Towards A Japanese Yokozuna

tsuna

Day 15 Decides Kisenosato’s Promotion

Achieving the rank of Yokozuna is an enormous undertaking. It’s so monumental, that only 73 rikishi in the modern era have attained it. No only must a rikishi deliver a consistent and outstanding record after achieving Ozeki (which is no small achievement itself), but it requires winning several tournaments, or an equivalent performance.

Critics can rightly claim that a single tournament victory is not several. But then there is the equivalent performance. Firstly, Kisenosato has been forever a bridesmaid, 12 Jun-Yusho (runner up) meaning he was one win behind the tournament winner, 9 special prizes and 3 kinboshi over a rather impressive career. In 2016 he had the most wins, beating out Hakuho and Harumafuji.

But it really comes down to politics. As we have discussed many times on Tachiai, the Japanese public in general and sumo fans especially, have been without a Japanese Yokozuna for over a decade. The political pressure on the Yokozuna Decision Committee to award the zuna to Kisenosato will be overwhelming. In addition, it would be very good for sumo as a sport.

The three current Yokozuna are all from Mongolia, and two of them are in questionable medical shape as of today. Adding a new Yokozuna, a Japanese Yokozuna, to the mix would greatly improve the prospects for the future of sumo.

While Tachiai and other fan sites outside of Japan are raising these questions, the discussion is raging in the Japanese press. Some highlights include:

Japan Daily: YDC Chairman Moriya “We will discuss his promotion, but opinion is divided on the board. I want him to win tomorrow (against Hakuho), then I will strongly support (his promotion)”

Jiji Press: Japan Sumo Assn Member Hakko “Let him fight again tomorrow, I don’t want to disappoint the fans, but he has to win tomorrow to be discussed (for promotion)”

We will be glued to NHK overnight Saturday to catch early news of the outcome.

Harumafuji’s Injury Worries

harumafuji-pinned

YDC Chairman Moriya Comments On Yokozuna Performance

70th Yokozuna Harumafuji has had a terrible start to the Hatsu basho. In his first 4 days he has lost 2 matches, and those were to rank and file rikishi. In fact, this is the first time he has ever lost two straight bouts at the opening of a basho.

Clearly the problem is the ongoing weakness in his feet and ankles, due to injuries that have never been given a chance to properly heal. Sumo is difficult on the body, and over time the damage accumulates. Sumo also imposes a relentless, non-stop schedule that offers little time for rest or recovery.

Sadly, the chairman of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, Hideshige Moriya, commented that if Harumafuji continues to struggle, it would be appropriate for him to retire. Details (in Japanese) here

In my personal opinion, that would be a huge loss for the sport.