Takagenji caught smoking pot

Our sharp-eyed readers have noticed by now that the scandal meter has been reset recently, with a title “Takaganja scandal”. I did not want to let this matter overshadow Terunofuji’s promotion or the other good news coming from the banzuke committee, but here is the story.

Before I go on, a note: this story is not about sports doping. This is not a Sha’Carri Richardson kind of controversy about whether or not cannabis should be banned in sports. Cannabis is simply a banned substance according to Japanese law, so read the title as “Takagenji caught committing a criminal offense”.

Two more points to bear in mind:

  • Japanese law has penalties for possession or trafficking, but not for use of cannabis.
  • CBD products are sold legally, and even promoted by the former Kisenosato, Araiso oyakata (fun fact: the yokozuna’s rope is made of hemp).

So here is the story.

On Saturday, July 17, day 14 of Nagoya basho, a report came to the NSK officials, saying that “rumors among the rikishi say that Takagenji has been using cannabis, and two of the NSK employees in the heya know about it”.

At around 8pm the same day, Tokiwayama oyakata and other employees in the heya were summoned for inquiry. One of them said that he heard such a rumor once in the past, but did not hear it again.

On the 18th (senshuraku), after his bout was over, Oguruma oyakata, who is the head of the compliance department, questioned Takagenji about those rumors. Takagenji claimed that he was using CBD oil for pain relief, as well as gummy drops to prevent stage fright, which are said to contain CBD, and that this was the source of the rumor. He was asked if he would agree to be tested, and gave his consent.

On the 19th, around 3PM, under supervision from the Compliance Committee’s lawyer, a urine test was held, and Takagenji came out positive.

When questioned about this, Takagenji admitted to having smoked one joint while taking a walk on a road near the heya’s lodging during the basho.

Following its own regulations, the NSK referred the case to the police. He was questioned by the police and then released. He is now back home (in Tokyo), confined to his house under instructions from his oyakata.

Once the police completes its investigations (which it may have already done) and the compliance committee hands in its report, the board will decide on an appropriate punishment.

The prospects do not look good for Takagenji, and it appears he will be joining his older twin in the world outside sumo.

Following the cannabis scandals in the early 2000s, the NSK regulations have been revised, and although the police does not penalize people for positive THC tests or for smoking a doobie, the NSK regulations forbid drug use and the penalty is dismissal. Insiders tell the press that Takaganja is facing either a “recommendation to retire” or a straight up dismissal.

This is not the Juryo man’s first involvement in scandal. He was involved in the same scandal that saw his twin brother ousted from the sumo world, although he stopped short of using physical violence then, and was reprimanded for “power harassment” only.

17 thoughts on “Takagenji caught smoking pot

  1. For anyone who doesn’t know Takagenji (like me 5 minutes ago), he is a 24-year-old rikishi. He made Juryo for the first time in 2017, and has bounced around Juryo, Makushita, and Maegashira ever since. His highest rank was Maegashira #10 following a Juryo championship. He lasted in the top division for one more tournament before dropping back down to the lower ranks in late 2019.

    Fun fact: Takagenji is known for being a diligent trainer, so much so that when he dislocated his knee while practicing on tour in Tokushima in October 2016, he re-inserted the dislocated knee joint so he could finish the training session.

  2. I have no issues with people taking such substances, the bullying is far worse, not even comparable… But wasn´t Takagenji also the guy posting fascist conspiracies on social media?

  3. I have to make an effort to be obective, because I just don’t don’t like him or his brother for many reasons, some of which may be petty. Let’s just say that my heart is not breaking over this. Not that smoking weed is that big a deal, but this is another example of a perception that he feels that he is far too important to have to follow rules. No loss.

  4. Is it possible that this is part of a long running vendetta JSA is running against Takanohana and anyone associated with him? They found a way to force retirements of Takanoiwa, Takanofuji, now Takagenji. Yes, these men committed various infractions but from what I hear, that sort of behavior is quite common among Sumo wrestlers – and coaches. For example, when Asanoyama was caught, it came out that his ex-coach was also enthusiastically breaking the same laws – even asking young rikishi to help him get to a hostess bar becasue he had problem walking. Countless sumo wrestlers have revealed in their biographies and in other stories how common verbal and physical abuse is in stables.

    What bothers me is the selective enforcement of rules – either against Rikishi they don’t like – or those who are guilty by association (e.g., association with Takanohana), or when they get caught by press (Abi, Ryuden, Asanoyama).

    • I don’t follow. The rules are there for everyone. Weed is not as accepted in Japan as it is in some other countries. It’s pretty simple to avoid, and I would argue hostess clubs are more accepted in Japanese society than drug use. If you don’t seek it out, a joint won’t pop itself into your mouth but you will walk by hostess clubs every day, with tauts beconing even foreigners. But the bottom line is, he lied. This time, he lied about something that was a criminal offense. He had to possess it to smoke the joint. His new story is not that he was out with others who smoked and he got a second hand exposure.

    • I saw that Chris raised this particular conspiracy theory in one of his recent videos. I don’t think it really holds water.

      Why would people seek revenge against people who were totally uninvolved and unrelated to the strife? I get that they wanted to get rid of Takanohana himself. But now he’s gone. Why would they want to chase away his deshi? Do you really think a bunch of retired rikishi from various generations and backgrounds somehow come together in a dark room, heads covered in cloaks, deciding to wipe every memory of a former member who defected? It’s a sports and culture organization, not a religious cult.

      Those twins have been bad seeds from day one. When I started following sumo and got onto Twitter, I followed their Twitter account. What can I tell you, those two were entitled brats. Takayoshitoshi (later Takanofuji) threw a hissy fit about fans calling him “Takagenji” when he came into the venue. “If you can’t tell us apart, shut up”. Those fans were trying to cheer you, dummy. Takagenji retweeted tweets pro corporal punishment, and also holocaust denialism (“We shouldn’t support the story of the holocaust because it weakens our position about comfort women in Korea”). Takayoshitoshi’s Twitter account was killed first. Takagenji carried on for a while until – during the Takanohana scandal – he retweeted some hate speech about Mongolians and then his account was zapped as well.

      And then it turns out they are bad people IRL, too. No need to repeat the Takanofuji story beating two different tsukebito in two different scandals. But his brother was right there and verbally abusing the same people (the tsukebito and two others), and was saved by the fact that he kept his hands to himself. Now it turns out that rumors about cannabis use have been going around for two years or so.

      The guys think they are above the rules, they get zapped, there is no surprise there. Many other people got zapped who were not involved with Takanohana in any way, shape or form. Osunaarashi, Sumidagawa, recently a couple of oyakata. Break the rules, get punished.

      As for Takanoiwa, I think if there was any vendetta in his case, it’s not against the Takanohana clan as much as against the Kyokushuzan faction of the Mongolian community, or simply against himself directly, as “the guy who caused Harumafuji’s retirement” (though that’s victim blaming and I don’t condone it).

      There are other members of Takanohana’s beya who are alive and well, most prominently Takakeisho, who is a class act and the worst thing he’s ever done was go around town in western clothes (with the twins, by the way). His tsukebito admire and respect him. And recently one of them became sekitori after a long time – Takakento.

      Takatoriki once said that the evil NSK threatened to hurt his children if he didn’t do whatever they wanted him to do. Well, three of his boys joined the Sumo World and seem to be doing quite well. Nobody has poisened their food yet.

      To sum up, it’s a sports/culture association. It’s a bunch of old, not very well educated guys from different generations, some of whom banged their heads against the teppo pole a bit too much. They are slow to react, bureaucratic, and tend to protect their own interests. Which organization doesn’t? They are not a dark cabal spending effort and money against a rival House. #NotGameOfThrones.

      • Thanks for providing the summary. Definitely narcisstic, immature brats.I would like to add that I remember when Takanoiwa gut in trouble the last time, Takagenji was interviewed, he went on about how ashamed and distressed he was, tried to make himself sound reasonable and concerned. Threw his brother right under the bus, knowing that he himself was no better. Seems like Takakeisho is better without them.

      • Yes, it’s true then.
        And reaaally seldom an internet scumbag turns out a good fellow IRL… I mean, they were very young back then, ignorance can be some sort of excuse, and growth from past idiocy is always possible… well, I hope they can achieve such growth outside of sumo.
        To be honest, the twins were a sore presence in my sumo following. I’m kind of glad to see I wasn’t the only one to have sour feelings for them, because I don’t always trust my own idiosyncrasies lol.

      • I am interested in the phrase “the Kyokushuzan faction of the Mongolian community”. I remember some talk of different Mongolian factions at the time of the Harumafuji scandal but I don’t recall it being explained in detail. I can see that Kyokushuzan played a role in bringing wrestlers like Hakuho and Tamawashi into sumo, but does it go any deeper than that?

        • Well, I can’t say anything with authority, but apparently there are two main factions within the Mongolian rikishi community – the Asashoryu faction and the Kyokushuzan faction, and well, think of them like partisan politics in the USA. Very divisive.

          One should note, though, that there are people who seem to belong to neither faction (I think Hakuho is not affiliated with either), and also that the younger generation seems not to be interested in the old feuds.

          (Again, I did no real research on it, it’s the impression I get from reading tweets, news items, gossip items etc.)

          Takanoiwa belonged to the Kyokushuzan camp. It was Kyokushuzan who posted the famous photo of Takanoiwa’s stapled scalp, and he was the one who propagated the false story about the bottle of beer.

          Harumafuji belonged in the Asashoryu camp. Asashoryu got Kyokushuzan kicked out of his diplomatic capacity over that scandal. It was probably the Asashoryu/Harumafuji faction (or rather, its extension in Mongolia itself) that bullied Takanoiwa’s family when he filed a civil suit against Harumafuji for ridiculous sum, forcing him to withdraw it.

          This is why I am surmising that if rumors of Takanoiwa having beaten his tsukebito started circling around rikishi society, it would have been picked up and reported not by people with interests against Takanohana (who should have been satisfied by then) but rather by people with interests against Takanoiwa, who still bore a grudge.

  5. Here is some background which I did not know until Herouth’s article mentioned a cannabis scandal:


    Note this from the linked article:

    “After that, the JSA added rules that any retirement package for dismissed members would be reduced or denied, and that those who use illegal drugs would be dismissed without benefits.[5]”

    Assuming wikipedia gave a fair summary of the scandal, it’s clear the JSA takes illegal drug use seriously.

    I’m not overthinking this incident. Using pot is against the law. He got caught breaking the law. There’s a policy started around 2008 of kicking drug offenders out of sumo. End of story. No conspiracy theory needed.


  6. I strongly dislike Takagenji because of bullying (and other stuff). That said, having him thrown out of sumo because of cannabis use isn’t something I agree with either and I’d personally like to see these rules changed (as well as a lot of drug legislation).
    Can’t say I’ll miss him either way – hopefully his life outside sumo will go better and he’ll behave like a decent human being.


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