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.