Nagoya Storyline #3 – The Makushita Joi-Jin

Some readers are wondering – what is a “Joi-Jin”? In general, it’s the top 10 or so ranks of any lower division, and in the case of Makushita for Nagoya, it’s jam-packed with some rather potent rikishi. Some of them are veterans pushing hard to return to sekitori status, others are up and coming youngsters fighting their way up the banzuke. As we have said before on Tachiai, the top end of Makushita, especially during week 2, is where some of the most flat out, 110% sumo takes place. We expect Nagoya, given who is in the joi for Makushita, to be especially frantic.

It’s important to note that unlike the top 2 divisions, matches go by pairing rikishi who have the same record for all 7 of their matches. So after the first match, all of the 1-0 will fight other 1-0, and all of the 0-1 rikishi will pair off with other 0-1 fighters. This narrows down the 100-200 strong divisions into a workable yusho elimination bracket by match 6 or so in most cases. Because of the vigorous competition in the Makushita joi, many of its members count themselves blessed if they can simply exit the basho with kachi-koshi (4 wins). Lets take a look at who is in the joi this time.


There are quite a few notables here

Seiro – Long time Juryo mainstay Seiro finds himself the top man in Makushita after a 7-8 make-koshi at Juryo 14. A simply 4 wins will put him back in a kesho-mawashi for September.
Irodori – A 6-9 in his Juryo debut in May put him back in Makushita, like Seiro, he needs both a kachi-koshi and some poor performance at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke to return.
Daiseido – After finishing 3-12 at Osaka, he dripped out of Juryo far enough down into Makushita that 5-2 finish at Natsu could take him no higher than Makushita 2.
Hoshoryu – Some readers get frustrated when we mention this, but this fellow is in fact former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew. He has been plugging away with excellent speed / agility sumo, and he’s on the cusp now of a promotable rank. This guy, if he can stay healthy, is likely a future star.
Churanoumi – Former Nihon University athlete, he’s won 3 yusho (including a 7-0 Makushita yusho in Osaka) and already been in Juryo twice.
Chiyootori – Long-serving Maegashira, he has been plagued by injuries and is now fighting to try to return to the salaried ranks. At one point in 2018, he was ranked in Sandanme, but has been fighting back.
Wakamotoharu – After a Makushita yusho in January, and a 5-10 debut as a sekitori in Osaka, this Onami brother is outside the range to likely be promoted with a simple kachi-koshi, he’s going to have to run up the score.
Chiyonokuni – Did you wonder where Makuuchi mainstay Chiyonokuni ended up after he brutally injured his knee? Right here, in the briar patch. A healthy Chiyonokuni can take these guys to the cleaners, but I am going to guess he is lucky to be at 75%. It could get ugly.
Naya – Another young, up and coming rikishi from a sumo family, he has been on a slower upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu, but his sumo is coming to gether very well. He’s not at a promotable rank unless something crazy happens, but his last 2 tournaments featured 6-1 records.
Akua – I have to admit, I really like Akua’s sumo. I want to see him march ahead on the banzuke, but his accumulated injuries seem to have capped his performance.
Kototebakari – Another young man on a rocket ride up the banzuke, this 19 year old rikishi from Chiba has only had one make-koshi in his professional sumo career.

As you can see, even looking into a handful of these rikishi, there is a lot of talent, and a lot of drive to win. It’s going to be tough staying up to watch the top Makushita matchs, but I suspect for Nagoya, there may be a lot of great sumo action to follow from this group.

16 thoughts on “Nagoya Storyline #3 – The Makushita Joi-Jin

  1. I’ll be happy if Chiyonokuni is just healthy enough that competing won’t aggravate/re-awaken whatever injuries.

  2. Joi-jin isn’t only used for lower divisions. We also speak of being in the joi in makuuchi. For example, Asanoyama is about to make his joi debut.

    • *Unless one counts his M5 appearances as joi. Sometimes the joi does extend that far – it’s size varies depending on the number in the yaku ranks.

      • In Japanese it is used for all divisions, though of course fewer people talk about lower divisions in general.

          • There’s no point to talk about, as the promotion requirements are a bit more fluid than in Makushita and it’s not home to the guys who are going to get wrecked like in Makuuchi. But given that Kotoyuki was just put behind Toyonoshima and Asashosakari’s continued reference to the fact that they don’t like promoting guys from anywhere outside the very top of the division, J1-J5 might be considered the joi-jin of Juryo. Their schedules tend to be more similar to each other (because of the division boundary) than when you get further down in the division.

            • Yeah. After all, “joi” literally just means “upper ranks”, so it’s a rather trivial term to use if not specifically to make reference to something that distinguishes the holders of those upper ranks from the rest. Frankly, if I saw somebody talk about a sandanme-joi I’d think they’re trying too hard to be clever, and juryo-joi isn’t far behind. The Toyonoshima/juryo example cited below is probably best taken in the literal sense only.

          • Well, it appears that the “joi” is the part of Juryo from which you have a good probability of advancing to Makuuchi. Take this article about Toyonoshima from March. It says he dropped to Juryo, but is not expected to get below the Juryo joi, but rather get back to Makuuchi within one basho.

        • My Japanese dictionary defines the Makushitajoi as the top thirty rikishi as well, not top ten (although I assume the writer of the article above meant ten on each side of the banzuke). Perhaps joi means different things in different divisions. In Makuuchi we usually say it’s the top twenty from Yokozuna East on down. Maybe in Juryo it’s only the top ten or something.

          • “Joi” simply means “top ranks”. It isn’t an exclusively sumo term, and doesn’t have an exact arithmetic definition.

            • Indeed, so it may be applied differently for each division. I can see that for Juryo it may only be the guys in the top few ranks, though in Juryo there is less of a round robin approach to the scheduling. The Makushita and Makuuchi joi fight largely among themselves, which gives the word some meaning/purpose, but in Juryo the J1 guy can find himself scheduled against J10 as standard. To speak of a joi in Juryo then makes a little less sense than for other divisions.

  3. This looks positively mouth-watering: I’ll definitely be following this storyline closely. Of course with the way that makushita works means it’s quite common for the yusho to go to a wrestler who’s way down the ranking list. And if we check out the bottom rungs of the ladder we find a name you may have heard of… hint, it starts with “Teru” and ends in “fuji”.

  4. A 6-1 from Naya’s position is sometimes good enough for promotion – it was for Ishiura. If there’s someone demotable by their record in Juryo, it would be enough, while 5-2 wouldn’t (which would require someone who needed to be demoted, llke with Enho and Taka(yoshitoshi)nofuji’s debuts).

    One thing to note about Hoshoryu is that if Akiseyama has lost his last match, Hoshoryu would likely have been promoted. He’s also on a KK streak from debut and just turned 20 years old – you normally only see these KK streaks to the top of Makushita from guys graduated from college who thus (if they start at Maezumo) are 23-24 already. He looks to be starting just as strong as Takakeisho at almost exactly the same age upon entering. Takakeisho had an MK at Ms7, but won the yusho 2 basho later for promotion. Hoshoryu will tie the Ozeki’s speed with promotion after this tournament.

    Naya, Tsukahara and Kototebakari, who are all only slightly younger than Hoshoryu might turn out to be pretty good too, but the latter seems like the cream of the current crop, although with only seeing results in Makushita with 7 bouts a basho it’s harder to tell. I’d love for these 4 guys to take a shot at the record of matches fought between two rikishi like with the four of Harumafuji, Hakuho, Kotoshogiku, and Kisenosato*, the 6 pairings between whom are all in the top 7 of all time (and the 7th is only tied)**. They’re even closer in age and so far they seem very comparable in skill and destined for the Makuuchi joi-jin.

    *Kakuryu’s pairings with these 4 are also fairly high, but not quite at the same level as even if he was the same age, it took him a bit longer to reach the top ranks. Kisenosato was younger, but was the fastest among them.


    • I think Naya improved a lot the last two tournaments. Not so much skill-wise maybe, as more in concentration and judgement. When Hoshoryu leapfrogged him, a lot of his losses were “unnecessary” ones. Curious if he can keep that performance up at this level. He is also very likely to face Kototebakari again, against whom he has an 0-2 record so far. I hope all 3 will make it to Juryo in the not too far future, so we can see them regularly fight each other.
      I lost a bit of track of Tsukahara after his hot start with 2 yusho, he slowed down a bit.

      Further down I’m also having an eye on Roga at his Makushita debut. That guy just looks like he will catch up to this young group not too far in the future.


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