The Post Natsu Break


What, No Jungyo?

Sumo fans may note that after most basho, there is a tour of regional cities by a cadre of available sumotori. They demonstrate their practice techniques, some of the culture and activities around sumo, and even sing songs! We have written on this in the past, and it’s known as Jungyo, literally “Making the rounds”.

But after Natsu, there is no Jungyo. The rikishi have 6 weeks to train with intensity, to undergo medical care, fly home to wherever that may be, or just take care of business. There are a handful of Makuuchi rikishi I am going to scan the press for daily, in hopes of catching some news:

  • Kisenosato – This guy needs surgical help. If he goes under the knife now, he could be back in fighting form in time for Aki. I really want him to be able to perform, as he would make such an awesome counterbalance to the resurgent Hakuho. The cultural counterpoint between the brash, enthusiastic Mongolian showman vs the quiet, almost bookish, but overflowing with confidence and strength Japanese master craftsman would be such a wonderful story arc.
  • Harumafuji – Not sure there is much that can fix his chronic undercarriage problems. He plays, perhaps, the most critical role in sumo right now. That of “the Hammer”. On any given day he can wipe out even Hakuho. He is explosive, relentless and driven to succeed. No one can advance to or survive San’yaku unless they can face him on the dohyo and put up a decent fight. As such, I hope there is something that can be done to get him well. I don’t see anyone in Makuuchi that might be able to take over this role.
  • Goeido – This guy is still not 100%, and frankly I don’t know if he ever can be once he had his ankle rebuilt out of lego and superglue. I would be delighted if he never went Kadoban again.
  • Terunofuji – The knee-less wonder somehow managed to keep on the offensive during Hatsu, even though it was clear to everyone that each day the pain in his knees became worse. When he is healthy he is an unstoppable beast of an Ozeki, and that’s very good news for sumo. Surgical knee treatment is very much hit or miss, so I don’t blame Terunofuji for seeing if there is some way to avoid it.
  • Okinoumi – This guy has been competing in spite of a very serious personal injury that would require surgery and about 4 weeks hospitalization to resolve. Would he still be able to compete once they are done with him? I don’t know. But it’s brutal to watch him mount the dohyo and get pummeled daily. I can’t imagine how brutal it is for him.
  • Tochinoshin – He’s in the same boat at Terunofuji. That knee has been his bane for a while now. With it working and healthy, he fights at at least upper Maegashira level. Hurt he’s day by day between upper Juryo and mid Maegashira. It would be great to see him return healthy and not face any further leg and foot problems.
  • Osunaarashi – I wish we could pull this guy out of sumo for a few months and let him get healthy. He’s another dauntless competitor whose spirit won’t give up, but his body seems to be failing him. But such a move would likely end his career effectively. But out of everyone on this list, he seems to possibly be the most in need. He has not been healthy for several basho now.

As always, we accept tips in the comments section if you read something that helps us know and share with the world how these or any rikishi are faring over the next 6 weeks before we start Nagoya basho.

6 thoughts on “The Post Natsu Break

  1. IF Terunofuji could ever get fully fit I could see him eventually taking over the hammer role from his stablemate (but that’s a huge all caps IF!)

    Given that Juryo is much of a muchness at the moment I wonder if it’s worth Okinoumi being kyujo for an entire tournament knowing that within 2 tournaments at that level he could probably be back in the top division. With Osunaarashi having racked up the Ls this time around, you can make the argument it probably won’t have hurt him that much more on the banzuke to have done so this time around.

      • I think everyone, including the YDC and NSK are waiting to see how long Terunofuji can maintain his excellent results with a body that is in worsening shape. I wish we could give him robotic knees, and it’s clear he has the fighting spirit and strength to excel.

    • The difficulty with the approach of taking a basho off to heal is that there is a good deal of say that comes from the stable master. In some cases they want or need their top talent competing. It’s also worth noting, everyone at the top end of sumo LOVES sumo, or they would not have dedicated their lives to getting that far. Like any top athlete, they will compete given half a chance no matter what.

  2. No comments on Kakuryu’s back problems? I mean he wiped the floor in November and there were no kyujo that time.
    Kakuryu is one of my favorites and I’m sad to see him not contend for every basho.

    • Yeah, I thought about adding Kakuryu into the list. But frankly at this point he is going to have to convince the NSK that he is still relevant. For myself I think he should get healthy and return, but there have been people in the Yokozuna committee that have been calling for his scalp for a while. I had thought the Kyushu Yusho would have silenced them for a while, but the noise has started once more.

      To be clear, sumo benefits greatly with all 4 Yokozuna and everyone else healthy and fit to compete. If through some great alignment of the planets we could get everyone healthy for Nagoya, it would be a truly magical basho indeed.


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