When Takamisakari called it a day back in 2013, this paper carried a headline declaring that the “clown prince of sumo” had retired, while Kyodo News opened with a line that called the former komusubi’s pre-bout rituals “goofball antics.”
Those were somewhat harsh assessments, as Takamisakari was never really playing a role or hamming it up for the crowd with his face slaps and foot stomps. Those sometimes off-kilter comments and that Robocop routine were just the Aomori Prefecture native being himself.
Not that Takamisakari didn’t take advantage of the public’s reaction to what he was doing in the ring and its accompanying fame.
During his active career, the current Azumazeki stablemaster appeared in as many, if not more, commercials than rikishi that were far more accomplished and higher ranked.
Whether it was advertisements for coffee (with Tommy Lee Jones playing the role of a sumo referee) sake or seasoning, Takamisakari’s face was rarely off TV screens in the mid-to-late 2000s.
Nagatanien, a food manufacturer, was his most visible supporter with a collection of kensho (prize money) banners featuring their products circling the ring before each of Takamisakari’s bouts.
He wasn’t all show and no substance, however.
A product of the famed Nihon University conveyer belt of talent, Takamisakari spent almost 10 years in sumo’s top division and earned five special prizes.
As well as being nearsighted, Takamisakari famously hated knowing who his opponent would be the following day, as it caused him to stay awake fretting and worrying about what tactics to employ.
He was also notoriously lackluster in training with results there giving no indication of how well he would do in tournaments.
Takamisakari’s career highlight was undoubtedly the 2003 Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament where despite only going 9-6 he downed two yokozuna and two ozeki and won the outstanding performance prize.