Aki Day 4 Highlights


We are almost done with the first third of the Aki basho, and it’s clear that this one is going to have a unusual and unruly start. With so many of the upper ranks missing due to injuries, and a few who remained competing hurt, it’s really a wide open scramble for the yusho.

At the end of day 4, there are no fewer than five rikishi who are undefeated, none of which are who you would expect to be dominant. This includes: Kotoshogiku, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takanoiwa, and Daieisho.

But it gets worse, also at the end of day 4, a number of rikishi who were expected to at least be holding a .500 average are winless! This includes: Yoshikaze, Tochiozan, and Tochinoshin, with Mitakeumi not far behind at 1-3.

It’s a bit early to proclaim a trend, but for the opening third of the basho, it’s been the playground of the tadpole crew, and they look like they won’t be slowing down. We will get our first idea of who might go the distance and take the cup by this weekend, but thus far it’s not who a long term fan might expect.

Day 4 Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Asanoyama – Tokushoryu finally gets his first win at Aki, and looked really solid doing it. I must remark that yet again, Asanoyama just really seems to be so happy that he gets to do sumo today.

Endo defeats Yutakayama – I really liked this bout, not only because Endo won, but because Yutakayama gave him a really good fight. Move me to the “Endo is going to be alright” column. Great footwork at the edge of the ring by Endo to secure the win. If he can keep from getting further banged up, we should see him competitive in upper Maegashira by the Hatsubasho.

Daieisho defeats Kaisei – Undefeated Daieisho bested the Brazilian, who I am certain loss some weight and is moving much better. But Daieisho is really just cranking this tournament, and is not giving any quarter. In fact, most of the tadpoles are undefeated or have a winning record.

Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – Kagayaki continues to be Takakeisho’s kryptonite. Takakeisho can wreck any number or rikishi on any given day. But for some reason, Kagayaki, in spite of his poor performance thus far, can just slap him around like a rented mule. Takakeisho was throwing everything he had at Kagayaki, but it had little or no success.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – The Biggie Sized Chiyotairyu remains undefeated, and his slap down of Shohozan lacked anything in terms of graceful sumo, but it got the job done. I am really looking forward to Chiyotairyu taking a crack at Goeido on day 5.

Shodai defeats Tochiozan – After a very strong Nagoya basho, Tochiozan has fallen off a cliff, and has yet to win a single match. I was delighted to see that today Shodai decided he was going to do some sumo, and looked like he actually wore his fighting mawashi today.

Tamawashi defeats Mitakeumi – In the group of rikishi who have fallen off a cliff, a close second would have to be Mitakeumi. He is clearly suffering the curse of going on NHK World to talk about his sumo, and we can only hope that he is able to pull out a kachi-koshi by day 15. Tamawashi appears to have overcome his ankle sprain, and was in full effect day 4. Oh yeah, there was a monoii because the Gyoji could not quite figure out who touched down first.

Kotoshogiku defeats Yoshikaze – Also in the cliff diving team, my favorite Yoshikaze. After remarking it would be fun to be the oldest rikishi to be promoted to Ozeki, he is now in a deep hole and struggling. My biggest fear lies in the fact that Kotoshogiku remains undefeated, and I worry that my “Kotoshogiku day” may have to come to pass. It’s too early for me to start looking for a blue mawashi to wear, but the dread of doing so fills me with terror.

Onosho defeats Terunofuji – More trouble in kaiju land as the Onosho gives Terunofuji some amphibian firepower. Terunofuji now has a 1-3 start, and we have to start worrying about him facing demotion. Onosho joins many other tadpoles in the undefeated column.

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Another dirty henka from Goeido. Really man, you can in fact beat these guys if you give it a try. But Tochinoshin, how were you not ready for this after what he did to Yoshikaze day 3? Some junky sumo here in the second to last match of the day.

Hokutofuji defeats Harumafuji – Hopefully fans don’t assume that just because Harumafuji decided to compete in Aki that he is anything close to 100%. It’s more along the lines of he is a tough and stubborn cuss. But that should not subtract from Hokutofuji’s rally masterful win today. He was quick and strong, and took the fight to the Yokozuna, and prevailed.

33 thoughts on “Aki Day 4 Highlights

  1. A few observations:

    I like Kagayaki but I was shocked at how easily he absorbed Takakeisho’s attack. He looked like a mountain out there by comparison. He just doesn’t lose his balance against anything Takakeisho throws at him. Kryptonite indeed!

    I don’t entirely understand what happened with Shodai-Tochiozan. I rewatched a few times just to be sure, and sure enough Shodai still had a terrible tachiai. Tochiozan for some reason was unwilling or unable to go through him with any force, and opted to hop to the side after the first step. That’s crazy! Shodai’s only real weakness, and of course it’s a serious one, is the tachiai. Once it’s a matter of technique in the dohyo, he is top level.

    I also rewatched Mitakeumi to see if he was slow off the blocks or what. He just let Tamawashi come in lower and drive right into him. Considering the size difference that’s pretty surprising. Also surprising that Tamawashi could get good drive at that low angle with his ankle.

    Onosho is a boss. That is all.

    Hokutofuji didn’t just win, he out-wrestled the yokozuna. Really impressive stuff, even if the old Horse is not at his best. Plenty of lesser fighters would have let Harumafuji back in the match after getting him off-balance at the edge there; Hokutofuji already had his next moves ready to go and put him away with authority. Really nice work.

    • Hokutofuji was really on today, and I salute his efforts. I also have to wonder if Harumafuji is going to be able to sustain through day 15. i am assuming he wants to, but he is physically iffy at best.

    • I gave links to videos of Kagayaki’s two prior matches with Takakeisho in makuuchi in the comments of the Day 4 preview post. They show that Kagayaki just dominates Takakeisho in the oshi-zumo game; in this basho he stayed true to form. Longer arms, maybe?

      • Yes, Kagayaki has a tremendous reach advantage on the tadpoles and he was rather imperious at using this to prevent Takakeisho getting inside to use start thrusting away. I strangely look forward to watching Kagayaki because he can go from sublime to ridiculous from one bout to the next.

  2. Shodai’s tachiai looked slightly better—he didn’t just stand straight up. I’m really not enjoying Goeido henka.0 and hoping this catches up with him.

    You left out Ichinojo-Chiyonokuni. It looked like the slaps actually woke up Ichinojo and made him angry, and it was all over quickly from there.

    • Yes, I had it in my list, but I had a early meeting today that was going to consume 4 hours, so it was “Post or die”, and some things I wanted to comment on were left behind.

      The Terunofuji match really got me down, though. It’s clear the big Kaiju is going to struggle further. I know that everyone has their time to stand proud, and to bow out. But I was hoping that Terunofuji could be a strong force in sumo that he has to this date.

      • I wasn’t around when they got rid of the injury system in 2003, but I really wish the Sumo org would have revised it and gave it more public accountability instead. It really annoys me to see all these guys trying to make the best of a bad situation because money is on the line, and not being able to take the time to recuperate and train back up.

        I was pleasantly surprised at angry Ichinojo. Chiyonokuni needs to lay off the taunts. :)

    • I don’t know about slightly better tachiai; it was still pretty close to a stand-up. Shodai had a bit of forward progress but look where they are with respect to the starting lines when they collide. He’s still above his own line.

      • I’d agree with this – difference of opinion I guess. I thought it was possibly one of Shodai’s worst tachiai and he managed to rally in spite of it. He really got knocked back, I thought he was going to fall over backwards when i saw it

  3. Don’t get excited about any Goeido bout at this point, Bruce. He’s pulled two henkas that were literally a hand touch’s difference from Terunofuji’s “ole” henka for Kotoshogiku. Terrible, terrible sumo and it shows just how worried Goeido is about losing his rank. At this point, I don’t expect him to face any bulldozer head-on at all. He’ll keep pulling henkas until they don’t work anymore.

    Poor Mitakeumi. Is there a specific reason why the “dead body” rule wasn’t applied to Tamawashi? I would think that being airborne while flipped over and 9/10ths of the way outside of the ring (and continuing to travel farther away from it) is a pristine example of that rule. Apparently, I’m wrong. Any thoughts on this one, Bruce?

    Man, Endo really brought his “A” game today! Talk about some exquisite sumo ballet! Absolutely brilliant stuff from him!

    Did you guys see the staredown and mental games that Terunofuji tried to play with Onosho before their bout? They make Onosho’s victory that much more impressive because Onosho was completely unaffected by Terunofuji’s behavior. I hope that Onosho will be able to have some bouts against more healthy Ozeki and Yokozuna in the near future so we can really see about his potential.

    Hokutofuji has a lot to be proud of for his win over Haramafuji today. He not only was very physically strong, but he was mentally a step or two ahead of Haramfuji the entire time too. Bravo!

    • Since both Mitakeumi and Tamawashi left the ground at the same time, the rikishi who touches first is the loser. Neither guy clearly threw the other. That is the key element. If one had clearly thrown the other, that is, his feet on the ground and the other fellow in the air, the guy in the air is committed, done, no way to retrieve himself. He has lost in that moment without question. Once that guy is committed in the air, if the “throwing” rikishi then steps out or touches down first as a natural progression of tossing the other guy, he still wins because the other guy got tossed first and had no way to recoup himself whatsoever. Allowing the rikishi to follow through is safer for all involved. That make sense? It is a rather touchy point, but one I absolutely agree with.

  4. Given what a crazy basho it’s been, I’m kinda worried that Goeido might henka his way all the way to a yusho. What’s the record for successful henkas by a rikishi in a tournament? 14-1 with something like 10 henkas sounds about right for this tournament.

    Or, you know, Onosho could just steamroll everybody and go 15-0 as Maegashira 3. He just has to watch out for that Goeido henka.

    • Well, Goeido faces Chiyotairyu on day 5. I am going to hope that Chiyotairyu won’t fall for it. I really like Goeido when he is doing his sumo with vigor and energy. What he is doing now is garbage. So I hope that Chiyotairyu can tune him up a bit.

  5. Loved Kintamayama’s description of the zabutons flying as ‘purple rain’ (usually watch kinta in week 1 and switch to Jason in week 2)

  6. Harumafuji wasn’t limping or grimacing a he made his way from the dohyo, but when he got to the backstage area (or whatever the proper name is) he looked like he was hurting all over. And he looked tired and old. I don’t think he has much left.

    Takakeisho went back to the “charge, retreat, repeat” tactics which led to him being schooled in public by Hakuho in July. To keep the bulldozer analogy going, I would say that he needs to keep his foot jammed down on the accelerator (or gas pedal, or whatever Japanese bulldozers have).

    The worst performance of the day by far came from Tochiozan. No aggression, and precious little defence as he circled around for a bit and then stepped backwards over the bales. And this was against Shodai, who so far has looked about as menacing as a bowl of milky porridge. The “it’s all fixed” bloggers will have a field day with this one.

  7. Yesterday, Kokonoe oyakata proudly treated his deshi to yakiniku, after all his sekitori won their bouts.

    I guess too much grilled chicken is not good for you on the eve of a basho. Today he was left with only two winning sekitori – Chiyotaryu and Chiyootori.

    No chicken has been served at Isegahama, but they seem to be eating a lot of crow. Takarafuji and Homarefuji winning. All the rest, including one lonely Yokozuna and one soon-to-be-sekiwake former kaiju, were beaten.

    Oguruma is not faring much better with only Yago in the white. Yoshikaze beaten by Kotoshogiku. Bruce, dear, next time please don’t make promises that apply to the entire Tachiai team, right? If I walk into my office doing heap pumps, I’ll probably not only get fired, but also arrested as well.

    Let’s see if I can make any intelligible sumo remarks.

    I liked Ishiura’s bout. Chiyomaru weighs about three times as he, so he pushed him out by springing into his chest several times.

    Mitakeumi was not expecting an injured Tamawashi to take a Harumafuji-style flying leap at him. Not ready, not recovered in time.

    Goeido is not making the crowds happy, and I predict he is going to see a drop in the amount of kenshokin he earns. Of course, it has to be said that he is not stupid. He needs to get out of kadoban, and unlike Terunofuji, I think he already realized that the joi is full of murderous youngsters so he is grabbing every W he can.

    Harumafuji… he was dead the moment Hokutofuji grabbed a hold of his left arm. And my gut tells me that tomorrow he is going to go 2-3 against tho Ono-show, and really regret that matta thing from yesterday. Imagine if the one Yokozuna left standing finds himself make-koshi and intai at the end of this freak basho? [shudder]

    As for Terunofuji, this is how he looked on day 1:

    Ugh, blech

    And that face of his expresses exactly what I feel about his Sumo in this tournament. Of course, he is not being disgusting on purpose. It’s just how it turns out when you haven’t practiced sumo in months, you have no muscle in your body, you don’t know where your center of gravity is at any point in time, and you look like a whale caught on dry land. Damn, why is it that whenever I pick a favorite team or athlete, they pick exactly that time to look horrible and get demoted? (True story, I got two soccer teams relegated to the second league when I was a kid this way).

    • Oguruma is not faring much better with only Yago in the white. Yoshikaze beaten by Kotoshogiku. Bruce, dear, next time please don’t make promises that apply to the entire Tachiai team, right? If I walk into my office doing heap pumps, I’ll probably not only get fired, but also arrested as well.

      Just do what I do, tell them not to judge you because you lead an alternative lifestyle. Worked during the 90’s when I was wearing a kilt into the office…

      • All I’m sayin’ is, if I need to do that, then next time you’re in Tokyo I’m telling Orora you’re made of onigiri.

  8. Somehow Goeido is the only member of San’yaku with a winning record after 4 days. I hope Chiyotairyu reads any shenanigans he might have in mind tomorrow, and blasts him into Orbit.

    Onosho vs. Harumafuji might be the bout of the basho—on Day 5!

    And we get the battle of the disappointments between Mitakeumi and Tochinoshin, not that there’s any shortage of claimants to that title this basho.

    • This has become the “Bad Life Decisions” basho to me as a fan. It’s become depressing to watch since I really don’t like Goeido or Kotoshogiku at all (probably unwarranted, but I get a arrogant jerk vibe from watching them). Ura and Takayasu are out, Haruma and Teruno are making dumb mistakes. It’s tough as a non-Tadpole supporter.

      Juryo at least is a little bit brighter for me, though old man Aminishiki lost his bout on day 4. Aww :(

      • Aminishiki lost today? Awwwww, man! That’s a bummer! Here’s hoping he returns to his winning ways tomorrow!

    • “Somehow” = two blatant henkas where Goeido barely touched his opponent. The crowd is obviously disappointed with him already. If Goeido pulls another blatant henka, they might vocally complain.

  9. A word for Ishiura – I think today might have been the best, most poised sumo I’ve ever seen from him.


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