A day late, here are some of the bouts from the lower divisions that took place on Senshuraku. This includes some tidying up – regular bouts featuring rikishi we have followed through Kyushu basho – and some playoffs.
In Jonokuchi, three men participate in the playoffs. After Tosamidori was defeated by Ura in his visit to Jonidan, he dropped to 6-1, the same as Yutakanami and Otsuji. The three-way playoff – “tomoesen” – will continue until one of the men gets two in a row. Though there is potential for an infinite loop here, this is usually resolved pretty quickly.
The first bout is between Yutakanami on the left, and Otsuji on the right.
Otsuji shows clear superiority over the Tatsunami fledgling. So he is up next – still on the right – against Tosamidori on the left.
Tosamidori shows Otsuji the way out, and stays on the left, while Yutakanami mounts the dohyo again, this time on the right.
I believe justice has been done. Though beaten by Ura, Tosamidori was clearly superior to all his Jonokuchi opponents, and it’s his yusho.
By the way, if you think Terunofuji is a great comeback story, take a look at Tosamidori’s history. He has been injured in 2015, dropped all the way off the banzuke, had to do maezumo again, came back for two basho (including a loss to this guy, Enho), went kyujo again and off-banzuke for some time. Then he returned, got Jonokuchi yusho and Jonidan yusho, and then hurt his knee and had to go kyujo again.
Here is his yusho interview:
各段優勝力士インタビュー🎤— SACHI (@junai0115) November 24, 2019
He says “I’m glad I could finish it without injury”. “My aim is to continue next year without injury”. “I hope to be able to move forward without injury”. Poor man. By the way, as you could see in the Sumodb page, he recently changed his shikona to Tosamidori, previously using his real name, Mitsuuchi. The new shikona has been given to him by the recently retired Onomatsu oyakata, who has also supported him through his injuries.
We have a playoff in Jonidan as well, but this time, it’s just one bout, mano-a-mano, between Murata (Takasago) on the left, and Hokutenkai (Onoe), Takanoiwa’s nephew, on the right. In the previous basho, Hokutenkai’s only loss was to that same Murata.
Just as the NHK announcer introduces the rikishi saying “both are pusher-thrusters”, Hokutenkai launches into the tachiai and immediately goes for the mawashi. And what develops certainly doesn’t look like a Jonidan bout. while Hokutenkai has a good hold of Murata’s mawashi on the left, Murata only has ichimai in his right, which means he doesn’t have much leverage. Their other hands are busy in what’s called “sashitearasoi”. That is, each rikishi both aims to insert his own hand and prevent the opponent from doing the same. Eventually Hokutenkai decides to go for a maemitsu, and once he gets that, he starts walking forward. Murata manages to rally the first time he reaches the bales, but not the second wave of attack. This is sekitori-level sumo. Hokutenkai wins the Jonidan yusho. Takanoiwa posts this on his Instagram: “Well done”.
The Sandanme yusho has already been decided – Motobayashi won his third yusho in a row and joined the 21 club – so let’s take a look at two “regular” matches.
The first features Yoshii on the left, and Omote from Shikihide beya on the right. Both are 4-2, trying to extend their kachi-koshi.
And Yoshii teabags Omote, with a kirikaeshi for 5-2.
Next, we have Ito from Shikoroyama beya, whom we have seen around, and Toma, the definitely-not-pixie from Miyagino beya. Both are 5-1 at this point. No need to tell you who is who:
Ito goes back on the dohyo and nods his head with an expression that says “How do they let such monsters into Grand Sumo anyway?”. Exits, stage right, while Toma enjoys a very nice 6-1 result that will probably land him at the top of the Sandanme banzuke for Hatsu.
In Makushita the yusho has also been decided – in favor of the former Ozeki, re-awakening kaiju Terunofuji. So here are a couple of regular bouts.
First, on the left, Hatooka, who also has injury in his history, from which he returned with two consecutive yusho at Jonokuchi and Jonidan. In this basho he is currently only 4-2, and his opponent on the right is Shohoryu, the Academy man who is not Hoshoryu, but can do a mean yumitori-shiki.
Hatooka tosses Shohoryu about like some rag doll. He gets the 5-2 and the better promotion next basho.
Next up, the man who dropped from the yusho arasoi only at the very last moment, Midorifuji, with 5-1, on the left. He faces Shiba, whose only loss came from Midorifuji’s anideshi, Terunofuji. Same score.
The deputy pixie pulls his tactic straight out of the Terutsuyoshi Book Of Doing Sumo Twice Your Own Size, and sends Shiba away thinking he does not want to see another Isegahama man in his life. Yorikiri, and Midorifuji will be at the top of the Makushita banzuke again next basho.
Here is the Juryo digest for senshuraku. It also includes some of the yusho playoffs we have already seen, as well as the Juryo yusho playoff. As you recall, the situation as we go into the day is that there are 6 people with 10-4, one pair of whom facing each other, meaning we can have anything from a single yusho winner to a five-way playoff.
- Hoshoryu is make-koshi, and is set up in an exchange bout with Sakigake from Makushita, who is kachi-koshi. If he loses to Sakigake, he is bound to drop back to Makushita in hatsu. However, he wins this one, retains a minimal 7-8 make-koshi, and all calculations indicate that he will stay in Juryo, but will be demoted a notch.
- Irodori and Sokokurai are set up in a darwin match, and it looks like Sokokurai is not quite well-prepared for it. He is make-koshi, Irodori kachi-koshi.
- Wakamotoharu bids Juryo farewell with a win over the hapless Toyonoshima, who finds himself a little further away from that match with Kotoshogiku he has been dreaming about.
- Kaisho also bids farewell to the division with a win. Takagenji is only going to stick around because he was ranked very high, but he is going to be ranked too close to the heaven-hell demarcation line for comfort. That supporter on his arm, which is not typical of former Takanohana rikishi, tells the story of why he got there.
- Kaisei-Kotonowaka is the yusho elimination match. It’s certainly not a one-sided bout, but the more experienced – and heavy – Kaisei takes it. It now remains to be seen how many men join him for the playoffs.
- Kyokutaisei, as usual, doesn’t allow Hidenoumi anywhere near his mawashi, and wins. He is make-koshi, but only minimally.
- The Kiribayama-Chiyoshoma bout is very entertaining. First, Chiyoshoma’s henka is foiled, as Kiribayama knows who he’s dealing with. Then a speedy match between the Roadrunner and Wile-e-Coyote takes place, but not all of Chiyoshoma’s kicks (did he buy them at Acme?) do him any good. The Roadrunner wins, and buys a place in the playoffs.
- Ouch. Ikioi is bleeding all over the dohyo. But he does beat Akua, which means that he has to do the playoff in that state. He gets his head stapled between the wari and the playoffs.
- The match between Yago and Akiseyama is painful to watch. Akiseyama’s attempt at a leg trip costs him the bout. Yago will only stay in Juryo because he is ranked high, but if he doesn’t get those knees taken care of, he’ll end up as Terunofuji II. Akiseyama is going back to Makushita.
- Kizakiumi prevents Tochiozan from joining the playoff list.
- Tokushoryu manages to eke a kachi-koshi, and Tobizaru manages to break the Dohyo.
- Azumaryu breaks away from Mitoryu only to achieve a better positioning and send him out. Azumaryu is also in the playoffs.
So the playoff becomes a four-way elimination tournament. In the semifinals, you see Ikioi vs. Azumaryu and Kiribayama vs. Kaisei.
- Ikioi favors his stapled head and stands up for a very weak tachiai. Azumaryu takes advantage of that, gets a good grip and eliminates Ikioi from the yusho race.
- Kiribayama, however, seems to have depleted his Roadrunner magic in the “wari” – the regular match – and is quickly dispatched by Kaisei.
- In the final, between Azumaryu and Kaisei, Azumaryu uses a similar tactic to that used by Harumafuji against the same man, up in Makuuchi, oh so long ago, and rolls him off his feet. Azumaryu is the Juryo yusho winner – which is what he wrote on his Tanabata wish card back in June!
Thank you, dear readers, for following the lower divisions with me! I hope we’ll have an exciting selection of bouts in January!