Ex-Aminishiki Danpatsushiki Date-shiki: October 4, 2020

As readers will recall, Uncle Sumo, aka, the Prince formerly known as Aminishiki retired during the Natsu basho after suffering a knee injury. The resulting kyujo would have dropped the beloved henka-artist into the Makushita division for the first time this side of Y2K.

Danpatsushiki (photo: Nicola)

When the apocalypse did not come, Aminishiki was promoted to Juryo. Rumor has it, this is because all records kept by the Kyokai at the time were all painstakingly calligraphied, anyway, and all historical footage was on 8mm and VHS. It wasn’t until the iPod came out when everything was quickly transfered to minidisc.

Coincidentally, this last kyujo was exactly 12 years after he first reached the rank of Sekiwake, a rank he last held in the Spring of 2012. Since then, he mostly managed to hang on to his makuuchi status until last year when he was demoted to Juryo for the final time. This past tournament was the first since the world met the Teletubbies and Harry Potter, The Notorious B.I.G. died and your humble correspondent graduated high school, without the gregarious rikishi.

Ex-Aminishiki (Ajigawa oyakata) made the announcement on his blog. That entry also linked to his new retirement website: http://aminishiki.jp/ where tickets are now available to the ceremony at Kokugikan and the after party at the Royal Park Hotel.

Takanofuji Intai Saga Update

As was reported in the lead-up to September’s Grand Sumo Tournament, Takanofuji is at the center of yet another bullying incident. As the scandal broke before the tournament, he was suspended and did not compete. Based on the findings from the resulting investigation, and as reported by Mainichi Shimbun, the Nippon Sumo Kyokai recommended retirement and Takanofuji’s stable master, Chiganoura-oyakata, has also requested Takanofuji retire.

The incident that brought all of this to a head occurred on August 31. Takanofuji was angered by his Jonidan-ranked attendant’s poor attitude, and according to the Mainichi report, he didn’t like that the junior wrestler bathed first. As a result, Takanofuji punched the victim in the forehead creating a lump on his head and resulting in pain that lasted a couple of days.

The victim ran away from the stable with two fellow wrestlers. Why two others? The three wrestlers were given nicknames of “Niwatori,” “Hiyoko,” and “Jidori” by Takanofuji and the allegations are that they were habitually berated. They were told that rather than saying “Hai,” they should cluck like chickens (say, “ko-ke”).

This is Takanofuji’s second offense, thus the recommendation of retirement. Though he admitted the facts of the Aug. 31 incident, Takanofuji claims he did not hit the tsukebito hard. He held a press conference today, flanked by his attorney, where he stated that he does not intend to resign, asking for a lighter punishment and stronger regulation of the sport from the Japan Sports Agency, a Government Agency under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Asahi Shimbun is reporting that if he will not resign, the Kyokai will take disciplinary measures which may be a forced retirement.

The reporting on that last point is rather vague so I will try to learn what they mean. It sounded like there is a range of punishment…but to me I don’t know how much range of disciplinary “measures” there can be between “voluntary retirement” and “forced retirement”. Are fines and criminal proceedings a possible outcome? Can Chiganoura evict his unruly deshi or can he only apply pressure to encourage him to leave? I do not know but hope to find answers. The physical bullying seems to be the tip of the iceberg and this story will be around for a while, unfortunately.

Given the seriousness of the allegations, it’s understandable that there are very strong opinions. As many of my Twitter followers are aware of my little Twitter rant, I do want to note my firm belief in due process and uncovering the facts. I had a lot of questions before I reported this today; many of those have been answered as I read more but I still do have many other questions. I trust their process to deliver a just punishment in the handling of the case.

Yoshikaze’s retirement is official

Although there were previous reports about this in the Japanese press, they had ambiguous language, and were based on “associates”. Today, the report comes in directly from the NSK: “Former Sekiwake Yoshikaze (Real name Masatsugu Onishi) has retired, and taken on the toshiyori name Nakamura”.

His stablemaster, Oguruma oyakata, complimented Yoshikaze for doing straight-forward sumo.

Yoshikaze will now become Nakamura oyakata. The date of his danpatsu-shiki is not known at this time, but given the number of retirements lately, and that Aminishiki’s ceremony will take place on October 2020, there is a distinct possibility of this not happening before 2021.