Ones to Watch: Kyushu 17

The real test awaits

We debuted the “ones to watch” feature at Aki, and I’m going to attempt to make this a regular feature before, during and after each basho. Again, I’ve picked out 20 rikishi from the bottom four divisions that I think I have interesting story lines going into the upcoming tournament. You may have other rikishi who you might think are also interesting, and I encourage you to share their stories in the comments!


Ms4 Mitoryu (Nishikido) – The Mongolian delivered the huge basho everyone had been anticipating at the third time of asking at Aki, posting 6 wins and coming a final bout loss short of a yusho. He now finds himself 10 places higher, and despite the incredible amount of traffic and talent at the top of the Makushita ranks, a similar run of results this time out combined with favourable results elsewhere might just give him a kesho-mawashi in January.

Ms7 Hokaho (Miyagino) – This might seem like an odd choice given that most of the rest of this list is going to consist of young up-and-comers, but as we’ve speculated quite a bit on the future power of Miyagino-beya on these pages, I think Hokaho will have an interesting tournament to follow. At the age of 28 he’s fighting at his joint-highest ever rank and while all of the attention has been on his exciting young stablemate (more of whom in a minute), he’s quietly racked up 5 straight kachi-koshi. Could it be not 4 but 5 sekitori from this stable by the middle of next year?

Ms11 Takayoshitoshi (Takanohana) – The wonderfully named 20 year old is another rikishi fighting at his joint-highest ranking and will be hoping for better after suffering 5 losses at Makushita 11 earlier in the year. With his twin brother Takagenji having been promoted back up to Juryo, he will no doubt be determined to prove he too can fight at a higher level.

Ms12 Wakatakakage (Arashio) vs Ms22 Murata (Takasago) – These two had identical records and were ranked opposite each other coming into Aki, and a win for Wakatakakage over Murata ended up being the difference maker in their records last time out. The two former university men have moved quickly and we will continue to track their progress this time out.

Ms14 Jokoryu (Kise) vs Ms14 Enho (Miyagino) – Enho is of course worth tracking in his own right (as we have been doing and continue to do somewhat comprehensively and breathlessly), but his bow at Makushita level is given a bit of extra spice by the fact that his route to further advancement runs right through the last man to accomplish the three consecutive 7-0 records he has put up to start his career.

The former Komusubi Jokoryu has been making a comeback attempt after an injury-inspired tumble from the top division and has been entrenched in Makushita with varying results for much of the past year. While the goal for Enho is simply to see how many more wins he can continue to rack up from day 1 to continue his climb, Jokoryu will be looking to re-establish himself – there is so much good young talent rising up the banzuke right now that he’s in danger of running out of time to make it back to the professional ranks.

Ms26 Ichiyamamoto (Nishonoseki) – He has continued to torch the competition, running his impressive career start now to 25-3. The part of the banzuke he now finds himself at consists of many more experienced names and a few ex-sekitori who just kind of hanging on. Just like Kagamio last time out, the oshi-specialist could be a sleeper yusho candidate owing to a weaker strength of schedule.

Ms50 Ryuko (Onoe) – Another pick from last time that we will continue to follow, Ryuko (his given name) has racked up four straight strong tournaments to start his career and will likely now receive his first stern test, along with…

Ms52 Nishikifuji (Isegahama) – … the Isegahama man whose bright star has dimmed somewhat following back to back yusho to open his career, but who nevertheless has made quick work of the bottom three tiers to progress up to a Makushita debut.


Sd13 Fukuyama (Fujishima) vs Sd16 Tanabe (Kise) – I really love following these guys as their battles have all been quite good, and all won by Tanabe. And Tanabe has only suffered three defeats in his career, all coming at the hands of Enho. Of the two, Tanabe has shown himself to be more of an oshi-specialist to open his career while Fukuyama has shown somewhat of a diversity of throwing techniques (in a small sample size, admittedly). It will be interesting to see if the two rivals can continue their rise.

Sd53 Tomokaze (Oguruma) – He couldn’t grab a second consecutive yusho last time out, but nevertheless finds himself as the highest placed debutant at this level and we’ll want to see if he can keep moving quickly.

Sd84 Kotokumazoe (Sadogatake) – Having spent a year out of action, Kotokumazoe came back with back to back 6-1 records to take his career tally to 18-3 and force a promotion to Sandanme. The impressive Tomokaze is one of the only men to take him down so far.

Sd85 Wakaichiro (Musashigawa) – Wakaichiro continues his progression to make his Sandanme debut in Kyushu and the whole Tachiai team will be cheering him on and covering his matches!


Jd15 Shoji (Musashigawa) – I accurately predicted Wakaichiro’s stablemate for the Jonokuchi yusho last time out, and now he’ll try and make it two out of two.

Jd49 Torakio (Naruto) vs Jd49 Sumidagawa (Naruto) – These men won’t face each other, but have one thing in common which is that they’ve both only been beaten twice and on all four of those occasions it was by Shoji. Now that they should be clear of him (barring a playoff or final day matchup), we may get to see if these guys can make a run at the yusho with an easier schedule.


Jk20 Amatsu (Onomatsu) – A 27 year old in Jonokuchi really shouldn’t be that interesting, but it is when he was last seen in competitive action over two and a half years ago in the middle of the Makushita rankings. Add into the mix that this is a man who’s put dirt on makuuchi regulars Chiyoshoma, Chiyomaru and Takanoiwa, and you’d expect that he’d not only make quick work of the bottom divisions but also challenge for the yusho.

Jk20 Hayashi (Fujishima) – With only one spot left, it’s got to go to the bespectacled 19 year old Mike Hayashi who’s apparently been called the “next Takayasu” owing to his Filipino heritage. He’s going to get the nod over Chiganoura’s Hakuho-approved Yuriki owing to having beaten him in maezumo and starting as the top debutant. Both of their matches against Amatsu should be interesting.

Obviously, we will always monitor the progress and pour out a sake for Hattorizakura, whose run at avoiding historic futility continues from Jk24 where he will attempt to dodge a 9th consecutive 0-7 record and score a second career win in 80+ attempts against the new batch of recruits. You have to feel for the two guys ranked below him.

12 thoughts on “Ones to Watch: Kyushu 17

  1. I wish there was a news documentary or something all about Hattorizakura and what motivates him. Because every match of his I’ve watched, I wonder why none of his coaches’ training seems to have any effect. He’s completely feckless as a rikishi, but he still hangs on there at the bottom no matter what.

    It was fun seeing Torakio pop up in the sumo training school video on NHK last night.

    I always tend to root for all the underdogs, recent injuries and old-timers in the lower divisions anyway. They deserve our cheers and support just as much as any of the makuuchi.

    • Amazing points and this all really validates the exercise of tracking down these rikishi and their stories. I’m glad you get as much out of it as I do!!

      I totally forgot to mention Torakio’s cameo appearance at Sumo School in the main post, so thank you for referencing it! The best part is starting to see the people behind the 90 second youtube clips.

      • It’s a big help since there generally isn’t as much English language coverage of the lower divisions, and with them not fighting every day it’s harder to follow your favorites. You guys all do a splendid job at providing a well rounded sumo experience for us here.

        It also makes me feel less pain at coughing up 1480 yen to get my 8 hours of streams each day of the basho. :)

  2. I get the feeling that Takayoshitoshi is going to stay stuck in Makushita for some time. While his “little” brother (Takayoshitoshi is rather particular about the fact that he is the “ani” and Takagenji is the “ototo”, when the difference can’t be more than, like, 20 minutes…) has gained weight, and used him as a live barbell to work his legs, Takayoshitoshi doesn’t seem to show any of that drive. He also seems to have a rather brittle character. He threw a hissy fit on Twitter over fans calling him Takagenji and ruining his concentration, and went as far as to say that he doesn’t need their cheers if they can’t keep their mouths shut when they don’t know who’s who. He seems to have been disciplined for this whole mess, but the point is that at the moment he doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a sekitori.

    I wonder if Takanohana may pull a page out of Chiyonofuji’s book and make him his brother’s tsukebito… But given his own family history he might not want to go there.

    Regarding Torakio and Sumidagawa, I think their records are similar only because they are very fresh. I believe Sumidagawa has mainly been recruited so that Torakio will have a decent practice partner (though currently he’s mostly practicing with his oyakata, and not every jonidan has the privilege to practice with someone of Kotooshu’s caliber…). Watching videos of their training, it’s obvious that Torakio is much stronger. Those pecs and biceps are not a decoration. At some point Torakio is going to open a real gap from Sumidagawa.

    • Torakio looked super-green to me in his first two tournaments. Won’t matter yet in mid-jonidan, but he’s only a couple of promotions away from reaching territory where that quality of sumo won’t play, so hopefully he’s picking up a few things from ex-Osh sharpish.

      • Yes. Did you notice how he didn’t know what to do with his sagari once it fell off? :-)

        I suppose the fact that the heya was only created a few months ago and that he probably didn’t get to watch much sumo before, is the cause of that greenness. I’m absolutely sure that Kotooshu can teach him proper waza.

    • It’s going to be interesting. I feel like Takayoshitoshi is right there on the cusp, it’s an interesting story to watch at the top of Makushita especially as his brother has yo-yo’d a bit recently. If TYT has a good basho and Takagenji comes back down, it would be really interesting to watch them fight it out. Good point re: tsukebito!

      Torakio is just a mammoth, and so strong. I’m hoping he and Shoji both start 6-0 so that we get to see them match up again. I may have said this the last time we did this series but although it’s a lazy comparison, I could see him being the next Tochinoshin in terms of his build.

  3. I absolutely love this feature, as it’s so important to track the up and comers. Is there any chance to make this a running feature throughout the basho so we can follow the progress of the 20 picks?

  4. There are things about this basho that might give me great pleasure. Among these would be Terunofuji getting ten wins, Onosho getting a KK at komusubi, Chiyoshoma grinding his way towards sanyaku (he will get there you know), Daiamami surviving his makuuchi debut and my boy Seiro getting a good result in juryo

    There is absolutely nothing, however, that would make me happier than to see Hattorizakura pick up a win.

    • Following Hattorizakura is one of the most wonderful things about having started this series.

      I think it will happen again. And whoever the poor so and so is on the receiving end of it can expect a full post devoted to them!

      (Sawanofuji might be a good bet for a repeat)


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