His serene highness, the Emperor of Japan, paid a farewell visit to the Kokugikan to take in some of the day 8 action. Japan adores the emperor, and the crowd welcomed him with applause, shouts of well wishes and waving of Japanese flag. He is set to retire in April due to declining health, making the upcoming Natsu basho (May), the first sumo tournament of a new imperial era.
Matters were less serene in the Ozeki ranks, as the two remaining both took losses to further underscore how their poor health in the new year is hampering their progress towards the safety of a kachi-koshi. This is in stark contrast to Hakuho who remains the only unbeaten rikishi in the top division, and looks to be charting a course towards his 42 yusho.
Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Juryo visitor Terutsuyoshi attempts a hit-and-shift against Yutakayama, which really seems to fire him up. Terutsuyoshi gets chased around the dohyo and receives the sumo equivalent of a “pile driver”.
Yago defeats Daiamami – An astute reader pointed out that newcomer Yago looks surprisingly like Shrek, and I think we now all see the resemblance. Daiamami did manage to get Yago turned around for a moment, but Yago was able to reverse and send Daiamami to Far Far Away.
Chiyonokuni defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki found himself completely bamboozled by Chiyonokuni’s sumo. It quick flurry of slaps were exchanged, and Chiyonokuni side steps for the win.
Meisei defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru is winless, make-koshi, and the first passenger on the slow boat to Juryo for Osaka.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoyuki – Sadanoumi’s level of bandaging would be comical if it did not represent how dedicated he is to competing in spite of multiple injuries. Kotoyuki drove this match from the tachiai, but Sadanoumi rolled him out at the tawara with a well executed uwatenage.
Kotoeko defeats Ikioi – Reports had surfaced prior to the match that Ikioi’s left eye, which took a finger in his day 7 match, had given him blurry and cloudy vision. But Ikioi being Ikioi (he has 3 eyes, you see), he mounts the dohyo anyhow and continues to compete. He blasted out of the tachiai and took the fight to Kotoeko, going chest to chest. He looked to be in the drivers seat, but Kotoeko rescued the match by thrusting Ikioi down and out at the edge.
Abi defeats Chiyoshoma – A rapid, blistering delivery of solid Abi-zumo carried the day.
Takarafuji defeats Ryuden – Ryuden continues to struggle in day 8. Takarafuji lands a mawashi grip and controls his opponent throughout, really not much in the way of offense from Ryuden.
Asanoyama defeats Yoshikaze – The ghost of Yoshikaze continues to mount the dohyo with little offensive sumo on tap. Painful to watch, we can only imagine how miserable it is for him. The rest of the rikishi corps seem to be in on whatever is plaguing him, as they seem to take great care to keep him safe.
Kaisei defeats Kotoshogiku – Kaisei’s first win over the Kyushu bulldozer. Kaisei withstood the hug-n-chug attack, and applied the sukuinage for the win. Even Kotoshogiku seemed impressed.
Okinoumi defeats Daieisho – An early surge by Daieisho was soon reversed by Okinoumi for the win.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shodai – Comedy match as Shodai’s miserable, weak tachiai is paired against Chiyotairyu’s 191 kg cannonball charge. Shodai actually was airborne for a moment as a result of collision. It was over that fast.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Endo seems to have dialed in his sumo, and is fighting well. Hokutofuji attempts the handshake tachiai, but Endo is ready and counters with a double arm thrust attack to the shoulders, which drops Hokutofuji.
Ichinojo defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s budding sumo power seems to be absent for the past few days. He has always struggled with Ichinojo (has yet to beat him). Ichinojo landed his preferred left hand outside grip at the tachiai, and there was nothing that Nishikigi could do.
Tochiozan defeats Myogiryu – Two battle hardened old veterans made this a quick match, with Tochiozan giving ground while maintaining grip, dropping Myogiryu to the clay.
Takakeisho defeats Onosho – These two are long term rivals, and friends. They also represent the archetype of the tadpole form. It was a fierce match that favored Takakeisho, and he gave no quarter to Onosho, who made a quick exit powered by Takakeisho’s thrusts.
Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido drops to 3-5 as Tamawashi did not give the Ozeki any opening to bring his offense to the match. Multiple times Goeido went for a grip of any kind, and found himself reactive to Tamawashi’s oshi attacks.
Shohozan defeats Takayasu – Points to Shohozan for having the stones to unload a henka with the Emperor watching, and Takayasu bought it. To be honest, Takayasu is less than normal, and Shohozan’s execution was very good. But it would have been better to see these two fight it out.
Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama opened strong with his preferred thrusting attack, but Hakuho absorbed it all and remained on balance and poised. In the blink of an eye, Hakuho moved in close to Aoiyama and loaded a throw. Its both amazing and impressive to see that much Bulgarian airborne. Hakuho remains undefeated.