Update on Nakagawa Scandal

A special board meeting has been held today, July 13th, which covered a lot of ground. One of the main subjects on the menu was the Nakagawa scandal.

Some more details were revealed about the nature of Nakagawa oyakata’s deeds. It turns out the abuse was not merely verbal. There were isolated acts of violence toward three of the 9 rikishi in the heya, accompanied by repeated daily verbal abuse, not limited to the practice grounds.

  • In February, rikishi A was carrying food sloppily. The oyakata accompanied his admonition not to spill the food with a punch to the middle of his face.
  • During Haru basho last March, rikishi B was supposed to handle goods that were sent to the heya’s lodging and did it incorrectly or inappropriately. He was sitting cross-legged, when the oyakata kicked him (once) in the back and added a slap.
  • The same rikishi B nodded off while riding a taxi back to the heya’s lodging on another occasion during that same basho. The oyakata got angry, and once at the lodging, made him sit seiza, and in addition to admonishing him, added three kicks to his stomach and two punches to his chest.
  • Last year, rikishi C came back from degeiko, and the oyakata did not like the way his obi was tied, and told him off, embellishing the admonition with a punch to his temple.

From January through March, the oyakata repeatedly verbally abused those three rikishi, on and off the practice grounds.

So it may come as a surprise to some of our readers, knowing that the NSK has a newly-minted strict no-violence policy, holding coaching staff to a high degree of responsibility, that the punishment Nakagawa oyakata receives was a demotion of two ranks.

Chairman Hakkaku explained that the perpetrator did not use any implements, there were no injuries, and since the victims accepted the oyakata’s apology and did not seek heavy punishment, the board decided to settle for this demotion.

The heya, however, has been disbanded. Thoroughly.


The usual procedure when a heya closes is to move everybody together. It has happened in the past that a heya was split, but it’s rather unusual for the members to be cast over three different ichimon, no more than two in the same place (three, if you count the oyakata).

Some background details:

  • Kyokusoten is Tamawashi’s brother-in-law, which explains the choice of Kataonami beya.
  • Kasugaryu and Haruhikari serve as Hakuho’s tsukebito. In fact, Kasugaryu also used to perform the bow twirling ceremony – a duty that usually falls to a Yokozuna’s tsukebito. It may seem strange that Tokitsukaze men serve a yokozuna from Isegahama ichimon, but their old heya – Kasugayama – used to belong to the Isegahama/Tatsunami ichimon. Well, now they are back.
  • Yoshizawa and Okunisato are twins. Yet they have been assigned to separate heya in different ichimon.
  • Kyokuyuko’s danpatsu-shiki was held yesterday at Nakagawa beya. He decided that Nakagawa will be his last master (most of the rikishi in the heya have been through three masters already).

Team Tachiai hopes that the former heya members will find their new heya welcoming and that their preparations for the basho next week will be minimally affected.

Nakagawa beya to close for “inappropriate discipline”.

Japanese sports news outlets report that Nakagawa oyakata is facing either a “recommendation to retire” or a dismissal, following a case of verbal abuse.

The compliance committee has already investigated the case, and the decision on the punishment is expected to be made as part of the board meeting planned for July 13th.

However, the heya’s wrestlers have already been seen preparing for a move.

It also appears that the rikishi will not be moved as one unit to another heya, but rather distributed among several heya. Furthermore, it appears some of them will choose retirement.

At the moment, not many details are known about the incident. It appears the oyakata made remarks toward a deshi which can be construed as “power harassment” as the Japanese define it. Another rikishi has recorded the incident and passed the recorded material to the NSK.


Six new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed

The NSK has formally announced today that six new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as of today.

These include Takadagawa oyakata and his deshi, Hakuyozan.

The current NSK policy is to disclose the names of infected members only if they are sekitori or oyakata. So the names or the heya to which the other four rikishi belong have not been disclosed.

(It is also a bit unclear from the language of the announcement if the four include the original case we have already been informed about, or are all new cases).

According to the announcement, Takadagawa oyakata had high fever, and has undergone a PCR test on April 23rd. He got a positive result and has been hospitalized since that day.

Hakuyozan did not show any symptoms, but having taken the test on April 24th, he was confirmed with the virus and has also been hospitalized.

The other patients were also hospitalized after being tested positive following the outbreak.

The NSK adds that any heya in which confirmed cases have been discovered will be disinfected, and all its members will be fully confined to the premises, with no keiko, and checked for symptoms, for the next two weeks.

Tachiai wishes all involved a speedy and complication-free recovery.

Toyonoshima announces his retirement

The NSK official Twitter, as well as most of the sports outlets in Japan, report that the highly popular Tokitsukaze beya veteran, Toyonoshima, has announced his retirement, and will now become Izutsu oyakata.

Toyonoshima was ranked Ms2e for Haru and expected to gain back his sekitori privileges (and income) with a simple kachi-koshi. Sadly, that kachi-koshi didn’t come, and his 2-5 result was certain to send him below the promotion rank on the Natsu banzuke.

When that result became clear, Toyonoshima asked the press to give him some time to consider his options. He said he was more or less ready to quit, but his daughter wanted him to press on.

We sometimes refer to short-stature rikishi like Ishiura, Terutsuyoshi and Enho as “pixies”, and marvel at their ability to maintain high rank and fairly impressive results in Makuuchi. But Toyonoshima and his 170cm have been there long before them. Toyonoshima reached the rank of Sekiwake several times, and raked in 5 jun-yusho, 10 special prizes and 4 kinboshi during his 18 year career.

As Izutsu oyakata, he intends to continue serving at Tokitsukaze beya.