Takamisugi

Takamisugi is now known as Chiganoura Oyakata. He was in the news a few weeks ago during the Takanohana resignation drama as his stable absorbed the former Yokozuna’s stable. It was not the first merger that tied these two together. In early 1993, the Fujishima stable housing a young hotshot, sekiwake Takahanada, folded. Takahanada then changed his shikona to Takanohana on joining the Taganoura home of Takamisugi.

At the time, Takamisugi had just reached the sanyaku after a long, grinding career illustrated in the chart below. Takamisugi had his debut more than a decade before Takanohana and reached sanyaku a few months before the future Super-zuna.

Takamisugi began his nearly 20 year career at the tender age of 15. His progression into the Makuuchi had a few setbacks, taking three years to reach Makushita, and included a brief dip back into makushita…but then a ten year spell in makuuchi before retirement in 1995, not before he was able to see the young Takanohana become the sport’s 65th Yokozuna. You will notice the last little dip into Jonidan is followed by a sharp rise as he won the Jonidan yusho.

Takamisugi’s career (current Chiganoura oyakata)

Takanohana Resignation In Detail

First, let’s start with some background facts.

  • In March 2018, Takanohana filed a written accusation with the Cabinet Office, regarding the NSK’s handling of the Takanoiwa/Harumafuji incident. He withdrew the accusation once the Takayoshitoshi incident occurred.
  • Just before the board elections earlier this year, Shikoroyama beya and Minato beya declared independence from the Tokitsukaze ichimon, joining no other. Following the board elections, Tatsunami broke away from the Takanohana ichimon, again, joining no other. Takanohana then asked to remove his name from his own ichimon following the Takayoshitoshi incident. This was followed by him withdrawing from the ichimon completely, and the ichimon being dissolved, leaving the remaining members, “the Onomatsu group”, unaffiliated with any ichimon. In this state of affairs, the NSK board convened in July and made a decision that it would be mandatory for each oyakata to join one of the five remaining ichimon, and the deadline for this was set for the NSK board’s regular meeting on the 27th of September. At the time of writing, the only heya still unaffiliated is Takanohana beya.
  • Takanohana holds an “ichidai toshiyori myoseki”. That is, he holds the right to be a toshiyori (what we usually call oyakata) under his own shikona, but only for the duration of his membership in the NSK. Upon resignation, he loses the right and cannot leave it to another or rent it out as the regular toshiyori can. This means that Takanohana beya ceases to exist upon his resignation, with the most probable outcome being that the deshi are absorbed into another heya.

Takanohana Press Conference

takanohana-press-conference

After all the news outlets informed us earlier that Takanohana handed in his resignation papers (“taishoku todoke”), Takanohana opened his press conference by correcting them and saying that he handed in “retirement papers” (“intai todoke” – the same “intai” as when wrestlers or other athletes finish their active careers and move on to a new career path).

He followed this by explaining that the reason for his retirement is that he received a letter from the NSK stating that they found the letter of accusation he sent to the Cabinet Office (and withdrew) to be groundless. He said that tangible and intangible pressure was made on him to acknowledge that it was groundless, and that he was told that he can’t continue as oyakata and can’t join an ichimon – which is now mandatory – unless he does so. He said that he cannot bend the truth and say that his accusation was groundless when he believes that it wasn’t, and that therefore he has decided to resign, feeling that continuing as-is will put his deshi in a position where they cannot concentrate on their sumo.

Together with his retirement paper, he also filed a request to have his deshi and other members of his heya (tokoyama, sewanin) move to Chiganoura beya. He said that years ago he had made a pact with Chiganoura oyakata to take over his deshi if anything happened to him.

He said that the heya, which is also his home, contains a dohyo, and he intends to continue with a life connected to the dohyo. When asked by reporters whether this means he will start his own sumo organization, he said that he has “no such intention at this time”. He later explained that he wants to teach sumo to children, preparing them for entrance into professional sumo.

When asked whether the fact that he is holding the meeting in a law firm means that he was going to litigate against the NSK, he denied it and said he wants to avoid any pressure or tension from hitting his deshi.

Asked whether there is a possibility of him remaining with the NSK should the latter refuse to accept his resignation, he said there was none.

NSK Response

The head of the public relations department of the NSK, Shibatayama oyakata, responded to the retirement announcement and the accusations.

He pointed out that to break ties with the NSK, a resignation letter (“taishoku todoke”) is required, and that they received a retirement request (“intai todoke”), and even though the meaning is taken to be the same, it does not fulfill the requirement of the rules. Once the resignation letter is properly handed, they will debate whether to accept it or not.

Further on the technical details, he pointed out that the request to transfer the members of the heya to Chiganoura beya has not been signed by Chiganoura oyakata. It will need his seal before it can be considered.

Referring to Takanohana’s claims, he said that the claim that Takanohana could not enter an ichimon unless he conceded the falsehood of his “letter of accusation” has no basis in reality. Furthermore, the claim that if he does not join an ichimon he cannot continue as oyakata is false. He went on to explain the reasons for the decision about joining an ichimon. The NSK is a public incorporation, and therefore has to keep all monetary affairs transparent. There are monies – subsidies and management fees – that are distributed between the heya, and this is done through the ichimon. With many heya unattached to ichimon, it becomes difficult to properly distribute those monies, and the process becomes opaque. The NSK is currently on a mission to improve its governance, and for this reason, too, a unanimous decision was made to require that the oyakata sort themselves into the remaining ichimon.

However, pointed out Shibatayama, there was no decision as yet as to what would be done with heya which did not belong to ichimon by the deadline. In fact, this was left to be discussed in the NSK meeting on the 27 which is why the deadline was set at that time. In any case, the foreseeable short term decision would likely be giving the still-unattached heya some additional time to further negotiate joining one.

In addition to Shibatayama oyakata, Onomatsu oyakata, the head of the Shimpan department, also spoke to the press. Onomatsu has been Takanohana’s boss since the most recent reshuffle of jobs in the NSK (following the elections), but he was also a member of his now deceased ichimon and a former supporter. He said that he tried to convince Takanohana again and again, for some time now, as two people who work together, to join one of the ichimon – “and raise the youngsters there” – but to no avail. He said he put his soul into this, and that he did not want to lose Takanohana. When asked, he said that the “letter of accusation” was never mentioned during those persuasion attempts.

Third-party Commentaries

Takanohana’s brother, the former Wakanohana, initially reacted to the news with “What, he could not find a single ichimon who will accept him”? Later, after the press conference, he more diplomatically said that it’s a sad decision, and as an older brother, he is worried what will become of his (estranged) little brother.

Demon Kakka, with his usual no-nonsense attitude, said he does not see, from the contents of the “letter of accusation” where the contention lies, and that it seems the two sides simply can’t sit together face to face and work it out. He urged the two sides not to betray the fans, and to find a way for Takanohana not to end up quitting.

Associates of Chiganoura oyakata say that he received Takanohana’s request to take in his deshi by telephone, at noon, right before Takanohana handed in his “retirement papers”, and was bewildered by it. “It was a one-sided phone call”, pointed the associates.

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 21

🌐 Location: Akita, Akita

Today’s report is going to be relatively short, as the usual information (such as bouts and rikishi videos) about this Jungyo event was scarce.

nobori

There are two main reasons for that. One is that the local high school, Kanaashi Agricultural High School, has reached the high-school baseball finals for the first time in 117 years, and this event sort of outshined any minor sporting events in the area. Both local fans and local papers produced less sumo news.

The second reason was that around 10AM, while he was working with his low-ranking deshi outside the venue, Takanohana oyakata collapsed, had spasms, and lost his consciousness. By the time the ambulance arrived, he has regained his consciousness, but he was admitted to hospital for checkups and will be kyujo from the rest of the Jungyo.

He was released from the Akita hospital fairly quickly, returned to Tokyo, and will undergo further examinations at a hospital in the capital.

This further filled my Twitter feed, at the expense of actual sumo. We wish Takanohana good health (despite the fact that many of us foreign sumo fans feel that the man is either delusional or megalomaniac, he is a very popular sumo personality, and seems to be a skilled coach. And anyway, none of the above is a reason to wish ill health on anybody).

But the Jungyo event did proceed more or less as planned. So let’s start with a short video showing the building and dedication of the Akita dohyo:

On the day itself, as usual, some wrestlers were doing keiko while others were shaking hands:

aminishiki

Kakuryu has increased the level of his practice. Up until today he did not do any sumo on the dohyo, only offered his chest for butsukari. Today he had practice bouts vs. Shodai and Yutakayama, and overwhelemed them easily:

Hakuho finally started practicing on-dohyo. His practice was not as intensive as Kakuryu’s. He practiced with Ishiura – mostly tachiai practices etc.:

He also had four bouts with his uchi-deshi, but really, for Hakuho, that’s like taking a candy from a baby. He won them all (yorikiri, tsuri-dashi… poor Ishiura).

Also for the first time he joined the Torikumi. Unfortunately, I do not have the slightest information about either the order of the bouts or the results, let alone videos.

And as we have already come to expect – there was a star of the day. In fact, there are many rikishi who hail from Akita prefecture. But only one sekitori – Takekaze. He also happens to be a graduate of the same high school that got the locals so excited – Kanaashi Agricultural. He made sure to wear his Kanaashi kesho-mawashi.

You can hear him wishing the high school team to do their best and to be “without regrets” after the final occurring on the same day. Unfortunately they did not win the title.

When he finished his torikumi he also unfurled a “Thank you for the Jungyo” sign he prepared in advanced and walked with it down the hanamichi:

takekaze-thanks-audience

He did win that bout – he was elevated from Juryo to Makuuchi and matched with Okinoumi. All the other Akita rikishi (in the low ranks, of course) also apparently won their torikumi.

Here is your portion of Enho of the day, and I hope my report tomorrow will be richer, as the Jungyo hits Tokyo again.

enho
Don’t worry, little one. You’ll soon be done with this stinky duty.

 

Heya Power Rankings: Nagoya-Aki 18

mitakeumi-preparing

Two thousand eighteen. The year that the underclassmen upset the balance of the hallowed Tachiai Heya Power Rankings. Well, almost. After Tochinoshin’s toe-bustin’ adventures in sansho and yusho, Ice Cold Kakuryu came back to restore the natural order of Yokozuna dominance.

But what’s this? A newcomer has etched his names in the annals of time with a heroic championship win, and you know what happens when that happens: he gets loaded up with special prizes. And in our rankings system, titles and prizes are a good way to load up your stable with points. Step forward Sekiwake Mitakeumi of Dewanoumi-beya, for you, king of tadpoles have arrived.

Ahem. Here’s the full chart for this period:

Heya Power Rankings - Aki 2018

Largely, you’ll note drop-offs in points across the board. This is what happens when everyone is injured. Here’s the top 20-formatted chart:

  1. (+16) Dewanoumi. 95 points (+75)
  2. (+1) Tagonoura. 65 points (+15)
  3. (+4) Sakaigawa. 58 points (+13)
  4. (+5) Tokitsukaze. 58 points (+33)
  5. (-3) Kasugano. 45 points (-45)
  6. (-1) Oitekaze. 44 points (-4)
  7. (-1) Kokonoe. 42 points (-5)
  8. (-4) Miyagino. 40 points (-10)
  9. (+7) Takanohana. 37 points (+16)
  10. (-9) Izutsu. 35 points (-60)
  11. (-3) Tomozuna. 28 points (-4)
  12. (-2) Minato. 25 points (even)
  13. (-2) Isenoumi. 23 points (-2)
  14. (+-) Takadagawa. 20 points (-2)
  15. (**) Kataonami. 20 points (+5)
  16. (**) Hakkaku. 20 points (+9)
  17. (**) Takasago. 20 points (+15)
  18. (+1) Isegahama. 18 points (even)
  19. (-4) Oguruma. 16 points (-6)
  20. (-8) Nishonoseki. 15 points (-10)

(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, tiebreaker 1: higher position in the previous chart, tiebreaker 2: highest ranked rikishi on the banzuke. Nishonoseki and Sadogatake both had an even score after Natsu as well as Nagoya, so Nishonoseki grabs 20th position by virtue of Shohozan outranking Kotoshogiku.)

Movers

After a 38 year title drought, Mitakeumi’s sansho-laden yusho-winning tournament gives Dewanoumi-beya the top spot on our chart. Elsewhere, a 100% kachi-koshi rate for Sakaigawa-beya meant Goeido’s stable returned to the top 3. The impressive veteran Myogiryu (along with Sadanoumi) has succeeded so far in his bounceback to the top division to add to the returning Ozeki’s success in the Nagoya basho. As to whether this ageing crew behind the underachieving Ozeki can continue this improvement at the Aki basho, time will tell.

Yutakayama’s jun-yusho performance vaults Tokitsukaze-beya back into the upper echelons of our chart as well. The stable grabs fourth slot in spite of Shodai’s disappointing tournament. Both Shodai and Yutakayama should return to the joi for September’s forthcoming basho, and after a spirited but underwhelming tilt at the level in May, it will be intriguing to see if Yutakayama can ride the wave of his more recent success to greater achievement in the coming weeks.

Finally, a word for Takanohana-beya, whose beleaguered oyakata guided positive results from resurgent tadpole Takakeisho and Juryo-yusho winner Takanoiwa. When faced with a similar promotion push, Takanoiwa’s fellow Juryo man Takagenji stumbled to a 6 win make-koshi, otherwise the former dai-yokozuna turned stablemaster would be sporting 3 rikishi in the makuuchi ranks for Aki. That said, both Takakeisho and Takanoiwa may be well placed for continued improvement, and Takagenji’s twin Takayoshitoshi probably has a 2019 ETA on a hopefully more humble return to the professional ranks after a dominant 6-1 return to competitive sumo in July.

Losers

By far the most disappointing performance for me this time out has to be the stable that couldn’t even crack the chart, despite an astonishing seven sekitori: Kise-beya. The stable has an incredible number of rikishi in the upper tiers of the third, Makushita tier, as well as the Juryo ranks (and fan favorite Ura still to come back from injury), yet none of those rikishi have been able to make consistent progress. Remarkably, all seven members of the stable’s pro ranks fell to make-koshi losing records, so it’s possible that they were hindered rather than helped by not having to fight each other. Most notably, when faced with the possibility of promotion to the top division amidst a stunning late career comeback at Juryo 1, inelegant veteran Akiseyama fluffed his lines, unable to muster a single win until day 8 against a mostly steady stream of grizzled vets. Newcomer Churanoumi-nee-Kizaki meanwhile will return to the unsalaried ranks following a disappointing 5-10 debut at Juryo.

There’s no great shame in Kasugano-beya’s drop from the top 2 ranks after a series of strong chart positions this year, fuelled by the success of shin-Ozeki Tochinoshin. However, we probably wouldn’t have foreseen the man being docked points for going kyujo. Hopefully his return to competition as a kadoban Ozeki consolidates the stable’s position at the peak of our chart, and stablemates Tochiozan and Aoiyama will be fighting at advanced ranks as well next time out, following winning tournaments in Nagoya.

Izutsu-beya meanwhile takes a tumble following sole sekitori and back-to-back yusho winner Yokozuna Kakuryu returning to the place he occupied most of 2017: the kyujo list.

What’s Next

I’m looking for bouncebacks from Kasugano and Sadogatake beya. In the latter’s case, Kotoshogiku has been mostly competitive in the joi, but his kyujo status midway through Nagoya means he will be fighting at a much lower rank in September and if recovered, should be formidable. The stable will also have Kotoyuki also returning to the top flight.

Oitekaze-beya is another stable whose rikishi could be placed for success next time out. The heya features seven sekitori and despite setbacks for Daishomaru and Daieisho in Nagoya, both should be well placed for success. Oitekaze’s fan favorite Endo, meanwhile, should return to the joi and Juryo man Daishoho may well be positioned to compete for his makuuchi promotion.

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 19

🌐 Location: Obihiro, Hokkaido

dohyo
Preparing the dohyo

As I mentioned in my previous post, on August 17, there was a short intermission in the Jungyo as the gigantic traveling show made its way off the main island of Honshu and on to Hokkaido. While a few Isegahama men had duties with their heya and remained in Aomori, the bulk of the ensemble had some time to relax in the relative coolness of the northernmost prefecture.

And everybody who is anybody had to be seen at the BBQ hosted by Yago:

That is to say, Yago himself, Tobizaru, Takanosho, Wakatakakage, Chiyonoumi, Daieisho and Asanoyama.

Yago’s family is from Memuro, about 11km from the Jungyo’s host town of Obihiro. And so he had time to let loose at home and get charged for an eventful day the next day.

There are 20 active rikishi coming from Hokkaido, in addition to three active Oyakata from the Tokachi region, where Obihiro is located, two of whom are former Yokozuna – Hakkaku (Yokozuna Hokutoumi), Shibatayama (Yokozuna Onokuni) and Isenoumi (former Kitakachidoki) – who is from the Obihiro itself.

The two most prominent active Hokkaido rikishi are Kyokutaisei and Yago. While Kyokutaisei did get attention enough to be loved by a Yokozuna:

(Yes, this Youtuber found himself a seat I would personally kill for), the real star of the event was the even more local Yago:

Yago got loved by a mere Ozeki, but got a whole news story to himself. “I have special feelings for my home area… The gates to Makuuchi are right before me, so I’ll strive to get through them”, he says in the interview.

Moving on from the local boys, here is Takanohana working with Takakeisho:

Here is the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, west side (the one where there are actual adults). The youtuber got really personal with Takayasu:

Here is Kisenosato getting his rope tied:

The announcer tells us that the squat is an essential part of the tying process, as it ensures that the Yokozuna can perform his dohyo Iri which includes Shiko and whatnot, without anything falling off.


We have bouts today. Lots of bouts. First, Makushita had an interesting exhibition today. It’s something called “kessho gonin nuki”, and it seems that the winner is whoever beats 5 men from the opposite side in a row. The video is spread over three tweets:

Pretty impressive performance from Ichiyamamoto there.

I believe in addition to that there were also regular Makushita bouts, as I have this image of Enho vs. Nakazono:

enho-bout

Enho won this one.

We have, of course, Yago vs. Takanoiwa:

And we have rare footage from the two oldest sekitori’s bout – Takekaze vs. Uncle Sumo:

Endo again has to face a local boy (Kyokutaisei):

Daieisho vs. Takakeisho:

Ikioi vs. Chiyotairyu. A bit of a miss here at the end but I suppose it just ended there:

Here we have the sanyaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko), followed by Mitakeumi vs. Ichinojo:

Dammit, Ichinojo. 🙁

Finally, the highlight of the evening, Kakuryu vs. Kisenosato, in which one of the Yokozuna has a wardrobe malfunction so severe that the gyoji can’t let them stay in the same position but has to separate them to rearrange the unruly mawashi. Oopsie!

I really hollered through that one. You don’t see something like that every day.

So here is your daily Enho. You missed him, right? 🙂

enho