Harumafuji Got a New Tsuna

The Tsuna is the big white rope worn by a yokozuna. It weighs 20 lbs. Harumafuji was fitted for a new one.

In other news, a decision about Endo is due in the next few days. They said that they’ll make a decision as to whether he’ll fight one week before the tournament starts. I hope he sits this one out to give himself a more full recovery. If he has to sit out two more, go down to makushita, do it. Tochinoshin proves you can come back and pick up a few yusho while you’re at it. Same with Aminishiki and Chiyoootori.

Lastly, Ichinojo weighs 207 kilos. Dude is huge.

May 2015 Banzuke Released

The Sumo Kyokai released the banzuke ahead of the May tournament. No surprises in the top ranks. Terunofuji and Myogiryu get sekiwake slots and the easier first week schedule. Tochiozan and Ichinojo get the komusubi slots. Along with Takarafuji and Tochinoshin at Maegashira 1, and Toyonoshima and Aminishiki at M2, they are going to have a rough first week… Though with Ichinojo and Tochinoshin there are definitely some big upsets in the making that first week.

I hope Aminishiki will be back but we’ll see. If anyone has any news on his injury, please share in the comments. With Goeido’s shoulder, I’ll be surprised if he has 3 wins by the end of the week. Last tournament, Takarafuji fought well against the maegashira but was winless against the ozeki and Hakuho. He also lost to Ichinojo, Myogiryu, and Tochinoshin. He will not face Harumafuji or Terunofuji but with Kakuryu back he’ll still have a difficult schedule for the first half of the tournament.

Sadanoumi and Osunaarashi come in at M3 with Chiyootori and Tokushoryu at M4. These are still really difficult positions. They should feel the full force of sanyaku so I hope they’re all back healthy, particularly Chiyootori. I’m not optimistic about Chiyootori or Aminishiki’s chances at coming back this tournament. I hope they take it off to recuperate.

Going down further along the banzuke to Kitataiki and Tamawashi at M5 and Gagamaru and Aoiyama at M6, they should benefit from lighter schedules so hopefully they’ll put up winning records. Endo fell to M9 after missing the final 9 days. Homarefuji’s probably hoping he’ll pick up an easy no-show victory on Day 1, and same with Ikioi.

Fujiazuma bounds back into the top division on the back of his Juryo yusho. It’s his first time back after a year in the second division. He’s joined by Takanoiwa and Amuru surprises by staying in the makuuchi. Tokitenku’s 3-12 record and Shohozan’s woeful 1-14 performance were punished with demotion.

Tosayutaka is clinging to the salaried sekitori ranks by the skin of his teeth. At J14 West, he’ll fall into sandanme if he can’t get a winning record, which would be sad. He’d just gotten back to maegashira ranks in January when he went down with what seemed to be a bad knee injury. He did get 6 wins last tournament so he might have a bit more left in the tank.

Kenshokin (懸賞金) a.k.a. bounties

Nikkan-Gendai posted a brief but interesting article about kenshokin/bounties that are handed to some of the top-wrestlers after they win their matches. According to the article, each envelope contains 30,000 yen. At recent exchange rates, we’re talking less than $250. It still boggles my mind that there aren’t more bounties and that you get some top maegashira, guys as high up as Tochinoshin, not receiving bounties after every match.

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Kokugikan Renovation Planned for 2017

Screenshot (78)The Kokugikan is the arena that hosts Tokyo’s sumo tournaments. The venue is 30 years old this year. It is definitely showing its age. According to this Yahoo! article, aggregated from Mainichi Shinbun, planned renovations will include upgrades to the air conditioning and power substations. I wouldn’t expect big changes to the seating or amenities like WiFi. It would be nice to make the boxes a little bigger. Fitting 4 adults in those is nuts, three is a squeeze. Two seems to be nice, giving enough space, since I’m certainly not going to be sitting in a seiza position for more than a few minutes.

You may wonder why I didn’t link to the Mainichi article directly. Well, their sports section has subheadings for the Olympics and high-school baseball – but not sumo. Japanese media have been putting sumo on the back burner for a while. I will not link to Mainichi if they throw sumo under “Other” yet give more attention to high school baseball. OK…maybe I will, this time. I’m more annoyed by aggregators.

Not to get off on a rant but at least they don’t go as nuts as ESPN and all the American media go for certain college sports. They and the universities make loads of money off the backs of college football and basketball players who get nothing. I feel real bad for college athletes who get career ending injuries before they get to cash in. I just don’t want to see that in Japan.

Three Weeks To May 2015 Tournament

Myogiryu will likely join Terunofuji at sekiwake on the strength of his 8-7 record at komusubi. But he does have competition in the form of Tochiozan’s 10-5 record at M1. The sekiwake position is very important since it means that wrestler gets a bit of a reprieve during the first week. Does anyone know if Tochiozan will leap over Myogiryu into sekiwake?

The last time a komusubi had an 8-7 record and was not promoted was when Toyonoshima had 8 wins in Fall 2011 but repeated at komusubi in November. In that case, there were three sekiwake who all finished strongly. Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato had 12-3 records and then-sekiwake Kakuryu had a 9-6 record.

For this tournament, though, there will be at least one opening at sekiwake since Okinoumi will be demoted. Maybe there will be three sekiwake this May, Terunofuji and both Tochiozan and Myogiryu? In that case, Ichinojo and Takarafuji would probably both pick up the dreaded komusubi slots, and face the ozeki and yokozuna gauntlet during the first week. Tochinoshin & Toyonoshima will probably snag top maegashira positions, also facing a rough first week against sanyaku opponents.

With these three weak ozeki and these very strong up-and-comers, it will make for a very interesting first week. It would be nice to have several 7-0 rikishi contending going into week 2.

Goeido Shoulder Fracture: 10 Days Rest

I’d never heard of an avulsion fracture. WordPress spell check doesn’t even recognize the word. Anyway, according to Wikipedia, it is when a small piece of bone gets ripped off when a muscle is flexed beyond the bone’s breaking point. Basically, the ligament or tendon is stronger than the bone it is attached to. Goeido was diagnosed with such a fracture in his right shoulder and has been told to get 10 days rest.

This Timberlane Physical Therapy website has a lot of information about shoulders and goes into quite a bit of detail. It’s a pretty interesting read.

Kokonoe-beya Introduces New Recruit

Kochi is a wonderful place. In the future, I will post about my incredible visit to Kochi. It’s the home of Sakamoto Ryoma, one of Japan’s Meiji Restoration heroes. He’s the founder of a company that became Mitsubishi. He was also deeply involved with Katsu Kaishu in creating the first Japanese Navy. Today, Kochi is just beautiful. The best taxi driver in the world is there. He took me on a great tour of the city and then the next day brought a fresh fish to us at our hotel. Shimanto gawa is in Kochi prefecture and is one of the most beautiful rivers in Japan. There’s an Anpanman train that takes you around the prefecture. It’s also the home of Tochiozan.

So, I’m always happy to see sumo wrestlers from there. Former yokozuna Chiyonofuji, and current master of the Kokonoe stable, introduced a new wrestler to his stable yesterday. He’s a university sumo champion from Nippon Sport Science University. Several articles mentioned the new recruit. With the introduction of Brodi Henderson from Canada, there’s a lot to keep an eye on in the lower divisions come May.

Bottom line: TRAVEL TO KOCHI. It’s wonderful.

Hakuho’s Son Enters 1st Grade

It’s April so it’s time for the new school year in Japan. My son is starting first grade in his Japanese school this weekend so the story in Yahoo! about Hakuho going to his son’s nyugakushiki (school entering ceremony) caught my eye. It’s also interesting that he has a blog. He’s posted a few pictures of him and his family going to the entrance ceremony. The effect with the picture and the way they’re dressed makes it look like they’re from the 1950s or 1960s. And he’s also posted pictures of the food at a restaurant he went to with his family.

Tochinosato Retirement

Tochinosato had his 断髪式 (danpatsushiki) hair-cutting ceremony, Yahoo! Japan reports. His debut was in 2008 and reached his highest rank, Makushita 4 in September 2012. This is right at the cusp of becoming a sekitori in Juryo but unfortunately a foot and neck injury set him back. After missing two tournaments and dropping into Sandanme, he was able to get back into Makushita but never got close enough to compete for Juryo promotion.

He’s a graduate of the same high school as Endo and is a product of the Kasugano stable, whose master is Tochinowaka. (Not the same Tochinowaka who retired earlier this year, but yes, also from the same stable.) This is the same stable as very successful rikishi, Tochiozan, Aoiyama, and Tochinoshin. He hopes to stay in sumo as a coach.

有言実行 = Execute (a plan): Japanese Term of the Day

I came across this article about Terunofuji but was unsure of how to translate this term:有言実行 (yugen jikko) and translation sites were just giving a bunch of word salad. So, I asked my wife. In English we don’t seem to have a direct translation for this four-character idiom (these idioms are called 四字熟語, yoji jukugo) but it seems it’s close to the way athletes and coaches talk about “execution”. It’s not an empty boast since they have a plan and follow through. These four-character idioms are very important in Japanese. They study them in school growing up and my wife said that in a job interview she was asked what her favorite was – she doesn’t remember the answer.

Basically, the gist of the article was that Terunofuji had a plan to beat four particular strong rikishi: Ichinojo, Takayasu, Takekaze, and Tochinoshin. Since he did it, he was able to execute on his plan and had a successful tournament, capped off with the victory over Hakuho. (Perhaps he should have added Kaisei to that list.)  Anyway, if anyone else has any insight into a good translation for the term 有言実行, it would be nice to get a discussion going in the comment section.

Sumo Kyokai Posts Bout Highlights

I thought you all would be interested to watch some of the highlight videos posted by the Sumo Kyokai. Click on the “Details” link under Match details for the video. There are highlights from several of the big matches, like Harumafuji’s losses to Ichinojo and Tochinoshin. Surprisingly, Aminishiki’s loss to Tokushoryu is here and they’ve edited out the aftermath of the injury. Aminishiki goes down and winces in pain and then it cuts to Tokushoryu collecting his bounty. Terunofuji’s loss to Kaisei is here, too. It’s just odd that it seems Terunofuji put up little resistance. He probably wishes he could get that match back. My favorite, though, is the one below…the marquee yokozuna matchup on day 15 with Hakuho’s title on the line: