Haru Story 1 – Shin Yokozuna Kisenosato


Japan’s New Grand Champion

It has been the biggest story since Hatsu, and will continue to lead all other stories into Haru. Japan has gone stark raving bonkers for their first natively born Yokozuna in two decades. He is all over television, print, he is on instant noodle packages, he is what the bulk of what the Japanese sumo press discusses.


But Kisenosato has, in the past, not operated well under hype, scrutiny and pressure. Fans will recall that the Yokozuna Deliberation Council put Kisenosato on notice that a yusho in September would result in his promotion. The result was an abysmal 10-5 record with Goeido surprising everyone and making a clean sweep of a fairly completive field.

To his credit, Kisenosato headed for the practice room, where he drilled, practiced and worked himself to exhaustion. He battled back to a somewhat questionable 12-3 Jun-Yusho in November. With all pressure seemingly off, Kisenosato fought well in January, and was handed a very lucky and fortunate series of situations that all broke his way. His 14-1 yusho was the crowning achievement of a long career of intense dedication to sumo, and he seemed almost dazed that it had finally happened.

What followed was an endless celebration where Kisenosato was the center of almost unbelievable attention, adoration and media coverage.  Everyone wanted to know what he thought about everything, and everyone wanted his involvement. It’s easy to get distracted when you find yourself thrust into the limelight, and suddenly a national hero.

But in just days, the shin Yokozuna will step on the clay once more, and this time he faces a complex and uncertain torikumi. In all likelihood, the Ozeki will be damaged and only partially functional if they can even show up at all. Harumafuji is likely still wounded, and lord knows if Kakuryu has his back and knees in working order this time.

The first week of any basho features the Yokozuna and Ozeki “warming up” against the upper Maegashira and the San’yaku. This time it is somewhat possible that it’s the San’yaku who may be hunting scalps in week one.


In reports from the press, Kisenosato has perhaps let all of the fame and celebration get in the way of his sumo for the past couple of weeks. In a training session with Takayasu, Kisenosato could only manage 6 wins an 11 losses. While this is great news for Takayasu backers like myself, it does indicate that Kisenosato needs to focus on his sumo and prepare.


The Tachiai team is genuinely looking forward to watching Kisenosato’s first tournament dohyo-iri, hopefully with his team wearing their (non borrowed) kesho-mawashi, and with Kisenosato’s personal sword. Word is it’s being made by the 25th Fujiwara Kanefusa – master sword smith.

8 thoughts on “Haru Story 1 – Shin Yokozuna Kisenosato

  1. Its his tournament to loose. There is no reason not to do well. No ozeki and yokozuna in the way, just Hakuho. I think Kiseis healthier than Hakuho. So… He should win this one

    • I am not sure that I concur with that idea. It’s possible he will repeat, but I think there is a strong chance that we might see a strong showing form Harumafuji, if he can survive the attempt. Let’s be clear – Harumafuji and Kakuryu are “on the bubble” now. They need to step up or head into the sunset. Both of them are hurt, both of them are going to have to really struggle to make a good showing.

      We know both of those two are capable, having taken a yusho each in the past 6 months, but can their bodies comply?

      Don’t get me wrong, I will be very happy if Kisenosato repeats, but I dearly want to see him do so defeating the other Yokozuna as well, as I think it will mute the critics who claim he backed into his promotion.

      • But you said it yourself, both kakuryu and harumafuji ae hurt. Kisenosato can take advantage. My point is its all on kisenosato to gtab this rare opportunity. If he cant take this one, his mental strength will be in question

        • You are right in that it’s going to be a question of health and stamina. We should know by day 5 if anyone is really going to challenge Kisenosato.

          As a sumo fan, it’s best when everyone is healthy and giving it their all. Let’s hope it works out that way.

  2. The thing about Kisenoato is that he will turn up every day, avoid injury, do his numbingly effective, safety-first sumo and get at least eleven wins, That’s what he’s been doing more or less every tournament since he became an ozeki and I can’t see his form slumping after promotion.

    As hinted at in the original post, the odd thing about his schedule may be that he faces tougher opposition in the first week as he battles the up-and-comers rather than the horrendously busted up upper ranks. And he doesn’t have to worry about losing to Takayasu unless they end up tying on day 15. Now there’s a thought…

    My prediction: 13-2 and a jun-yusho.

    • Yep, I think this is a very well considered scenario. I would say it’s a very good bet the Kisenosato will at least hit the jun-yusho, as he does that a lot.

      I think the real brawl is going to be in the San’yaku, and may in fact be the most fierce, grinding battle in many years. Everyone one knows there are 2-4 Ozeki slots up for grabs this year, and they want in!

      I am really looking forward to Kisenosato – Mitakeumi during week 1. Hatsu, it was a huge battle of strength that ended with a clear Kisenosato win. This loss, more than the others, seems to have really been a focus of Mitakeumi, and I am going to assume he is eager for the rematch.


    • Takekaze is quite the stalwart rikishi, he persists in the Sekitori ranks against all odds. Plus he has stayed relatively healthy and uninjured. His early career / training in Judo likely taught him how to fall correctly, and how to handle throwing and being thrown.

      I am guessing he won’t retire until he wants to, Takekaze seems pretty much non-stop.


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