NHK World Japan posted an overview of Kisenosato’s sumo career and his retirement ceremony to YouTube. While fans will recall that we had some audience-recorded video earlier, this is a nice, professional cut of the events that includes behind the scenes / not seen footage.
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.
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.
While the sumo world can still be a bit shy about social media, we do get occasional glimpses into their lives through platforms like Twitter and Instagram. This morning, the former Hamatensei shared photos from his private danpatsushiki ceremony. The youngster, still just 23 after an 8 year sumo career at Shikoroyama beya, expressed his appreciation to his supporters, his oyakata, family, and anideshi and ototodeshi (fellow wrestlers).
He had quite an injury plagued career, never escaping Jonidan division and dropping off the banzuke a couple of times before, according to his statement on Twitter, the doctors have finally put a hard end to his career. Aside from a neck hernia which limited his arm motions, he suffered multiple knee injuries. After the third surgery his doctors told him they could do it again but he probably wouldn’t be able to walk or would find it extremely difficult to do basic things.
In his final year at the heya he was able to graduate from high school and, interestingly, started driving lessons. That is very unusual because rikishi are not allowed to drive. However, driving school in Japan is quite intensive so there is a substantial amount of classroom training and videos. Perhaps that’s how he got around the prohibition. Bottom line, the guy was 23 with no high school education or skills beyond what he learned in the heya. So it would not surprise me if he got an exception for his second career. He mentions many times struggling with the heya lifestyle and the rigid social structure.
Small man sumo is very much in vogue at the moment, with rikishi like Enho and Terutsuyoshi capturing the imagination of fans. But sumo has a rich history of smaller rikishi and one of the more notable names of recent times, Satoyama, recently retired at the end of the Kyushu basho in November. He then became Sanoyama oyakata, having borrowed his kabu from Chiyootori. He spent much of his sekitori career in juryo – where I personally especially enjoyed his matches with Asahisho (even if he didn’t always come out on top).
He is one of two new oyakata in the Onoe stable, a stable I recently had the chance to visit for morning keiko – an exercise which I will detail further in a future post on the site.
Visitors to recent basho since Satoyama’s retirement have seen the friendly former rikishi staffing the NSK’s official merch booth at Kokugikan and the other venues. Usually, he is one of three or four oyakata working the booth and interacting with fans, along with his stablemate and fellow new coach Hidenoyama, the former Tenkaiho.
I said hello to Satoyama/Sanoyama during the recent Natsu basho, and told him I had seen keiko recently at his stable (he was not present that day), and that it was a cool experience. He inquired about my Tachiai t-shirt, and when I told him it was an English sumo website, he handed me a flier in the hope that I would share some news with you all. Here is that flier:
Satoyama/Sanoyama has been spending most of his time during the basho interacting with fans and working hard to advertise his forthcoming danpatsushiki, where his hair will be cut and his retirement process will be complete.
As a former top division rikishi, this event will take place at Kokugikan on September 28. The day will consist of Makuuchi and Juryo matches as well as, of course, the ceremonial cutting of Satoyama’s top-knot.
If you buy tickets direct from the NSK, the ticket prices are as follows:
- ¥2000 for Arena C seats
- ¥4000 for Arena B seats
- ¥8000 for Arena A seats
- ¥36000 for Masu (box) C seats
- ¥42000 for Masu (box) B seats
- ¥46000 for Masu (box) A seats
Bear in mind of course that the boxes seat four people (and comfortably seat two people).
In addition to Satoyama’s sake sponsor, the flier also includes an outline of Amami Island in the Oshima district of Kagoshima prefecture, from where Satoyama hails. I wasn’t familiar with it before discovering the island through this flier, but it does look like a very lovely place. Having recently visited Okinawa for the first time, I’m intrigued that there’s quite a bit of content on youtube (such as this video) playing Amami up as an alternative, desirable Japanese island destination.
Our friends over at buysumotickets.com are currently selling tickets for this event. Tickets will come with a markup over the face value prices, but I have found this to be an acceptable price to pay in exchange for the ease of securing good tickets. Additionally, the event has an official website at satoyama.basho-sumo.jp, where an order form has been set up in Japanese (along with additional event details).
If you have plans to attend the Aki basho and will be extending your stay in Japan (or are a local), this event could be a good opportunity to not only see sumo but enjoy a unique milestone in the career of a former popular sekitori!