[sumo] Upcoming Haru Basho musing

Jonosuke Gomen gomen.jonosuke at gmail.com
Fri Mar 6 14:17:09 EST 2020

Now that Ozumo is back on (albeit without spectators) starting this Sunday,
the main focus will be on Asanoyama ranked at Higashi Sekiwake as he aims
to get himself elevated to Ozeki ranking.

Generally you will need 33 wins over consecutive three basho to make ozeki
at sanyaku rank more or less.  Since we are missing an ozeki now, it will
be interesting to see the Kyokai honchos let him be with, say 32 or even 31
wins.  For 33 wins, he will need to record 12-3.  He will face Okinoumi
whom he has 7-1 record on Day 1 and the last basho yusho winner Tokushoryu
on Day 2.

Otherwise topics around Haru basho are Covid-19 related.  The Kyokai
scrapped the idea of transporting lower rank rikishi with charter bus as
they realized it would cause schedule nightmare as rikishi may need to come
earlier or later depend on the day's torikumi and their Osaka base camps
are all over the place.  Now they asking each heya to use their own vehicle
or tax and the Kyokai will reimburse the costs.  They are also asking them
to ride with up to three rikishi. Knowing some of rikishi are more than
average size, it may not be as a comfortable ride.

Also the Kyokai's PR Director, sweet tooth Shibatayama oyakata sent an
edict to each heya manager to ensure each rikishi to do temperature check
twice a day and any rikishi with 37.5 Celsius and more for two consecutive
days to go on automatic kyujo (I wonder what medical diagnosis they will
have to file for kyujo reasho) and have a PCR check for Covid-19. It's been
bantered around  if any rikish is found to have contacted the virus, they
will immediately cancel the basho.  So if this happens in the middle of
basho, how will they decide the yusho rikishi or even if their records will

They also cancelled Haru Jungyo as there was no point in holding it without
spectators as unlike the actual basho there is no NHK broadcast.

Without spectators the Kyokai also cancelled Kensho banner parade done on
dohyo by yobidashi. However out of 74 kensho sponsors, 39 declined to offer
Kensho this basho but the two, Nagatani-en and Yakult announced they would
continue to provide the kensho money to selected bouts. The other 33
sponsors are currently reviewing if they would join these two companies.
As you know NHK being "public" broadcaster usually they switch to wide
angle view when they are paraded around. A kensho is 70,000 yen each, of
which the winning rikishi would be handed 30,000 yen in envelope by the
gyoji (the rest the Kyokai would deposit on the rikishi's account. The
rikishi would get the money with interest on their retirement).

As well this basho you would not see a yobidashi going up on ladder to
Ozumo drum beat nor you will see Sekiotori banners in front of the banner.
Both are cancelled.

I previously noted that Ozumo was held without spectators during WWII.
This was held in June 1945 at half burnt down Kokugikan (Shinshuyama
winning the basho).  Well it was not exactly correct.  It was true that it
was closed to general public i.e. no paying customers.   However they
invited injured soldiers to watch the basho so they did have a small number
of spectators but they were not paying customers.

The previous to this basho held in Novermber 1944 outdoors at Jingu Koen
Sumo grounds in Tokyo. It was actually scheduled for January 1945 but they
felt holding outdoors in January to be a bit cruel to rikishi so they
decided to hold in November. Regardless the risk was not from cold but from
the sky as even on day 1 they had bombers flying over Tokyo and needed to
postpone but they managed to hold on for eight days or so.  The June 1945
basho was more or less at the end of one glorious saga for Ozumo as the
following basho Futabayama retired.

Gomen Komuru,
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