Bouts From The Lower Divisions, Day 1

Hello Tachiai readers. Hohisashiburi! Today, not many of the big names of the lower divisions were in play – there’s going to be a big burst of them tomorrow – but still, I collected several bouts for you, including three loose themes:

Homarefuji and Hakuyozan – image of Jungyo past – fall into the third category
  • Bruce’s “Ones To Watch”
  • Hakuho’s Uchi-deshi
  • Wrestlers of past glory trying to work their way back

Jonidan

We start with one of Hakuho’s uchi-deshi. For those of you who are not familiar with the term – those are wrestlers recruited by someone who belongs to a heya, but intends to open his own heya. The uchi-deshi are recruited into the heya he belongs to, but it is agreed that once he leaves the heya, they go together with him. Usually that term applies to young oyakata and their future flock, but in this case, the great Yokozuna started collecting uchi-deshi a long time ago. His first one was Yamaguchi, followed by Ishiura, Enho, and recently, Toma. This basho he has a new one, Hasegawa, who will be doing mae-zumo.

So we start with Toma, Hakuho’s ginormous 18 year old from Okinawa. He had a modest kachi-koshi in Natsu, and duly advanced to Jonidan. Here we see him on the East (left side), facing Sekizukayama from Tagonoura beya on the right.

I’m less than enthusiastic about Toma’s tachiai. I heard say that he had back issues even before he joined. Hakuho commanded him to lose weight, but judging from his restaurant photos, he is not exactly on the fast track to doing that. Hakuho’s uchi-deshi have a habit of ignoring his commands about their lifestyles (I’m looking at you, Enho!)

Our next bout is one of Bruce’s Ones To Watch – and one I watched in the previous basho as well as he made his first steps in Jonokuchi. Kitanowaka has been melting hearts in Tokyo with his lovely fringe hairdo, but this basho he had to follow the forms and have it pulled back (though he can’t have it tied into a chon-mage yet), which makes him look a lot older than his 19 years of age. Here he is on the West (right) vs. Ota from Yamahibiki beya on the left.

I think I wouldn’t be exaggerating too much if I called this one one-sided. Kitanowaka is the bee’s knees, and Jonidan is not his natural territory.

Next up, we move to our third category – ones who recover. Homarefuji, who used to be a fixture at Isegahama’s sekitori events, had health issues that dropped him further and further down in Juryo, then to Makushita, then finally a series of several kyujo, which ended with him participating in a single bout in Natsu, just to keep himself away from Jonokuchi. So he is now starting on the path back up. Here he (East, right) faces Mienosato (left) from Kasugano beya.

This looks like a good start for a comeback – it’s a tsukitaoshi for Homarefuji. Gambare!

Sandanme

Moving up one division, here is Shoji from Musashigawa, “One To Watch”, on the East (left), facing Genbumaru from Onoe beya on the right:

Straightforward Oshidashi.

We turn to another one of Hakuho’s uchi-deshi, the veteran Yamaguchi. When he was recruited back in 2012 he was considered a great promise and got a Makushita tsukedashi. He got as far as Makuuchi but a combination of Graves’s disease and injuries dropped him all the way back to Makushita. He fought his way back only to suffer further knee injuries, now at Sandanme 71. So he belongs to two of our categories. So here he is on the West (right), facing Toho, from Otake beya, on the left.

Another one whom Bruce watches for – and who is also on the comeback list – is Amakaze from Oguruma beya, the man with the big appetite, big belly, and excellent flexibility. Today Amakaze (West, right) faced Kototora, here on the East (left):

No problems whatsoever. Amakaze continues his journey back up, which started in Haru, hoping for yet another fine kachi-koshi.

Makushita

One of the rikishi I have been keeping tabs on is Yoshoyama from Tokitsukaze beya, a Mongolian who has entered the rather big sandals left by the late Tokitenku. He currently serves as Yutakayama’s tsukebito. Though he only suffered one make-koshi in his career, most of his kachi-koshi are drab 4-3s. Here he is on the west (right) facing Onojo from Takadagawa beya on the left.

This is just the end of the bout, but in any case, he couldn’t quite do the tachiai properly and ended up in that desperate situation. His ankle seems to be taped over and of some concern.

Next we move up to one of our favorite “Ones To Watch”, middle Onami brother, Wakamotoharu. Here facing Fujiazuma (East, right).

Very energetic start, and he fights for a proper grip, until at some point he… spits his mouth piece?… then decides to end quickly before that piece gets trampled. :-)

In fact, all three Onami brothers won today. There would have been great rejoicing at Arashio beya… if Sokokurai and Kotokuzan didn’t end up losing.

Moving on, it’s our friend Kototebakari, who faced Tsukahara for the fourth time in their career. Kototebakari is in the East, left.

Yet another one-sided match. Kototebakari has “future sekitori” written all over him.

Our next “One To Watch” is pixie Midorifuji, from Isegahama beya, Facing Hokutowaka, who, as the name hints, is from Hakkaku beya. Hokutowaka is on the East (left), while Midorifuji is on the right.

The pixie starts with an HNH, and pesters Hokutowaka until he manages to get behind him, end of story, okuridashi.

Our next bout I wanted you to see because Genki, from Onomatsu beya, is looking very much genki. Too bad it’s not written the same way. His new shikona is the name of an era in the history of Japan. If you take the kanji literally, they mean… “Former Turtle”, or “Former Tortoise”. So this tortoise is facing Toyohibiki, whom I could put in my “recovery” category, but frankly, it seems like his good days are behind him. Genki is on the left, Toyohibiki on the right:

That kimarite is an “okurinage”.

But here is one I know some of you have been worrying about: Hakuyozan, who had a nasty injury back in Haru and missed Natsu. He is on the East – left – facing Chiyosakae on the right.

This was not the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am that some other “recoverers” above had, but still, it’s nice to see him in sumo wrestling form.

Juryo

Let’s take a look at how some of our new Juryo men fared. Two of them actually faced each other today. Ichiyamamoto (second sekitori from Nishonoseki beya after a long single-handed reign by Shohozan) is on the East (left), facing Kizakiumi, who is Churanoumi’s less handsome brother, on the right.

Apparently, Ichiyamamoto is not interested in leaving the heya in the hands of a single ruler again…

Another much hyped new sekitori is Kotonowaka (previously Kotokamatani), the man with the hairstyle that’s more an Afro than an oicho-mage. He has inherited his father’s ring name, and needs to show that he deserves it. Unfortunately, Akiseyama, who is in a very precarious position in Juryo, begs to differ. Kotonowaka is on the left, the mountain of bread, sorry, Akiseyama, is on the right:

Akiseyama is not showing prince Kotonowaka the Second any royal respect.

The following bout between Daiamami and Kiribayama is from SumoSoul’s feed, and I really had to include it because Kiribayama does a very nice Harumafuji impression there at the end. Daiamami on the East (left), the foggy horse mountain on the right:

Am I right?

On our list of recoverers, here is Ikioi facing Tobizaru. The good thing to note about Ikioi is that he is finally rid of that extra-padded bandage on his lower leg. But Tobizaru is not letting seniority or feeble health disturb him. I’m sure you can tell which one of these is Ikioi and which one is the flying monkey (this one, too, is from SumoSoul):

And once again Ikioi finds himself in a heap at the bottom of the dohyo. Can’t even be angry at the man in the banana mawashi.

And while we are on the subject of henka, ahem, here we are again with one of Hakuho’s uchi-deshi, Ishiura, who is facing the not-really-199-kg Gagamaru. Again, I’m sure you can spot which one is on which side:

I suppose this henka is borderline, as he technically didn’t jum aside. Nevertheless… I’m sure Gagamaru contemplates stuffing some Churchkhela up Ishiura’s privates.

So now, every single one of Hakuho’s uchi-deshi won. We’ll see how the new one fares in maezumo.

Tomorrow, as Bruce has already published, we have a star-studded Day 2 in the lower divisions. See you!

12 thoughts on “Bouts From The Lower Divisions, Day 1

  1. ‘Genki’ means ‘former tortoise’? Oh man, they’ve picked that shikona with future headlines in mind. “Genki comes out of his shell” when he makes sekitori, etc. Of course, headlines along the lines of being too slow are also possible, but that’s a risk you take!

    • I remember there was something like that. I noted at the time that he was not set as retiring but as kyujo, but I’m willing to swear that I saw his name on the list of wakamonogashira.

      I guess he changed his mind. It has happened in the past that an oyakata has handed in his resignation papers because he couldn’t find a new kabu to borrow, and found one a few days later, and the NSK allowed him to stay. There’s a precedent for everything.

      • I do still hope that job is still there for him whenever he does decide to retire. I’d be curious to see how many former sekitori are willing to toil that long in the unsalaried ranks after falling out of juryo. Has there ever been a former makuuchi wrestler who has spent a consecutive decade unsalaried after his sekitori days?

        • It’s a difficult query for the SumoDB.

          Anyway, Hitenryu has only been sekitori for two basho, and he advanced to Juryo with a 4-3 out of Makushita 10! That was in May 2011, so I’m guessing he was only promoted because of the many forced retirements following the Yaocho scandal. Perhaps he doesn’t really feel he is a “former sekitori” so much as a “low ranking rikishi who was overpromoted once”.

  2. This was great. I tried to find the amiuchi done by Sawada down in Jonokuchi. There were several great bouts down there last night.

  3. These lower division matches might be my favorite part of this site. Big thanks Herouth for making this happen.

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