The Spring Grand Sumo Tournament was held in Osaka, where cheers returned for the first time in three years. Ozeki Takaketsugu, the ozeki who will be the main challenger, is the star of the show, while the one who is attracting attention is Miyagino Oyakata, the former yokozuna Hakuho, who will finally start in earnest as a master after his hair-cutting ceremony on January 28 at the “Hakuho Retirement Miyagino Succession Reveal Grand Sumo Tournament.
The retirement sumo match held in January was an unprecedented event, said to be a “400 million yen entertainment event. In a normal hair-breaking ceremony, the celebrities, patrons and acquaintances in order of precedence are those who are close to the wrestler, followed by relatives, fellow rikishi and friends. Next come family members, fellow rikishi, and the stablemaster, and finally, the master, who raised the wrestler, puts the scissors in the end.
In the case of Miyagino Oyakata, however, it was Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda who took the scissors to the topknot before the master, who was the last to do so. After his apprentices, Flameho and Kitaoho, he stopped the proceedings and was introduced to the audience, saying, “This is the person Hakuho himself asked to put the scissors in the topknot before he put the stop scissors in,” which was unusual.
In the case of Miyagino Oyakata, the minimum was 100,000 yen. President Toyoda was second from last, and it was whispered that the congratulatory gift might not be more than a few tens of millions of yen.
The pamphlet advertisement for the retired sumo wrestler cost 10 million yen per page and, of course, featured an ad for a Toyota Crown. A Toyota commercial was also aired in a special program on TV Tokyo the following evening.
The relationship with the president of Japan’s top company seems surprising, but what connection do the two have?
Two years ago, former Sekiwake Kiutoriki said on his YouTube channel, “Hakuho has the rights to Runkuru in Mongolia. He has a general agency license. There are a lot of guys who don’t know this,” he revealed.
A former manager of former yokozuna Asashoryu, who was co-hosting the event, said, “When you buy a Lancel in Mongolia, you can only buy it from a company owned by Hakuho’s family. Asashoryu originally drove a Runkuru, but when Hakuho started running a Runkuru company, he switched to a Range Rover, saying, ‘I can’t drive a Runkuru,'” he continued.
A Runkuru is a Land Cruiser, a 4WD vehicle marketed by Toyota Motor Corporation. It is very popular in Mongolia, where many roads are unpaved and bumpy, and when a Toyota showroom and maintenance shop opened in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar in August 2004, Miyagino Oyakata, who was active at the time, was present for the ceremony.
As an indication of their relationship, the Miyagino stable moved to the Toyota Sports Center in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, for the Nagoya tournament in 1919.
The relocation was still under the leadership of Hakuho’s predecessor, but he was surprised when Hakuho revealed that the relocation was due to his friendship with Akio.
Originally, the Miyagino stable’s quarters were in Narumi, Midori-ku, about 50 minutes by train from the Dolphins Arena, the venue for the Nagoya tournament, next to Nagoya Castle, but Toyota City is even farther, about one hour away.
Miyagino Oyakata retired from the Nagoya tournament the year before last after winning the tournament with a perfect record, but in retrospect, he must have felt some sense of duty to President Toyoda in choosing Nagoya as his retirement venue instead of Tokyo.
Kitaseiho of the Miyagino stable debuted on the first day of the spring tournament on March 12 as the 15th makushita rank in the makushita division, and he and Ochiai, who became the first rider in history to be promoted to the new juryo division in one tournament, both won on the first day of the tournament. Hokushoho was born in Mongolia and moved to Sapporo when he was five years old. He entered Tottori Johoku Junior High School on the recommendation of his current stablemaster, Miyagino Oyakata.
He is a 204 cm taller than Akebono and Kotooshu, and is said to be a future yokozuna or ozeki for sure.
But that is not all. In the “final bout” of Hakuho’s retirement match, he faced Uskhbayar Demidejamts and Batjargal Munhuidere, who had studied sumo at Tottori Johoku High School from Mongolia. Munhuidere came to Japan when he was a junior high school student, courtesy of Miyagino Oyakata. The Japan Sumo Association allows only one foreign rikishi in each stable, but if a rikishi has lived in Japan for 10 years, he is considered Japanese.
Hakuho seems to take good advantage of this, buying promising Mongolian junior high school students and sending them to Japanese schools. If all the students are scouted, the makuuchi area will be full of Miyagino-ya wrestlers in a few years, the stablemasters are saying.
(A reporter from the Yugan Shimbun). This is possible only with a powerful group of supporters and ample financial resources. A sumo writer continues, “Miyagino Oyakata is a retired sumo wrestler.
Miyagino Oyakata said in his retirement speech, “From now on, I aim to become yokozuna of the stablemaster. Of course, this does not mean right now, but more than 10 years from now, but I think he intends to increase the number of sekitori and make the Miyagino-ya stable stronger by then.
The Japan Sumo Association reported its financial results for the fiscal year 2010 at the board of directors meeting held on April 10, and is expected to post a deficit for the third consecutive year due in part to the new corona virus. President Toyoda will become chairman in April, and if Oyakata Miyagino takes the top position, Toyota may become a major sponsor of sumo in the future.