Haru Day 8 Preview


Please note – all articles written by Bruce H, IE Bruce Henderson formerly of San Diego, are in fact his opinion alone, and represent only his twisted outlook on the world of sumo. The very young, the very old and the easily outraged may find challenges ahead. [Occasionally there are comments from the proofreader, too. Those are objective fact. –PinkMawashi]

Day 7 was brutal for the chase group, with four contenders picking up losses and being demoted to the hunt group. While at the moment it looks like the zero loss crew can run away with it, keep in mind that the scheduling team is just starting to work their voodoo on the torikumi. The front-runners still face many challenges, and we may yet see both Kaisei and Kakuryu taste clay before we hit day 10.

As mentioned in the day 7 highlights, I am looking for Oitekaze-beya to get a strong showing in the post-basho power rankings. All of the Dai* crew are fighting well, and looking like they are moving towards a lift in basic rank, based on the steady improvements of their sumo. It will be interesting to watch them compete against the likes of Takakeisho and Onosho for lead tadpole.

I will say it again, I am damn impressed with Ikioi this basho. The last few tournaments, he seemed to be really struggling physically, but he put in his days on the dohyo with focus and workmanlike determination. This time (possibly due to his lower rank), he is finding ways to win. I am glad he is not yet ready for the downdraft into Juryo, but at his age his injuries may be slowly overtaking him.

Then there is the depressing case of Yoshikaze. Injuries are not widely publicized in sumo, even less so for rank and file rikishi, but there is no way that a warrior like Yoshikaze goes passive like this. The good news is that he can retire at any time, he has a kabu, he has a huge following, he has a passion for youth sumo, and as long as he has his health, he is going to be a big deal in the sumo world.

It would be remiss of me to go without stating that Kaisei also remains unbeaten at the start of the second week. He has done remarkably well, and I salute his effort and his skill. He has been hit or miss in the past, but this is great to see.

Haru Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Kaisei
Chasers: Daishomaru, Daiamami
Hunt Group: Takayasu, Goeido, Mitakeumi, Tochinoshin, Ichinojo, Shohozan, Chiyonokuni, Okinoumi, Ikioi, Aoiyama

7 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Ikioi vs Kyokutaisei – Kyokutaisei comes up from Juryo for the day and draws the injured but fierce Ikioi. I predict an Ikioi win, and then he’s 2 away from his kachi-koshi, and likely kyujo.

Daiamami vs Nishikigi – Team Oitekaze starts early on day 8, and the rikishi who never gives up is going to take on a member of the chase group. I predict a Daiamami win, with some good form. This is in spite of the fact that he has never taken a match from Nishikigi (0-3).

Daishomaru vs Aoiyama – Back to back bouts for team Oitekaze, this time the fierce Daishomaru goes up against the man-mountain Aoiyama. Aoiyama has won both of their prior matches, and this may be a tall order for Daishomaru. But a win against the Bulgarian would likely result in a tough match further up the banzuke for Monday. [The Monday torikumi will be set before Aoiyama’s match, so if the torikumi committee decide to start giving him tougher opposition, they’ll have to wait until Tuesday. –PinkMawashi, with thanks to Sakura]

Sokokurai vs Asanoyama – The Freshmen are having a painful basho, and that’s part of them settling into Makuuchi. Asanoyama has a 4-3 winning record, and he has never lost a match to Sokokurai, so I am hoping his sunny outlook will carry the day on Sunday.

Kagayaki vs Yutakayama – An all Freshman battle, Yutakayama has won their only prior match, but I think there is a slight advantage to Kagayaki for today’s match. Kagayaki is slowly improving, and I think his sumo is stronger than Yutakayama’s right now.

Tochiozan vs Daieisho – The highest ranked rikishi for Team Oitekaze takes on veteran Tochiozan. Tochiozan has been a half-step slow this basho, but his form is still very good. I think this comes down to Daieisho being about 2x as genki as Tochiozan, so advantage to Daieisho.

Abi vs Chiyonokuni – Massive ultra-mega oshi-battle here, and folks take note! Both of these young men could work a speed bag like a hungry man taking down the buffet at the Tropicana so this will be one for the slow-motion cameras. Abi will get too far forward, and Chiyonokuni’s tendency to go for haymakers will be the perils. I give an advantage to Chiyonokuni in this first-time match up.

Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – I don’t even want to know. I am tempted to get on a plane and just hand Yoshikaze a bottle of scotch as some shallow form of comfort.

Kaisei vs Okinoumi – Their history shows this to be an even match up, but I am going to guess Kaisei has the advantage going into this. The thing about Okinoumi is that he has the experience and skill to dismantle Kaisei, but will the Brazilian give him an opening?

Ryuden vs Hokutofuji – Ryuden is getting his “welcome to mid-Maegashira” beating, while Hokutofuji is having a bad basho in a string of bad basho. The frustration for both men is palpable, and there may be some extreme effort as a result. This is their first meeting, but I am giving a slight edge to Hokutofuji because he looks a bit like Kaio.

Chiyomaru vs Takarafuji – The best 0-7 rikishi in the basho goes against the spherical man from Kokonoe. Given their upper bodies, there should be few if any neck attacks deployed today. Chiyomaru has yet to win one from Takarafuji, so maybe Takarafuji gets his first white star today. I promise to drink a generous shot of whisky if he does!

Shodai vs Tamawashi – I know Shodai is feeling genki now after his last two matches. But Tamawashi practices his sumo by driving nails into planks by hitting them with his thumb. The man has so much pectoral strength that he shoved Ichinojo around with ease. So I am guessing Shodai goes high at the tachiai, and Tamawashi helps to keep him moving up, up and away.

Ichinojo vs Arawashi – Arawashi can’t buy a win. Ichinojo needs to regroup. Someone get him some ice cream before its too late!

Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Sumo Elvis takes on the man in gold. Endo also needs to re-group, and this might be his time to get his sumo back together. One thing is clear now on day 8, Chiyotairyu’s might was all in his sideburns. He’s been soft and ineffective without them.

Mitakeumi vs Tochinoshin – Highlight bout #1. Anyone who tells you how this is going to end is guessing. I predict it’s going to be fast and brutal. Both are 5-2, and both want to stay in contention with the leaders. Loser goes to the back of the bus.

Takayasu vs Takakeisho – I know Takayasu triumphed in a protracted battle with Shohozan on day 7, but let’s be clear here. Pooh-bear tried three times to set the tempo of the match, and each time he had to follow Shohozan’s lead. His sumo was chaotic but powerful. Now he faces the man who I am pretty sure beat Kakuryu on day 7. This could be a great battle, as Takayasu is going to try to overpower Takakeisho, and Takakeisho’s proportions make him sumo’s greatest weeble. Dear Takayasu, make sure you have a really good plan B and don’t get too far forward or you are going down.

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – Long and storied history between these two. They have turned in some great matches in the past. It’s not a given that the Ozeki is going to win this one, as Kotoshogiku may find a way to wrap up Goeido and drive him out. Slight advantage to Goeido, as he seems to be fighting well this tournament, and he wants to stay in contention for the cup.

Kakuryu vs Shohozan – Just to be clear, even though Shohozan wants to stay in the hunt group, this match is a challenge for Kakuryu. Shohozan is big, fast and incredibly aggressive. Kakuryu tends to face these matches with a defensive strategy, buying time until his opponent makes a mistake, and then he attacks. But Shohozan is so amped up this basho, Kakuryu may need to be brutal, fast and direct to prevent Shohozan from setting the pace and tone of the match like he did to Takayasu.

18 thoughts on “Haru Day 8 Preview

  1. Ikioi leads all all Makuuchi rikishi with an active consecutive match streak of 480 bouts. I don’t think he’s going kyujo unless they have to carry him out.

  2. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow! I’m having my father over to watch the full sumo broadcast for the very first time and I can’t wait to indoctrinate him into this crazy world of sumo we all know and love.

    Also, my computer has been repaired, and I’m eager to start posting here again!

  3. For my angry comment in another topic, I felt that I need to redeem myself and I tried to personally translate, as much as my poor English knowledge allows me, an interview with Aoiyama in may 2015 in his small hometown back in Bulgaria. A town, 20 minutes driving from my own hometown. Many things have changed, of course, he was asked if he considers marriage, where he is almost convinced that this does not seem to happen anytime soon. It turns out that he meets his wife shortly after this interview happens. There might be something new that you can learn.

    2015 interview with Aoiyama in his hometown

    R (Reporter) A (Aoiyama)

    R: Hello, Mr. Ivanov, welcome back home!
    A: Good to be back.
    R: How do they call you in Japan? By given name (Daniel), Aoiyama or …?
    A: Aoiyama.
    R: Aoiyama, even the common people in the society (not associated with Sumo)?
    A: Yes, they call me with my Japanese name.
    R: Let us remind our viewers, how did you end up in Japan, you actually started with wrestling, what happened that you ended up doing sumo?
    A: I started doing wrestling while I was 11 years old, I started in Elhovo (his hometown), I trained for year and half and at the age of 13
    I joined Sport Club CSKA. There, I continued wrestling for 6 years. During that time, in 2004, I took part in one Sumo World Championship for Juniors.
    It was then when I got very interested in sumo. After this Junior World Championship, I wanted to join the Sumo team, but there were too many people
    and I continued doing wrestling, because I still wanted to do wrestling too. This continued to the year of 2006, when I enrolled the National Sport Academy’s
    sumo program. There I started preparing myself for World and European Championships. And so on, I think it was in 2007 when Kaloyan Mahlyanov (Kotooshu) came
    back in Bulgaria and people told me to meet him. He liked me as a wrestler.
    R: So it was him (Kotooshu) who gave you a hand to enter sumo?
    A: Yes, it was him and my sumo trainer back then in the National Sport Academy. We talked with him (Kotooshu), he told me “You can come and see what it’s like,
    and try.”. At first I was scared because you go to such a different country, you don’t know what it’s like, and I know it has been hard for him too, far away from
    relatves, from everything. But time passed and in the year of 2009, I decided to go to Japan, it was April I think. And until now, 6 years and half, I am there.
    R: Do you remember your first bout there?
    A: Yes, I do remember.
    R: What did you feel – fear, confidence …?
    A: I was very determined to win. My first bout was with a Mongolian and I won. In my very first tournament, I had to do 3 bouts and I won them all. After that
    they put us in the lowest divisions. After that the amount of wins we have it determines how fast we rank up. I did it for 11 tournaments; a year and 10 monhts.
    R: You were among the Rikishi who climbed up very fast in the ranks.
    A: Yes, they told me I am the seventh fastest person to reach Komusubi from the beginning. This took me 18 tournaments. Kaloyan Mahlyanov (Kotooshu) reached Ozeki
    for 18 tournaments, the second highest rank in sumo.
    R: Which is the highest rank you ever reached?
    A: The highest rank I reached was Sekiwake, the 3rd rank. It was 3 tournaments ago while I was still Sekiwake, I think. And because a small injury,
    my rank dropped. But this last tournament now in May, I have 9 wins and 6 losses, so I will be in “okay” position. I hope to have more wins in the next tournament too.
    R: What was the price for you to reach all this? Determination, confidence, working hard?
    A: Yes, certainly. I had to forget about many things. This is how it is – you join a school (heya) and they tell you “From now on, you will be here.”. So I started living
    with these people, I do not speak Japanese, I do not know how people live there, I do not know how life goes on – what people eat, how do they train. And we start learning,
    like a young child.
    R: The regime was very strict in the beginning?
    A: It still is, but we get used.
    R: But as you get a higher rank, you have more privileges?
    A: Yes, you do not get to do some things anymore: no more cleaning, cooking, laundry. They clean, cook and do my loundry now.
    R: How many helpers do you have now?
    A: Four.
    R: Every person does something specific, or they do it all together?
    A: Usually, they have to do specific things, but whoever among the helpers have a higher rank he “supervizes” them.
    R: What do they help you with besides making your haircut?
    A: About the haircut, we have a special hairdresser. We have 3 in our school (heya). 3 for 30 people. One haircut takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
    R: What is different in the haircuts?
    A: Well, the first haircut, which is an “everyday haircut” which they do after training is called “Chonmage”. The other one is called “Oicho”.
    Oicho symbolizes the Sun, they make it look like the Sun. This one takes about 40 minutes to make. And this is for every bout. One bout takes about 5 seconds.
    R: It takes more time to have a haircut than a bout?
    A: Yes.
    R: Which was your longest bout?
    A: My longest bout was with one Brazilian, his name is Kaisei. It took about 2 minutes.
    R: This is a lot in sumo!
    A: Yes, a lot. It was very exciting and I won. Luckily!
    R: And the shortest? 5 seconds?
    A: The shortest was 2 seconds, I think. We hit eachother in the beginning and I pushed him out.
    R: Do you have a favourite technique in sumo?
    A: Well, when you look up my profile, it says which techniques I use the most. The first one is called Oshidashi, with both hands you push the opponent out of the dohyo.
    R: Tell us something interestin about the Japanese culture, what impressed you the most there?
    A: What impressed me the most … they are very compact. Everything is under clock. When something has to happen, it happens in the exact time, everything is under control.
    There is nothing that can go wrong. That is how they do it. Everything, the lifestyle, the food, the training, everything is in specific hour.
    R: Not just the people who do sports?
    A: No! Everything is like this.
    R: Did you get used with their food?
    A: Yes, I got used with the food. The lifestyle – so-so. While I was still in the school (heya) it was not comfortable because I had to live with 25 other men, mostly in one room.
    But since 6 months, I live alone, in a rent. Whenever I have to train – I go there, when I’m done – I go back home.
    R: What do you tell to your teammates about Bulgaria?
    A: Only good things. I am telling them how beautiful Bulgaria is. Now there are many Japanese who come here for tourism. When I go out (in Japan),
    I meet people who are telling me “I was in Bulgaria!”. So I ask them, “Did you like it?” and they all say “Yes!”. “Delicious food, beautiful nature, very welcoming people!”, that is
    what they tell me. We Bulgarian people are welcoming indeed, while the Japanese … not that much.
    R: They are colder.
    A: Not just colder, a lot colder in this regard.
    R: Let us go back to the competition again. What is to happen next?
    A: This year, we still have 3 tournaments remaining. My next tournament starts in July 12, in the city of Nagoya. September – in Tokyo and the last tournament for the year,
    in November in Fukuoka.
    R: How long does one tournament last?
    A: 15 days.
    R: What do you need to achieve in order to rank up?
    A: Out of 15 bouts, you need to win atleast 8, a positive result. More wins, more ranking up. More the losses, the more you go down.
    R: The best Rikishi in Japan, Hakuho. You have met him several times.
    A: Yes. This is one of my dreams that I want to achieve and I will give my best to do it till the end of the year.
    R: You will meet him in the next tournament?
    A: Yes, we will have a bout next tournament, hopefully if we are healthy.
    R: Tell us about Kotooshu, about your friendship. He is not an active rikishi anymore, only trainer.
    A: Yes, he is co-trainer in his old school (heya) where he was as a competitor. He teaches the younglings to do better in sumo, and not only.
    He teaches them to be better people.
    R: Can you change your school (heya)?
    A: No. You start in one and you finish there. However, there are small exceptions like in my case. My first heya’s trainer (oyakata) passed away and the heya was abandoned. When this happens,
    the trainer’s wife decides which heya will all rikishi enter now. So it happened, I got transferred to the heya I am rigt now.
    R: Only in such cases a tranfer can happen?
    A: Yes, only in such cases. Or if the trainer retires and the heya is abandoned if there is no other trainer who can continue taking care to the heya.
    R: Do you still meet Kaloyan (Kotooshu)?
    A: Yes! Now we meet a lot more, he has a bit more free time, I am not living in the heya. I have more time for myself, for friends.
    R: How do you like to spend your free time, after the tournaments?
    A: Usually we train all the time. After every tournament, (and they are 6 in total, every 2 months) we have one week vacation. What can you do for one week …
    You meet friends, you try to take a small break from sumo, from work. To refresh, like now I am in Bulgaria. For one week. It is small amount of time,
    but I hope this will refresh me and give me some strength so I can perform better in the next tournament.
    R: You met some young wrestlers here in our school. The same school where you started with wrestling. What did you tell them, what is importaint in sport?
    A: Well, they are still young. They still take it as a game, I was just the same. One thing that improves the person is the will. The will to succeed.
    Everyone can say “I can’t do this.” and it is all over. When you can’t you have to start looking for a way to do it. This, by the way, I learned in Japan.
    When you can’t do it, start thinking for a way that will make it work. You should not be saying “I can’t do this”. This is the easiest escape. What is hard
    is to succeed.
    R: What are your plans for far in the future, do you want to become a trainer?
    A: Right now I am considering this, I was proposed to do it. Usually, few years before retirement a rikishi is asked if he wants to do it, to remain as a coach.
    They ask if I intend to do something else, if I intend to go back to my home country … But to become a trainer (oyakata), I have to renounce
    my Bulgarian Citizenship. I must become Japanese. This is why I am still considering it. I don’t know what will happen … It’s a hard question.
    R: How many years usually a rikishi competes?
    A: Well, here is the thing, most people ask this question but the real answer is – untill one feels fit. There is no age limitation. The more one can compete …
    I want to compete for many more years, God willing.
    R: You feel fit?
    A: Yes. I feel good.
    R: You still have many peaks to conquer?
    A: Yes, exactly. There is still more steps in the ladder.
    R: Do you do anything before a bout, like a ritual?
    A: Usually, whenever I win, for example, I remember what food I ate and the next day I eat the same food. If I win again, same thing – I eat the same food.
    I do not really do it on purpose, this is just how my brain wants me to think – “If you do not eat this again you will lose!”. Or calling my parents –
    I call my parents and I win. If I do not call my parents – I lose. Something like this.
    R: You have to call them every time!
    A: Yes, I have to!
    R: Now here in Bulgaria, as a christian, do you believe in God, is there any force that helps you?
    A: Yes, I do usually pray for the most important – not to have injuries, the tournament to end up with good result and I pray for good health for my parents.
    If everyone is feeling well, doing well, this gives me strength.
    R: How about your personal life, have you considered marriage, children …
    A: Hm … they ask me all the time, but … I think I haven’t met the right person yet. One to stand beside me. I don’t know … When the right time comes.
    R: How do you say in Japanese “Thank you for this interview.”?
    A: Kono interviu wa arigato gozaimasu.
    R: I will not be able to repeat it! Thank you, in Bulgarian!
    A: Thank you too!
    R: We hope you will keep up representing Bulgaria in the sumo!
    A: Thank you, certainly!

    • Thanks for posting this. It’s a change from the interviews we usually see on NHK which consist of “I am happy to win… I will continue to try my best”. By the way, the Mongolian he remembers from his first basho went on to be Chiyoshoma.

    • Oh, wow. Thank you so much! I honestly think this deserves a post of its own; do you mind if I put it in one?

      • Hey Pink – it’s in the draft section right now waiting for Rediculous to say ok. Sorry if I duplicated your effort.

    • I would like to post this to the front page of the blog, are you ok with that? And thank you for this, it’s a great look at a rikishi who I think is going places.

      • Thank you for the kind comments.
        Yes, please, post it wherever you want.
        This is a link to the original interview, but since adding subtitles is disabled I had to do it the other way.

        Sadly, very little is written about him while he has always been a good competitor. Maybe his first loss this basho had its psychological effect, but it is not too late for him to end up with good result.

  4. They set the torikumi for the following day before the current day’s action has begun (except Day 15). That means is Aoiyama does well it’ll be reflected on Tuesday’s torikumi, not Monday’s. Endo is the top-ranked Oitekaze rikishi, not Daieisho.

  5. Re: Ikioi, I totally agree. One thing that was abundantly clear to me today in the arena was that the home crowd is massively pushing him on, and it’s possible that his gamberizing is in no small part due to his desire to succeed (especially from a low rank where he is well placed even if injured) in front of them.


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