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.
Comments for this post are now closed. Some great and thoughtful discussion from our highly-valued readers, but we were swerving into things like trans-gender issues that have nothing to do with sumo. Thank you for understanding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember last year when every tournament was a contest between Hakuho and Harumafuji to see which one could go without losing a single bout? Those were heady days when to two Mongolian super-sumotori ruled the dohyo, and nobody could really do much to them.
Then there were injuries, hospitalization, recuperation, and problems galore. For fans of these two great Yokozuna, it’s quite enjoyable to see them dominant once more. Each has a powerful and distinctive style of sumo that will be sorely missed once they retire (which is coming sooner than any of us want).
Items of note
Takayasu lost his first match today to fellow Sekiwake Tamawashi. This match was lost at the tachiai, which was sloppy for Takayasu. He slipped to 5-1
Goeido seems to be running the 2.0 software again, which I really like. I have had fears over the stability of his injured ankle, but it would seem that he is back to something close to his Aki form, which is excellent Ozeki class sumo.
Also working hard to ensure we never get to No-Zeki is Terunofuji. Today he looked like a cat toying with a grasshopper. Even the gyoji caught a piece of the action.
Onosho defeats Kotoyuki – Onosho continues to impress. Today he exploded into the tachiai and the momentum just carried Kotoyuki out.
Ura defeats Ichinojo – Simple, Ichinojo let Ura dictate the form of the match. Ura went low, stayed low, Ichinojo tried to follow and Ura was in control. Done.
Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – A festival of pushing, shoving, slapping and bashing until Takakeisho lost his balance and fell. The pushme-pullyous seems to be running sumo now. Did everyone forget the rest of the kimarate list?
Takanoiwa defeats Shodai – Shodai is still too high at the tachiai, and never got his footing.
Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – Tamawashi won this one on the line. Takayasu was off balance from the start, and Tamawashi made him pay for it.
Yoshikaze defeats Kotoshogiku – Good bye Kotoshogiku, you were one of the good ones, and you will be sorely missed, as you are a real character. But you have nothing left, please take your kabu and become a great leader of young rikishi. Also, Yoshikaze is really running well this basho.
Terunofuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Like a ping pong match with 300 pound plus big men. And to be honest, it was all Terunofuji. Sadly the Gyoji got in the way at some point and got hit with Chiyonokuni being tossed around like a hacky-sack. It’s strange to say, but it looks like both Ozeki are running well this basho, and its so very very welcome.
Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Aggressive, adaptive, committed. Goeido 2.0 was on the dohyo today, and he provided Mitakeumi with a valuable lesson. No plan survives first contact, and Goeido got inside his decision loop and shut him down.
Kisenosato defeats Daieisho – Kisenosato got the easy match today. Poor Daieisho is far out of his element. He will be back, but we hope he is not damaged by this tournament ranked much higher than he should be right now.
Hakuho defeats Endo – Hakuho could have won this match in the first three seconds, but he was not going to let Endo off easily. He kept slapping and pushing, pushing and slapping. Demonstrating the match was going to last until he got tired. well, Endo decided he had enough and exiting the dohyo after a solid push to give him cover.
Harumafuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama is known for landing hay-makers, so what did Harumafuji do? Grabbed two handfuls of flabby breast meat and started shoving. Aoiyama was really unable to move his arms, or land any blows. Kind of disgusting, but effective.
As feared, connectivity in Japan has been hit-or-miss, and it has greatly impacted my ability to post, upload photos and video and a host of other things. But fear not, dear readers! The day 5 results from the Kokugikan are here!
It seems today was “Salaryman Day” or something of the sort. A few minutes before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, a few thousand salarymen began streaming into the upper deck stadium seats at the Kokugikan. I am sure it’s perfectly normal, but to this sumo fan, it seemed a bit surreal. They were followed by ushers carrying huge flats of beer cans, which were passed around the crowd of business men.
There was some massive, raucous action on day 4, so I strongly encourage all to watch the matches on NHK, or better yet, Jason’s all sumo channel.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – There was a huge amount of effort in this bout, and it featured competing throw attempts that ended at the edge. It was a great way to start Makuuchi.
Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Kaisei won – yes, by moving forward. He has the bulk and the leg strength, but it seems he needs to put away the pulling technique and take a page from Kisenosato’s book – 蜻蛉 (Tonbo)
Tochinoshin defeats Ura – There were so many things wrong in this bout, it took a rather lengthy monoii to try and put a fig leaf on it. First of all, there should have been a matta at the start, but sure, whatever. Then there was an excellent raging battle between size and strength vs speed. It ended with some fantastic acrobatics at the tawara, and it looked to me like the Gyoji said “screw it” and pointed his gumbai in a random direction. Without the benefit or replay, I can only go by what my eyes saw, but it seemed Ura’s win.
Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Slow motion sumo match. I left 30 minutes after the final bout, and Ichinojo had yet to reach the clay.
Ikioi defeats Tochiozan – Big ugly slap fest the Ikioi managed to win. I would expect Tochiozan’s hot streak to continue past today, even though Ikioi racked up a win.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Great strength match, polite of Takarafuji to take advantage of Shodai’s consistently sloppy tachiai.
Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Probably the match of the day, and they both put everything into it. Takayasu is displaying almost unthinkable strength and determination this week, and even a really aggressive highly motivated Mitakeumi could not defeat him. Takayasu now needs 6 wins, and certainly looks like Ozeki material
Kotoshogiku defeats Tamawashi – So happy that Kotoshogiku got a win and was able to deploy his hug-n-chug. He is headed towards a hard, brutal make-koshi, most likely. I am grateful I had a chance to see him operate when he was healthy.
Terunofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Terunofuji looking somewhat better, I am staring to hope that he will put forth a strong effort this time and avoid more kadoban nonsense.
Goeido defeats Daieisho – Future Sekiwake Goeido pretzeled up Daieisho, who must be wondering what the hell happened an how he ended up in this living sumo hell, and why the schedulers hate him so much.
Harumafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Harumafuji’s back! In person it was clear he was trying for Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and I was hoping to see the spin cycle today. Instead he had to settle for launching Chiyonokuni into a handy Shimpan landing zone.
Yoshikaze defeats Kakuryu – The Berserker is on fire right now, and it’s tough to stand up to him. Kakuryu is in deep ugly trouble now, his reactive sumo is not working this time, and he will have to endure calls for his retirement.
Endo defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato gives up his first kinboshi, he is clearly still hurt in a very performance limiting way. Hell, a left handed Yokozuna loses use of his left upper body, but still manages to win half his matches. I expect him to somehow swallow (for him) a bitter pill and go kyujo on the weekend.
Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – I honestly feel sorry for Okinoumi. Hakuho is clearly back in fighting form, and he’s just going to crumple and fold everyone for the next 11 days.
Day one at the Kokugikan saw a capacity crowd, with fans eager to see who among their favorite rikishi were starting strong, and who they would worry about.
First some notes from Juryo: New entrant Takagengi won his debut match as a sekitori, many will see this as a good sign that the youngster can be competitive in the upper ranks. The match was acrobatic and could have gone either way, but it was good sumo!
Ikioi defeats Hokutofuji – Ikioi exploded off the line and then overpowered Hokutofuji for a rather straight forward Okidashi
Takarafuji defeats Aoiyama – This match was all over the place, and for some reason Aoiyama trying to grab for Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji stayed mobile and took the punishment waiting for his chance, which came at the edge as Aoiyama tried a pull down, but failed.
Takayasu defeats Daiesho – This was horrifically one sided, with Takayasu in control from the tachiai. Takayasu’s slap down was loud and strong, with some fans gasping as it was unleashed. 9 more wins for a viable chance at Ozeki for Takayasu
Goeido defeats Okinoumi – First of all, I can almost swear that Goeido lost a considerable amount of mass. Secondly, he heavily protected his damaged right ankle, including a move at the edge of the ring that did not look easy or comfortable. I think Goeido has real problems.
Endo defeats Terunofuji – The big Mongolian Ozeki started strong, and went for his favored double outside shoulder grip, but somehow Endo countered or at least stayed away from the edge of the tawara. As Terunofuji went to put Endo away, Endo reached down to grabe Terunofujis (injured) knee. At that point Terunofuji eased up and Endo finished him.
Hakuho defeats Chiyonokuni – The Gyoji almost gave it to Chiyonokuni, but it was clear that Hakuho blasted him at the tachiai. Chiyonokuni as been progressing steadily in the past year, and made a good showing against Hokuho. I should not that Hakuho did not see to be hesitant, favoring any part of his body or injured in any way. It may be the case fans finally can see him in good form once more.
Mitakeumi defeats Kakuryu – Very strong work from Mitakeumi once more. Kakuryu’s reactive sumo left him out of room at the edge and off balance. Mitakeumi was able to finish him.
Yoshikaze defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato looked unsure and unsteady. As noted in prior posts, the kind of injury he suffered usually requires surgery if it can be repaired at all. As a Yoshikaze fan I appreciate his winning, but it’s worrisome to see sumo’s #1 ratings machine in trouble.
More tomorrow as it happens (if the 4G signal can behave) from the Kokugikan.
On day 14, Takayasu racked up his 11th with, an important addition for his quest to win promotion to Ozeki. The match featured a solid display of yotsu-zumō, but was halted by the Gyoji, as Takarafuji’s mawashi threatened to come un-done mid battle. As shown in earlier posts, the Gyoji stops the match, throws his gumbai over his shoulder and re-ties the offending garment.
This 11th win matters a great deal for Takayasu, as it means that he was able to set his disappointment over his day 11 loss aside, and overcome whatever worries he has for his friend Kisenosato and focus on his sumo, which he did well today. Sadly this victory gave Takarafuji his make-koshi, and he will face a small rank demotion for May. Takayasu will need at least 11 wins in May to secure Ozeki, and we think that if he stays focused and healthy, that goal is in reach.
I have made my displeasure with some of the outcomes of day 8 abundantly clear. The rest of the day was kind of a sorry mess as well, with a few nice highlights. But after breakfast and some tea, it’s time to post commentary on the action in Kyushu.
The group with chances of taking the tournament yusho narrowed, with Goeido’s loss pushing him out of reasonable contention. At the same time, Kakuryu’s very sloppy win gives him a secured kachi-koshi. Kakuryu’s win showed a lot of weakness, Hakuho has confirmed (in my eyes) that he is still struggling to regain his former potency. Harumafuji is starting to get boring, and hopefully some of those crazed shimpan will discuss his two-dimensional approach with him. Harumafuji is much better than what he is showing us this tournament.
In Juryo – Osunaarashi, Ura and Sato all won again today, while Yamaguchi. There may be some welcome Makuuchi promotions going into the January basho in Tokyo.
Ichinojo defeats Gagamaru – After a slow start, the giant sumo robot from the future seems to be getting his software and hardware back in order.
Ishiura defeats Kyokushuho – Not much of a contest, really. I expect the schedulers are going to give Ishiura some tough matches this coming week.
Ikioi defeats Chiyonokuni – pretty sure Ikioi broke a tooth on that tachiai, when Chiyonokuni’s skull impacted his lower jaw. Ikioi kept pressing the attack, and shortly afterwards Chiyonokuni lost his balance.
Endo defeats Sadanoumi – Endo continues to look good, though today was an easy match for him. Sadanoumi took a fast tour of the salt basket and various west side sumo accessories on his trip over the edge of the dohyo.
Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Really terrible outcome. First match was a clear Tochinoshin win as Shodai was on the clay while Tochinoshin was in the air. There is an expression in sumo – if you know you are falling, touch last. Many matches see both rikishi on the process of falling at the end, and the one who touches the ground first is the one who loses. This was not even close. The shimpan decided as Tochinoshin’s body was in the air but outside the ring, he lost. Baloney. Monoii was called, in the rematch Shodai won. Really bad show, judges. For a few minutes, this was the worst call in recent sumo. But they applied themselves and went for worse
Tochiozan defeats Takayasu – Takayasu is a mess right now. I am not sure what has him off his sumo, but this guy is really a serious force for the future. Kitamayama declared in a round table prior to the tournament that Takayasu would end up maki-kochi. I assumed he was joking. I fear that could in fact happen. Note about Takayasu and low win scores – he is under consideration for promotion to Ozeki, but he has to rack up 33 wins across 3 tournaments to earn it.
Okinoumi defeats Goeido – Okinoumi is a great sumotori, and although he is struggling this basho, I predict great things for him. I also feel very sorry for him today, as the weight of a bad call must surely rest on his mind. In what is likely to be the most controversial call for some time, the gyoji’s decision was reversed by monoii, and Okinoumi was declared the winner. To be completely fair, Goeido’s sumo was a mess today, worse than any of his prior days this basho, there was little chance he was going to prevail over the Yokozuna next week. The call in question is exactly where Goeido’s heel was on the tawara as Okinoumi hit the dirt. Even Okinoumi thought he lost.
Terunofuji defeats Kotoshogiku – If there was a bright spot in the sanyaku matches, it was Terunofuji masterfully containing Kotoshogiku, and dispatching him from the ring with relative ease. Kotoshogiku was never able to establish a grip or start his bulldozer technique. Wonderful sumo from Terunofuji, in spite of the pain, in spite of the injury. Nicely done.
Harumafuji defeats Yoshikaze – These guys really have a lot of animosity for each other, and it shows. The match featured the Harumafuji nodowa (Darth Vader) move that is really tiresome now, and Yoshikaze moving to pull an inside leg trip. He missed, and was off balance. Game over. Yoshikaze is having a miserable tournament.
Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – Komusubi is the toughest job in sumo, and Mitakeumi is taking his lumps. As Andy pointed out, it’s where perfectly good sumotori go to get beat up. We saw a bit more mobility out of Hakuho, but it’s clear is is not his normal self. His technique remains outstanding – during his drive against Mitakeumi, his stance was fantastic, his feet very heavy and his hips low the entire time. But the speed and power were clearly not what they were early this year, and after the match, he walked stiffly. To hide it, he has increased his swagger, but it’s plain to see that he’s still nursing lower body injuries. As a bonus, he had a new elbow wrap on today.
Kakuryu defeats Tamawashi – Kakuryu looked really bad – reactive, out of control and moving backwards. In contrast Tamawashi was in control of the match and executing his sumo plan. Tamawashi made a critical mistake by over-extending himself, and Kakuryu moved to finish him. Tamawashi is maintaining a winning record as Komusubi, a difficult thing to do.