As Bruce already noted, the Kyushu banzuke has been posted. I have to say that this time I am proud of my forecast. Despite the difficulties created by the lopsided performances at Aki, I correctly predicted the exact rank and side for 30 of the 42 Makuuchi slots, including all 10 named ranks and 20 of the 32 maegashira ranks, which are much less predictable. Of my 12 misses, 6 resulted from exchanges of rikishi pairs in adjacent banzuke positions: Hokutofuji and Tochiozan at M1w and M2e, Tamawashi and Nishikigi at M2w and M3e, and Kagayaki and Abi at M6w and M7e. Two additional misses were also by half a rank: Yoshikaze at M5e instead of M4w, and Yago at M16w instead of the top rank in Juryo. I also switched Ikioi and Daieisho at M8e and M9w. The other miss, by 3 whole ranks, resulted from the obligatory head-scratcher by the banzuke committee. It seems like every banzuke includes one decision that’s impossible to predict, understand, or defend. This time around, it’s the wildly disparate treatment of Ryuden and Takanoiwa. The two were ranked at M13e and M13w for Aki, and put up identical 10-5 performances that should have resulted in similar banzuke positions. Instead, Ryuden is ranked at M3, as predicted, while Takanoiwa ended up all the way down at M6 and has every reason to feel aggrieved.
Aside from the easy named ranks, my predictions were especially accurate in the lower portion of the banzuke. From M10 down, my only error was demoting Chiyomaru in favor of Yago.
Unfortunately, all my close misses line up in such a way as to earn me exactly zero points in Guess the Banzuke, which awards two points for exact matches, a point for correct rank but wrong side (e.g. 6e vs. 6w), but, frustratingly, no points for other adjacent rank misses (e.g. 6w vs. 7e). Nevertheless, I tied my highest previous point total, achieved exactly a year ago. Apparently, Kyushu for me is what Aki is for Goeido ;-) On to the basho!
I often show you photos of this or that rikishi in a corner of the venue. This may give the impression that most rikishi are on the dohyo, and a few are lurking on the edges. The truth is – there simply isn’t enough room for everybody on or around a single dohyo. When the makushita-and-below rikishi train, the sekitori hang around the walls, and only later they get to the dohyo.
Some sekitori, by the way, are “kamaboko”, which is the sumo term for someone who avoids practice though present in the keiko-ba.
Kamaboko is this fish-paste, round at the top, flat at the bottom. The sumo term derives from rikishi whose back is pressed so hard against the keiko-ba’s walls to avoid the dohyo and the attention of the stablemaster, that it becomes flat.
The Yokozuna tsukebito wars continue. But what is this? Is there a new-found love between Gokushindo and Arikawa?
Err… not exactly.
Don’t worry, Arikawa gets his revenge:
Did I mention “Ewwwww!!!”?
Apropos Arikawa, here is a selfie he took with Awajiumi.
And this selfie is significant because it tells us that Awajiumi did the bow twirling ceremony again today. Impressive oicho-mage there.
Some practice footage:
Some reverse butsukari between Kakuryu and Ryuden. “Reverse” meaning the higher ranking guy pushes and the lower-ranking guy lends his chest. It also means that none of the rolling around in the mud is to be expected:
Kochi prefecture boasts three sekitori. Well, two sekitori (Tochiozan and Chiyonoumi) and one on his way to gaining sekitori status again: Toyonoshima.
The two latter ones were the darlings of today’s event. In the previous Kochi event, two years ago, Chiyonoumi was in Sandanme. Now he is well-established in Juryo:
Two years ago
Toyonoshima was not part of the Jungyo so far. He is not officially sekitori as the Jungyo follows the previous basho’s banzuke. And he is married and well respected, so they wouldn’t just assign him as some youngster’s tsukebito. However, there was a special request for him to be present in this event, and he did show up.
Tochinoshin doesn’t give autographs easily out of the designated fansa time. But you might get lucky if you are young enough:
I’m impressed with Tobizaru. He may not be the strongest pusher ever to mount a dohyo, but he sure gets up fast whenever he is thrown.
Back in the shitaku-beya, Teraoumi takes a picture. Haruminato tries to strike a cool pose. He ends up looking like he is totally checking out Ichinojo’s hefty backside:
Of course, the sekiwake himself is totally oblivious to all this.
Time for dohyo-iri. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but when Shohozan went off the torikumi for a few days in the middle of the Jungyo, Yoshikaze took his place as Kisenosato’s tsuyuharai. And Yoshikaze is still doing that duty, despite Shohozan being back and active:
By the way, do you see a difference between the Yokozuna’s kesho-mawashi and his two assistants’? The Yokozuna’s kesho mawashi is worn differently, with the top tucked into the mawashi. They design them with that in mind. Here is the designer‘s sketch of this set of kesho-mawashi:
The design, by the way, is intended to express the spirit of the warrior (bu), as well as a dragon in the clouds (the meaning of the word “Unryu”, which is Kisenosato’s chosen style).
Personally, I think this set is one of the coolest I have seen.
Here is the Toyonoshima bout with Azumaryu. There is a monoii. And a kyogi. And then Furuwake oyakata tries to explain the kyogi. He is not exactly the best explainer in the world, but of course, the result is a torinaoshi:
And the result of the rematch is… wow, what did Toyonoshima just do?
Can you feel it? It’s the air of excitement that grips sumo fans world wide on the magical weekend when the next banzuke will be released. Team Tachiai expects the Kyushu roster to show up late afternoon US time, and you can be certain that we will bring you all of the details the moment it happens.