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Featured Club / Dojo - Tsugaru Sumo Club

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Once Upon a Time

Location - Tsugaru City Kizukuri Sumo Ground (つがる市営木造相撲場), Tsugaru, Aomori
Keiko - Mondays to Fridays (after school for 2.5 hours)

Prior to Iruma Junior Sumo Club's dominance of the National Club Championships, there was another team who took the competition by storm, having such strength and depth that they were national champions twice in 3 years, and finishing second in the other. Founded in 1992, The now defunct Tsugaru Sumo Club (つがる相撲クラブ) attracted sumo kids mainly from the cities of Tsugaru and Goshogawara (that "sleepy rural town, 5 hours north of Tokyo by train", where "the tradition of sumo is still very much alive"), and back in their heyday, were truly a force to be reckoned with. They have a blog, although it is no longer updated.



Being located in such a hotbed of sumo in Aomori, itself the home to many sumo greats over the years, means that Tsugaru Sumo Club have always been able to attract some very talented kids, including 4 Primary School Yokozuna and a Wanpaku Yokozuna. Even this year's Middle School Yokozuna, Narumi Shoma, was a member of Tsugaru.

Their talents came to fruition in 2011 as they won the 8th National Club Championships, beating Tochigi's Otawara Shushikan Sumo Dojo in the final. Their A Team was as follows:

Grade 3 - Narumi Shoma 鳴海 匠馬 (Middle School Yokozuna)
Grade 4 - Koseki Takudo 小関 拓道 (Wanpaku Yokozuna)
Grade 5 - Kikuchi Arata 菊地 新 (Wanpaku last 32)
Grade 6 - Tanaka Kaito 田中 界渡 (Wanpaku last 32)
Middle School - Echigoya Tomoki 越後谷 知樹 (Wanpaku finalist)

Here's the video of their semi-final match against Tokyo's Katsushika Shiratori Sumo Club, who will be featured soon. Tsugaru Sumo Club are the team on the left:


The following year in 2012, virtually the same Tsugaru team reached the final of the National Club Championships again, where they faced a familiar opponent in Katsushika. Here's a video of that year's final between Tsugaru A (on the right) and Katsushika:


A narrow loss meant that Tsugaru weren't able to defend their title the way Iruma did a couple of years later. However, they came back as strong as ever in 2013, reaching yet another final, where they were the underdogs against heavy favourites Udo Junior Sumo Club. Udo Junior Sumo Club breezed through the tournament that year, winning every match by either 5-0 or 4-1, their opponents weren't even able to get close to them.

Here's what should happen in the final between Tsugaru and Udo, based on their individual results:

Hasegawa Keiji (長谷川 恵司) vs Honda Gotaro (本田 豪太郎): Honda to win, as he frequently reaches the quarter-finals of national competitions

Kosaka Yusei (古坂 裕聖) vs Kawazoe Fuma (川副 楓馬): Kawazoe to win, as he is a Primary School Yokozuna

Narumi Shoma (鳴海 匠馬) vs Hanaoka Masaki (花岡 真生): Hanaoka to win, as he is a 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna (though Narumi is now a Middle School Yokozuna)

Koseki Takudo (小関 拓道) vs Kusano Naoya (草野 直哉): Koseki to win, as he is a Wanpaku Yokozuna

Echigoya Tomoki (越後谷 知樹) vs Kawakami Ryuko (川上 竜虎): Kawakami to win, as he is a Middle School Yokozuna


In theory, Tsugaru Sumo Club shouldn't pose much of a threat against their all-conquering opponents from Kumamoto. Here's what happened in the match (Tsugaru on the left):



Tsugaru Sumo Club are now 2-time national champions. From left to right: Narumi Shoma, Hasegawa Keiji, Kosaka Yusei, Koseki Takudo, Echigoya Tomoki



Just as Tsugaru Sumo Club were going from strength to strength, their amazing story ended just a year later in 2014, when a parent took one of their coaches to court for using violence during training. Here's a copy of Akinomaki's post on the matter:

"Another case had just been settled at the same time: the parents of a boy had demanded damages of 3.3million yen from Tsugaru-city (Aomori) and the coach of the primary school sumo club, for the mental anguish the boy had suffered from corporal punishment by the coach. A court mediated settlement took effect: the city promised to take care of proper guidance from now on and the coach has paid 300 000 yen."


Since then, Tsugaru Sumo Club have disbanded, with their club members joining Nakadomari Dojo, about 24km north of Tsugaru. With the combined power of Tsugaru and Nakadomari, they would go on to win the 5th Hakuho Cup in 2015, once again beating the favourites from Kumamoto in the final, as well as the 13th National Club Championships in 2016.

The kids who grew up with Tsugaru Sumo Club are continuing to fly the flag high for the region and for Aomori, but as for the club itself, their story is no more.

Edited by mikawa
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