Victory Parade for Kisenosato – Sumo`s Newest Grand Champion (and local hero!) – from Ushiku Station on February 18th at 1 PM
By Avi Landau
For those Japanese who care about such things – and there are many of them – it has been a long wait. Nineteen years since the last Japanese-born sumo wrestler has held the title of Yokozuna – Grand Champion. That`s how long the Mongolian wrestlers have dominated Sumo`s highest rank.
It has also been a long wait for those of us who, like me, have been rooting for our local favorite, Kisenosato, to finally win a tournament and get promoted to Sumo`s highest rank.
Though born in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Kisenosato (real name; Yutaka Hagiwara) grew up near Tsukuba - in Ushiku and Ryugasaki (our neighbors to the south) - and he has plenty of supporters who have been cheering him on over the years (He first entered the ring professionally in in 2002 and was promoted to Ozeki in 2012). I include myself among them. We have been a strong, enthusiastic and noisy presence at the National Sumo Stadium in Ryogoku, one reason for that being how easy and fast it is for us to get there from Tsuchiura and Ushiku using the Joban Line. In fact, he has so many fans at the stadium that I have NEVER been able to get a Kisenosato lunch-box (the official vendors at the stadium sell different bento-boxes featuring the popular wrestlers` favorite dishes)- because they are always sold out so quickly. I always have to settle for the less popular lunch-boxes (i.e. the ones representing some foreign-born wrestlers!)
After many years of just-misses championships, heartbreak and disappointment, though, fans like me had mostly given up on him ever winning a title, let alone becoming a Grand Champion!
But at the age of 30, he finally did it – and all of south Ibaraki has gone crazy!
For the past several weeks it`s been Kisenosato Mania !
On January 27th, 18,000 people showed up at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo for the Dohyo Iri Ceremony, initiating Kisenosato as the 72nd wrestler ever to have earned the rank of Yokozuna
You can share in the jubilation tomorrow, Saturday February 18, 2017, as a triumphant procession will move from Ushiku Station`s eastern entrance to the Ushiku City Office
Also sharing in the limelight these days has been Kisenosato`s stablemate Takayasu, a native of Tsuchiura, Tsukuba`s neighbor to the east.
Maybe I`ll see you there!
To be continued……