Ishiura Retires, Becomes Magaki-Oyakata

You weren’t expecting that news this morning, were you? Neither was I, frankly. We’d known Ishiura’s retirement was going to happen fairly soon but the fact that he would stay on with the Kyokai has taken us by surprise. Even more surprising is that the Magaki kabu has been occupied by the former Chikubayama, Hakuho’s former stable-master. So he’s out. As Ishiura’s kesho mawashi says, “Carpe Diem.”

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the fact that all of these kabu are in use and questions about various succession timelines. I imagine it works the same as any equity. If you own stock in Root Beer, Inc., (I like Root Beer), and more people want your stock, the value of that stock goes up. Root Beer, Inc. to the moon, baby!! But if you issue more stock, it dilutes the value of the equity you have and the price goes down. If we start handing out Kabu to every Hakuho, Terunofuji, and Harry, it will decrease the value of those already in circulation. So I presume these are the conversations that are going on among the oyakata — and may have even factored into the choice not to create a new Hakuho kabu but that’s speculation. The big difference is that I can’t be aged out of my ownership of Root Beer, Inc. when I hit 70 — and I can also buy it back if I’m full of regerts.

What does this mean? Well, ex-Magaki — I’m talking about Chikubayama, not Hakuho here — is out of the Kyokai. He’d had sanyo status where he was a retired advisor attached to Hakuho’s Miyagino-beya. The Kyokai’s profile page for Miyagino-beya has already been updated to reflect the change. So I need to look somewhere else to show you an example. Recently, Irumagawa-oyakata retired and Ikazuchi-oyakata took over. Irumagawa is still attached to Ikazuchi-beya as sanyo, and he can stay there for five years, collecting income. It’s not a big leap to presume Ishiura would have paid a premium to buy Chikubayama out early, or that this timeline was the reason for Ishiura’s delayed retirement announcement (we’ve kind of known he wouldn’t return to the dohyo for a while). Cash out before being forced out? It’s a sensible choice. Carpe Pay Day-um?

Kiribayama Promoted to Ozeki

It’s official. Balance has been restored to the banzuke. Kiribayama will debut as Shin-Ozeki in Nagoya.

*Update* He will also appear on the July banzuke with a new shikona: Kirishima, taken from his oyakata who was a former Ozeki.

The Japanese sumo press has been full of pictures of the new Ozeki as a young boy, and a young man, growing up in Mongolia. Nicola has several pictures of Kiribayama, the sumo wrestler, as he was coming up as a young sekitori and even a few from Makushita. Here, he had just defeated Akiseyama. He only faced Akiseyama four times, winning all of them. Nicola must have been a bit of a good luck charm because she has pictures of him defeating Ichiyamamoto in Makushita, the only time he was able to beat Ichiyamamoto on the dohyo.

I bring this up because with Terunofuji as Yokozuna, he sure needs a lucky charm. Kiribayama is so far winless against the Kaiju. This reminds me of the long, dominant streaks Hakuho had over Kotoshogiku. And if Kiribayama aspires to further promotion, he must figure out a way to defeat Terunofuji. Kotoshogiku had a distinguished career as Ozeki but it was Kisenosato who inspired much more discussion of Yokozuna, partly because he presented a challenge to the Great Hakuho. Maybe Kirishima will have better luck!

New Juryo for Nagoya

The Juryo promotions have been announced, and there are five.

There are three newcomers to the sekitori ranks (pictured above): Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) from Miyagino beya, who now gets a new shikona of Kiho, the Ukranian Ms2w Shishi (6-1), and Ms5e Yuma (5-2). Two rikishi are returning to salaried status: former Juryo regular Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3), who’s been toiling in the third division for two years, and hard-luck Ms1e Shiden (4-3), who’d missed out on promotion by a hair on several occasions, including last basho, and who missed his only basho ranked in Juryo due to his peripheral involvement in the Hidenoumi gambling mini-scandal.

Where are the 5 slots coming from? J5e Tochinoshin has retired, creating one opening in the second division. A second is opened by Ichinojo’s retirement, which created an extra opening in the top division, with a cascading effect on Juryo. One obvious demotion is that of winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-5), who may be next on the intai watch. The two we were less certain about are Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-9), although it was hard to imagine him staying with that rank and record, and injured fan favorite J3w Enho (0-10-5). We can infer from the five promotions that both will fall to Makushita. We’ll see if Enho has a comeback in him, or if he follows the trajectory of his similarly size-challenged Miyagino heya-mate, Ishiura.

Wrapping up Natsu and Looking Ahead to Nagoya

The bouts are over, all the hardware has been handed out, so it’s time to take a preliminary look at what the May results mean for the future of sumo (and specifically, for the July banzuke).

Ozeki Watch

Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-7) did not look great, but he got the 8 wins he needed to save his rank. Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-4) exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho; the procedures to elevate him to sumo’s second-highest rank have been set in motion and should reach their culmination on Wednesday. The NSK has also confirmed that the other three Sekiwake will be on Ozeki runs in July. Going by the guideline of 33 wins over 3 basho, S2e Daieisho (10-5) will need 11 wins, while S2w Wakamotoharu (10-5) and S1w Hoshoryu (11-4) will need 12 apiece.


The Sekiwake rank will be filled by the three incumbents, but there will be some turnover at Komusubi. K1e Kotonowaka (8-7) secured his rank with a final-day win, but absent K1w Wakatakakage is guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, and K2e Shodai (6-9) could not manage a winning record. This leaves the K1w slot empty, and it will be filled by M1e Abi (8-7), who won his Darwin bout against M4e Ura (7-8). We will go from 1 Y, 1 O, 4 S, 3 K to 1 Y, 2 O, 3 S, 2K, shrinking the number of San’yaku ranks by one and reviving the M17w rank for the first time in exactly a year.

The New Joi

These are the maegashira who fill out the top 16 round-robin along with the San’yaku ranks. Nominally, the joi will extend down to M4. These ranks should be occupied by the other two kachi-koshi survivors from the “zone of death”, M4w Nishikigi (9-6) and M3e Tobizaru (8-7), along with falling Shodai, M1w Midorifuji (6-9), and M4e Ura (7-8), rising M6 duo of Mitakeumi (9-6) and Meisei (8-7), and, last but not least, former Ozeki M14e Asanoyama (12-3), who should get a full tour of the named ranks next time.

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

Three top-division slots are unquestionably open due to the retirement of M13w Ichinojo and the performances of Ms16e Mitoryu (5-10) and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-11). M17e Kagayaki (7-8) is almost certain to go down, given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo, although his past extremely lenient treatment by the banzuke committee makes the fans a bit nervous.

There should be little doubt about the first three promotions: Juryo yusho winner J1e Gonoyama (14-1), fellow J1 Shonannoumi (11-4), and regulation co-leader J8w Ochiai (14-1), who should make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!), tying the record held by Endo. But we also have J8e Atamifuji (13-2) and J3e Bushozan (10-5), who’ve done more than enough to earn promotion, assuming there is room. Atamifuji has the better rank-record combination, since each extra win makes up for 2 ranks, but Bushozan’s much higher rank argues in his favor. Barring shenanigans, one of them should replace Kagayaki, but which one, and what to do with the other? M12e Aoiyama (5-10) won on the final day to be just safe by the numbers. M2w Endo (0-7-8) could technically be considered demotable, but this would be extremely unusual given his rank. It seems most likely that one of Atamifuji and Bushozan will have to try again from J1e.

Juryo/Makushita Exchanges

J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Two more slots will be vacated by winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-5), who may be next on the intai watch, and Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-9). The first 3 open slots will go to Ms1e Shiden (4-3), Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) and Ms2w Shishi (6-1); the 4th should be occupied by Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3).

After that, things are less clear. The remaining promotion cases belong to Ms4e Tochimusashi (4-3) and Ms5e Yuma (5-2). Yuma’s extra win probably makes up for the one-rank difference, but he did lose his “exchange bout” against Tsushimanada. The rikishi one of them would have to replace is J3w Enho (0-10-5). Because Juryo promotions are announced on Wednesday, we’ll know soon who is going up, and from their number we can infer whether Enho will fall to Makushita.