Takamisugi is now known as Chiganoura Oyakata. He was in the news a few weeks ago during the Takanohana resignation drama as his stable absorbed the former Yokozuna’s stable. It was not the first merger that tied these two together. In early 1993, the Fujishima stable housing a young hotshot, sekiwake Takahanada, folded. Takahanada then changed his shikona to Takanohana on joining the Taganoura home of Takamisugi.
At the time, Takamisugi had just reached the sanyaku after a long, grinding career illustrated in the chart below. Takamisugi had his debut more than a decade before Takanohana and reached sanyaku a few months before the future Super-zuna.
Takamisugi began his nearly 20 year career at the tender age of 15. His progression into the Makuuchi had a few setbacks, taking three years to reach Makushita, and included a brief dip back into makushita…but then a ten year spell in makuuchi before retirement in 1995, not before he was able to see the young Takanohana become the sport’s 65th Yokozuna. You will notice the last little dip into Jonidan is followed by a sharp rise as he won the Jonidan yusho.
The correct answer to the Twitter Quiz was B: Chiyonofuji. I admit, I would not have known the answer without looking up the data in the SumoDB. As reader @henzinovitost pointed out, Akebono, Hakuho, and Takanohana had rather rapid rises into the salaried ranks. The long reigns at Yokozuna are apparent in the charts of all of these wrestlers.
This is the rise of Akebono. Hakuho, Takanohana, and several other Yokozuna had rapid rises like this, though often with a few setbacks in Sandanme or Makushita. By the way, Akebono is literally Rikishi #1 on the SumoDB.
I get a lot of information and inspiration from Herouth’s jungyo coverage. She gives so much insight into a side of the sport that non-Japanese rarely see reported. Frankly, even Japanese don’t see much of this reported outside of local newspapers or Twitter, so much of this side of sumo is completely new to my friends and my wife’s friends. I often find myself doing more research into a topic she’s raised, a lesser-known wrestler she’s featured, or sumo-specific vocabulary.
Her post yesterday featured the homecoming of rank-and-file maegashira Ryuden, alongside mention of fellow Yamanashi export Shobushi. She also shone a light on Shodai’s tsukebito, Asakura, and the former Kototsurugi. Frankly, even Ryuden is a bit of a mystery to me. The last couple of years he seemed to pop up from nowhere and turn into a solid maegashira with the potential to crack into sanyaku.
From his page on the SumoDB, we can see Ryuden’s career actually started back in 2006 and he seemed to have been grinding it out, steadily progressing until he reached Juryo and suffered a major set-back, resulting in multiple consecutive kyujo tournaments. I hate to cite Wikipedia but English-language reporting on sumo wrestlers is difficult to find. So, according to Wikipedia, he fractured his hip, reinjuring it twice and falling way back to Jonokuchi (hat tip to Herouth for catching my error).
When I read this story, I think of how Tochinoshin and Jokoryu clawed their way back into the paid ranks after bad injuries. This also gives a glimpse into the challenges that lie ahead of Ura and Terunofuji. But how well do their stories really compare? It’s quite difficult to see just what Ryuden has overcome in that table.
My day job is data management so I thought I’d put together a simple visualization to give a better visual reference for Ryuden’s career. Time (number of tournaments) is along the horizontal axis. Rank is along the vertical axis. We see his rank crater after he reaches Juryo. Interestingly, for four tournaments in a row, the DB shows that he picks up 1 win, perhaps keeping him from going completely off the banzuke while recuperating. Once healthy, he roared back into the top flights with consecutive yusho in the lower divisions. This should give hope for the young Ura and Terunofuji.
Along with Ryuden, though, this type of visualization also helps give us a glimpse into the careers of the other, even less-well-known rikishi. Shobushi has been a fixture in the Sandanme division for much of the past ten years, though he recently dipped back down into Jonidan. Can he put together a run and make it into Makushita?
Asakura is coming fresh off his lower-division yusho, so this graph will need to be updated. He may find himself back in Sandanme. The youngster has started off well but it is challenging to get into the third division.
Lastly, I want to take a look at Kototsurugi, whom Herouth also introduced, alongside Ryuden.
Harumafuji’s retirement ceremony was last night. Nicola was among those at the Kokugikan celebrations and captured many great pictures of the event. She also summed up my feelings pretty well in this tweet. It’s been a long year since the scandal broke and he was forced into retirement. We’d not see him mount the dohyo as a competitor again, but he’s moved on. With his charity work back in Mongolia and his new art career, he was able to squeeze in some time for an appointment with the barber. I’ve got to close with my favorite Harumafuji moments. I was there on senshuraku for his yusho win in Nagoya. Not only did I see my favorite yokozuna win the Emperor’s Cup, I got to see the macaron in person for the first time. We wish you well, HARUMAFUJI! Thanks for the memories!
Do you want $100 worth of Tachiai merch? If you wear one of these new Tachiai Jungyo map T-shirts at a jungyo event and share pics of yourself there during the event with our accounts on Twitter or Instagram, I’ll buy you $100 of Tachiai swag. This is open to Team Tachiai, too! So far, I think Josh is the only person I know who has been to one. Re-read his account of his visit to the Koshigaya jungyo event. More new designs to come but I’ve wanted a map of Japan on a shirt for a while…and just couldn’t wait for the Kyokai to announce its winter jungyo schedule. So, I really want to try to encourage readers to go to either the Aki or Fuyu tours. (I’m leaving this open to the first 10 readers so I don’t broke if 1000 of y’all somehow show up at jungyo events.)
I am massive fan of Herouth’s coverage of sumo jungyo. I find it to be a fascinating side of the sport. These promotional tours provide a more intimate look at some of the ceremony and symbolism, some light-hearted moments, a glimpse into rikishi conditioning and health, and has also provided the scene for a few unfortunate scandals over the past year. They also offer a chance for sumo fans from outside Japan’s major cities an opportunity to heap praise on local sekitori.
Tachiai encourages fans to visit these outlying sites and tour events, especially as it becomes more difficult to find tickets to honbasho events. As we saw in Nagoya, many places in Japan can be uncomfortably hot during the summer. So these tours also allow sumo fans a chance to enjoy sumo in these off-the-beaten-path locations and with more favorable seasons…like Kyushu, which will host several jungyo events this winter.
Why no jungyo in Kyushu? Of course the full schedule has not been published, yet, but Kyushu will most certainly be included in the fuyu jungyo.