Sorry for letting life take me away from entertaining (or boring) you with bouts from the lower divisions. I’ll try to catch up over the weekend. And to do that, let’s start with a collection from days 4 and 5.
Of the maezumo rikishi we have met in the first day, one has gone kyujo – Taiga (formerly Terunohana), who should never have been on that dohyo anyway with that wrist. I believe those two bouts he lost are enough to get him a place in Jonokuchi, I just hope in Hatsu his wrist will be in better condition. So the remaining rikishi are the Mongolian Dewanoryu, Naya’s little brother Mudoho, his sempai Nihonyanagi, and Naruto beya’s returning freshman, Iwata.
- Dewanoryu (facing us) – Mudoho (back to us)
- Nihonyanagi (facing us) – Iwata (back to us)
Dewanoryu looks like the Mongolian he is. Poor Taiho’s grandson, who does have some sumo in him, I assure you, stands no chance. Iwata seems to be out of his league here, but not everybody in Naruto beya can be Motobayashi or Marusho.
In our first Jonokuchi bout, we have Asahimaru from Tomozuna beya. Remember, like Iwata above, he was recently recruited, had one not-so-good basho, one kyujo basho, and then maezumo again. His opponent, on the right, is Yutakanami, the new Tatsunami beya recruit.
Yutakanami still has to work on his tachiai, but following it his sumo is very convincing. He is now 2-0, and Asahimaru goes home with 1-1.
Our next pair includes Senho from Miyagino beya, Hakuho’s latest recruit. Quick reminder: he is half-Mongolian, grew up in Japan and went to middle school in Mongolia, where he played basketball and had very little to do with sumo, much like the guy who recruited him. On the right side, opposite him, starts Shiryu from Minato beya:
Senho’s tachiai is even worse than Yutakanami’s, but it’s obvious his coaches have been doing some serious work. That was one helluva morozashi, and also good footwork.
Moving on to yet another Mongolian, Hokutenkai with the Takanoiwa pedigree. He stands on the left, and his opponent, Zendaisho from Takadagawa, on the right. Both are 1-0.
Hokutenkai’s oshi-zumo is definitely not typical of Mongolian wrestlers, but that, too, has begun to change in recent years as more of them go through the Japanese school system. He’s now 2-0.
Amane from Shikoroyama beya gets the dubious pleasure of facing Murata, as both are 1-0. Murata is on the right.
You didn’t expect it to end differently, did you? Murata’s highest rank was Makushita 1, and he wants to get back there and not waste his time on this Jonidan riffraff.
In Sandanme we start with the short haired Roman (Tatsunami, left), facing Kotomyozan (Sadogatake, of course). Each is 1-0. Roman had a strong tournament after his return from his mystery kyujo+haircut, then a slightly weaker one with a 4-3 kachi-koshi. He is nearing his top rank of Sd92, but of course he wants to top it.
Well, to do that he will need to have better control of his feet. He is now 1-1.
Next, we have our favorite Texan, Wakaichiro. After that little misfortune with what should probably have been a matta, he stands on the left side and hopes to correct things vs. Fujinowaka from Fujishima beya.
And yes, he does. Decisively. Though I’d still prefer him to rely a little less on his tip-toes.
Next up is our friend from Naruto beya, Sakurai, who surprisingly lost his first bout, and now faces Hikarfuji from Isegahama beya, who also lost his. Sakurai on the left, Hikarifuji on the right:
Although I support every Isegahama boy by default, I’d say that normally Hikarifuji would be no match for a guy like Sakurai. Following this bout, Sakurai goes kyujo. I don’t seem to detect any injury during this bout – correct me if I’m wrong – so I suppose there is some relapse of his old knee problem.
We begin with Shohoryu, the honor student of the Kakuryu Academy, whose opponent for the day is Keitenkai, a Makushita regular, whom we have seen a couple of times in these reports, mostly in the capacity of defeating Roga. Keitenkai is on the left, Shohoryu, on the right.
Shohoryu, I remind you, is the backup yumi-tori performer. They say the role of bow twirler is jinxed. That anybody performing it will not make it to sekitori. Though I heard of counter-examples, I think the jinx mostly has to do with the fact that they pick wrestlers who are unlikely to do so anyway. After all, the performers are supposed to be tsukebito of some Yokozuna, and Yokozuna prefer stability around them. But Kakuryu’s team is somewhat different. It has produced several sekitori so far – Abi, Daishoho, Irodori, Gokushindo. That’s why I call it “The Kakuryu Academy”. Shohoryu and Kyokusoten seem to show signs of following those sempai (Gokushindo is back for remedial studies), so in Shohoryu’s case, the jinx may not really apply.
OK, back to the matches, Chiyonoumi, my man from Kochi, won his first bout and now faces Shiba, who, if you recall, did the same. Chiyonoumi is on the left.
Chiyonoumi lets his mawashi get caught, and being an oshi man, that puts him at a serious disadvantage from the beginning. He vigorously tries to shake Shiba off, but in the process, his foot goes out. It takes the two of them – and the gyoji – some time to realize that. Too bad for Chiyonoumi, and Shiba is now 2-0.
Midorifuji, the Isegahama pixie, is matched with Hakuyozan, who took years to become sekitori, and had some bad luck, getting injured as he reached J3. He dropped back to Makushita, and is trying to get back into promotion range. Midorifuji is on the right.
Midorifuji is very mobile and agile – he would have to be with that size. The pixie takes the day, and walks down the hana-michi a winner. Instead of going directly to the showers, he turns around and watches his heya-mate, Terunofuji, whose match is scheduled right after his. If they were in Juryo, he would be handing him the chikara-mizu at this point, but that ceremony is not held in Makushita.
Terunofuji also faces a rival from Takadagawa beya, the popular Shonannoumi. The former Ozeki is, of course, on the right.
Terunofuji said his oyakata told him “Don’t thrust people away too much. You thrust like that, and it will come back like a boomerang” (free translation, as usual). He took that as a hint that he should engage in yotsu-zumo instead of push-and-thrust, though my own interpretation is that it was a mild form of rebuke for his dame-oshi in his first match. Be that as it may, the former Ozeki is safely 2-0 in his quest for the Makushita yusho.
Here is the Juryo digest of the day:
- Both Akiseyama and Gagamaru give the impression they are heading down to black cotton mawashi land. Gagamaru managed to survive a year in Juryo after last time it happened – I am not sure he’ll be able to repeat it.
- Hoshoryu looks surprisingly good this basho. He said in an interview that after his make-koshi back in Nagoya, he changed his style, and started watching his rival closely at the tachiai.
- Kotonowaka continues his march forward. Sokokurai was no easy rival and escaped several times, but eventually Kotonowaka uses his leg to destroy Sokokurai’s hold on the bale and force him out. That’s sumo!
- Ikioi borrows Shodai’s tachiai for the bout vs. Chiyoshoma. He rises slowly, eying his wily opponent with suspicious eyes. Chiyoshoma can’t henka, and can’t really do anything else against the rejuvenating Ikioi.
- Dewanoryu (left) – Nihonyanagi (right)
- Iwata (left) – Mudoho (right)
If maezumo is any indication, Mitakeumi may find himself walking behind Dewanoryu in heya functions a few years from now.
The poor Mudoho finally found his “shonichi”. We’ll see in the coming tournaments how he manage to deal with his royal status.
We continue to watch Senho and Yutakanami. Let’s start with Senho this time. He stands on the left, and his opponent is Numano from Musashigawa beya.
Was… that… a kachiage to the face…? Oh, lordy lord. Here is an imaginary conversation between Senho and his anideshi at Miyagino, maybe someone like Umizaru or Chura. “You got to improve your tachiai. It’s the most important part of the match.” “OK, what do I do?”. “Watch some videos of the boss”. Guys, next time, check which ones he picked.
Anyway, Senho is one win away from his first kachi-koshi.
Yutakanami has been matched today with Otsuji from Takadagawa beya. Otsuji joined sumo in Haru, was 4-3 in Natsu, then went kyujo for a whole tournament. Unlike Yutakanami and Iwata, the kachi-koshi in Natsu landed him in Jonidan, so he didn’t drop off the banzuke. However, he was kyujo again the next tournament, and did “The Ryuden” – showed up for the very last match to avoid dropping off. So he didn’t have to go through maezumo again. His first win this tournament has been a fusensho, though. He and Yutakanami are 2-0, then, as they start this bout. Yutakanami is on the right.
Otsuji is much faster off the tachiai, and fearless. I’d say this guy is going places, if he doesn’t suffer injury again.
Now that one of the Naruto trio is out, Mishima, whom I nicknamed “the understudy” needs to take on his responsibilities! So here he is on the right, facing Tsubakifuji from Isegahama beya on left. Both 2-0.
Hmm. Yes, Mishima is not going to stick around in Jonidan too long. That was pretty one-sided. Mishima improves to 3-0 and is also a win away from another kachi-koshi.
Who’s on the dinner plate for Hokutenkai today? Kaishinmaru from Asakayama is on the right, facing the, I have to say, rather frightening Mongolian.
Bravo to Kaishinmaru for not being afraid, and giving Hokutenkai some challenge, though I think if Hokutenkai had some mawashi experience, it would have ended faster.
Toma recovered from his first loss and is now 1-1. He faces Asadaimon, and I don’t need to tell you which side of the dohyo is slightly sinking under Toma’s weight:
Asadaimon finds himself half way down the hana-michi.
We continue following Yoshii, the youngster from Nakagawa beya. He is now 2-0, and faces Daishosei from oitekaze beya. Yoshii left, Daishosei, right.
The big Yoshii seems to be somewhat frustrated for being overwhemed by a rather smaller Daishosei. But he has time enough for yet another kachi-koshi.
Ito from Shikoroyama has a similar record to Yoshii. In fact, they have joined at the same time. And in the three tournaments since, he had 6-1, 5-2 and 5-2. So definitely one to watch. Opposite him we have Shimomura from Sakaigawa beya, not much more senior, on the right. They are both 2-0:
Ito, unlike Yoshii, manages to turn the tables against the smaller yet not less eager Shimomura. Shitatenage.
Kitanowaka, the ladies’ man from Hakkaku beya, on the left, goes against Daishoki from Oitekaze beya. Both 2-0.
Nice, straightforward yorikiri.
So now we have the top two Narutos. We start with Marusho, on the right, with 2-0, against Wakakinsho from Nishonoseki beya.
Wakakinsho starts half-way between the shikiri-sen and the tawara, for a great impact on the tachiai, and we do hear the blast. But Marusho is not intimidated, and gets him half turned andineffective.
On to Motobayashi, on the left, who meets Tsuyukusa from Otake beya. Again, the two are 2-0.
The new Naruto beya building has four private rooms set aside for future sekitori. At this stage, the newspapers are starting to hint that they are going to get occupied sooner rather than later. Motobayashi certainly looks like he’s going to be the first one to pick a room, but of course, we have to pray that he doesn’t get injured. You know how this basho is.
In Makushita, we have two bouts of interest. First, Midorifuji is back again. You have seen his second win above. Let’s see if he can get a third against Kitaharima from Yamahibiki beya. Midori is the tiny thing on the left.
Ah, the famous Isegahama tawara-dance. Midorifuji is 3-0, and needs one more win for a kachi-koshi.
The other bout features none other than Chiyonokuni, the man from Kokonoe, who suffered a surprising loss in his second bout. Thus he and his opponent, Churanoumi (Kizakiumi’s brother), on the left, are both 1-1.
This was a bit of a letdown, as we didn’t get to see a full display of chiyonokuni slappity-slap. I’m sure he has no issue with an easy win, though, having improved to 2-1. Remember, he needs a kachi-koshi to gain back his sekitori privileges.
Here is the digest for day 5:
- Hoshoryu doesn’t want to lose any “exchange” bouts – bouts with a Makushita rikishi, and he doesn’t let Asagyokusei develop any attack.
- Akiseyama and Gagamaru, again, can’t hold their own against the youngsters, and their chances of survival in Juryo look slimmer and slimmer.
- One thing Wakamotoharu doesn’t need right now is a henka. Watch his face.
- Sokokurai is not looking good. His previous loss at least showed some fighting spirit.
- Kotonowaka and Kyokutaisei are both undefeated going into this day. However, Kotonowaka lands a hand on Kyokutaisei’s mawashi, which is exactly what Kyokutaisei doesn’t want to happen. Kotonowaka stays undefeated, Kyokutaisei suffers his first loss.
- Takagenji finally manages to get a win. Desparate, but thankfully, still doing it the correct way, not the henka way (I’m looking at you, Irodori).
- Yago starts to remind me of Terunofuji in that long drop that followed Natsu 2017.
- Chiyoshoma. Yes, that’s why Ikioi was so cautious the day before.
- Hakkeyoi, Ikioi!