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Barbara Ann Klein
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Ngozi T. Robinson
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Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke.


Rikishi of Old: Tenryu Saburo
and Shunjuen Incident

by Joe Kuroda


ceremony and formally proclaimed their withdrawal from the Kyokai. Meanwhile, the Kyokai announced the expulsion of 48 rikishi including ozeki Onosato, and released a newly revised banzuke for an eight-day basho to be held in February 1932. As a result, the January 1932 banzuke became a phantom banzuke with which no basho was ever associated. (Banzuke)

The mastermind and central figure of this “Shunjuen Incident” was sekiwake Tenryu Saburo. Born the third son of a farmer in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture on November 1, 1903, Tenryu

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In the world of Ozumo there is nothing more sacrosanct than the banzuke. It is simply the essence and core of the sport. Even during the closing days of World War II in June 1945, with many rikishi missing due to war duty, and Japanese people not certain where their next meal was coming from, the Kyokai held a closed-to-the-public 7-day basho to preserve banzuke continuity. It was held at the burned-out Kokugikan under a threat of air raids. Maegashira east 1, Bishuyama, won the yusho with a 7-win and no-loss record at this basho. The determination to hold the tournament was based on the Kyokai’s unassailable belief that once a banzuke is set, a basho must be held to “set” the next banzuke.

In this context, the so-called “Shunjuen Incident” that took place in January 1932 was nothing less than remarkable in its scope and reach, as it shook the very foundation of the Ozumo society.

One day after the January Banzuke release, on January 6, 1932, 32 Dewanoumi Ichimon rikishi – 20 makuuchi, 11 juryo

and one makushita – gathered at a Chinese restaurant named Shunjuen, located in Tokyo’s Oimachi district. Their aim was to demand full scale reforms from the Kyokai executives to improve rikishi living conditions.

Subsequently, a number of sekitori from a non-Dewanoumi Ichimon, including sekiwake Asashio Tomojiro (later yokozuna Minanogawa), joined the protest and the Kyokai was faced with an unprecedented crisis never before seen in the history of Ozumo. The Kyokai executives responded quickly to the group’s demands, but their responses were considered to be half-hearted and lacking in substance, and eventually, the negotiations collapsed. (Group Demands and Kyokai Responses)

The Kyokai was consequently forced to postpone the whole January basho as the bulk of the remaining makuuchi and juryo rikishi threatened to join the walkout.

To show their own serious intent, thirty rikishi even performed the “mage” cutting

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