March Tournament: Banzuke

I was right about the Yokozuna and Ozeki. Harumafuji and Kakuryu swapped places and that was the only change from January. However, I thought Ichinojo and Aoiyama would stay in sanyaku. They did not and dropped pretty far. Ichinojo fell to maegashira 1 representing the West while Aoiyama is M3W. Tochiozan fell one spot from komusubi to M1E – opposite Ichinojo.

Terunofuji’s (above) 8-7 record with the special prize did get him sekiwake East. Okinoumi, though, jumped all the way to sekiwake West. The komusubi slots were taken by Tamawashi and Myogiryu; I thought they would get the top maegashira spots.

Kitataiki and Gagamaru were both promoted from juryo, joined by Amuru who gets another chance in the top flight after his 5-10 makuuchi debut in November. As for Ikioi, he did fall to maegashira 13 East opposite Sokokurai. That will be a good opening day bout. Meanwhile Osunaarashi is opposite the geezer, Kyokutenho – another good matchup. Endo fell two ranks, claiming the M5W, while Tochinoshin slipped to M4W. Tokushoryu’s Jun-yusho with 11 wins brings him up to M7W.

Ishiura’s 6-1 record in makushita earned him a promotion to juryo and Shodai’s yusho – with a victory over Ishiura – sees the 23 year old challenged at Makushita 3.

The full banzuke is available at the Sumo Kyokai website.

Or a permanent link from the SumoDB.

Mock Banzuke

OK, if the NFL can have its mock draft, I can have my mock banzuke. The real one comes out in a few hours but, while I wait…

      What we know:

    • Yokozuna & Ozeki mostly unchanged
    • New Sekiwake & Komusubi
    • Tosayutaka demotion
    • Kitataiki & Gagamaru promotion

With Kotoshogiku and Goeido securing kachikoshi, the upper ranks are pretty much set. I expect both of these rikishi to stay representing the West with Giku as W1, and Goeido as W2. I do think that Harumafuji and Kakuryu will swap places as Harumafuji takes W1 and Kakuryu takes E2.

Now, the hard bit. Did Ichinojo and Aoiyama do poorly enough to drop all the way out of the sanyaku and into the maegashira? I do not see either remaining as sekiwake with 9 and 10 losses respectively. Luckily for them, the upper maegashira were pretty well decimated so I expect both to stay at komusubi, though with Ichinojo’s better record, I think he’ll represent the East while Aoiyama will be komusubi for the West.

So, who gets to grab the sekiwake spots? Well, until the last day, I thought Goeido would get one. Now, despite a losing record, I think it’s possible Tochiozan will get one of the slots. Terunofuji was the only one among the top maegashira to get a winning record and with his special prize, I think he might leapfrog into sekiwake. Personally, I don’t think they’ll advance Tochiozan. So, Okinoumi gets the call into sekiwake with his 9-6 record. He had a very strong start to the last tournament but will get rocked during this one. His first week is going to be brutal, facing all yokozuna and ozeki. So, I’m calling Terunofuji as sekiwake for East and Okinoumi as sekiwake for West.

For the top maegashira, Tamawashi will bound to M1E and Myogiryu to M1W.

For the rest, the chips will fall where they may. I look forward to seeing Gagamaru and Kitataiki back among the upper-classmen. My only real question at this point is how far will Ikioi fall? I don’t think he’ll fall into Juryo but he’ll probably be looking up from M13. With this much easier schedule, I expect to see him pull himself together and get kachikoshi. I don’t think he’s going to want 10 or more wins, though, even among these weaker wrestlers. He needs to get some serious skill improvement before he faces the sanyaku again. I always enjoy his bouts and he always seems to go full bore into every match which is more than we seem to get from most maegashira after day 10.

Also, I’m not sure if Kagamio will hang around in the makuuchi. I think he’ll fall to J1E since he had makekoshi and one of his wins came by default.

Spring Tour Schedule Released

I’m really just on pins and needles to see the next Banzuke. I think they’ll be releasing that in the next week so I’ve been checking the Sumo Kyokai website. Today they released the Spring Tour schedule.

Two events popped out at me for those hoping to visit Japan. The first is an event at Himeji on March 31. The second event is the free Honozumo exhibition bouts at the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on April 3.

For those who hope to travel to Japan but don’t get a chance to make it to one of the main tournaments, these events are a way to at least see some of the famous wrestlers. At Himeji, you’ll be able to see the famous castle (though my favorite is still the one in Kochi). The Yasukuni event you’ll be able to see some bouts, too.

Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle

大相撲トーナメント:Harumafuji wins 2.5 Million yen purse

Yes, in between the major honbasho, there are other sumo tournaments. In the 39th “大相撲トーナメント” Harumafuji defeated Ozeki Kisenosato in the finals with a strong, aggressive nodowa and oshidashi force out technique. In his post-tournament interview, Harumafuji was pleased to win but also noted the good turnout. He said that it’s great to win with a lot of fans at Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium.

Kotomitsuki Hair-cutting Ceremony

Former Ozeki Kotomitsuki (琴光喜) had his topknot cut yesterday after losing his lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the makuuchi. Kotomitsuki was banned in 2010 for illegal gambling on baseball. I believe these hair-cutting ceremonies are usually done in the dohyo but this just seems to be a hotel conference room. Former yokozuna and sumo legend, Takanohana (貴乃花), is the one cutting his top-knot.

All three current yokozuna were present at the ceremony, as was Kotoshogiku. He’s still well-loved and well-respected by many sumo fans, so maybe he could be seen as the Pete Rose of sumo.

He also got into a spot of legal trouble last year related to his restaurant for hiring foreigners without the proper visas. Again, that’s another sensitive issue here in the US, as well. When I was in Japan, one of my roommates was kicked out of the country for working illegally as a manager of some British pubs. I had other roommates who were working “under-the-table” at hostess clubs. Anyway, it’s hard to keep one’s nose clean if you’re constantly pushed to the margins of society. I’m certainly in favor of immigration reform, particularly legalizing people who want to work.

Setsubun Mamemaki: Spring bean-throwing

Several top sumo wrestlers, led by Hakuho, took part in a bean-throwing ceremony at Naritasan Shinshou-ji in Chiba prefecture (real close to Narita airport). Mamemaki is a part of the Setsubun celebration welcoming spring where one throws dried beans at a demon (oni) to cast out the evil spirits. While throwing the beans, participants yell “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi”, telling the demons to get out and inviting luck to come in. You’re also supposed to eat some of the dried beans – one for each year of your age.

Hakuho is featured in the video above taking part in the event and getting beyond last week’s controversy. We shall oblige and move on from this non-controversy. Sports events all over the world have their officiating controversies and this one is probably the smallest controversy in that history. “The Tuck Rule” utterly ruined American football for me and this one is such small potatoes in comparison. The video below is a good history of that rule.

We did mamemaki for the first time since we moved into our new house and it was a lot of fun. We took turns being the demon and running around the house getting pelted with beans. It was less fun to pick up the beans afterward. We thought about doing it outside but it’s been real cold. For context here north of DC, we’re on the same parallel as Iwate prefecture, well north of Sendai. We’ve had a string of misfortune lately, from illness to home appliances blowing up and flooding so anything helps.

Hat-tip to Dosukoi.Fr for finding the video.