Day 14 – Yusho, packed and delivered

We have ourselves a yusho winner. The first from Georgia. The first Maegashira to win the title since Kyokutenho in in Natsu 2012. The first Kasugano yusho winner in 46 years (Tochiazuma Tomoyori, Hatsu 1972 – also Maegashira at the time). No wonder the Kasugano support club wanted to see a fish and to see it now:

I lifted Mitakeumi, I almost lifted Ichinojo. What’s this puny fish to me?

Down at Jonokuchi, I’m glad to inform you that Yoshoyama managed to scrape his kachi-koshi today, facing the hapless Osumifuji.

Now I hope someone at Tokitsukaze – preferably not Shodai – will use the time until Haru to teach the kid how to do a tachiai properly. Osumifuji joins the droves of make-koshi rikishi from Isegahama.

Yoshoyama. Now you’ll be able to pick him up in a lineup.

37 year old Hokutogo from Hakkaku beya says goodbye to the sumo world after 22 years. Never made it higher than Makushita 54.

His heya mates brought him flowers to the hana-michi.

In Makushita, Wakamotoharu lost his final bout and is make-koshi. No video at this time.

Up in Juryo, Meisei goes against Takagenji:

Takagenji still doesn’t have kachi-koshi. Both he and Meisei will need a win tomorrow. Takagenji will face the strong Hidenoumi who wants the Yusho.

On to the top division we go:

Sokokurai and Daiamami engage in a lengthy hidari-yotsu, with Sokokurai burying his head in Daiamami’s chest. Eventually Sokokurai tries a throw, but it doesn’t quite work and Daiamami uses it to yori-kiri him.

Kotoyuki and Daieisho go on a tsuppari battle, that ends up with Kotoyuki spread across the dohyo. Hikiotoshi. Kotoyuki’s last chance of a kachi-koshi is tomorrow.

Yutakayama pushes Daishomaru mightily to the edge. Daishomaru tries a side step. Yutakayama slams to the ground – but Daishomaru is also out. Gunbai says Yutakayama, a monoii is called – but Daishomaru’s foot was out first, and it is indeed Yutakayama’s win – and kachi-koshi.

Aminishiki tries to be as genki as he can and bumps into Nishikigi. Gives a harite and tries to get a mawashi grip. This doesn’t quite work, and Nishikigi drives him to the edge. Then hovers around with a worried face to see that he didn’t damage the old man. On the Isegahama web site, Aminishiki writes “Tomorrow is the last match, so I want to win”. Somehow it sounds to me that he means that it’s the ultimate last match. He may not want to go down to Juryo again.

And… Ishiura does a henka against Chiyomaru. Ishiura kachi-koshi. So we’ll see more of his henka in Haru. Sigh.

Ryuden takes on Kaisei and gets in a quick morozashi. Kaisei has the weight advantage and good mobility on his side, and he shifts and turns and gets one of Ryuden’s hands out. Then tries to pull an uwatenage, but he ends up on the floor first, and it’s declared Ryuden’s shitatenage. Ryuden hits the double digits on his debut – which is impressive because he was never a double digits man.

Chiyoshoma gets a fast hold on Asanoyama and they go on a raging battle, but Chiyoshoma loses his hold, and once Asanoyama has his grip, he pushes the Mongolian out with a defiant head nod. Chiyoshoma make-koshi, Asanoyama kachi-koshi again. It’s funny to hear people in the crowd cheering for him using his real name (Ishibashi).

The Ghost of Terunofuji vs. Ikioi. Move along. Nothing to see here. It’s a yoritaoshi despite Ikioi both hurting and trying to be gentle. Terunofuji says that he wants to win at least tomorrow’s bout. Fat chance.

Takekaze comes in strong at the tachiai and gets his left hand inside… but that’s about all he can manage. Okinoumi brushes him out as if he was a fly.

Kagayaki starts an oshi battle vs. Endo, but after a couple of clashes, falls pray to slippiotoshi, Endo swiftly moving aside to let him “split the dohyo” as the Japanese expression goes.

The camera has been following Tochinoshin through the previous two bouts. A few obligatory shots of Shohozan as well, but he is not the story here. When those two finally get at it, you can cut the tension with a knife. Shohozan starts a tsuppari barrage which Tochinoshin can only fend off. This goes on for some time, then Shohozan tries to sidestep. This nearly gets Tochinoshin, and the spectators let out a big “whoa”. But he quickly turns around, and when he does, he also gets a good grip on Shohozan, and from there it’s a couple of yori followed by a yori-kiri. The man from Georgia gets his first yusho. The crowd bursts into applause. It’s party time… but there are still bouts to go.

Yoshikaze and Chiyotairyu are apparently graduates of the same university. So they are sempai and kohai. But Chiyotairyu doesn’t give Yoshikaze any precedence, and quickly pulls at him for a hatakikomi. Yoshikaze looked for a moment like he was going for an outstanding performance prize, but that moment passed several bouts ago.

In yet another battle of opposite ends, Abi draws former Ozeki Kotoshogiku in a battle of the up-and-coming vs. the down-and-going. However, Kotoshogiku is not going anywhere without a fight. Abi tries to pull Kotoshogiku down quickly, but Kotoshogiku not falling for that. Abi then sticks his head in Kotoshogiku’s chest and grabs at his armpits. But a yori battle will favor the Chrisanthemum. Abi’s pelvis is about the height of Kotoshogiku’s chest, so Kotoshogiku refrains from pumping his hips, but he does know how to push, and yori-kiris Abi right out. In Yiddish we call this “rebe-gelt” – “tuition”, what you pay when you learn a lesson.

Chiyonokuni doesn’t give Hokutofuji even two seconds before slapping him down. Hatakikomi, and the Kokonoe man slowly reduces the damage of his make-koshi, while Hokutofuji is 4-10 and will drop way down the banzuke at Haru.

Now, I hate it when the torikumi guys pit two guys I like against each other, but oh well, I can always be happy for the winner. This time Takarafuji was trying to get his kachi-koshi from Ichinojo. And Ichinojo is not in the business of letting his rivals win this basho. If they want to, they have to work for it. Ichinojo unbelievably tries for a nodowa on his left and momentarily allows Takarafuji to get his hand in on his right. Nodowa? The boulder quickly realizes his mistake, abandons the nonexistent throat, and changes his grip on the right. Now it’s migi-yotsu, which favors Ichinojo. But there is no extended leaning battle this time, as Ichinojo grabs Takarafuji’s mawashi tightly and throws him outside for a shitatedashinage, no ifs, ands and buts.

Today it was the old Shodai vs. the old Takakeisho. Shodai stands up at the tachiai. Doesn’t get anything done. Takakeisho bumps him a couple of time. No kachi-koshi for Shodai as yet.

In the match of the Eagles, Arawashi with his bad knees gets a better tachiai. I would even call this one a matta. But Tamawashi regroups and goes into a tsuppari attack. Arawashi sidesteps, and Tamawashi flies over the edge. Arawashi still has a chance for a kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Goeido avoids kadoban and gets Mitakeumi all the way to the tawara in a blink of an eye. Correct bootup today, apparently.

Musubi no ichiban. Takayasu  drives hard and gets Kakuryu to the edge. But Kakuryu is looking better today, circles and regroups. Tries to get a grip on Takayasu, but Takayasu turns him around. The Yokozuna quickly turns right back and lunges at Takayasu. And then…. he… pulls… again…. Oshidashi, yet another loss for the Yokozuna. And Takayasu has the jun-yusho (though theoretically he can lose tomorrow and Ryuden or Kakuryu win).


So the yusho goes to Tochinoshin. Both the Georgian prime minister and president tweet their congratulations.

Tochinoshin's family in Georgia
Tochinoshin’s family watching his bout back in Georgia

The jun-yusho, with high probability, goes to Takayasu. My assumption is that he will do his best to win tomorrow, to make it a decent 12-3 jun-yusho, which may allow him to lay claim to a rope should he win the yusho in Haru. One of my twitter followers says that not having been in the yusho picture, this wouldn’t count for Takayasu, but I think that if he does happen to win Haru, given that he has the all-important Japanese birth certificate, the NSK and the YDC may avoid nitpicking.

What’s left tomorrow is to see if the Yokozuna can pull at least the win from Goeido. To see who gets the various sansho (Abi still has a shot, Ryuden certainly has, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ichinojo gets one). And then we will get to see Tochinoshin lifting cup after cup, and being driven around in the NSK’s spiffy new Mercedes-Benz.


20 thoughts on “Day 14 – Yusho, packed and delivered

  1. This has been quite a basho and we’re not done yet! I’m hoping that Kakuryu beats Goeido, but if Goeido brings his 2.0 sumo, then I don’t think Kakuryu will win. That will definitely be unfortunate.

    I don’t know if the YDC will promote Takayasu after a zen yusho/yusho win because he hasn’t been as consistent as Kisenosato was and they know that the Yokozuna are under a microscope in public due to Hakuho’s recent behavior and the Haramafuji scandal. I think they’ll want a Yokozuna candidate with a solid resume who either wins two yusho in a row or proves themseves very consistent over multiple tournaments that finishes off with a solid yusho win. Kakuryu and Kisenosato (and Haramafuji, honestly) have not met expectations with their basho results and, in my opinion, that’s one of the reasons why the YDC is so critical of the Yokozuna these days. They’d be shooting themselves in the foot by promoting a candidate with a “weak” performance resume.

    • Note that the issues with both Harumafuji and Hakuho are not about their ability to win but about their off and on dohyo behavior. I’m sure the YDC will question the NSK thoroughly about any drinking incidents or disrespectful behavior. But Takayasu is not known for any such problems at the moment any more than his stablemate the Yokozuna.

      What he may be frowned on for is his harizashi and having some of his kachiage too tough. But remember that Hakuho was criticized for those by the public, and the public may not be that critical towards the Teddy Bear from Tagonoura.

      Anyway, I don’t believe scrutinizing Yokozuna for their wrestling strength is going to prevent further scandals.

    • The Yokozuna question is an excellent one. Truth be told, I don’t think Takayasu is ready yet, and part of it is outside his control. It’s fair to critizie the records of the other Yokozuna, but I always reflect on the fact that many of us have followed sumo during the Hakuho and Asashōryū era. They have been so dominant that our perception of what a “good” record is is now quite skewed.

      I see 2018 as a transitional year, with a lot of the old guard taking their final bow and clearing out the ranks for what now appears to be at least two waves of talented, strong newcomers. I think Takayasu needs to improve quite a bit before he can be seriously considered for another promotion. Frankly, I think his Sekiwake rank sumo was superior in some ways to the sumo he brought to the Hatsu dohyo. How much of this is him “trying something new” and how much of it is an outcome from his thigh muscle tear is hard to tell right now.

      I am happy that he may secure the jun-yusho this time around. It’s a great achievment that will likely motivate him to higher levels of performance.

      • I think he’s still trying to figure out how to maintain high level sumo for a fortnight. My book on him last year was that he always faded down the stretch. Notably, and most auspiciously for him, this basho was different. He may be figuring out the trick (which Mitakeumi clearly needs to learn also!).

        They need Hakuho to retire so they can ask him what the secret is!

      • Very simple: if he manages to secure a Yusho, with Hakuho back, and Ichinojo and Tochinoshin in the joi, then he may well be ready. If he can’t do the whole 15 days with stability, he can’t win a Yusho, and his next chance will be when he can.

        • I think there’s zero chance of Yokozuna Takayasu regardless of how he does in Osaka. They might have considered it on “equivalent performance” if he lost in a playoff, but as it is his Ozeki resume is way too thin.

  2. I’m convinced that Kakuryu is pulling because he can neither resist nor exert forward pressure due to some injury. He puts a nodowa on Takayasu and then pulls instead of improving his position? Makes no sense unless he’s constrained in his tactical choices.

    • I agree, he’s not going for any of the really successful yotsu zumo he used in the first 10 days, he looks like he’s trying to find other ways to win that wouldn’t be his preferred approach if he didn’t have some injury. I hope he doesn’t retire

      • I think he will retire soon. It’s likely obvious to him that his body will no longer allow Yokozuna level sumo for 15 days, even with considerable rest and recovery time prior. In addition, both the YDC and NSK seem to be in a mood to clean out the ranks and give a new crop their time to shine.

  3. I think Kakuryu’s pull there wasn’t so awful as his previous matches. He just wasn’t getting anywhere with pushing–I think he’s gassed from ring rust.

  4. Ichinojo you mad man! You can’t nodawa someone without a neck!! But what an authoritative throw! The big man in blue has strength, skill, and most importantly, patience. Look out world, there’s a new Kaiju on the prowl!

    I’ve been very pleased with the progress Shodai and Kagayaki have shown this basho, I really hope they don’t revert to their old ways come March.

    Asanoyama finally gets his kachi koshi! I really hope this helps mend his bruised confidence, he has all the skills to be a real star, but he needs to get out of his head first. Poor Chiyoshoma got thrown to the hungry young guns all looking for their kachi koshi, and as a result he’ll leave Haru without his.

    • I liked how Ichinojo was very fierce which that throw, but than went to his corner and looked with some worry at Takarafuji, even taking a step or two back to see if everything was ok with his victim…

  5. That’s a snazzy pic of Yoshoyama. Thanks to Tachiai, I can be a proper witness to any sumo-related car accidents or street clothing wearing in the future.

    Looking forward to some of the lower tier yusho arasoi being resolved today. I think both Kaisho and Kaiho have this in the bag. And maybe could stand to borrow a syllable or two from WTTK.

    • The match I’m waiting for today is Terutsuyoshi vs Takayoshitoshi (talk about syllables…). That promises to contain fire and brimstones. 😀

  6. The sansho race could be interesting, and with so many 7-7 records going into the final day we may get some of those- “gets prize if he wins” targets. Ryuden looks a certainty to get a “fighting spirit” and Abi may get one too. Abi has also had a great range of kimarite and may be in the frame for “technique”. Ishiura has had a wide variety of kimarite, but I don’t think many people approve of the way he fights. Endo should get an “outstanding performance”. Ichinojo should get one or both the “technique” and “outstanding performance”. Finally,don’t forget that Tochinoshin is sansho-eligible and could easily pick up a bit of extra gravy.

    Probably all wrong, given my hilariously bad record at predictions, but there you go.

  7. Could anyone please explain what’s with the fish hold? 🙂 I think I saw Takayasu with it, during his Ozeki promotion, now Tochinoshin gets one for winning yusho? That’s a sign of respect?

    • It’s not the holding of the fish as much as the fish itself that’s important. It’s a red sea bream, “madai” or “true tai” (“tai” in Japanese = sea bream). The red color is a symbol of celebration. And they say that the fish is “medetai” (celebratory) – a play on words with the name “tai”.

      So it’s used in all sorts of festive occasions from weddings to Shinto festivals. And thus, also in yusho or promotion celebrations. Lifting it is just a standard photo-op, I believe.