Kyushu Day 11 Highlights

The topsy-turvey Kyushu Basho continues into Day 11, and much like before, Wednesday’s action did not disappoint. Our leaderboard stayed mostly intact, with Takakeisho at the top with ten wins and Aoiyama, Daieisho, and Takayasu right behind with nine. The only casualty in the Yusho race was Onosho, who dropped his match and joined Okinoumi and Goiedo in the hunt group. Without further ado, let’s get on to today’s action.

Highlight Bouts:

Yago (7-4) defeats Arawashi (1-10): We begin with another visit from Yago, up from Joryu for the day. He and his Day 11 opponent, Arawashi, could very well swap places in January. After a matta, the two clashed and try as he might, Arawshi could do nothing against the much larger man. Yago takes the match with a yoritaoshi and moves one step closer to the Makuuchi division.

Aoiyama (9-2) defeats Yutakayama (4-7): You gotta hand it to Aoiyama, the man has been on an incredible tear at Kyushu. After dropping his first two bouts, the Bulgarian bull has steamrolled every rikishi he’s faced, and today was no different. Yutakayama, injured as he is, put up a good fight and nearly got Aoiyama out, but the big man fought back with bludgeoning tsuppari until Yutakayama was unstable. A quick slap down followed, and Aoiyama extended his winning streak to nine.

Shohozan (7-4) defeats Onosho (8-3): With his loss to Shohozan today, Onosho has fallen out of the chase group. Onosho started strong, nearly driving Shohozan out, but Big Guns Sho dug in at the edge and used his immense strength to push Onosho back and over the tawara. Shohozan improves to 7-4 and is one win away from his kachi koshi, but he’ll have to go through the eaquily burley Chiyotairu first.

Endo (7-4) defeats Abi (5-6): Following a great first half of Kyushu, Fan favourite Abi continues to fall closer and closer to another make koshi record after three consecutive losses. His Day 11 opponent, Endo, kept low and used his forehead to bear the brunt of Abi’s thrusts. Once he was within his reach, Endo sprang his trap and grabbed Abi around the waist. Once that happened, there was little Abi could do but be guided out of the ring. Endo is just one win away from kachi koshi, while Abi needs to win two for his winning record.

Daieisho (9-2) defeats Kagayaki (3-8): Daieisho maintained his spot in the 9-2 hunt group with a decisively one-sided win over Kagayaki. Daieisho has a habit of letting his sumo slide during the back half of a Basho, but he seems to have bucked this bad habit and could finish with double-digit wins for the first time since last March. Kagayaki is now make koshi and will need to review the fundamentals before January.

Ryuden (4-7) defeats Asanoyama (4-7): This one was a great match between two very promising rikishi. Coming into Act 3 with wins over an Ozeki and a Sekiwake, Ryuden seemed more confident during his Day 11 match against Asanoyama. Asanoyama started strong and nearly got Ryuden over the bales, but the man in black used some excellent footwork and got himself away from the tawara and back into the middle of the ring. Now with a secure double-handed grip, Ryuden drove forward but Asanoyama was ready and used Ryu’s own momentum against him. Asanoyama overcorrected, however, and in turning Ryuden towards the edge of the ring, he lost his own balance and succumbed to the smaller man’s uwatenage. Despite an excellent match, both men are now 4-7 and are one misstep away from demotion. While this has not been their Basho, hopefully, they have been learning from their losses and come into Haru better prepared.

Nishikigi (5-6) defeats Hokutofuji (5-6): Nishikigi continues to surprise this Basho and dominated Hokutofuji right from the start of their bout. Hokutofuji tried to push Nishikigi around, but the blind one wouldn’t budge. Using Hokutofuji’s forward movement against him, Nishikigi busted out a tsukiotoshi and sent Hokutofuji sprawling on the ground. This is Hokutofuji’s third straight loss.

Takakeisho (10-1) defeats Tochiozan (6-5): Takakeisho and Tochiozan have been two of the most surprising rikishi this November. While Tochiozan has since fallen out of the Yusho race, he’s so far proved that he can beat anyone on any given day. However, today was not that day, and Tochiozan joined an ever-growing list of rikishi who have fallen prey to Takakeisho’s wave attack. Right from the tachiai, the Komusubi began slamming into Tochiozan, disrupting his balance and negating his offence. This left him vulnerable to Takakeisho’s well-placed hatakikomi slap down. Takakeisho improved his record to 10-1 and still remains the leader in the Yusho race.

Yoshikaze (6-5) defeats Mitakeumi (5-6): Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi began their bout today with a series of headbutts. Yoshikaze, whose head is no stranger to abuse, weathered the storm and managed to get under Mitakeumi’s arms, forcing them up and out of the way. One quick uwatedashinage later and Mitakeumi found himself face down in the dirt. Prior to Kyushu, there was quite a lot of discussion about Mitakeumi salvaging his Ozeki run. Now with a 5-6 record, the conversation has changed to whether or not he can hold on to his Sekiwake slot. With three Ozeki bouts in his near future, Mitakeumi better get his sumo in gear if he wants to save his rank.

Goeido (8-3) defeats Kaisei (3-6-2): Kaisei figured it out: Goiedo can’t henka someone who doesn’t move. The big Brazilian stood right up at the Tachiai and forced the Ozeki to come to him. Goeido obliged and the Komosubi managed to turn him until Goeido had his back to the tawara. Kaisei went in for the final blow but Goiedo shifted and managed to get Kaisei off balance and hopping towards the bales. A final push sealed the deal and Goeido picked up his kachi koshi.

Tochinoshin (6-5) defeats Chiyotairyu (5-6): Tochinoshin had his hands full today when he faced Chiyotairyu. The man in the salmon Mawashi kept the Georgian off his belt with some fierce tsuppari blows, but Tochinoshin didn’t relent and eventually forced Chiyotairyu towards the edge. Chiyotairyu kept on fighting but lost his balance and landed knee first on the clay. Tochinoshin wins via tsukihiza.

Takayasu (9-2) defeats Ichinojo (3-8): Now, If this Ichinojo had showed up at the start of Kyushu, I doubt he’d be make koshi. After a thunderous Tachiai, Takayasu pushed Ichinojo to the tawara but the Mongolian didn’t go meekly out of the ring this time. The Boulder stands his ground so Takayasu changes tactics, jumping back and attempting to slap him down. This only causes Ichinojo to move forward with tremendous force, driving Takayasu back. Ichinojo tries his own slap down, but neither men are falling for that move today. The hulking Mongolian goes back to pushing and has Takayasu back-peddling until the two go tumbling to the tatami below (with Ichinojo’s colossal knee taking a large chunk of the dohyo with it). But wait! The gyoji motions towards Takayasu. A monoii is called, and video replay shows that Ichinojo’s big toe went out a fraction of a second before Takayasu’s foot touched down. Takayasu wins this very close match and stays in the hunt for the Yusho, while Ichinojo says goodbye to his Sekiwake rank and perhaps his spot in the Sanyaku as well.

Shikimori Inosuke Resigns As Top Gyoji

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Following revelations in January, Tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke served a 3 basho suspension, and has now resigned from the Japan Sumo Association. Inosuke was accused of (and admitted to) sexually assaulting a junior gyoji who was only in his teens. To complicate matters, Inosuke was drunk at the time.

Following his resignation on Wednesday, sumo will have no tate-gyoji on the banzuke for Nagoya, which is a first in this century.

Another Embarrassing Sumo Incident

Maizuru

Frankly, I did not want to report this story at all, as it’s a demonstration of stupidity. But now that it has gone global and is busy giving sumo yet another black eye, it’s unavoidable.

During the spring Jungyo tour’s stop in Maizuru, the mayor of the town was on the dohyo speaking and collapsed. Many people rushed to the dohyo to help, including medical professionals that were present to enjoy a day of sumo. They applied CPR and first aid techniques to sustain the mayor until he could be transported to the hospital. The Mayor is going to be ok, it seems. The quick work and skillful application of medicine saved the day. That’s the good part of the story. Now the stupid.

Several of the highly trained medical professionals were women. Did they care that the dohyo is supposed to be a sacred place were women were not allowed? Hell no! These were dedicated healers. A fellow human was in peril, and they were going to go save him. So far, only slightly stupid. Oh, but then one of the younger gyoji took to the PA system and directed the women to leave the dohyo. Not once, but several times. Of course, it was captured on video, of course it was posted to social media.

Sumo loves to be a sport of unchanging and unyielding tradition. As a westerner my perspective is not the Japanese perspective. As I mention at least once per basho, most of us in the west are outsiders to this land, this culture and this sport. But at some point, common sense had to have kicked in. Look here, Sumo Association of Japan, if you want to make sure no women doctors or nurses try to rescue the hurt and injured from your sacred space, you are going to need a set of medical folks who are on call.

Chairman Hakkaku rightfully apologized later, stating “It was an inappropriate response in a life-threatening situation,”. Damn straight Hakkaku. Furthermore, it was an unforced error and loss of face for a great sport that has been greatly degraded over the past year. For the chairman to try and pass this off on the inexperience of the young gyoji is inexcusable.

The only clear winners here are the mayor of Maizuru, who lived to see another sunrise, and Takanohana, who through a majestic stroke of luck is no longer the biggest asshole in sumo for a few days.

Again, I am an outsider, but I am going to guess that my favorite sport is going to suffer a well-deserved set back in the people’s hearts from this pointless insult.

Video at this link

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Tate-Gyoji Shikimori Inosuke punishment decided

The NSK board convened for a special meeting today to discuss and decide the punishment of tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke for his sexual assault of a junior gyoji.

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Consecration of the Dohyo, held by Shikimori Kandayu

As you may recall, the victim does not intend to press charges, so the tate-gyoji is not going to face any punishment other than the disciplinary measures of the NSK.

The punishment they have come up with is a three-basho-suspension. This includes:

  • Suspension from three basho.
  • Suspension from all jungyo occurring between those basho.
  • House confinement.
  • Salary docked for the suspension period.

In addition, Inosuke’s stablemaster, Miyagino oyakata, was reprimanded for the event, which happened during the jungyo, by the acting head of the jungyo department, Kasugano oyakata.

Inosuke himself was present at the board meeting, and expressed his apologies. He also took responsibility and handed in his resignation. However, the board decided not to accept it at the moment, and is set to accept it after the Natsu basho (that is, as soon as the suspension ends).

When asked if this means that Inosuke the 40th will never mount a dohyo again, Hakkaku the board chairman replied “So it seems”.

In the absence of a tate-gyoji (as there has not been a Kimura Shonosuke for the past two years), his duties will be taken by the most senior sanyaku gyoji, Shikimori Kandayu. And indeed he presided over today’s dohyo matsuri (in the picture above, with his back to us). The dohyo matsuri is a religious ceremony asking the gods to watch over the rikishi and keep them safe. Kandayu commented: “For the safety of the rikishi, I put my heart and soul in it”.

Kandayu is also set to be pointing the gunbai in the musubi-no-ichiban (last bout of the day) for the Hatsu basho.

May the basho proceed in safety and without any further disturbances.

Tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke sexually assaults a junior gyoji

Just as the sumo world is trying to recuperate from last year’s Harumafuji scandal, and amidst our hopes for a 2018 free of scandals, the NSK announced yesterday that the tate-gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke the 40th, has sexually assaulted a junior gyoji in his teens while drunk.

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Inosuke in the role of a shinto priest, consecrating the dohyo

The top two ranking gyoji in sumo are called “tate-gyoji”. They are the ones in charge of refereeing the Yokozuna bouts, and also participate in yokozuna dohyo-iri and consecrate the dohyo before honbasho.

Tate-gyoji use inherited names. The top rank is always “Kimura Shonosuke” (the order is the Japanese name order – last name first), and the secondary rank is “Shikimori Inosuke”. The last Shonosuke retired about two years ago, but Inosuke was not promoted to Shonosuke, following a series of misjudged bouts that cost him a suspension in 2015. This means that at the moment, Shikimori Inosuke the 40th is the only active tate-gyoji. Inosuke is a member of Miyagino beya, Hakuho’s stable.

The event itself took place on the evening of December 16th, while he was doing the jungyo. This was the night between the two events at Ginowan, Okinawa. During supper, the tate-gyoji imbibed large quantities of Awamori (a hard Okinawan liquor) and became thoroughly inebriated. A junior gyoji helped him get back to his hotel. The senior gyoji then proceeded to kiss the minor (in Japan, the age of majority is 20) on his lips several times and fondled his chest once.

Another member of the gyoji-kai, a Makuuchi gyoji, learned of this incident and reported it to the NSK. The crisis management committee opened investigation, verified the facts, and questioned Inosuke directly. He responded: “I was too heavily drunk, I have no recollection of what happened”, and “I have no interest in men, so I have no idea why I would do something like that.” However, he did not positively deny the act, and he has already apologized to the victim before the NSK was informed of the incident.

The victim, who was reportedly traumatized by the event, is not interested in filing a police report, nor does he wish the NSK to pursue the matter further. He only wanted an apology. However, in the wake of the previous scandal and the current public atmosphere, the NSK cannot let this matter go. They intend to convene a special meeting of the board and decide on Inosuke’s fate in the near future.

The head of the board, Hakkaku, did not mince his words: “It is deplorable that a man at the top position in the hierarchy would do something like that. The very act of drinking oneself beyond recollection is inappropriate. I have warned Inosuke in the past about his bad behavior when drinking.”

Today Miyagino oyakata made an apology for his heya’s gyoji.

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Miyagino Oyakata, apologized for his gyoji

Following a closed-doors keiko session, the stablemaster responded to the media and the press, saying “Being in a leadership position with respect to Inosuke, I deeply apologize for his deed. He has a history of bad drinking and was abstinent for a while, then started drinking again. I had warned him about it and all I can do now is request that he abstain from drinking again.”

When Hakuho came out of the heya was also accosted by the press, and responded somewhat in consternation: “He is not gay as far as I know, but he does love his liquor” before disappearing into the car on his way home.

Assuming the punishment that will be decided by the board involves either suspending or dismissing the tate-gyoji, this comes at a very inconvenient timing for the NSK, with honbasho starting in about a week. The tate-gyoji is supposed to accompany the Yokozuna in the Meiji-jingu dedication dohyo-iri, as well as consecrate the dohyo the day before shonichi, never mind presiding over the yokozuna/ozeki matches.

Shikimori Inosuke is 58 years old and his real name is Itsuo Nouchi.

English news sources:

(The post is compiled from various Japanese sources, including Nikkan Sports, Sponichi, NHK and others).