Nagoya Day 12 Highlights

Takayasu Day 12b

For those of you worried about spoilers, you can stop reading now until you have had a chance to watch your time-delayed broadcasts. This commentary will still be here later.

For fans who are outranged about today’s final match, I have some words to perhaps help explain. Mitakeumi is still the leader, and is still likely to take the yusho. He’s clearly on an Ozeki campaign now, and he is showing his best sumo ever. He lost nothing today, and possibly gained much. Its possible that on this day, when there was a chance for the shimpan to make a call, they chose to think about things in a broader strategic context. I do not agree with the way they decided this, but then again I am not a sumo elder, or a member of the NSK, or anything more than a sumo fan typing away on a blog.

Let’s look at the possible outcomes.

  1. Call the match for Mitakeumi – Well, it looks like Takayasu’s big toe touched the sand before Mitakeumi’s foot landed out. So, close enough. Mitakeumi goes to 12-0, and everyone else had 9 wins. The only way that the yusho might be contested in the last weekend is if Mitakeumi loses his last 3 matches.
  2. Call the match for Takayasu – Ok, Takayasu goes kachi-koshi, and clears kadoban. One of the few remaining kanban rikishi is protected and whatever injuries that are plaguing him have more time to heal before he feels the need to defend his rank. Mitakeumi exits the day still 2 wins ahead of everyone else, just the way it started, and there is a tiny tiny chance that someone with experience (Goeido) might be able to contest for the yusho. That goes double as Mitakeumi faces Goeido in day 13’s final match. This is good for competition, the fans, TV ratings and the sport. If NHK’s ratings follow similar ratios to Tachiai’s web traffic, the lack of kanban rikishi in this tournament have dropped viewership.
  3. Call for a torinaoshi / rematch – The last thing you want to do is have an already injured Takayasu possibly compounding his problems in a second bout against your rising star. Given what we could see on the replays, this looked like the right thing to do for the match, but I am going to guess the Shimpan took option 2 as the best thing to do for sumo.

Day 12 Matches

Takanoiwa defeats Kotoeko – Soon to be returning Takanoiwa dispatches soon to be departing Kotoeko in this first Makuuchi bout of the day. Takanoiwa seems like maybe he picked up some mass. Today’s match was a simple push-pull win.

Sadanoumi defeats Ishiura – Ishiura tries to submarine the tachiai, but Sadanoumi is unfazed and continues to march forward with Ishiura crumpled against his chest. Ishiura now one loss away from a likely demotion back to Juryo.

Aoiyama defeats Ryuden – Ryuden loses thanks to Aoiyama’s henka. Wait, what? Aoiyama henka? If you are Ryuden, are you more embarrassed that you lost, or that you let Aoiyama henka you?

Myogiryu defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan gets his third loss and drops back into the peloton. Myogiryu was fast and aggressive, and did not let Tochiozan disrupt his offense. Myogiryu gets his kachi-koshi.

Yutakayama defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji was once again low and fast at the tachiai, but he gave up the inside thrusting position to Yutakayama and was never able to gain offensive traction. Excellent sumo today from Yutakayama. While Hokutofuji fans would love to see him run up the score and be mid-Maegashira at Aki, his kachi-koshi is what he needed to pull back from the bottom edge of the Makuuchi banzuke. His sumo is looking strong and he seems to be past the injuries that had him underperforming. Yutakayama is looking very genki, and we may get to see him try the joi again after his disastrous 2-13 at Natsu.

Onosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Even though he beat Chiyoshoma today, I have gotten the impression that Onosho is not quite 100% right now. I don’t know if its lingering effects of his injury, or the heat of Nagoya or what. He needs one more win for kachi-koshi. I think we will continue to see him regrouping for at least one more basho. Hopefully by then the red mawashi will be back from the cleaners.

Kyokutaisei defeats Arawashi – With his heels against the make-koshi bales, Kyokutaisei has found the mojo to win yet again. Sadly Arawashi’s 3-9 record is bad enough he is getting close to what could be an aggressive demotion to Juryo line.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho punches Meisei’s return ticket to Juryo by handing him his make-koshi with a pride obliterating side-step and pull down. I think its possible we will see a mighty Makuuhci-Juryo churn headed into Aki.

Chiyomaru defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze continues to push the envelope on his unstoppable march to a totally winless anti-yusho. As a Yoshikaze fan, I just have to hope that whatever is wrong with him is not painful, fatal or crippling. Whats more, I think most of the rikishi know what’s going on, as you can see Chiyomaru take extreme care to keep him safe. And he’s not the first to do it this tournament.

Kaisei defeats Asanoyama – Kaisei gets a well earned kachi-koshi. His performance this basho has been above his recent average, and we hope he can stay healthy and genki. Asanoyama threw quite a bit of sumo at him, but Kaisei’s superior reach, and mass-driven stability carried the match. With this loss, Asanoyama also drops back into the peloton.

Takakeisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Takakeisho breaks out the “Wave Action” sumo again, and today it works against an increasingly frustrated Chiyotairyu, who just can’t seem to get that win that will give him kachi-koshi. Takakeisho will likely be top Maegashira / bottom San’yaku for Aki.

Ikioi defeats Takarafuji – Can two men turn ottsuke into a match long battle strategy? Hell, these two sure tried to do it. This was followed by an endurance lean-off at the shikiri-sen. After perhaps a minute, Ikioi rallies and tries to advance. And what is Takarafuji doing? Why more ottsuke of course. Alright, congrats to Ikioi on what was a somewhat ridiculous match.

Shodai defeats Daishomaru – Now that he is make-koshi, Shodai decides to show up and try some sumo today. With the exception of his normally high and flat tachiai, he actually executed well. Clearly the young man needs to regroup, as I still think there is hope for him and his sumo.

Tamawashi defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni recovers brilliantly after he loses his balance early in the match, but Tamawashi chases him down and finishes Chiyonokuni with a kotenage, which like Kotoshogiku, seems to have injured his elbow. Sadly Chiyonokuni faces Ikioi day 13 rather than Shodai, because if Chiyonokuni were to go kyujo, we could have had one of the 2 fusensho men give the other 2 fusensho man a fusensho.

Abi defeats Shohozan – Abi works the double arm tsuppari attack successfully today, and the already make-koshi shohozan gets a close look at the tokudawara.

Ichinojo defeats Kagayaki – Ichinojo hands Kagayaki his make-koshi when Kagayaki’s sumo fundamentals break down as they are confronted by 500 pounds of pony tossing Ichinojo. Points to Kagayaki for trying to set the tone and form of the match against an opponent who has been far too docile this tournament, but Ichinojo was ready to fight today, and took Kagayaki to his chest and pacified him. Unable to improve his grip or get a firm hold against the boulder, Kagayaki was stalemated in a war of attrition. I was impressed by how well Kagayaki fought off the uwatenage when it came, but there was just too much force bundled in that move by Ichinojo to shut it down.

Goeido defeats Endo – Endo is ejected from the peloton by Goeido after a false start at the tachiai. Goeido wins in his preferred “good” mode: low, fast, and more or less unstoppable. Endo compounded the problem by trying to pull against Goeido’s denshamichi attack.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Fans were howling long before my alarm woke me this morning over this match, and I think rightly so. The match did achieve it’s strategic goal, which was to hand Miakeumi his first kuroboshi, and open up the yusho race heading into the final weekend. But Mitakeumi dominated that match, set the terms and the cadence of the fight, and literally made Takayasu dance to his sumo. The match ended with both men moving at speed over the bales on the north side of the dohyo, and visiting the VIPs in the first two rows of tawara. The gyoji loses his mind and points both east and west, and it’s clear the shimpan is going to sort this one out. To my eye, this was a very clear situation for torinaoshi (rematch). But the decision of the shimpan is best framed in that by awarding the match to Takayasu, they would achieve the strategic goal of day 12. So they did. Takayasu did a masterful job of staying airborne, and that was quite impressive. Takayasu gets his 8th win for kachi-koshi, and clears kadoban.

29 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 12 Highlights


  1. Bruce summed up the big match perfectly. People will, obviously, be talking about Takayasu’s win for quite a while. Let me be the very first to guess that we’ve seen the last of Takayasu and Chiyonokuni until September. You just can’t do sumo with one arm.


  2. Mitakeumi robbed. I hope this event doesn’t mess with his mind. I was looking forward to a zensho yusho.

    I hope Chiyonokuni is not seriously injured.

    I never thought Aioyama was spry enough to henka!

    FYI. NHK World will be live broadcasting the last two days of Sumo. It starts about 17:05 Tokyo time, meaning those of us on the East coast, USA will be nursing coffee early, early, early to watch the broadcast.


    • Frankly, this is my concern too. Though it’s clear Mitakeumi won on the replay, I could understand a rematch. Whether or not this call was made as a “business decision,” however (and for the sake of the sports’ integrity I hope it wasn’t), it was still a robbery, and it doesn’t mean this loss won’t send Mitakeumi into a death spiral and end up costing him the yusho, which would be downright criminal.

      Tomorrow he faces Goeido, who’s in the hunt, then (probably) Endou, then Ichinojo. None of those are easy wins for Mitakeumi, and if he loses tomorrow I could easily see him losing his confidence and finishing the basho 11-4 and finishing runner-up to Goeido. And considering he rightfully should have won today, and that winning the yusho would make him the fastest rikishi to ever win a yusho after his professional debut (21 tournaments, whereas Asashoryu and Takanohana needed 23), the call today is absolutely huge in the impact it could have on the yusho race.

      Hey, maybe I’m wrong and Mitakeumi rallies and wins out, 14-1. But I wouldn’t count on it.


      • Mitakeumi will gamberize. I am eager to see him face Goeido. Should he prevail, it will take a likely challenger out of the picture.


          • An English sumo fan slang perversion of gambarimasu, popularized by noted sumo and video personality Kintamayama. There is some evidence that “gamberize” has been in use by English speaking foreigners in Japan since at least the 1980s.


  3. Takayasu is ready to start teaching ballet classes back in Tokyo. This is the third or fourth match in which he has shown his twirling technique on top of the tawara. Quite the graceful dancing bear.


  4. And down in Juryo, Aminishiki won again. He passes Taiho and moves into sole posession of 8th place on the all time victories list. If he somehow wins out and finishes 10-5 he would almost certainly get promoted back to Makuuchi. (9-6 might be good enough) If he does he would break the record for the oldest fighter ever to compete in the top division. A record he already holds. Go Uncle Sumo!


  5. I don’t understand how they could have made the call they made, with the benefit of access to replay. There’s absolutely no way Mitakeumi was out first, so they had to go with options 1 or 3 to protect the integrity of the sport. Going with option 2 for the reasons suggested in this post basically equates sumo with the WWE type of professional wrestling.


    • I hear you, and I have sympathy for your view. I ran the same process with my Western brain and came to the same conclusion. But then I realize that sumo is a Japanese sport made for Japanese people living in Japan. Everything about it is Japanese. So I most likely lack the cultural underpinnings to “get” what happened. But here is my try.

      Once the Monoii was called, the judges likely came to the point where they decided it was too close to call. I can appreciate that. Then they discussed the 3 options above, and through what would work best for sumo, and took that path.

      That’s a far cry from WWE where the whole thing is scripted in advance. I have no doubt that if Mitakeumi had been able to toss Takayasu to the clay in the center of the dohyo that he would have gotten the gumbai and that’s the match. But once the men in black mounted the dohyo, they took responsibility to adjudicate the match to its best possible outcome.

      Just my personal opinion, and its quite possibly wrong.


      • Obviously, guys, we can theorize about this decision from now until doomsday and we’ll never ever know for sure. Sometimes, instant replay, even when you know it SHOULD yield the definitive result, simply isn’t enough. Recently in major league baseball, they instituted instant replay and, yet, every night you’ll see at least one head scratching decision in the slate of games that just doesn’t appear to be correct, but the instant replay decision is irreversible. Everyone sees things differently even where stop action slow motion instant replay technology is being utilized. Conspiracy advocates will have a field day with the decision, but my reply in such situations will always simply be ”shit happens”. Inexplicable shit occasionally occurs. People are all different in the way they perceive events and it doesn’t always means they have a hidden agenda.


  6. Clearly Mitakeumi was robbed. At the very least there should have been a torinaoshi.

    In Japan, the prevailing theory among sumo fans isn’t that this was a conspiracy to make the title race more interesting, or to give Takayasu his 8th win, but that it was a product of the broadcast running out of time. As some here know, the sumo broadcast is supposed to end at 18:00 Tokyo time, followed immediately by the news (or newsu, if you will). Barring special circumstances, NHK is loathe to extend sumo coverage in lieu of starting their main news program on time.

    So there is an oyakata in charge of ensuring that the last bout finishes before 18:00. The time between bouth is adjusted accordingly. Apparently, that oyakata messed up last night, and left little margin for error for the last two bouts. The kyokai was scrambling to finish the matches in time, which was not helped by the matta in Goeido’s bout or the monoii for the musubi no ichiban. In fact, even with no torinaoshi, the newsu didn’t start until 18:01, which seems trivial to us, but is a big deal for NHK and for the kyokai.

    So the story goes that there was never going to be a torinaoshi, because NHK might have cut away from the broadcast before the conclusion of the match. And since even the monoii is time consuming, the replay shimpan didn’t get a good enough view of Takayasu’s thumb before hurriedly deciding to reverse the gyoji’s decision.

    No doubt the stench of robbery is very much suboptimal, and it was left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth (none more so than for Mitakeumi himself, who by all rights should be on the verge of his first yusho, and the new record for fastest ever to win a makuuchi yusho since his debut tournament in the kyokai at 21 tournaments, 2 less than Takanohana). But apparently the timing screw up was a big cause for the screw up.


    • Ah snap, I did not even think of that one. Outstanding bit of information, +1000 thank you points for sharing.


    • I was think about this at the time. They put up a notice on screen that the news would start at 18:01, so I knew right away that a torinaoshi was never an option.

      As it is, with a 1 minute delay, they probably got a load of calls from angry ojii-sans complaining their news was late. The real dilemma would have been if it was Endo’s match. Then you’d have angry obaa-sans calling too!


    • If NHK is that worried about the time schedule it seems more honest to pull away from live coverage but let the bout continue without interference, and show the result later, but I guess that would look too openly offensive to sumo fans. I remember the uproar decades ago when a US network cut away from the last minute of a football game to go to a movie, and then the losing team came from behind with two touchdowns to win in that minute.


  7. IF MItakeumi goes on to win the yusho, gets ozeki promotion with 11 wins in Tokyo and ultimately makes yokozuna, we will look back on this day and laugh. IF…

    My hunch,by the way is that that the judges were told down their earpieces that there was no time for a rematch and that they had to call a winner like NOW.


  8. Oh Yoshikaze 😢 looking at Chiyomaru’s care of u last night I have to concur with Bruce and I’m starting to fear the worst – what’s happening? Something definitely not right and the longer the silence continues the more our imaginations travel from whatever your truth is – I just feral like heading over and giving him a big hug – it’ll make me feel marginally better anyway 💜💔


  9. I’m really irritated with Tamawashi at the moment. It is possible to use a kotenage and not injure someone’s elbow. Today’s throw was deliberately at an angle that would cause pain, if not worse problems, for his opponent.

    Mitakeumi was definitely robbed and he definitely knows it. He left the dohyo not just angry, but practically blistering with rage. I don’t envy Goeido at all tomorrow.

    Lastly, a henka from Aoiyama! I know we joked about one from Kaisei, but now that the standard has been set, who knows?


    • I don’t agree re the intentionality of Tamawashi’s throw — he looked appalled at the results — but I’m right there with you re Mitakeumi’s rage. It’ll make things fascinating when he and Takayasu meet in September (or whenever), but heaven help the first person who spoke to him after, not to mention the walls in that locker room.


  10. I just finished watching NHK World’s highlight reel and Murray made NO bones that he thought that there should have been a rematch, (and even that, I think, was a compromise in his mind–he seemed quite certain Takayasu’s big toe went out first.) From the angle shown in the replay, I didn’t see that, and it did look like Mitakeumi hit the deck first, but NHK has to pick one of several camera angles for the replay and maybe they didn’t choose the best one? I don’t know.

    And yeah, we don’t need rikshi with injured elbows x.x That’s the kind of injury that interferes with quality of life, and those bother me far more than the ones that only affect their sumo. (I don’t say “only” to make light of it, but there’s a difference between being able to do a tachiai and being able to dress one’s self >.< )


  11. Regarding Tachiai’s web traffic, the heat/summer and lack of any rikishi above sekiwake level probably explain it but there might be another possibility. Since I subscribed to email alerts for new posts from Tachiai, I read the contents almost exclusively in my email app, thus I guess not generating any traffic, unless I want to comment or watch a video that isn’t displayed in the email. If a lot of people who like the blog did that too, then it’s a gyakuten effect for you guys. Will try to open the blog more regularly!

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