Aki 2018, Day 15. That’s all, folks!

It is my sad duty to break these news to you, but it must be done: the basho is over. All yusho have been decided. All kachi-koshi and make-koshi have been achieved. And now we are in for a month and a half of… well, mostly Jungyo.

So what did we have today?

Hakuho and his flag-bearer and uchi-deshi, Enho
Well, the first Makuuchi bout is between Chiyomaru and Aminishiki, but it turns out that Chiyomaru has a bone fracture in his foot, and is kyujo on senshuraku. He will probably end up in Juryo for this. Aminishiki must be frustrated – you go to Makuuchi, you win – but you don’t get any kensho for fusensho! Aminishiki with a minimal make-koshi, though, 7-8, and although he won’t advance, he will also not drop much.

Takanoiwa achieves a left hand outside on the tachiai vs Okinoumi. He is not happy with that and manages a makikae. Another fumble, a pull, and he wins by uwatedashinage, achieving double digits on his return to Makuuchi. Will he get a sansho?

Er, no. And neither will any of the hard working rikishi who strive for 10 wins today. Earlier the NSK announces that no rikishi have been found worthy of any special prizes today – not the technique prize, not the outstanding performance prize, and – weirdest of all – no fighting spirit prize. So, the basho we thought was wonderful, the NSK considered so lackluster that for the first time since the institution of special prizes, none have been awarded.

Aoiyama meets Kotoyuki. Both are make-koshi, but both are seeking to keep themselves 7-8 rather than 6-9. Kotoyuki starts with a bit of not-too-enthusiastic tsuppari, but Aoiyama soon catches him, gives him a nice pat on the nape of his nake, and sends him to his favorite place – waddling between the spectators in the front rows.

Ryuden manages a proper tachiai, and gets his left arm inside, despite Daishomaru‘s ottsuke. Although still fumbling on the right side, he manages an easy yori-kiri, and gets his 10th win. Again, no sansho, and all the rikishi with 10 wins will have to settle for the additional ¥10,000 in their bi-monthly bonus.

Hokutofuji starts with his usual right-arm forward and rhythmic thrusts, but Yoshikaze achieves a left hand inside almost instantly and yori-kiris him to oblivion. Yoshikaze, as expected for a man of his experience finding himself so low down the banzuke, has been cutting swaths through his opponents and will be back in a saner and more challenging position next basho.

Nishikigi gets a left hand inside and a grip on Kotoshogiku‘s mawashi right off the tachiai. He ottsuke’s the former Ozeki’s left arm with his own right, and then decides to go for the grip, which he achieves. The two lock powerfully, and though Nishikigi loses his initial left hand grip, he never lets go of that right. It gets into a leaning war. Nishikigi gets the left hand mawashi grip again. Eventually he pulls up a little, and pushes Kotoshogiku all the way out. Did we just watch Nishikigi beat Kotoshogiku by a powerful yori-ikiri? Yes we did! Nishikigi also in double digits this basho, to the sound of millions of jaws dropping in amazement. Kotoshogiku, despite a good showing this basho, is make-koshi.

Takarafuji yet again fails to achieve his favorite position, but somehow prevails over Sadanoumi with some ottsuke, a pull and a thrust. He is not happy, but he finishes the basho with a win, and minimizes his make-koshi to 7-8. My sources tell me that the Tachiai delegation at the Kokugikan has been cheering for the Isegahama man.

(The towels say “keppare Takarafuji”)

Tochiozan achieves a quick morozashi on Chiyoshoma on the tachiai, and after a few hugs manages to aim and shoot at the head shimpan. Shitatehineri, and Tochiozan is kachi-koshi.

Shohozan attempts a harizashi on Takanosho, but fails the “sashi” part. Takanosho gets the advantage with some tsuppari that gets Shohozan to the edge, but then Shohozan decides to arm those guns, and Takanosho soon finds himself at the opposite edge, and over it. Shohozan keeps his make-koshi at a minimal 7-8. Takanosho luckily clinched his kachi-koshi already.

Not much to say about the Onosho vs. Ishiura bout, which started with yet another matta 🙄. Ishiura tries to go low, Onosho catches his neck, and Ishiura, rather than persevering like his ototo-deshi (rikish from the same heya who joined later), frees his head, finds himself without any position or grip, and is soon driven out. Bot wrestlers are now 4-11, and if Ishiura doesn’t start watching Enho and learning, today’s Yokozuna dohyo-iri was his last.

The bout between Kagayaki and Daieisho is a bout of desparation, as both parties are 7-7 entering it. Daieisho is shorter, and makes use of that to attack the tall Kagayaki at just the right angle, from below. Kagayaki has no answer to Daieisho’s fierce rain of tsuppari and is soon out. On his way down the hana michi he looks like he is on the verge of tears. Daieisho is 8-7, Kagayaki 7-8.

Another matta precedes the Yutakayama match vs. Chiyonokuni. Chiyonokuni starts with his enthusiastic thrust attack, from below, from above, and Yutakayama can barely defend. One of Yutakayama’s defensive left hand moves catches the back of Chiyonokuni’s head as Yutakayama spins around, and the Kokonoe man is surprised to find himself flat on his face on the edge. Yutakayama manages to keep his toes inside in this spin, and gets a win to sweeten a rather bitter basho.

Kaisei latches on to the left side of Shodai‘s mawashi a half-second after the tachiai, and soon follows with his right hand. Although it’s a bit of an odd soto-yotsu (both hands outside, but rather on the front Shodai’s mawashi rather than the back), it’s enough for him to easily walk Shodai out. Kaisei is kachi-koshi, 8-7, and Tamawashi’s komusubi position is virtually in his pocket.

Chiyotairyu slams into Ikioi and immediately steps to the left. Ikioi not fulled, stays with him and catches one of his arms in what seems to be a preparation for a kotenage. However, after some wriggling, Chiyotairyu manages to shake that arm lock off, and shake Ikioi off the dohyo. Ikioi lands on his injured foot, further aggravating his injured ankle. I hope Ikioi will absent himself from the Jungyo, which starts October 3rd – he and the rest of the maimed rikishi that have been heaping up this basho.

Today was Asanoyama‘s last chance of a kachi-koshi, after four consecutive losses following his seventh win. He did his best to neutralize Takakeisho‘s barrage of tsuppari, keeping him at an arm’s length. The bout developed into a long stalemate, when Asanoyama decided to try to slip a hand in for a grip. Takakeisho didn’t let that pass – Asanoyama’s “sashi” lasted for two milliseconds before the Takakeisho windmill had him over the bales. Five straight losses and make-koshi for Asanoyama.

For some reason, Tamawashi decided that the basho starts today, and finally made an appearance at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. Too bad it’s the last day, old Eagle. His thrust attack against Endo was powerful and effective, but only got him his 4th win. As for Endo, let’s hope he rallies the same way that Yoshikaze has this basho. Otherwise, what who will the ladies of the Kokugikan swoon over?

Ichinojo is 7-7 coming into this bout with Myogiryu. Myogiryu is going to find himself in the joi next basho, having already secured his kachi-koshi. And he has a 6-2 record against the boulder. But Ichinojo has had six consecutive kachi-koshi. And he seems to like being sekiwake. Tachiai, boom. Ichinojo has both hands folded in his lap on the tachiai, then releases them and catches Myogiryu’s arm. Myogiryu starts pushing. Ichinojo pulls, and lets Myogiryu drop just before stepping over the bales himself. Not exactly powerful sumo, but much to the disbelief of anybody reading this blog only 5 days ago, Ichinojo gets yet another kachi-koshi, seventh in a row, and keeps his rank.

At this point you don’t need Leonid’s massive banzuke-fu to figure out the sanyaku for next basho: It’s much the same as this one, with Hakuho and Takakeisho moving East and Kaisei replacing Tamawashi.

Abi starts with his usual morotezuki and tsuppari, nothing to write home about. Mitakeumi matches him thrust for thrust. Round and round and round they go, until Abi loses patience and foolishly tries to reach Mitakeumi’s mawashi. Mitakeumi finds a handy Abi cranium to push down. The End. Mitakeumi improves to 9-6, and the argument about his Ozeki chances in 2018 will continue to rage until he goes and messes Kyushu the same way he messed Aki. Abi is 6-9 and can rest assured that he won’t need to face any sanyaku next time around.

The top three bouts, for the first time in two years, feature only Yokozuna and Ozeki. Watch the sanyaku soroi-bumi in Kintamayama’s reel – it’s a good one.

Tochinoshin, after having relieved himself of the awful pressure of the Kadoban, makes short work of Takayasu. He starts with a kachiage, neutralizes Takayasu’s left arm and keeps himself away from the right, and then pushes with all his double-bear power. Takayasu drops, Tochinoshin 9-6.

Goeido slams into Kisenosato, attempts to start a gaburi attack. Kisenosato is a bit too heavy for this stuff. Goeido pulls slightly, and rolls the Yokozuna easily. Kisenosato must be glad he got his 10th yesterday. He finishes 10-5. Goeido has the jun-yusho with 12-3.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho has his zensho to defend. Kakuryu – his Yokozuna dignity. Clash, no harite, and Hakuho gets the left-hand mawashi grip. The two enter into a classical yotsu lock hold. Hakuho tries to lift Kakuryu several times, but he is no Tochinoshin. Besides, he only has “ichimai” on the right hand side. The third attack sees Kakuryu lose his mawashi grip, and then he suddenly goes limp and just leaves the dohyo. That’s a bit sad for a Yokozuna, but at least it’s a good way to escape an injury-risking dame-oshi. Hakuho maintains his zensho yusho. ¥200,000 are added to his bi-monthly bonus, which is already the largest in history. I’m guessing Kakuryu is going to be grilled by the YDC tomorrow, having lost all his Yokozuna and Ozeki bouts.

The Yokozuna on the left came back from a lengthy injury. The one on the right won two yusho this year. Go figure.

It’s been a pleasurable basho, and now the long wait begins for the last Kyushu basho of the Heisei era.


31 thoughts on “Aki 2018, Day 15. That’s all, folks!

  1. Wherein I proceed to bang my face into my desk thinking about Mitakeumi losing to Ikioi and Shodai.

    Terrific basho, though. Thanks for all the coverage, Tachiai!

    • He beat Shodai. The Ikioi loss is definitely hard to swallow. His other maegashira loss was to Kaisei, which doesn’t look so bad in retrospect—Kaisei has always been Mitakeumi’s kryptonite, and he had a strong basho that will see him at Komusubi next time. What this shows is how hard it is to pick up 11 wins in 15 bouts when you have to fight 6 Ozeki and Yokozuna who are all more or less on their game.

  2. Positives for this basho:
    *The best man won
    *Tochinoshin getting his eighth and ninth win to erase kadoban even though he was obviously fighting at about 70%.
    *Kaisei fighting like a hippo who had swallowed a dozen rabid mongooses (mongeese?) for all 15 days. Can we start a write-in campaign to give him the kanto-sho.
    *Takanoiwa is back and looking strong. Still something of an enigma.
    *Takanosho scrapping his way to KK.
    *Nishikigi getting a career best score in maku’uchi. Should have got a prize.
    *Enho does a lot more than merely survive in juryo
    *Toyonoshima back in the pro ranks. Could not happen to a nicer guy.

    *Kakuryu looking like the winner for 10 days but then seeming to choke and going back to his old bad habits of passivity and pulling
    *Onosho’s abject failure, Yutakayama’s injury and Asanoyama’s second week collapse. Come on lads, you are the next gen of sumo!
    *Chiyoshoma’s, “ah screw it, I’ll get 8 wins so who cares” attitude.
    *Seiro’s near certain relegation from juryo. I know he’ not that good, but I’ve been following him for ages and just like the guy.

    • For me the highlight of the basho was the return of Yoshikaze. I was in a sumo pool for the first time, and I passed over Yoshikaze, thinking that he was washed up at 36 and having gone 2-13 last time. Still, he’s always been my sentimental favorite and I’m thrilled he did so well. And I came in last in the pool. Serves me right.

  3. Funny how Kakyru folded at the end of the bout. At first I wondered if Hakuho twisted his arm. Having watched the slow motion at 1/4 speed a couple times, I saw no ‘ow, that’s gotta hurt’ moment. He just folded!

    Kisenosato did better than I would have expected. Looks like he’ll be bigger and badder for Fukuoka!

    How glad I am to be watching Sumo history made with Hakuho’s zensho yusho and 1001 makuuchi wins. Congratulations, Hakuho.

    Hakuho revealed no new goals, despite being asked explicitly — twice — during his championship interview. Instead, he spoke nostalgically of his goals since he was 19 and 22, and the end of the Heisei (sp?) era. Hmmn.

    • Yes, I noticed he evaded the goals question. Maybe his historian has not informed him yet of any obscure records he hasn’t reached yet. The one with the oldest age for a Yokozuna to win a yusho seems a bit too much. But yes, he sounded like he was tired of it all.

      • What should he answer? There aren’t many records left for him. He knows he is in the twillight of his career, so the longest winning streak is out of reach. 50 yusho would be a great number, but thats probably aiming a bit too high too. We already know he wants to make it to the olympics ;)
        Ofcourse we never know. Maybe his health troubles are in the past and we look forward to a year of dominance.

        • A standard answer would have sufficed, like “I will think of further goals in a few days”, or “There is still that goal to get to the Olympics”, although not providing new content, it would not have been an evasion. The fact that he evaded the question as if it has some scandal potential is puzzling.

          • I wonder if Hakuho decided to dial things right down after the flak that came his way after his “Banzai” interview in November 2017. As if he was saying, “Last time I said something that really mattered to me and the fans but the top brass hated it. This time I’m not going to say anything of substance. How do you like that?”

            • Well, he did say it was a tough year for him, with injuries and the death of his father in April. And that he believes his father is still watching him and this time he has been able to bring him some good results. Not controversial words, but certainly of personal substance.

  4. Gotta put in a good word for Takakeisho — he faced a tough slate of opponents and ended with a positive record. I was impressed with his solid showing.

    Yoshikaze wins my own personal fighting spirit award. Last basho we consigned him to retirement. This basho he was brash, rashed, and ready to rumble.

    A broken bone in the foot of a man as enormous as Chiyomaru cannot be a good thing. First, it suggests he’ll need to spend time off of his feet, during which time he may become even more zeppelin-shaped, if that’s possible. Then it is hard to imagine that it won’t be a recurring injury, given all the lbs those feet are asked to carry.

    I was struck by the contrasting make-koshi reactions of Kagayaki and Asanoyama. Kagayaki looked crushed, while Asanoyama just looked happy to have the basho end.

  5. I didn’t see it as Kakuryu folding. It was a good match with that stalemate in the middle. Hakuho just pulled some weird judo/akido/jedi trick on him, causing him to spin 90 degrees and once in that position, he knew Hakuho would lever his arm another 90 and it would be over.

    Yoshi Kaisei KK!
    Yoshi Ichinojo KK!

    seriously, what’s the deal with no special prizes? this needs further investigation from the tachiai team. Was there a huge yusho party the night of D14 and they all woke up D15 and said, “uh oh, we forgot to pick the prizes. Well, let’s just skip this time…??”

    • Apparently Ryuden and Takakeisho were nominated for kanto-sho (fighting spirit prize) and Yoshikaze for gino-sho (technique prize), but none got a majority of votes in the sansho committee.

    • Agreed. It was a tiring, hard fought battle and eventually he got spun by hakuho. It was over.

      No mawashi grip, no arm bar, all that was left was to not fly into the crowd and get hurt.

  6. Kakuryu folding: Think that was a sharp pain expression, rather than frustration. And his right hand touching that right groin after landing.

    Unlikely we’ll be told.

    • Went back and looked from another angle, Kakuryu was reaching for the groin before going off the edge of the dohyo. Tweeked something in that right leg/hip/groin is my guess. Rough job.

      Is Hakuho’s family in the group photo? Might be wife and kids on the right side, but was surprised the “little ones” weren’t nearer the center.

      • Which group photo would that be? There were several taken, each with different composition (heya support group, family, mixture of the two, ichimon’s sekitori, etc.)

        • Thank you Herouth. I didn’t realize there were multiple group photos. Makes sense of course; just like a wedding!

          I was looking at the NHK Day 15 Highlights. maybe 2 minutes before the end. Must be the large group including supporters and sekitori. Looked like Enho in the back row far right.

          • Ah. OK, that one doesn’t include his family. Indeed, supporters, and the sekitori from his ichimon, which then followed with their own photo.

            Here is his photo with his family (taken at the senshuraku party). Behind him are three of his kids, and his wife is the one in the kimono next to Miyagino oyakata, with his fourth kid (third daughter).

            • Great Photo. All (nearly all) is as it should be in the sumo world.

              (Wish the fourth Yokozuna was still in service…. )


              • The fish is not a prize. It’s a symbol of celebration, probably paid for by his supporters. The Macaron is actually always just displayed and never given. But yes, there was a green one this time.

              • Thank you. Maybe I sounded like a smartass. It’s just really a case of a lot to learn.


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