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mikawa

Featured Club / Dojo - Iruma Junior Sumo Club

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mikawa    423

A Promise to a Friend

Location - Irumashi Sports Park, Iruma, Saitama
Keiko - Mondays (18:00 - 20:00), Wednesdays (18:00 - 20:00), Saturdays (14:00 - 16:00), Sundays (9:00 - 11:00)

"To my best friend Nishizawa - please, I leave everything to you now."

Saito and Nishizawa Masao (西澤 正夫) are best friends from kindergarten all the way through to college. Both of them are sad to see the lack of opportunities kids in Iruma have to practise sumo, and so, they decided to take it upon themselves to develop grassroots sumo in Iruma. That was 1998, and the start of Iruma Junior Sumo Club (入間少年相撲クラブ).

Iruma.jpg

However, just when things were starting up, Saito was diagnosed with leukemia, and passed away not long after. Before he died, Saito wrote a letter to Nishizawa, passing on his dreams and ambitions to his best friend, and hoping that Nishizawa would make sumo popular again in Iruma. 20 years on, as the result of his best friend's hardwork and dedication, Saito will not be disappointed:

Number of participants at the Iruma Wanpaku Qualifiers in 1996 - 68
Number of participants at the Iruma Wanpaku Qualifiers in 2010 - 1067

The number's increased by more than 15 times in just 20 years! As a contrast, the total number of participants in the Wanpaku Tournament nationally has fallen from 70,000 down to 40,000 during the same period.

 

Nishizawa's achievements don't stop there. In March 2015, a team consisting of Onozawa Ayato (斧澤 亜矢斗, front left), Suzuki Hayato (鈴木 覇都, front right), Yoshino Issei (吉野 一颯, front center), Konno Kanato (今野 哉翔, back right) and Kamiyama Ryuichi (神山 龍一, back left) were triumphant in the 11th National Club Championships, making Iruma Junior Sumo Club officially the best club in Japan:

11th.jpg

Here's a video of their final match against Fuji Wanpaku Sumo Club, Mochizuki Masaya's team:

 

Even more incredibly, a few months later in October 2015, Iruma Junior Sumo Club would go on to successfully defend their title in the 12th National Club Championships, with a team made up of Samejima Hikaru (鮫島 輝, front right), Onozawa Ayato (斧澤 亜矢斗, front left), Kobayashi Arashi (小林 嵐, back center), Yoshino Issei (吉野 一颯, back right) and Kamiyama Ryuichi (神山 龍一, back left):

12th.jpg

Their opponents in the final, Mitaka Sumo Club, made a remarkable run to get that far, but in the end Iruma won 3-2 (their only losses were to Kodama Hayato and Hanafusa Kai), becoming the first ever club to win this tournament back-to-back, something that not even the great Tsugaru Sumo Club teams of 2011 - 2013 were able to do. Here's a video of the final:

 

Apart from winning back-to-back National Club Championships, Iruma Junior Sumo Club can also claim to have won back-to-back Middle School Championships, as the 44th Middle School Yokozuna Tsukahara Takaaki (塚原 隆明) and the 45th Middle School Yokozuna Kamiyama Ryuichi (神山 龍一) are both former club members:

Tsukahara.jpg

Kamiyama.jpg

 

And on top of all that, with Iruma Junior Sumo Club having also won the team competition at the 3rd Hakuho Cup in 2013, we can safely say that Nishizawa Masao has done a job his best friend would have been proud of.

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