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.

34 thoughts on “Kisenosato Wins Osaka

  1. Simply astonishing. All day yesterday, I was thinking, “the Isegahama Empire Strikes Back.” Haru as Vader, cuts off Luke’s hand and it looks like the Emperor’s Cup belongs to Teru. But of course Luke prevails in the final act to defeat the Empire. My question, is Takayasu a Wookie or an Ewok?

    • Totally a Wookie. The Ewoks were never a credible threat. Where as I could see Takayasu tearing your arms out if he loses.

  2. Wow, a day that was shaping up to be so anticlimactic ended up being a classic! Thanks so much for all of the reporting and commentary; English language sumo coverage is so limited that this site truly is a blessing.

    • Agreed, it’s so hard to find a place to learn about the sport more and to discuss the day’s events, this page is fantastic.

      • Thank you! It’s good to know that we’re not the only sumo fans out there. After ESPN did away with Larry Biel’s sumo highlight show back in the 90s, like you said, it’s hard to find much.

    • Thank you all for reading and commenting! Your participation really makes it worthwhile.

      And keep your eyes peeled in the interim — between now and May. We’re going to try to fill the void while we wait for Natsu-basho.

    • Thank you, very kind. I started writing because I believed there were english language sumo fans who had no source for info, and that if there was a solid web site, a community could be built. Andy already started it, and he was kind enough to let me contribute.

      Very happy with how this is going, actually.

  3. Bruce and Andy, thanks for running this amazing blog. Ready for Natsu Basho banzuke predictions yet? ;) Or should we wait to see if anyone retires?

    • As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to start speculating. If other sports websites can spend months freaking out about a pilfered shirt, I’m all for Natsu banzuke predictions.

  4. I don’t know: the whole thing left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. On Friday the pride of Japan is terribly injured and looks seconds from death but refuses to surrender. On Saturday the evil foreigner sneaks his way into the lead in dastardly fashion by tricking and humiliating a beloved veteran. After an evening spent twirling his waxed mustache and strangling kittens, Mr Evil comes back but it is beaten not ONCE, but TWICE by our beloved, injured hero who somehow fights through the pain and wins the cup! Next week see Kisenosato face Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker in a Triple Threat Barb-Wire Casket Match!

    On the other hand it may be that I’m just throwing the toys out of the pram because my favourite lost, that Kisenosato is a very good champion, and that Terunofuji choked on his return to the big time.

    • Your cynicism is understandable, but I’m inclined to believe it was legit. First of all, I don’t think that Kisenosato would have sacrificed his body that much in a thrown bout – even that last tumble in the playoff match was pretty rough. Secondly, I think that Kisenosato matches up well against Terunofuji. That freakish power of Terunofuji’s is a real advantage over most of his opponents, but it’s mitigated somewhat by Kisenosato’s own size and strength.

      Anyway, let’s hope that Terunofuji stays healthy, because his sumo really is something special to watch.

    • Yeah, I wonder similar things. But i know for sure there is no way we will ever find out for sure. I do know that Terunofuji will be around for many years to come if he can stay healthy, and he has mountains of talent, strength and speed. If he gets his attitude right, he is going to be a fine Yokozuna some day.

    • I’ve had the same questions but I don’t think there were any shenanigans or backroom dealing. With the yaocho scandal still visible in the rear view mirror, it’s a legit question. (The canceled basho was actually the first basho I attended in person. They still competed, it just didn’t count.)

      I think Kise really tried the henka and Teru caught him out. However, as we saw when Kakuryu fought Kise, it’s hard to battle “all-out” against a guy with one arm. I do think Teru was trying to win but probably took a few options off the table to prevent being the guy who really hurt Kise (or worse, ended Kise’s career). For example, he wasn’t going to go break his nose like Tochinoshin did to Endo this tournament, or like Osunaarashi vs Endo two years ago, or like basically everyone vs Yoshikaze. At least, that’s what my decision-making would be if I were in Teru’s massive shoes.

      And I think those battles were certainly more legit than Yoshikaze’s bout with Kotoshogiku. As Herm Edwards said, “you play to win the game.” Teru was playing to win…but not kill Kise. Kise, I think, fought with less regard for his condition, especially in the final bout as he decided to take them both out and see who fell first.

  5. Terunofuji redeemed himself by losng ths basho, now fans and ydc will forget the day 14 henka. I think it will be more catastrophic if he won the basho

    This is the most dramatic ending ive ever seen. The shin yokozuna made it so colorful. But i really have doubts on the 2 bouts between kise and teruno. I dont know, something does not look natural. Would it be possible some talks went behind the scenes?

    • I doubt it, and the reason is that Kisenosato is lucky he wasn’t disqualified for pulling Terunofuji’s chonmage in the first bout. I don’t think that would have happened if the fix was in.

      • I’m really not that sure. I really feel last January’s win against Hakuho was fixed, and so as this one. Hakuho’s all out attack is uncharacteristic. Terunofuji’s fall on both occasion looks weird for me.

          • I have my doubts. I have watched so many Hakuho bouts and he does not do that type of attacks. My feeling is that since the bout has no meaning for Hakuho, as he is out of contention, perhaps the game was fixed. Of course if something is fixed, they would do it to make it look real.

          • Well, it’s sumo history now. I would imagine the rikishi have any number of reasons to do what they do, some of them we would understand, others we might not. I thought Hakuho’s approach looked a bit odd in that match too, but even “The Boss” knew it was probably time to give “The Great Pumpkin” his rope.

            Since his promotion, many good things have happened in the world of sumo. I try to stop myself from applying my American / European standards to sumo and its’ workings. It will be forever Japanese, and there are things that won’t make sense to me and my framework. But then, I am just a fan. So I try to follow as best I can, and focus on the parts I like.

            Hakuho has not been quite right ever since his foot blew up in July of 2016. He may never be quite right again. If you were the utmost Yokozuna, and you knew your body was failing but you still wanted to be in sumo, you would find ways to do what you can.

          • Could be Hakuho is really nice to Kisenosato. A few Basho earlier, Hakuho gave Kisenosato his favorite grip so that he can have better chances to win and get his tsuna. But the boss still won. I can say the January bout could be either way. But the 2 matches yesterday with Terunofuji is very odd for me. Winning with just an arm against an Ozeki… dude…

        • If this was acted, Kise and Teru should turn to full time acting. Which actor would pull Terunofuji´s bewildered face after he´s thrown off the dohyo and the crowd start screaming? Would a prime De Niro be able to method-act Kisenosato being totally overcome with emotion?
          The drama Sunday was real. Rare, intense and real.
          These two guys went through years of fights, injuries, setbacks, pressure, and they both showed it after the result of the playoff:
          Teru with his bitter disappointment, and in Kise´s tears there were all the doubt and hardship his big shoulder had to carry around for so long.

          PS: Other argument: “Hair pulls are not seen for Japanese rikishi”, then please watch 6:22 of this Hakuho-Kise 2013 fight:

          … and while you are there you see the genesis of Kise´s tears at 7:20

    • Thank you much! It’s a labor of love for the editors. We love sumo, and are trying to bridge the gap between what we can get outside Japan, and what there is to know.

  6. Wow! What a humdinger of a basho this has been! The first 12 days, Kisenosato proved he fully deserved the Yokozuna title. In the last 3, he showed just why he owned not just his second successive title but our hearts too!

    All in all, a great fortnight indeed! Can’t believe this is just my third basho that I am following so keenly. In my journey as a curious wanderer into Sumo land to being a compulsive lover of the sport, it’s taken just a few months.

    A big thanks goes out to this utterly brilliant blog for its stellar role in my embracing and the growing understanding of Sumo. Keep up the great work… you are the ambassadors of this wonderful sport!

    • Yes Kise won a tournament with only 1 healthy ozekia, hakuho out, and haruma/kakuryu fighting hurt. For me, its a weak tournament, and its only proper that Kise win it. From the very start, only Kise is healthy from the upper 2 ranks. I was surprised that teruno was healthy too

      All in all, I am not convinced of Kise. He should win a tourney with a healthy hakuho and haruma. Those 2 spoiled his promotion for so many years

  7. Oh wow. Just. Wow.

    I can echo some of the disbelief, and have toyed a bit with the conspiracy narrative myself, but am happy enough to believe that Kisenosato effectively delivered the old Miyagi crane-kick to close the tournament in high Daniel-san style.

    As always, of course thanks for the excellent coverage – and Andy: sorry I missed happy hour.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.