The possibility of the birth of the “Hakuho Empire” is shown by the Association’s silence and the media’s flip-flopping on the extravagant haircutting ceremony. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The possibility of the birth of the “Hakuho Empire” is shown by the Association’s silence and the media’s flip-flopping on the extravagant haircutting ceremony.

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Former Hakuho stablemaster Miyagino is a master at dealing with the media and fans.

He is a former Hakuho and Miyagino Oyakata, who is very good at handling the media and fans. “From now on, I will take over the name Miyagino, which has a 300-year tradition, and I will work hard and devote myself to the development of sumo and to repay my fans by training yokozuna and ozeki as soon as possible. Together with Sumo fans, Hakuho fans, and all of you here today, I pledge to raise and build a man who will be chosen by the gods of sumo as soon as possible, and return to this ring once again.

On January 28, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, the 69th yokozuna Hakuho (now 37, Miyagino no Mikata), who retired from the autumn tournament of 2009, held a retirement sumo match and hair-cutting ceremony. After cutting his hair, Hakuho placed his forehead on the ring, and in his speech, he expressed his gratitude to the Miyagino stable and fans who raised him, as well as his great ambitions. The audience was so moved by his words that the newspapers carried an article titled

The newspapers were also very moved by his words, and some of them wrote articles about him, such as “The strongest yokozuna” who put his forehead on the ring, his gratitude, and his determination. (Spo nichi annex).

The former Hakuho’s haircut ceremony was extravagant, with an array of celebrities, including former prime ministers, in attendance” (Daily Sports).

The news was reported with favorable impressions, such as “Former Hakuho’s haircut ceremony was superb. However, many people involved with the Sumo Association were cold toward the event.

It is unprecedented to express gratitude by putting one’s head on the ring. If it had been during the current season, the association would have questioned the media. It is true that the guests were superb, but not a single association official was present. The media hardly mentioned this and reported only the guests’ inspiring comments. It is clearly a palpable lift.”

Then, why did the media stop bashing Hakuho as soon as he retired, and why did the JSA also decide to keep quiet about it?

It is probably because Hakuho’s “counterattack” has just begun. In his last speech, Hakuho twice said, ‘One day sooner. In other words, he said, “I want to get an ozeki or yokozuna out of my room as soon as possible. In other words, he wanted to “rise to the top of the association as soon as possible. I think the association officials took this as a message from Hakuho. That is nothing but a declaration of war from Hakuho to the current administration.

Hakuho had built a brilliant history, winning 45 championships, the most in history, with a total of 1,187 victories and a 14-year reign as yokozuna. However, around the middle of his reign, when his power began to wane, he began to show signs of “hard tension” and “elbows” that were unbecoming of a yokozuna, and the Yokozuna Judging Committee and Chancellor Hakkaku repeatedly criticized him. However, Hakuho’s disregard for “tradition,” such as his ring-entering without respect to kata and his “Banzai Sansho” chant after winning the tournament, continued unabated.

Hakuho, however, thought that he was entitled to assume the title of “ichidai nenyose,” which is given to rikishi who have won 20 or more makuuchi championships. However, the “Conference of Experts on the Succession and Development of Sumo” argued that “there was nothing to indicate the significance of the existence of an Ichi-dai nenyoshi,” and the title was not assumed. This must have been an unbearable humiliation for Hakuho. I believe that the association had the intention of hoping that he would go out of business. If Hakuho remains with the association as a stablemaster, it is easy to imagine that this grudge will reverberate in his later years.

However, Hakuho remained in the association as the Maki oyakata, and now he has succeeded to the Miyagino stable as the Miyagino oyakata. The Miyagino-ya has already seen a succession of talented wrestlers who are expected to carry the torch in the Kakukai in the future. Ochiai became the first wrestler in history to be promoted to juryo at the first tournament, and Kawazoe, a makushita, won the tournament tournament for retired wrestlers. Then there is the Mongolian-born Hokushobo, who is likely to be newly promoted in the spring tournament. In addition, a college sumo player who is considered a great Mongolian talent and a current amateur yokozuna are also said to have a good chance of joining the Miyagino-ya stable. There are reports that the other rooms have complained that this is “too much.”

However, some other yokozuna are reportedly complaining, saying, “It is natural for strong wrestlers to join the Miyagino-ya. For young people in their teens and early twenties, Hakuho was the yokozuna and the symbol of strength. Naturally, they would want to learn from him. Even if they don’t say anything, young rikishi will come to us and say, ‘I want you to join the Miyagino-ya,’ and I think that situation will continue for a while.

Mr. Mitsuru Yaku said so. Yaku analyzes the future of the Miyagino-ya in this way.

There is a strong possibility that Fujishima Oyakata (Musashigawa stable), a former Busozan, will be the next president of the JSA. Fujishima Oyakata is a master who respects tradition. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Hakuho, who is, so to speak, a ‘destroyer of tradition. Hakuho’s Miyagino-ya is sure to gain strength. In five or ten years’ time, this three-way team will be supporting the association. That is why the association and the media, which used to beat him up so much, now have no choice but to support him.

It seems that the foundation of the “Hakuho empire” has already been laid.

Former Rikusei no Sato’s Nijonoseki Oyakata, who is a rival of Miyagino Oyakata in the JSA
  • Photo Ichiro Takatsuka

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