Stablemaster Miyagino’s Harsh Fate – Disciples’ Misconduct Hastens Departure from Sumo World | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Stablemaster Miyagino’s Harsh Fate – Disciples’ Misconduct Hastens Departure from Sumo World

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Former yokozuna Hakuho (left) and Hokuseiho apologize at the Miyagino stable at the end of February. Proposals have been made to deprive the stablemaster of his former name and to close the stable.

On the 10th, the Grand Sumo Spring Tournament (at Edion Arena Osaka) kicked off. It has been revealed through daily reports that the Japan Sumo Association is taking severe measures against former Yokozuna Hakuho, now stablemaster Miyagino, for turning a blind eye to the assault committed by his beloved disciple, Hokuseiho, and neglecting his supervisory responsibilities. All wrestlers from Miyagino Stable have decided to transfer to one of the stables affiliated with the Isegahama Ichimon to essentially dissolve Miyagino Stable. After the Spring Tournament, stablemaster Miyagino himself will become an attached master to another stable.

“In the world of sumo, an ichimon is equivalent to a faction in politics. Once that ichimon decides to dissolve a stable, Miyagino Stable will eventually disappear. It’s said that the decision to dissolve the stable was heavily pushed by the association’s executive committee. If they ignore the intentions of the executive committee, their own positions could be at risk.

The dissolution of Miyagino Stable and the wrestlers’ transfer were widely anticipated, but it was expected to be finalized after the tournament. The fact that it’s essentially ‘decided’ before the tournament shows the severity of the Sumo Association’s crackdown on Stablemaster Miyagino. It’s even more intense than when Takanohana submitted his resignation in 2018.” (Sumo Correspondent)

Despite achieving the record-breaking feat of winning the championship 45 times, Stablemaster Miyagino has been branded with the stigma of disqualification as a mentor for turning a blind eye to Hokuseiho’s assault for over a year, rendering him unable to guide his disciples. He faces severe scrutiny from the Japan Sumo Association for his supervisory responsibility in the unprecedented scandal. The revelation of Hokuseiho’s violence, which had become a routine occurrence against two wrestlers, has led to the imposition of harsh penalties on Miyagino, including a demotion of two ranks and a reduction in salary.

“The disciplinary actions by the Sumo Association are divided into seven levels, and the demotion suffered by Stablemaster Miyagino is the third heaviest punishment. Anything more severe would lead to dismissal or recommendation for retirement.” (Sumo Correspondent)

The vertical structure of the sumo world remains unshaken even in the Reiwa era. The higher one’s ranking on the banzuke, the higher one’s position, and the same goes for the number of championships won. Therefore, it was natural to expect that Stablemaster Miyagino, with the record for the most championships, would aim to become the chairman of the association in the near future. It is rumored that Stablemaster Miyagino himself harbored such aspirations.

“However, for the executive committee of the Sumo Association, Stablemaster Miyagino has long been a thorn in their side. While it’s true that in the sumo world, a Yokozuna holds the highest rank, and having the most championship wins is significant, many stablemasters frowned upon Stablemaster Miyagino’s continuous accumulation of victories through unruly behavior, such as elbow strikes, finishing moves, professional wrestling techniques, and elbow strikes during the tachiai. There was a taciturn atmosphere regarding the prospect of Stablemaster Miyagino eventually leading the association. However, there were also many stablemasters who had reservations about Stablemaster Miyagino assuming the top position in the association due to his unruly behavior during the Yokozuna Hakuho era. 

Therefore, for the opposition, if I may put it that way, this scandal involving Stablemaster Miyagino was seen as an opportunity. Aside from certain members of the executive committee of the Sumo Association, there is only an atmosphere among other stablemasters that says Stablemaster Miyagino brought this upon himself.” (Evening Newspaper Reporter)

What about the disciples that stablemaster Miyagino nurtured? A sumo correspondent from a sports newspaper reveals,

“Multiple wrestlers have decided to retire, and others are hoping for transfers to other stables, which are typically not permitted. It’s safe to say there’s absolutely no atmosphere of wanting to stay with Stablemaster Miyagino.”

In September 2018, former Yokozuna Takanohana, who had submitted his resignation to the Sumo Association, dared to run for the directorship in the elections, which were traditionally based on seniority. Takanohana took this step, stating, “To change the current situation, I have no choice but to become a director.” Despite contrary expectations, he won the election. However, the executive committee led by the then chairman, Musashigawa (former Yokozuna Mienoumi), continued to harshly criticize Takanohana’s actions and statements amidst a series of scandals in the sumo world, including baseball gambling.

On January 13th of this year, they announced the renewal of the victory parade car. In the commemorative photo with the new parade car (back row, left to right) are Stablemaster Miyagino, Stablemaster Shibatayama, and Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

In 2017, during the assault incident involving former Yokozuna Harumafuji and the injury of his disciple Takanoiwa, current Chairman Hakkaku (former Yokozuna Hokutoumi), who leads the current executive committee, adopted a stance of resolute resistance.


“The association decided to dismiss Takanohana from his directorship and impose a two-rank demotion, similar to what happened to Stablemaster Miyagino, for neglecting to report the incident despite holding a crucial position as a director. It was the first time in history that a director had been dismissed.” (Sumo Correspondent)


However, Takanohana still ran in subsequent director elections as a form of resistance against the association’s executive committee but was unsuccessful. Despite being demoted a total of five ranks within three months, unlike Stablemaster Miyagino this time, he was still permitted to continue coaching his disciples. However, during the March 2018 Spring Tournament, it was revealed that his wrestler, Juryo Takayoshitoshi, had committed violence against his attendant. Takanohana personally apologized to the Sumo Association during an emergency meeting attended by all stablemasters, but subsequently submitted his resignation in the form of a press conference. This was essentially a “banishment” as he received both direct and indirect requests that he had no choice but to retire.


“Nevertheless, when the stablemaster was explaining the closure of the Takanohana Stable to his disciples, including the then Ōzeki Takakeishō, and the backstage staff such as attendants, there were wrestlers who shed tears silently as they listened to the stablemaster’s words. That’s a difference from the situation with Stablemaster Miyagino this time.” (Sumo Correspondent familiar with the situation)

Despite being alienated by other stablemasters and keeping a distance from his disciples, Stablemaster Miyagino had influential supporters outside the sumo world during his active career. Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda is a prime example. His financial resources are significant enough for him to live comfortably even outside the association, which sets him apart from former Yokozuna who have left the sumo world, such as Takanohana and Asashoryu.

“In January of this year, Toyota provided the victory parade car. Initially, the Crown was planned, but through direct negotiations between Stablemaster Miyagino and President Toyoda, it was upgraded to the top-tier vehicle, the Century. It’s said to cost 25 million yen, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the relationship between President Toyoda and Stablemaster Miyagino. Of course, with the recent scandal coming to light, it’s expected that supporters, including President Toyoda, will gradually withdraw their support.” (Same Sumo Correspondent as before)

Last year, Stablemaster Miyagino expressed his desire to establish a stable in Ginza, Tokyo, and purchased a 150-tsubo (approximately 495 square meters) plot of land in Nihonbashi-Koamicho, Tokyo. The prime location comes with a first-class mortgage capped at 1.6 billion yen, and it’s possible to sell it. While Stablemaster Miyagino brought this situation upon himself, he has become fed up with the strict punishment from the Sumo Association and is now in a situation where he has submitted a resignation letter, echoing the circumstances of Takanohana’s departure. If Stablemaster Miyagino decides to leave the sumo world, it’s unlikely that there will be many people to stop him, or even many people who would be surprised by his decision.

  • Photo Kyodo News

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