Day 8 – What an exciting “nakabi”!

The 8th day of a basho is called “nakabi” – 中日 – “middle day”. This exciting basho produced a no-less exciting nakabi, from bottom to top!

One nakabi tradition is the presentation of shin-deshi – new wrestlers who passed their maezumo this basho. So, leading the group is the young Naya, wearing his grandfather, Taiho’s, kesho-mawashi. Third, in the yellow kesho-mawashi, is Hoshoryu. No, he’s not wearing his uncle’s kesho-mawashi. That’s actually Akua’s spiffy new kesho-mawashi.

I believe this is the last we’ll see of these two for a while. Now they have to work hard to make promise reality.

Once again, I give you Hattorizakura. No, he still hasn’t managed to win, but the boy is showing real tenacity of late, and I’m sure that win is going to come:

This bout was nearly 2 minutes long!

Now, how long do you think Enho can hold on without breathing? His bout today was certainly an attempt to answer that question:

Talk about David and Goliath… By the way, that yobidashi who calls their names in the beginning sure has an impressive voice.

And what is happening with Torakio? Does he have the flu or what? His bout today was… somewhat disappointing:


Up we go to Makuuchi.

Abi decided to start the Makuuchi bouts with a flying henka. Attempts to pull Daiamami down, but it doesn’t work, so he works in some of his usual tsuki-oshi. Daiamami ends out flying outside for a tsuki-dashi. If you’re so strong, Abi, why do you have to henka?

Takekaze continues to slip slidin’ away. Yutakayama is lucky that the veteran is in such dire straits. He can’t seem to find his footing anymore. Too bad.

Sokokurai, on the other hand, finally shows some of the effects of experience. Keeps Ishiura‘s head away from his body. Ishiura tries to grab him by the arm. Doesn’t work. Holds Ishiura at arm’s length by his shoulders, but Ishiura manages to land his head in for his specialty torpedo… only Sokokurai grabs his mawashi from above, squats, and Ishiura finds himself on his knees.

Asanoyama manages to get a quick grip at Kagayaki. With Asanoyama being the yotsu man and Kagayaki the tsuki-oshi man, you’d think this favors Asanoyama. But Kagayaki is the one who lands a convincing uwatenage and Asanoyama finds himself on all fours and says bye-bye to the yusho race.

Now that we know that Daiamami pulls at his nose in his prebout, let’s introduce you to Ryuden‘s pre-bout routine: ragdoll on springs. He shakes and bounces. Kotoyuki starts this bout with an oshi attack, but bouncy-ball Ryuden bounces back from the tawara, gets a grip on Kotoyuki and yori-kiris him.

Daishomaru  makes short work of Nishikigi in the battle of the bottle-green mawashis, simply overpowering the Isenoumi man.

And in the bout of the wine-red mawashis, Daieisho puts an end to Chiyomaru‘s little series of wins. Comes at the eternally-round Kokonoe man from below and pushes him right out despite his tsuppari.

Takarafuji fights Shohozan for a grip – it’s really fascinating to see the battle of arms down there below their chests. The Isegahama heya-gashira (highest ranking deshi in a heya… yes… he is…) lands first a right-hand-outside, then his favorite left-hand-inside. From this point it’s all Takarafuji, in a battle of two very muscular men. We keep laughing at Takarafuji for having no neck, but the man certainly has shoulders and arms. Takarafuji: “I’m glad I broke out of my consecutive loss habit”.

Kaisei gets a firm grip on Ikioi‘s mawashi. Ikioi tries for a morozashi, but fails to get one before being pushed out. Apparently he has an ankle injury, which may serve as an explanation for his really bad form this basho.

Chiyonokuni tries every trick in the book against Okinoumi. First tsuppari, nodowa, then grabs on to Okinoumi’s arm. Tries a trip. Then finally he pulls at Okinoumi’s neck for a hatakikomi. The shimpan call a monoii, questioning whether Chiyonokuni may have pulled on Okinoumi’s mage. It looked like it from one angle – but no, the replay is very clear. Konosuke is right as usual, and Chiyonokuni got his white star fair and square.

Tochiozan doesn’t wait much time before landing Endo on the floor. Endo’s sumo is not stable.

Now, the next match was between Chiyoshoma and Arawashi. I have to say, though some pictures make them look very similar, I don’t really see why people will be confused between them. Anyway, Chiyoshoma on his fast attack, going for a hari-zashi (slap-and-grab) again,  then helps Arawashi out with his knee. Yori-kiri.

Tochinoshin got Yoshikaze today. Yoshikaze wisely not letting the Incredible Hulk anywhere near his Mawashi. So Tochinoshin just runs a tsuppari attack, which turns out to be effective and Yoshikaze finds himself out. Tochinoshin keeps himself in the chaser group.


Tochinoshin: “I just couldn’t grab the mawashi. So with my heart thumping I went for the tsuppari.”

Next we had two tadpoles meeting – Hokutofuji and Onosho. This was a push-me-pull-you bout which ended with Hokutofuji on his knees. Personally, I don’t like that sumo. Red mawashi comes on top. Hokutofuji not having the best basho of his life.

Mitakeumi, with 7-0, got intimate with the Mongolian boulder, Ichinojo, who quite quickly got a left hand outside. Mitakeumi works hard to deny Ichinojo the right hand inside on his mawashi, and tries to be patient. But patience doesn’t necessarily pay when you have 215kg leaning on you. Ichinojo can sleep riding a horse. He can also sleep leaning. Eventually Ichinojo wakes up, decides Mitakeumi is not so warm and fluffy that he should stay there much longer, and pushes the sekiwake to the edge. Mitakeumi drops to the chaser group.


Tamawashi finally looks a little more like a sekiwake, pushing Kotoshogiku quickly away. I suspect the coconut clash there at the beginning might have had something to do with it. Tamawashi has had his skull rattled rather a lot this basho, I hope this doesn’t have long lasting effects.

Goeido goes into a nirami-ai (staredown) with Chiyotairyu right when they are supposed to be matching their breaths. This backfires, and Chiyotairyu gets his first on-dohyo win in this basho, giving the Ozeki the same de-ashi (forward-moving sumo) he usually gives his opponents when he boots up in the proper mode.

Takayasu is matched with another tadpole – Takakeisho – and decides to do some tadpole sumo. Push, pull, and now it’s Takakeisho on all fours. Did I mention that I don’t like this sumo? Anyway, the big bear wins. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, he opened up with a hari-zashi (slap-and-grab). Do you want to be a yokozuna, Takayasu?

Finally, the musubi-no-ichiban. Could the new Shodai dent the invincible Kakuryu’s dragon scales? The tachiai looks pretty convincing, and Shodai begins to advance, but by his second step Kakuryu has a secure overarm grip on his mawashi, and just pulls. Pulls so hard, in fact, that Shodai finds himself flat on his face, and Kakuryu is checking to see if his elbow is still connected.


Michinoku oyakata, who served as Abema TV’s commentator for today, is asked about Kakuryu’s performance following his kyujo issues and all. He says “His sumo is much better than it was before he went kyujo”. Kakuryu hasn’t had a 8-0 opening since he won his last yusho in Kyushu 2016.


Our kakuryumeter remains the same, full to the top. The papers make much of the fact that Kakuryu secured his kachi-koshi, but we all know that this is not a Yokozuna kachi-koshi just yet, and Kakuryu himself says “I don’t care about that, there are 7 days to go”.

Yusho arasoi

8-0: Yokozuna Kakuryu.


  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M13 Daieisho

But tomorrow this chaser list will be down to no more than two, with Mitakeumi facing Tochinoshin.

33 thoughts on “Day 8 – What an exciting “nakabi”!

    • Shush! He may get the idea to go and spend all of it on ice cream. He may end up the first rikishi to win a bout by accretion.

    • I dunno, he’s looking at that iPhone really intently in those promos. Maybe he’s going to blow it all on gatcha pulls in his favorite game.

  1. The yobidashi with the impressive voice has had vocal training! He’s using his diaphragm to project his voice instead of his throat and nasal muscles. He sounds fantastic!

    Quite a bout for Enho, but I worry about his “fly off the dohyo after my opponents” finishing move. That’s bad for, at minimum, his knees. Torakio, to me, seems to be dealing with mental issues. He may be used to absolutely dominating his opponents and has to learn to accept struggling to win and losing bouts. His reaction on the dohyo after he fell says a lot about his emotions. He’s frustrated and very disappointed.

    It’s interesting to me that both Yokozuna who had their spirit and sumo questioned in the past, Haramafuji and Kakuryu, have both dominated the dohyo upon their return to honor their rank. Especially while the other Yokozuna go kujyo.

    I am more and more pleased with the new parity of competition in the upper division. It’s unfortunate that some rikishi aren’t performing well (Hokotofuji, Ikioi, etc.), but that will happen and they’ll have to assert themselves in the next basho. It’s also good to see not only the tadpoles improving their sumo and trying new tactics, but also the familiar faces who continue to learn. Tochinoshin’s performance today is a great example of that.

    • Now I hope Kakuryu doesn’t end up being involved in some crime following this basho.

      But Harumafuji didn’t exactly dominate. His last yusho was won after a rather desperate first week. He just rallied beautifully.

      • I have noticed many more wrestlers helping each other up or extending a hand at the edge to catch. I hope the horse’s sportsman spirit (hinkaku) will live on.

        • Yeah I meant to comment on this too. There’s waaay more sportsmanship outside the tawara this basho, totally unlike the sumo I was watching last year or two years ago. Like a kind of solidarity with Harumafuji, perhaps.

          • I’m not sure if it’s solidarity with Harumafuji or with Kisenosato. I think all rikishi realize now how a serious injury can end someone’s career. With popular rikishi like Ura, Aminishiki, Takayasu and Kisenosato getting hurt by a bad fall, people act on the golden rule.

        • I’ve been noting that too, and approve. As much as I enjoy Hakuko’s sumo I do *not* like the shenanigans after (the second shove, for instance) — honestly, it almost comes off as lack of ring awareness (or would if it wasn’t, you know, The Boss). Much more impressive to see a rikishi do his utmost to put his opponent on the other side of the rice bale…and then shift immediately to making sure he doesn’t keep going right off the dohyo.

      • I wonder if that effort to win pushed Ama’s crankiness levels up to the extent that he lashed like he did when he felt the younger guys were being disrespectful and not sufficiently earnest.

  2. Ryuden officially now has my least-favorite pre-fight ritual. I want to reach into the screen and quiet him down. I think it’s pushing the line in terms of fair-play, concealing when he’s going to get hands down and go.

    Huge fight tomorrow for Mitakeumi and Tochinoshin, but even then someone’s going to have to put a dent in Kakuryu for the outcome to matter. For that reason I’m hoping Mitakeumi wins, so he can face Kakuryu for a playoff-forcing battle. THAT would be some pressure!

    • His kachiage is done with the shoulder, not the forearm, and it doesn’t land in the opponent’s face. But yes, I find the harizashi to be distasteful from an ozeki, when you know that it’s considered not-yokozuna-worthy.

      But he likes to ignore conventions. It’s considered taboo to do a harizashi to a Yokozuna, but I saw him doing it to Harumafuji back in his sekiwake days. Harumafuji looked outraged but simply won in his usual fashion. If Takayasu ever makes that tsuna-tori, I’d like to see him explicitly warned off, same as Hakuho.

    • That was my impression too, and after watching the replay I am sure that I Shirakawa was robbed of at least a monoii and rematch, if not downright victory.

      • Remember that the shimpan see the dohyo at eye-level, unlike us, who see it from a high angle. We wouldn’t be able to tell if there was a space between the knee and the clay or not, but they would see whether light is blocked or not.

        • As I said – I was sure after I saw the slow motion replay with the exact right angle. The shimpan doesn´t have this luxury (as it is with referees in nearly all kinds of sports), but usually the guys sitting around the dohyo are pretty good at catching something like that.

          • Actually, the Shimpan do have access to instant reply. Sumo has been the first sport to introduce that. There is an extra man in the video room.

            Can you give a link to the replay video taken from dohyo level?

          • Actually 2:09. Not only the knee looks down, but if you then rewind and look at this upper thigh muscles, you can see the reaction up the leg, all before Ishiura touches.

  3. I noticed that Makushita yobidashi a few years ago when I sat through a lot of the lower division matches. He’s going to be a real treat in 5-10 years or whenever he finally makes it to the top. I wish they would hire more yobidashi on the basis of their vocal prowess, seeing as the calling of the rikishi’s names before their bout is theoretically the main duty of a yobidashi (see the verb the name is based on: ). But they probably take whoever they can get.

    • Contrary to what the name suggests, however, the yobidashi’s duties consist mainly of menial work. Fetch water, fill salt baskets, fetch zabuton, supply towels, and then, of course, there is the building of the dohyo. So if they choose them at all, they probably choose them for endurance and ability to do hard work.

  4. Despite a rough Act One, my boy Ichinojo has become a force of nature!! He’s now collected scalps from a Yokozuna, an Ozeki, and both Sekiwake. Look out Komusubi’s, there’s a boulder rolling your way!

    • Totally. Finally a basho in which both men for whom I root are doing well.

      (Kakuryu and Ichinojo, that is).

  5. Hattorizakura’s win is coming. I will not be at the stadium, but I have taken one of the cushions off my couch and fully intend to chuck it in the air when he wins. The only individual in danger will be my cat Bob, but he’s a huge Takakeisho fan and is therefore already in a sulky mood.


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