What Will Become of the Dynasty?
Brian Lewin
The Hanada Dynasty – past or present?

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Tenryu our man for August.

Heya Peek

John Gunning
John attends a chanko session at Chiganoura Beya.

Photo Bonanza
For a glimpse at some of the sights you won't see on TV.    

July Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Nagoya Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his ‘gem’ of the basho.

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila takes a break and Eric Blair covers the lower divisions in his own ‘unique’ way.

Aki Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Aki Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out.

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Gyoji goings on and several things you never knew about the ones officiating.

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko walks us through his 2 chosen kimarite.

John McTague
John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo.

Boletín de Sumo en Español
Eduardo de Paz Gútiez
An article on sumo’s very first fan mag – Boletin de Sumo en Espanol

Online Gaming
Jezz Sterling
Hear from the founder of Bench Sumo of one of sumo's most popular games.

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s focus on 3 of the most interesting online sumo sites today.

Fan Debate
Henka – good, bad or ugly? See what our debaters think.

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan – the Petros Zachos story.

Ngozi on the Road
Ngozi T. Robinson
NTR visits an amasumo event in the north-east U.S. and tells us what it was like.

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke.


onto his left knee, badly scraping it.  That forced a playoff, with nearly the entire Kokugikan – even those who normally did not like him – squarely in Taka's corner.  After some initial slaps and pushes, they quickly came to grips in the center of the dohyo, struggling for a few moments before Taka twisted Maru down for the win, sending the audience into a frenzy.  His victory “guts pose” quickly became one of the most famous moments in contemporary Japanese sports.  While a truly spectacular yusho, it was one that came at a high price.  Had Taka quit on the 14th day, the knee might have healed more quickly and completely, but by competing, he injured it so badly that he was subsequently absent for a record seven consecutive basho, returning only as a pale shadow of his former self.  After a mediocre performance in his return in the 2002 Aki Basho and another absence in the Kyushu Basho, his 8th day loss to Aminishiki in the 2003 Hatsu Basho finally triggered the inevitable.

Following his retirement, he was offered and accepted ichidai toshiyori (single-generation elder) status from the Kyokai.  He then served as an assistant in the heya, taking on an increasingly significant role as his father’s health declined. 

Finally, in January 2004, due perhaps to a combination of declining health and an inability to attract new talent, Futagoyama stepped down as shisho, turning control of the heya over to his son.  It was then renamed Takanohana-beya, but its difficulties continued unabated, with no significant new talent joining, and the last of its sekitori, Takanonami, retiring shortly thereafter.
So, is the dynasty over?  Perhaps not.

artwork by Misya

Looking at Takanohana-beya, it is clear that other heya have gone through difficult times - both Nishonoseki and Mihogaseki are recent examples of once-powerful heya going through extended difficult patches.  Few heya can remain strong decade in, decade out. Most go through rebuilding periods of dohyo weakness, and that is likely what is happening to Takanohana-beya now.  Takanohana is a very young oyakata, and has been thrust into a position that he is

perhaps not yet mature enough to handle, so a few missteps are to be expected.  The real question here is how much damage the dispute with his brother and mother will do to the heya's image and its ability to attract and develop talent. Prolonged hostility could hobble it for years to come, dooming it to mediocrity, while a negotiated peace would enable its existing rikishi to focus more on their sumo than their oyakata’s problems, and would allow Taka to re-focus on recruiting the talent the heya needs for the future.  But even that is no guarantee.  It is a truism that the greatest rikishi often fail to become the greatest oyakata.  To date, neither Taiho nor Kitanoumi have been particularly successful in developing sekitori; Chiyonofuji has managed only one strong ozeki and a short-lived komusubi.

As for the family, time will tell.  The now-deceased Takanohana did not enter his older brother's heya until several years after the latter's retirement, and it was seven years after Takanohana's retirement that his own two sons entered his heya.  Thus far, nothing has been heard from Takanohana or Masaru about whether or not their sons might enter the sport.

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