyakata, the NSK’s spokesperson, said the investigation will not necessarily be complete by then.

A decision has been made about Ryuden

Ryden has been found guilty of breaking the NSK’s COVID regulations, having gone on unnecessary outings 25 times between March 2020 and January 2021, for the purpose of seeing a woman who was not his wife. Those meeting happened mostly during basho, some just before it.

Ryuden’s punishment is a suspension for 3 basho, including Natsu basho, which he has already spent kyujo. He should be back by November, and will likely be ranked at Makushita by then.

Ryuden’s shisho, Takadagawa oyakata, has been punished with a reduction of 20% of his salary for 6 months.

Nagoya basho will be held without vaccinations

Although an earlier plan has been to vaccinate all the rikishi and staff in June, this seems to have been set aside, probably due to the slow progress of vaccinations in Japan.

The basho will still take place at Nagoya, and all involved will undergo a PCR test before traveling there. The plans are to:

  • Hold the new recruit checkup at the Kokugikan on June 18th
  • Publish the banzuke on June 21st
  • Hold PCR tests over the 23rd and 24th
  • Each heya will depart for Nagoya after completing the PCR test.

29 thoughts on “Board Meeting News

  1. Thank you, Herouth! I am eager to see what the shikona in Araiso-beya will be. I also figure Takanosuke may be busy with double the dohyo-matsuri.

  2. Oh, and I had forgotten my other questions. (Rhetorical since not sure there are answers.) I wonder how Adachi’s chanko is and I wonder if the timing indicates Araiso is any closer to finding an okamisan to join his new life.

  3. The Ryuden punishment seems kind of lax all things considered. He was actively breaking protocol during the tournament itself endangering the entire field. Not only that but also to cheat on his wife. I’d have thought they’d throw the book at him.

    Makes me wonder if they’re “priming the pump” so to speak for when the Asanoyama punishment comes and it’s not as severe as you’d think it’d be they can point at Ryuden’s (potentially?) more severe infractions as a “guide” for Asanoyama’s punishment..

    • I think that his punishment was the same as Abi’s, so we can take that as the new standard for Covid-19 infractions. The punishment seems to be strictly based on Covid protocol violations and not on any other moral infractions.
      As for Asanoyama, the idea that they might not have completed the investigation before their June meeting raises the question of whether they will ban him from the Nagoya basho – at the very least, they will have to decide that.

      • Each case is different. Ryuden’s punishment is lighter than Abi because he didn’t lie to the compliance committee.

      • I am thinking that the delay in the Asanoyama decision means that there are disagreements within the board on the punishment. More time is needed for a consensus to emerge.

        • They said explicitly that the compliance committee has not finished its investigation.

          The involvement of a member of the accredited press in the issue probably adds further complication, plus the need to find out which of the shisho is responsible, when Asanoyama himself is known to be unreliable.

    • I don’t think the Kyokai can (or should) punish infidelity. IMHO, that’s prying a bit deeper into personal lives, and for Mrs. Ryuden to determine.

      • You say that, but in Japan, cheating scandals do carry professional consequences. Just three from puroresu (pro wrestling) alone, wrestler Taichi (Taichiro Maki) was suspended for several months in 2014 by New Japan Pro Wrestling after a cheating scandal was revealed, even tho he was getting a fairly decent push at the time.

        TAKA MIchinoku had an affair for 8 years, and due to that, was kicked out of the company he founded and operated, Kaientai Dojo, which is now called Active Advance Pro Wrestling in order to lose the bad image from that scandal.

        Lastly, NJPW’s Katsuyori Shibata was embroiled in a developing scandal of his own, however he then nearly killed himself in a match in April 2017 against Kazuchika Okada (with the worst headbutt I’ve ever seen), ending his in-ring career.

        This is not sumo, of course, but the lengths and punishments handed down point to this being a major societal taboo in Japan.

  4. Japanese vaccine distribution efforts must be really bad if they can’t get enough to vaccinate a thousand or so (out of 100 million or so) people whose livelihoods require close physical contact with each other. I just hit two weeks since my second dose, and I was waiting until the rush of tax season was over to get it. I had no problem finding an appointment at a reasonable time within a couple miles. Thus, I assume that pretty much everyone around here that wants to get the vaccine has already had it.

    • Most countries – Japan included – dish out vaccinations in an order of priority. Here in Israel we started out vaccinating the health workers, then the elderly above 65, and then it rapidly progressed down to “over 60”, “over 50” down to the full range covered by the clinical testing.

      The current priority in Japan is still on health workers (many of whom have not been vaccinated yet) and the elderly above 65, for whom mass vaccination basically started only a couple of weeks ago. The number of people vaccinated is still around 2% of the population, and they have a huge number of elderly people.

      Japan has only authorized Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccinations on May 21st. I don’t know when supplies will hit the market.

      Mass vaccination centers have also only been arranged in the past couple of weeks or so, because of Japan’s rules for administering medication (only doctors and nurses are allowed to, and the medical system is strained as it is). It required diverting doctors and nurses from the Japan Self Defence Forces to vaccination centers.

      In fact, one such vaccination center has been opened at the Ryogoku Kokugikan the day after the basho was over, serving the city of Sumida, Tokyo, and I think some adjacent cities as well.

      Progress is slow and supplies are short.

      • Dentists have also been recruited to give jabs as well as former (retired) healthcare personnel. The Diet (Japan’s legislature) is debating diverting some of the AstraZeneca stock to much needed Taiwan. Taiwan has been hit with a surge of late.

    • I’d be pretty pissed off if the Kyokai was given special treatment regarding the vaccination. The general population is watching a very slow campaign, the worst in the developed world by far, in which priority has already been given to politicians and Olympic athletes. Medical workers aren’t even finished, FFS! My significant other is a teacher and they should also be considered, but we’re months away from them getting shots if they’re even considered for priority access at all.

      At the pace that Japan is currently vaccinating, it will take until about early-fall NEXT YEAR to finish. They have to double their current daily output if we’ll even finish this year. The stated goal to get the seniors vaccinated by the end of July is already off the table. Some towns are making appointments up until the last day of August, and even that is overly optimistic given the current number of daily shots. At current output, even the end of August doesn’t work with the math.

      Lastly, we do not know if the current “urgency” to give out vaccines will even last once the seniors are finished and be extended to the rest of us. They might decide that they can take it easy and cool off a bit after they have the “most vulnerable” vaccinated.

      • I don’t know about the last part of your sentence. The British variant has taken over Japan (as it has done in many other places around the world), and based on experience from other places, it causes severe illness even in people who are a lot younger and have fewer if any background illnesses. The health care system in Japan simply can’t deal with additional cases, no matter what age.

        • And now there is an aggressive cross-strain of the British and Indian variants ravaging Vietnam. I worry about that landing ashore in Japan. The WHO official there says they have yet to confirm the alleged aggressive airborne potency.

  5. Given what happened with Hibikiryu, I’ve no faith in the rationale behind any NSK decision.

  6. Not totally surprised in the Ibaraki move but one thing that no one around the web seems to have brought up is that it was rumoured early on that he had been scouting real estate in Akihabara (which must have been insanely expensive, although would have been a really amazing location for trying to do something like sell unique merch, which he apparently intends to do via souvenir shop).

    I wonder if it was just finance that made that idea fall apart or if the lure of the hometown – albeit one with a dreadful commute to Kokugikan – was more attractive in the end… or both.

    • As far as I know, he was not looking for heya realestate in Akihabara, he was looking for a home for himself.

  7. Given what we know nowadays about the fine margins of athlete physiology and preparation, I would think having to travel 57km from Tsukuba, or for that matter Chiba or Tokorozawa to the Kokugikan twice a day, by train if you are lower division or by car if you are a sekitori, has to be some kind of disadvantage compared to being from a Heya like Dewanoumi that is just around the corner ? Sitting or standing in a fixed position for long periods before your bout can’t be as good as having the options of proper relaxation or your choice of exercise in that time. Akua’s experience with car crashes suggests there are other risks too. I’m surprised that someone starting a new Heya wouldn’t want to take these disadvantages and risks out of the equation, cut out the 1710 km travel per sekitori per 15 day tournament, and find a reasonably priced location much closer to Ryogoku.

    • Heya usually have supporters and since Kisenosato himself hails from Ibaraki, this might be quite a factor. Tsukuba connects to Kokugikan in less than one hour. It’s a pretty normal commute for Tokyo.
      I doubt there are any reasonable priced locations readily available near kokugikan and if you have to commute anyways, 20 less minutes vs building on your home soil …

      • Note, though, that he is only going to stay in Tsukuba until the new heya is built – in about a year – at Ami city.

        • I take your point but a “normal” commute for an office worker could be a marginal disadvantage for an athlete? There is some published research from Oita University on long commutes and alterations in heart rate variability and fatigue (Kageyama and Nishikido 1998). If my theory about the disadvantage of a long-ish commute in sumo has any basis perhaps we would find that far-flung Heyas like Shikihide, Onoe, Futagoyama and Tatsumami perform worse at Tokyo bashos than they do in the other three cities?

          You may well be right about why he’s going to Ibaraki but I do think he’s giving his group a built-in disadvantage. I would think there is plenty of cheaper land closer to Ryogoku than Tsukuba. Tsukuba is relatively expensive compared to much of Ibaraki thanks to its fast train to Akihabara and its University. Maybe Ami, the place he’s aiming for in the end is dirt cheap and the bargain of the century for building a heya, but it’s even further away from Ryogoku!!

          • Cheap land and Tokyo is basically a contradiction in terms.

            The heya is not going to be always in Tsukuba. Only for one year, and they are setting up at Tsukuba university. The actual heya is on a 991 square meters (10667 square feet) plot in Ami city.

          • FWIW, some of the temporary lodgings that stables use for the regional tournaments aren’t exactly around the corner from the arena either.

          • It would be interesting for a deeper analysis…comparing the same stable’s performance in the different cities.


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