菊:Chrysanthemum

Kiku (菊) is the Japanese word for Chrysanthemum. The kanji also makes up part of the name of Kotoshogiku. This character also comes from his real last name, Kikutsuki. Chrysanthemum is symbolically very important to the Japanese, where it’s image forms the Emperor’s seal and he is said to sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne. It is also important in cuisine. Chrysanthemum is often used as and ingredient or a garnish.

225px-Flag_of_the_Japanese_Emperor.svgWhy do I bring this up? I am eating the leaves of one variety, shungiku (春菊), for dinner tonight. I figured the subject is a good tie in to my other blog: Kateinoaji. With the May tournament over, and the next one not starting until July, I figured this would be a good way to keep up with my blog during the “off season”. For more information about shungiku and the recipe, please click over to my other blog.

My next post will also be food- and sumo-related. I will write a little bit about Tai (鯛), the fish that is very common for celebrations in Japan and basically obligatory for sumo promotion pictures.

Ozeki Terunofuji

It’s official.

Terunofuji is the new ozeki. I’m eager to see the next banzuke. He will likely be ozeki 1 East while Kisenosato will be ozeki 1 West, Goeido as ozeki 2 East, and kadoban Kotoshogiku as ozeki 2 West. What interests me is if this will motivate Ichinojo or lower sanyaku/top maegashira wrestlers. It seemed this atmosphere has lit a bit of a fire under other rikishi.

There will also be two fresh faces in Juryo: Mitakeumi and Takaryu.

Match of the Tournament (May 2015): Hakuho/Aminishiki, Day 5

In my mind, the match of the tournament came down to two choices: Harumafuji vs Hakuho on Day 15 or Hakuho vs Aminishiki on Day 5. I chose Hakuho vs Aminishiki.

Obviously, this prize, Match of the Tournament from the Tachiai Blog is the most prestigious consolation prize in the sport of sumo. The tournament may not have gone their way but for about 30 seconds Hakuho and Aminishiki thrilled us with their wile and guile. I don’t remember seeing Hakuho get spun around and I’m sure it’s never happened twice like this. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my choice. If you disagree and want to offer your own nominee, please post it in the comments. A big thank you to Jason for the Youtube link. Enjoy.

This post is the day after, “crap, I have to wait till July” post of despair…

Terunofuji Yusho!!! New Ozeki!!! Fighting Spirit (Kanto-Sho)!!!

No playoff! Harumafuji got his first win over Hakuho since last year, and it was brilliant! Hakuho was SO CLOSE to forcing a playoff with a quick yorikiri win but Harumafuji used all his strength and guile on the edge to regain position and eventually get the thrilling yoritaoshi victory to the delight of the crowd. Admittedly, there will be a bit of an asterisk on this yusho as Terunofuji did not have to face Harumafuji, Kakuryu, or Goeido. Terunofuji was dominant against Aoiyama…but he’d have his hands full with a healthy Goeido, his stablemate Harumafuji, or the injured Kakuryu. Hakuho is still the superzuna, his 35th title merely delayed.

Imagine this, an ozeki (champion) who has actually won a yusho! Kisenosato and Goeido get their credit on this one, taking down Hakuho in turn. Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kisenosato tie for second. Kotoshogiku rightfully kadoban. Kisenosato, despite wrestling for only pride as Terunofuji’s previous win already nullified hopes of a massive playoff, finished off the ineffective Kotoshogiku.

Filling out the sanyaku banzuke will be interesting. With Terunofuji’s promotion, I’m guessing Ichinojo and Tochiozan move to sekiwake with their winning records. Takarafuji and Tochinoshin deserve komusubi slots with their 9-6 records. The question will be whether Myogiryu drops out of the sanyaku with his 7-8 record, or if he’s given a third komusubi slot. His 7 wins included victories over Harumafuji, Kisenosato, and Ichinojo.

Kisenosato Takes Down Hakuho! Big Day Tomorrow!

Thank you Kisenosato! He keeps himself alive with his last second shove. As the superzuna was forcing him off the dohyo, Kisenosato pushed Hakuho down. Hakuho’s shoulder clearly touched the ground before Kisenosato. I should have rolled this graphic out yesterday but I thought Hak had it in the bag.

Kisenosato vs Hakuho
Kisenosato vs Hakuho

With Kaisei’s loss to Tochinoshin, Hakuho is tied with Terunofuji. Terunofuji faces Aoiyama tomorrow. Hakuho faces Harumafuji. If both leaders win, they will have a playoff. If both lose, there will be a bigger playoff between Hakuho, Terunofuji, Harumafuji, and potentially Kisenosato, Takayasu, Kaisei, Ikioi & Yoshikaze. While possible, it’s certainly a pipe-dream.

Hakuho is the odds-on favorite against Harumafuji. While always an exciting match, Hakuho has one their last five head-to-head. Terunofuji is undefeated against Aoiyama and against most opponents this tournament he’s been plainly overpowering them. So, most likely we’ll have an exciting playoff between Hakuho and Terunofuji for the yusho. Slightly less likely, one will lose so the other will win the title outright. Ozeki promotion still seems in the cards if Terunofuji wins tomorrow – even with only 12 wins.

As for other matches, Goeido is out with the aggravated shoulder injury he suffered against Hakuho. Kotoshogiku got his eighth loss and is kadoban. This could be very interesting to have an outgoing ozeki and an incoming ozeki at the same tournament. If Terunofuji wins and is promoted, and with Myogiryu also going makekoshi, there may be room in the sanyaku for Tochinoshin and Takarafuji. I think they might have to have at least three komusubi next time around if both Maegashira have 9 wins and Ichinojo and Tochiozan get their kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Right now, I’m calling the yusho for Ikioi!

Hakuho Alone in Lead; Terunofuji, Kaisei, Ikioi Chase

The leadership field was cut in half today with Kaisei losing to Goeido in his first big test. My last post was about how Goeido came to the rescue to keep the tournament interesting…today he takes out the only other competitor tied for the lead. Hakuho stepped up and beat Kotoshogiku. He’ll have Kisenosato and Harumafuji to close out the tournament. He “controls his own destiny,” so if he wins out – he wins the tournament. If anyone else is going to win, not only will Terunofuji, Kaisai, or Ikioi need to win all of their matches, they’ll need help as Kisenosato or Harumafuji will have to hand the yokozuna his 3rd loss.

The last time he had three losses was last spring when Kakuryu won. In the Hakuho era, it does seem like 3 losses is only ever good for second place, as it should be. This would have been a golden opportunity for Kisenosato to step up and claim a yusho but his hopes were dashed in a hatakikomi loss to Harumafuji. Harumafuji was probably super motivated today because he’ll face desperate Kotoshogiku tomorrow and a motivated Hakuho on Sunday.

As for the three other title-chasers, they’ve got their work cut out. Terunofuji will face Myogiryu tomorrow while Ikioi will go head-to-head against Ichinojo and Kaisei will face Tochinoshin. Ikioi handed Ichinojo his first defeat in the Mongolian’s impressive debut tournament. Kaisei and Tochinoshin surprisingly have a fairly even record. If Kaisei wins, they’ll be tied 6-6 in their rivalry. Kaisei’s no stranger to the sanyaku and he may find himself back up there if Myogiryu, Ichinojo, and Tochiozan can’t pick up wins! More likely he’ll be M1 or M2 next tournament but a jun-yusho may get him into a komusubi slot.

Amuru finally picked up his kachi-koshi, along with Goeido. Let’s see if Goeido can pick up 10 wins!

Goeido Keeps This Interesting

Goeido sacrificed his left shoulder to pull off the impressive win over a stunned Hakuho. Kaisei had lost earlier in another close match with Aoiyama so a Hakuho win would have brought him much closer to his 7th straight yusho. Instead, Goeido’s kubinage ensures more drama tomorrow. Hakuho faces a desperate Kotoshogiku who needs two wins to avoid being kadoban in July. Kaisei will face a pumped up Goeido, who’ll be anxious to get his kachi-koshi, tomorrow.

Following Hakuho and Kaisei are six wrestlers led by Kisenosato and Terunofuji as Harumafuji dropped another one to Myogiryu. Takayasu, Ikioi, Okinoumi, and Yoshikaze round out the 9-3 wrestlers. WIth Terunofuji facing Takayasu tomorrow, we’re guaranteed to have at least one 10-3 rikishi.

Endo got his fourth win, ensuring he’ll stay in the makuuchi in July. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t take the last three days of this tournament off. Amuru faces Fujiazuma tomorrow, so he might have a better chance at finally getting his first kachi-koshi in the top division.

With Loss To Hakuho, Terunofuji Out of Yusho Race & Ozeki Promotion Must Wait

A lot was on the line in today’s Hakuho/Terunofuji bout. If Terunofuji were to win, the yusho race would be blown wide open with Kaisei alone on top and 3 sanyaku wrestlers among the field tied at second. Also, odds on ozeki promotion would be considerably stronger but he would still face a tough final four days with matches against three sanyaku opponents, Kotoshogiku, Goeido, & Myogiryu, ahead. After being pulled forward onto the ground, uwatedashinage, hopes at yusho and rapid promotion have flown out the window.

Kaisei is still tied with Hakuho for the lead and faces Aoiyama tomorrow. It will be a test against an occasional sanyaku wrestler. Hakuho will fight Goeido. Kisenosato and Takayasu are one win back at 9-2.

Hakuho, Kaisei lead; A 3rd Kinboshi from Harumafuji!

The leadership ranks continue to narrow as Kyokushuho loses to Takayasu, handing Takayasu his kachi-koshi. Now, only Hakuho and Kaisei remain in the lead with one loss. Hakuho has not lost since the opening day shocker against Ichinojo.

Kisenosato and Terunofuji remain in contention, tied at 8-2 with rank-and-filers Takayasu, Kyokushuho, and Okinoumi. Kaisei’s victory over Amuru means the Russian needs to try again tomorrow for his all important 8th win. It won’t be easy as he’ll face Takayasu.

After yesterday’s careless kinboshi loss to Tamawashi, Harumafuji gives up another one and falls further off the yusho pace. This time Gagamaru benefits from Harumafuji’s generosity. In 8 bouts against maegashira wrestlers, this is now the third kinboshi. Tomorrow, Harumafuji faces Goeido.

I’ve updated my post about the kinboshi rates to account for the 3 new ones (so far) this tournament.
Let’s hope this is the last update of that page for a while. I like Harumafuji and I want him to be in contention for yusho but it won’t happen if he keeps bleeding gold stars.

May Tournament, Day 9: Harumafuji & Terunofuji lose!

Hakuho is now the lone sanyaku wrestler with one loss. He had a powerful win over Myogiryu. Kaisei and fellow M11 Kyokushuho stand with Hakuho at 8-1. As a result, all three have kachi-koshi so the pressure is off the two maegashira. They should basically just do their best to avoid injury from here out and they’ll be in the top half of the rank-and-file in July.

May Tournament, Day 8: Oosunaarashi out (shoulder)

Both yokozuna stay in the lead at 7-1. Hakuho got the freebie win since Oosunaarashi did suffer a shoulder injury when tumbling with Kisenosato off the dohyo yesterday. He’ll go up against Myogiryu tomorrow. Harumafuji got an impressive yorikiri victory over Ichinojo and faces M5 Tamawashi tomorrow, who has two wins so far and has not been particularly successful in the top half of the makuuchi.

Terunofuji, Takayasu, Kaisei, and Kyokushuho round out the leaders. Kaisei and Takayasu face off tomorrow, guaranteeing someone will be 8-1 and kachi-koshi.

May Tournament 2015: Day 7

Amuru has been eating his Wheaties. At the end of the first week he’s tied for the lead at 6-1, two wins away from getting his first kachi-koshi in the upper makuuchi division. In his two previous basho in makuuchi, he just seemed to be lost and the other wrestlers were taking advantage of his lack of size. He’s usually giving up 20 kg at least. He’s smaller than Harumafuji by 10 kilos. So, today he wasn’t able to get Takanoiwa moving backward but he didn’t need to. He just grabbed his neck and let him fall forward.

Jokoryu’s unable to get purchase with his right knee and was duly shown out of the dohyo by the previously winless, JURYO ranked Tenkaiho. It will be a struggle for him to stay in makuuchi. He and Endo need to call it a tournament, get the treatment they need, and come back when they’re healthy.

Amuru dropped to Jonidan after missing 6 tournaments and has come all the way up into Makuuchi. And we all know Tochinoshin dropped to makushita with his injury. Not only has he come back, he OWNS Ichinojo. He got an impressive yorikiri win over the Mongolian today and has won 5 of their 6 meetings, including the playoff win in Juryo to secure the yusho. While Ichinojo was steamrolling the makuuchi in his first tournament, Tochinoshin must have been watching from juryo and thinking, “Dude, I’ve already beat this guy twice! What’s the matter with y’all?”

Fujiazuma and Arawashi are still winless. Arawashi gave Endo his first victory. Meanwhile, 40 year old Kyokutenho is one win off pace, getting his 5th win in a row after he bulled through Toyohibiki. His stablemate and fellow Mongolian Kyokushuho is tied for the lead along with the afore mentioned Amuru, rank-and-filers Kaisei, Okinoumi, Takayasu and the big guns, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Terunofuji.

Ozeki Kisenosato stayed one loss off of the pace with a hard fought, rough win over Oosunaarashi. But the Ozeki B-team dropped further off pace as Goeido lost to Tochiozan and Kotoshogiku had nothing against Terunofuji. Goeido stayed way to high on the tachiai. He gives up 6 cm to Tochiozan but was apparently trying to go over top to get a hold of his belt? Silly. Tochiozan used the leverage to get Goeido going backwards, out of the ring, and unceremoniously dropped on his butt onto the floor.

Week Two will probably narrow the competition down to just the big boys but it’s good to see the rank-and-filers hanging in there. It should make for a more interesting week 2 than what we’ve seen in the past few tournaments with everyone chasing Hakuho.

Hakuho might get an easy win tomorrow off Oosunaarashi because he seemed to be hurt after tumbling out under Kisenosato. Meanwhile, Harumafuji will have a challenge against Ichinojo. Kyokushuho faces off against Amuru so we’re guaranteed to have at least one 7-1 Maegashira, even if everyone else loses.

May Tournament, Day 4: All Ozeki Crash Out

Harumafuji lost to Sadanoumi, who is now the top undefeated wrestler. They had a quick first match but after a  questionable mono-ii the judges ordered a rematch. The resulting rematch was even less decisive but was given to Sadanoumi as he had dodged Harumafuji’s lunge. Both wrestlers ended up falling out at about the same time. On the other hand, Hakuho was decisive as usual. He blasted Toyonofuji off the dohyo.

Terunofuji has had some epic staredowns this tournament. Day 2, Oosunaarashi and Day 4, Ichinojo. Oosunaarashi pulled off the UINO, upset-in-name-only, as Goeido had nothing. None of the Ozeki showed up today. Kotoshogiku dropped one to a henka from Aminishiki. Lastly, Kisenosato fell to Tochinoshin, who picked up his first win.

Left undefeated: Sadanoumi, Takayasu, Kaisei, Amuru