Turbold Baasansuren Debuts in Makushita & Test of Translation Engines

Today’s headlines bring more news about how the May banzuke will shake out. According to the Mainichi newspaper (Mainichi literally means “Every Day” re: “Daily”), two college yokozunas have had their professional debuts approved. They will debut in makushita division at makushita 15. I didn’t see shikona in the article and haven’t found anything on the Sumo Kyokai website but will bring that to you as soon as I can. Their real names are Turbold Baasansuren, the first foreigner to achieve Yokozuna rank in amateur sumo, and Takanori Yago, both from Chuo University. Several other headlines discuss Turbold because, as a foreigner from Mongolia who chose college over immediately going pro, he’s a bit of a trailblazer. Anyway, getting to the actual headline:

幕下付け出し2人を承認

With a hat tip and thanks to reader Asashosakari, I decided to test out the other translation engines he suggested. In the comments of an earlier post, he pointed out that Yahoo! Japan and Excite Japan have their own Japanese to English translation engines. Today, I thought I’d toss this headline in each engine and see which word sausage tastes best. Google, by any account, tastes like stale McDonalds breakfast sausage. The other two were much better but not perfect, definitely some good pub bangers, though. Much more satisfying. Japanese is really hard to translate, especially for machines, and especially given the context of sumo which is not exactly a day-to-day usage.

According to Google: “Approved two curtain gifts.”
Yahoo! Japan: “I begin to acquire a junior division and approve two people.”
Excite Japan: “2 makushita bills are approved.”

All three engines picked up the important verb at the end, “approve” (承認). The rest of Google’s attempt clearly just gets a WTF response from me. Context! C’mon guys, context! Well, Yahoo knew that makushita was the junior division but leaving it as makushita, as Excite did, is fine too. At least Yahoo! recognized and used the counter for people (人), so I’d probably give their translation the edge this time.

But getting to our translation, we’re sumo fans and know that Makushita(幕下) is the junior division. You should also recognize the next character as the last part of “banzuke,” that wonderful list we’re all eagerly anticipating. But together with -dashi, when we’re talking about sumo, we’re talking about a debut as they’re out on the list for the first time. As for -dashi (出し), you will see this character (出) all over the place, meaning “out,” especially for “exit,“ or deguchi (出口).

Putting it all together, we’ve got “Makushita Debut of Two Approved.” This was a bit too simple of a headline so this is the first one where I decided to challenge us to read the first paragraph. Luckily, this whole article was one, very short paragraph and very simple. It mentions their names, the school they came from and the heyas they are joining. The only term I want to highlight for now is 日本相撲協会. This is the Nihon Sumo Kyokai, or Japanese Sumo Association, thus a very important term to know and a great resource for us fans.

We see that these translation engines do have difficulty with contextual Japanese but the Yahoo! and Excite ones are much more helpful that Google, so far. We’ll keep going and testing all three and trying to find others. But I cannot stress enough the need for basic Japanese for sumo fans so I hope you will find these articles helpful.

Kisenosato’s Left Shoulder / Arm Injury

Kise-Arm

Recovery Time: 1 Month

One of the biggest elements to the grand story of the Haru basho was Yokozuna Kisenosato’s unlikely and, to some, unbelievable win following a significant injury on day 13 in his match against Yokozuna Harumafuji. Harumafuji has a couple of very fierce match templates. One of them is to pack overwhelming force into a huge tachiai, blasting his opponent at least off balance and possibly clean off the dohyo.

Harumafuji has been nursing injuries himself for the past year, and decided “Atomic Tachiai” would be his approach to Kisenosato. It worked, and in a tragic misfortune, Kisenosato fell badly and damaged his left upper body. The sumo press, his coach, his stable and everyone were very tight lipped about the nature of his injury, and the severity. Speculation was amplified by the silence, and there was serious talk of his withdrawing from the basho. However he found the tenacity to appear for his day 14 match against Yokozuna Kakuryu. It was clear that he had no strength, and was in a great deal of pain.

Now word comes that Kisenosato will require at least one month to recover from damage to the muscles in his left upper arm and chest. It should be noted that reports still don’t discuss the nature or extent of his injury, only that he will be recovering for month, and will not participate in the spring sumo PR tour know as Jungyo.

The Osaka tournament champion was quoted as saying: “I’m not really in any pain now, so I think I should be able to join the tour (Jungyo) as soon as my doctor allows it”. His stable master was also quoted as saying “It’s important for him to rest now. The Yokozuna (Kisenosato) wants to go on the tour, but his injury must be completely healed. I won’t give permission without an exam to confirm it”.

Kisenosato Gambarized. He “walks the walk” of a Yokozuna

I chose today’s headline to highlight a word Bruce has written about before: 頑張る. Along with signs with wrestlers’ shikona, many supporters hold up signs with this word or its imperitive version, 頑張って. So, today’s headline comes from the Yomiuri newspaper which is another major Japanese newspaper. They also have their own English language publication. So, today’s headline:

痛みに耐えて頑張った!稀勢の里が歩む名横綱の道


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Takagenji Juryo Debut in May

To illustrate the importance of basic Japanese ability for sumo fans, I point my dear readers to the Japan Sumo Association’s website. The English site has two news items with today’s date: the Sumo Museum Calendar and the Dohyo Matsuri information for the May tournament. Fascinating stuff, but the Japanese site includes those and two more: a list of retirements from March and the list of wrestlers promoted to Juryo. Takagenji and Meisei will be promoted to Juryo. For those of us hoping to construct well-informed banzuke, that would be particularly important information, especially if there were makuuchi wrestlers listed among the retirements (there are not). The most senior retirement was Ryouounami in Makushita.

So, appropriately, today’s news headline addresses the Juryo debut of Takagenji. Again, from Nikkei:

大相撲夏場所、19歳貴源治が新十両 番付編成会議

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Japanese Sumo Headlines

The inescapable, critical skill we sumo fans need to enhance our appreciation and enjoyment of the sport is the ability to read Japanese. Even if your language skills are basic, it will open the world to you so that you can read about your favorite wrestlers, go to tournaments, and further appreciate the sumo “community,” perhaps even joining some of the official fan clubs. You can also get a lot more out of the Japanese Sumo Association’s website. While it is a great English language resource in its own right, many of the news releases are only available in Japanese and Google Translate is CRAP at translating Japanese, especially when it comes to sumo terms and shikona of lower-ranked wrestlers.

Springtime in DC

I’ve had it a bit lucky. I studied Japanese in college, lived and worked in Japan for a year, married a Japanese wife who speaks Japanese at home with the kids (who love to wrestle in the living room). It’s still very difficult for me to read an entire article quickly, and accurately, so it may be a surprise that the aim of this series of articles is not to teach you Japanese. It’s to teach it to myself. If you all learn some along the way, awesome.
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Natsu Banzuke Prediction

I am honored to be invited by Andy and Bruce to contribute this guest post. I’ve been following sumo for less than a year, and have learned so much from reading Tachiai. Judging by past basho, I believe that the banzuke for the next basho is mostly predictable based on the rikishi’s ranks and performances in the previous basho. Basically, for each rikishi, I assign a score that’s a combination of their previous rank and their win-loss record. The rikishi can then be sorted by this score and assigned to (any available) sanyaku and maegashira slots in order. The tiebreaker for rikishi with the same score is win-loss record. The main deviation from the straight score order is that rikishi with make-koshi must move down in rank, even if the formula would place them at (or above) their previous rank (indicated with *).

With these preliminaries out of the way, here are my predictions for Natsu:

Upper Sanyaku

Y1E  Kisenosato               Y1W Kakaryu

Y2E Harumafuji               Y2W Hakuho

O1E Terunofuji                 O1W Goeido

These are pretty self-explanatory. Kakaryu and Harumafuji stay in the same positions given their identical records and a head-to-head win by Kakaryu.

Lower Sanyaku

S1E Takayasu                    S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)

S2E Tamawashi

KE Mitakeumi                  KW Okinoumi

The only “open” slot is the one at Komusubi vacated by Shodai. Mitakeumi doesn’t get to move up this time, as it usually takes 11 wins to “force” an extra slot, as Takayasu did for Haru. Given the terrible performance by the lower ranks, there were no good contenders for the Komusubi slot (really, by past standards, nobody deserves to be ranked above maegashira 3 at Natsu). The 3 contenders with equal scores are Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshikaze, and Okinoumi gets the nod by virtue of his double-digit wins. I wish Yoshikaze had picked up another win; he’s definitely the sentimental candidate for this slot.

Upper Maegashira

Given the devastation in the upper maegashira ranks at Haru, there will be a lot of turnover here; all of the predicted M1-M3 rikishi were ranked lower at Haru. There are some big jumps, with Daieisho and his 11 wins coming all the way up to M2 from M11.

M1    Chiyonokuni          Yoshikaze

M2    Daieisho                 Chiyoshoma

M3    Endo                        Tochiozan

Mid-Maegashira

A mix of guys moving up or dropping down (in some cases, waaay up—Takakeisho—or waaay down—Shodai, Takekaze, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Shohozan, Arawashi).

M4    Takarafuji*            Aoiyama

M5    Takanoiwa             Takakeisho

M6    Hokutofuji            Takekaze

M7    Ikioi                        Shodai

M8    Shohozan             Sokokurai

M9    Ichinojo                Ura

M10  Kayagiki*             Arawashi

Lower Maegashira

A mix of Juryo escapees and guys hanging on to Makuuchi.

M11  Tochinoshin*      Toyohibiki

M12  Ishiura*                Tokushoryu

M13  Kotoyuki               Onosho

M14  Daishomaru*      Chiyotairyu

M15  Oyanagi                Osunarashi

M16  Kyokutaisei

The promotions of Osunarashi and Kyokutaisei are perhaps the most speculative bits of the whole predicted banzuke, but I think they get the nod over Miogiryu and Kaisei, the last two contenders to hang on to Makuuchi but whose performances didn’t really warrant it.

Demoted to Juryo, from least to most likely:

Miogiryu, Kaisei, Kyokushuho, Sadanoumi, Nishigiki, Chiyoo.

Promoted to Makuuchi, from most to least likely:

Toyohibiki, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Oyanagi, Osunarashi, Kyokutaisei.

Chiyomaru would be the next in line for promotion if someone retires or withdraws before Natsu. The other interesting candidate is Asanoyama, Juryo Yusho-doten along with Osunarashi, but it’s probably too big a jump all the way from J12 to Makuuchi. If he keeps performing like he has been, this young rikishi will get there soon enough.

 

 

Kisenosato Wins Osaka

It’s tough to fathom, and a bit tougher to believe. On day 15, Kisenosato won his scheduled match against Ozeki Terunofuji. The match was precluded by yet another matta when Terunofuji false-started. After day 14, I am sure Kisenosato was buying none of it. At the tachiai, he employed Harumafuji’s mini-henka to deflect a portion of Terunofuji’s charge, which took him immediately off balance. Terunofuji recovered and locked up chest to chest with the shin-Yokozuna, but Kisenosato was able to maneuver him out for the win.

As the two leaders were now tied, there was a playoff once Harumafuji and Kakuryu fought to end regular matches. Once again Terunofuji jumped in early, resulting in yet another matta. Almost immediately, Kisenosato had Terunofuji pinned by the arm using his right arm (the one that is not injured) and was able to throw Terunofuji using kotenage. The fact that Kisenosato won using his non-favored side was a complete surprise, as Kisenosato is left side dominant.

Needless to say, the fans in the stadium, and indeed across Japan erupted in celebration that the Shin-Yokozuna was able to pull out a come from behind victory in spite of some significant performance limiting injuries. In regards to Terunofuji, he has a great future ahead of him, and his time (probably several) to hoist the emperor’s cup will come again.

I had quite a laugh at the end of the video, as they delayed the 6:00 PM news to cover the end of the basho.  This almost never happens, as there seems to be some kind of code that the 6:00 PM news must not be delayed.

A great write up on the tournament and the changing times in sumo can be found here. It’s a great time to be a fan.

Haru 2017: Wrap-up

Osaka treated us to a fantastic show. The build-up and thrilling denouement, capped off by the storybook ending makes this one to remember.

Senshuraku does not often live up to its billing as the climax of a sumo tournament. Often, the yusho race is clear heading into the final weekend and the winner is crowned a day or two early.

Let’s take another look at our storylines leading into the tournament.

#1: Kisenosato Yusho. Clearly, this is the story of the tournament. With Hakuho out of the picture and contenders dropping like flies in Week Two, it looked like a sure bet. Then, Darth Vader defeated him in battle and worse, took his fighting hand. With defeat the next day to an apologetic Kakuryu, the Emperor’s Cup was Terunofuji’s.

Terunofuji was even ready for the henka but Kise was still able to shift the young Ozeki off-balance, forcing a play-off. In the play-off, Kisenosato locked Terunofuji’s arm with his right and brought both wrestlers down (Teru first) to pick up his second straight tournament victory.

#2: Takayasu’s Ozeki run. So many wrestlers came into this tournament with Ozeki hopes. The path was easiest for Kotoshogiku but with his hopes dashed, Takayasu is now poised to be the next rikishi promoted to Ozeki. He finished on 12 wins with his only losses going to two yokozuna and Yoshikaze. He’s been in sanyaku for the past five tournaments, a strong run as not many have stayed in the lower sanyaku ranks for more than two. With 10 wins next tournament, he’ll be promoted. The question for next tournament, though, is will there be four Sekiwake? The three current sekiwake all secured winning records and Mitakeumi deserves a promotion after his strong 9-6 finish. Maybe Celina’s bracket will come true, after all?

#3: Hokutofuji makekoshi. Hokutofuji’s run of kachi-koshi tournaments has come to an end. He finished with a very respectable 7-8 record so while he will slide a bit, it won’t be far.

#4: Kotoshogiku demoted. The henka on Day 14 which sealed his fate will always be controversial. However, the fact is, Kotoshogiku was fighting on one healthy knee. His on-again, off-again relationship with kadoban status was untenable in the long term.

Well, at least he was able to get a winning record this time but he will need to start from scratch and get 33 wins in three tournaments to get back to Ozeki. The question now is, does he have it in him to continue to compete or will he retire, like Kotooshu? I’ve got nothing but admiration for guys like Aminishiki who carry on as long as they can. BTW, Aminishiki finished with a 9-6 record in Juryo.

#5: Goeido kyujo, kadoban. I know I continually harp on injured wrestlers battling and risking further injury. If they listened to me, we clearly wouldn’t have had this epic finish today because Kisenosato would be at home on his couch watching Terunofuji hoist the Emperor’s Cup. But for every spectacular finish, there are several guys who make my knees hurt to watch them get up there: Kaisei, Tochinoshin, Osunaarashi, Myogiryu. In Goeido’s case, as an Ozeki he could have used the luxury of not starting this tournament to try to fully recover but his competitive spirit (like Terunofuji for the past year) draws him to the dohyo. I hope he has a full, speedy recovery.

#6: Ura kachi-koshi. Ura debuted fairly high on the banzuke at Maegashira 12 but was still able to achieve a winning record (though barely). He only lost once to hatakikomi but a few times his unorthodox style clearly gets him into trouble at times. He will climb the banzuke in May and I’m eager to see how he fares. Will he and Ishiura take their approach to the next level? Or will their gimmicks serve to confuse and confound those at the bottom of the table?

#7: Wakaichiro kachi-koshi. We at Tachiai are excited to see Wakaichiro pick up his first winning record and look forward to seeing him promoted into Jonidan.

Day 15 Osaka Recap

sansho-osaka

Beyond The Yusho

In addition to one of the more dramatic ends to a sumo basho that I have ever witnessed, there was a lot of great action on the dohyo for the final day. As we highlighted earlier, a lot of rikishi were still battling to secure a winning record (Kachi-koshi), and bid for promotion on the May ranking sheet.

First and foremost, in the Yokozuna battle, Kakuryu was able to prevail over Harumafuji, and finish the tournament with 10 wins. While not earth-shattering, his double digit score puts him squarely in the territory expected for a Yokozuna. Harumafuji’s loss continues to worry, as it’s clear he was hurt most or all of Haru, and competed anyhow.

Special Prizes

  • Outstanding Performance / Shukun-sho: Takayasu (3rd shukun-sho, 8th sansho overall)
  • Fighting Spirit / Kanto-sho: Takakeisho (1st kanto-sho, 1st sansho overall)
  • Technique / Gino-sho: not awarded

I thought there were some great kimarite unleashed in Osaka, and the Gino-sho should have been awarded.

Match Results

Takayasu was able to beat Tamawashi in the battle of the Sekiwake, and pushed his record to 12-3. Firstly, don’t worry about Tamawashi, he finished 8-7, and will remain at Sekiwake for May. Takayasu, however, now only needs 10 wins in May to secure an Ozeki promotion. This also marks a shift, as in prior basho, Takayasu would have a big early winning streak, run out of gas, get a disappointing loss, and then proceed to continue losing. This time, he pulled out of his losing streak and racked up 2 additional wins.

Kotoshogiku, in what may be his final match as a sekitori, faced another veteran Yoshikaze. After a good tachiai, Kotoshogiku quickly established his favored inside grip, and applied his familiar hug-n-chug (gaburi-yori) to the Berserker, and rapidly had him out. Yoshikaze already had his kachi-koshi, and this was (possibly) a goodbye match. I was happy that Kotoshogiku could end on a high note, while Yoshikaze lost nothing.

Mitakeumi finished strong as well, defeating Tochiozan, and confirming he is a contender for higher rank soon. Since turning from a pure pusher-thruster into a hybrid mawashi / thruster, Mitakeumi has improved greatly. I expect that he may take another dip or two down the banzuke in the coming months, but he has the size, speed, strength and skill to be a sumo leader.

Endo was also able to secure a winning record on the last day, taking it from Tochinoshin, who needs to visit whatever clinic gave Terunofuji his legs back. Ura also was able to defeat Ichinojo through a rather clever use of leverage and balance. It was different enough, the judges called a Monoii, but eventually gave Ura the win. Ichinojo is so tall, I swear it took him 30 seconds to finish falling.

Lastly, thank you readers of Tachiai. You have made this our biggest Basho yet, and it’s been wonderful to have all of you spend time on our site, sharing our love of sumo.

Haru Day 15 Preview

dohyo-iri-15

Final Day Of the Osaka Tournament

It’s been a strange and crazy basho, and now we face the final day of competition. The yusho race had focused almost entirely on Kisenosato for the bulk of the tournament, but it’s now clear that bar some strange occurrence, Terunofuji will lift the Emperor’s Cup tomorrow. Prior to day 14’s henka against Kotoshogiku, most sumo fans would have cheered his return to glory, after more than a year of crippling injuries and constant pain.

Fans have commented on Tachiai, Twitter and Facebook that the henka is part of the sport. This is true, and there are times when it’s employment is kind of neat. What troubles me about day 14 is that Kotoshogiku was not going to be able to best Terunofuji’s kaiju mode. To me the henka this time smelled of cruelty. I restrain myself, I hope, from layering too many American / European idioms on what is a completely Japanese cultural phenomenon. But it was clear that Kotoshogiku intended to go out, guns blazing, giving his all every match. This was the match where his bid to return was to be lost, and he was not allowed to end with dignity.

So you may see some noise from the Japanese fan community about Terunofuji, and I worry, about the Mongolian contingent as a whole. This would be a huge mistake, in my opinion, as the Mongolian rikishi have hugely enriched the sport, and have done fantastic things for Japan and the Japanese people.

Key Matches, Day 15

Terunofuji vs Kisenosato – This one decides the yusho. If Kisenosato some how manages to win the first one, the two will fight a tie breaker after Harumafuji and Kakuryu fight the last match of the basho. Given that Kisenosato can’t really do anything with his left arm (and he’s left handed) it’s going to be a long shot. My hope is that Kisenosato can survive without additional injury, and Terunofuji does not do anything to further lose face.

Harumafuji vs Kakuryu – This bout has very little impact, save to see if Kakuryu can get to double digits this time. Both are out of the yusho race, Harumafuji is banged up and struggling. I hope no one gets hurt and both can recover soon.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – If Takayasu can win this one, it means that he will need 10 wins in May to become Ozeki. It’s still a tall order, but a 12-3 record might also give him Jun-Yusho status for the first time in his career. Tamawashi will likely stay at Sekiwake for May, but needs wins to start making the case for promotion to Ozeki himself.

Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze – I hope both of these well loved veterans have some fun with this match. Both have kachi-koshi, and both are looking at retirement in the not too distant future. Kotoshogiku will try to wrap up Yoshikaze, and Yoshikaze will try to stay mobile.

Kachi/Make-Koshi

A number of rikishi go into the final day at 7-7, and will exit the final day either with promotion or demotion as their next move. This includes

Ishiura vs Takarafuji – First meeting between these two, Takarafuji already make-koshi

Endo vs Tochinoshin – Both at 7-7, the loser gets a demotion. Prior meetings are evenly split, but Tochinoshin is a shadow of his former self.

Daishomaru vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has his first make-koshi of his sumo career, but Daishomaru has a chance of kachi-koshi if he can win.

Myogiryu vs Aoiyama – Should be an easy win for Aoiyama, Myogiryu already make-koshi

Ichinojo vs Ura – Maegashira 7 Ichinojo vs Maegashira 12 Ura. Ichinojo already make-koshi, Ura trying to stay in the top division. A huge mismatch in size and speed. This may be a strange one indeed.

Takayasu Recovers, Defeats Takarafuji

Bout Included Mawashi Malfunction

On day 14, Takayasu racked up his 11th with, an important addition for his quest to win promotion to Ozeki. The match featured a solid display of yotsu-zumō, but was halted by the Gyoji, as Takarafuji’s mawashi threatened to come un-done mid battle. As shown in earlier posts, the Gyoji stops the match, throws his gumbai over his shoulder and re-ties the offending garment.

This 11th win matters a great deal for Takayasu, as it means that he was able to set his disappointment over his day 11 loss aside, and overcome whatever worries he has for his friend Kisenosato and focus on his sumo, which he did well today. Sadly this victory gave Takarafuji his make-koshi, and he will face a small rank demotion for May. Takayasu will need at least 11 wins in May to secure Ozeki, and we think that if he stays focused and healthy, that goal is in reach.

Video thanks to Jason’s All Sumo Channel on YouTube, which is a Tachiai mainstay. Feel free to hit his tip jar, too!

Yokozuna Harumafuji Defeated By Sekiwake Tamawashi

Harumafuji-14

Clinches Kachi-Koshi With Important Victory

In a further sign that the current Sekiwake ranked rikishi are on a path towards higher ranks, Tamawashi bested Yokozuna Harumafuji in a fast, aggressive bout. This victory gave Tamawashi his much needed kachi-koshi, signaling he will retain the rank of Sekiwake for his third consecutive tournament. Tamawashi cannot necessarily be considered to be in contention for promotion to Ozeki yet. He can only, at best, reach 9 wins this tournament, which would not make a strong case for promotion. But the ability to survive and even thrive in sumo’s toughest rank speaks volumes about his skill and tenacity.

It’s also noteworthy that there were multiple reports of heckling from the crowd directed towards Yokozuna Harumafuji. I am going to assume that it’s in response to Kisenosato’s injuries following the day 13 match with Harumafuji, and Tachiai hopes that Japanese sumo fans are just blowing off a bit of steam. The last thing sumo needs is some manner of endemic anti-Mongolian theme.

Yokozuna Kisenosato’s Second Defeat

Kise-14

Competed In Spite Of Painful Injury

In a move that surprised many, Yokozuna Kisenosato decided that he would not withdraw from Haru, and in fact mounted the dohyo to face Yokozuna Kakuryu on day 14. After Friday’s injury, many in the sumo press as well as myself expected Kisenosato to be barred from further competition by his doctor. Sumo association officials were very tight lipped about the exact nature of his injury and his condition. In information from the Japanese press (thanks to Kintamayama):

“This morning we had a chat about various things. He said he would like to participate today. He is strongly motivated.,” said his Oyakata Tagonoura. His condition? “He can move. There are two days left and there other other rikishi. He is a bit better than yesterday.. I’ll watch today’s bout and if it’s really bad we might have to reconsider..But if he will be OK he will appear on the last day as well. He will of course be doing the Yokozuna dohyo-iri and will move his body” added the Oyakata, not divulging much.

With Kisenosato’s loss, Terunofuji steps into sole the lead in the yusho race. The championship will be decided on day 15, when the injured Kisenosato faces Terunofuji in the second to last bout of the day. Tachiai hopes that Terunofuji has all of that henka nonsense out of his system, and faces Kisenosato like an Ozeki.

Kotoshogiku’s Ozeki Bid Ends

Kotoshogiku-14

Terminated by Terunofuji’s Henka

In on of the most disappointing 5 minutes of sumo of my life, Sekiwake Kotoshogiku’s bid to reclaim his Ozeki rank, and likely retire on a high note, ended when Terunofuji chose to employ a henka rather than give the fading rikishi an honest fight. The match had trouble getting started, with Terunofuji coming off the line prematurely, and matta was called.

On the restart, Kotoshogiku launched into the tachiai, but found that Terunofuji had leapt to the side. Thus ends a valiant effort by a long serving rikishi to end things on a high note. The crowd in Osaka was shocked, and I might say insulted. Everyone assumed that Terunofuji was going to win this bout, but they wanted to see him win via strength and skill. The expression on the crowd’s faces on the image above speak volumes.

Haru Day 14 Preview

Kise-kak-14

Kisenosato Will Compete Day 14

The results from day 13 were catastrophic for the Japanese sumo industry. Their home-grown Yokozuna was hurt in a bout, many would say needlessly. Some my wonder why I label this a catastrophe, it’s because Kisenosato’s ascension led to a huge uptick in sumo’s popularity and cultural prominence. Any long term injury could lead to some very hard feelings between the Japanese public and some of sumo’s top performers. This would be an utter disaster for the sport.

As of the moment this is being written (and one of the reasons it’s so late), Kisenosato has decided he is going to show up and face Kakuryu on day 14. I fear that he is not at 100%, and may in fact risk a grave injury. But Kisenosato is so proud to be a Yokozuna now, he wants to show Japan that he is going to be there, no matter how much it hurts.

In other news from day 13 (most of you will have watched video by now). Terunofuji defeated Kakuryu in a fairly amazing bout. I am not sure what happened to bring “classic” kaiju mode Terunofuji back, but I think everyone (including myself) figured he was gone for good. Now he is back, and he is tied for the lead in the yusho race with an injured Kisenosato.

Takayasu continued his typical out of gas / collapse on day 13, losing to Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze is now kachi-koshi, which delights me, but I was hoping to see Takayasu set his defeat aside and charge ahead. Kotoshogiku also managed a win over Shodai, a convincing one, to keep his return to Ozeki status alive by the narrowest of margins.

Yusho Race – It’s either Terunofuji or Kisenosato. God help us, but they will face off on day 15.

Key Matches Day 14

Kisenosato vs Kakuryu – How injured is the Shin-Yokozuna? Time to find out. I doubt Kakuryu is going to give him any quarter. Kisenosato tends to beat Kakuryu, their career record is Kisenosato 31, Kakuryu 17. But this is going to be a tough match with Kisenosato’s left arm hurt. It’s also a must-win for Kakuryu, who only has 8 wins so far.

Kotoshogiku vs Terunofuji – Well, it’s been nice knowing you Kotoshogiku. Terunofuji seems only to be increasing in strength and intensity, where it’s clear the past few days the Kotoshogiku is on fumes. Terunofuji has gladly granted his opponents a double-inside “death grip” the past few days, and then proceeded to make them suffer. Given that Kotoshogiku will try for that same grip to start his hug-n-chug, the results could be ugly. Kotoshogiku must win all remaining bouts to return to his Ozeki rank.

Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu may be convincing himself that things are tougher than they should be. He needs to break above 10 to help his Ozeki push, and he needs to be able to recover from a disappointing loss like day 11 if he is to excel at sumo’s higher ranks. Takarafuji is fighting well this basho, so this is not an easy match.

Expected Day 15 Matches

  • Kakuryu vs Harumafuji
  • Kisenosato vs Terunofuji
  • Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze
  • Takayasu vs Tamawashi