Hatsu Day 1 Highlights

Day 1 in Tokyo started at a good intensity, and simply went up from there. There was some decent sumo, some good sumo, and some sumo that made the crowd roar. To the lovely Australians who were sitting with me up in Stadium B, it was great to introduce you to sumo. You were a fun group. To buysumotickets.com, who got my seats, and are the place to check if you are going to watch sumo live in Japan, thank you!

As always, it’s a wonder to watch sumo on television, but it’s just another experience first hand in Japan. With NHK or Abema (for those lucky enough to be able to watch it), you can see more detail. But you see what the camera wants to show you. In person, the colors are real, the details and emotions register at full force, and the combat is shockingly real. It’s an experience that sumo fans should aspire to, even if they are from modest means.

Where to start with today… Yes, the beginning.

Highlight Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyoshoma – No henka from Chiyoshoma today, just straight ahead sumo. So Tokushoryu uses his bigger body to overpower Chiyoshoma. Note Tokushoryu’s tachiai—he was ready to deflect a Chiyoshoma henka. Great work today in reading the match by Tokushoryu.

Kiribayama defeats Kaisei – Kaisei dominated this match, but Kiribayama’s startling and excellent footwork at the tawara pulled out the victory. It looked like sorcery in person, and watching it later on video still strained credibility.

Tochiozan defeats Ikioi – Ikioi got inside early and advanced strongly. But Tochiozan was able to deflect his advance, and in a surprisingly causal way simply brushed him aside and toward the clay. This came down to balance, and Tochiozan was in form today.

Azumaryu defeats Shimanoumi – Azumaryu got a shallow frontal grip at the tachiai, and never gave Shimanoumi a chance to recover.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – A real smoker of a match, these two compact powerhouses threw the kitchen sink at each other, and still needed more. Terutsuyoshi appeared to dictate the terms of the match, but Kotoeko vigorously repelled every offensive gambit. Kotoeko’s balance and stability were surprising, and effective. But Terutsuyoshi kept chipping away, and pushed Kotoeko to the bales, where a last minute pull by Kotoeko failed, and Terutsuyoshi took the match.

Chiyomaru defeats Kotoshogiku – As noted in the preview, Chiyomaru presents very few places to grab any kind of hold, and thus Kotoshogiku could offer little in the way of true offense. To his credit, he focused everything he could against Chiyomaru’s chest, but his attacks could find no purchase.

Kagayaki defeats Tsurugisho – Mr Fundamentals showed none of his expected and typical ring rust today. Kagayaki kept his hips low, and kept his weight over the arches of his feet. Great defensive sumo to start, and he seized the chance when Tsurugisho gave him a opening.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ishiura – Ishiura could not withstand that “overload” tachiai, and attempted to break contact. But as he moved away, he stumbled and lost his balance. A quick step out and the win went to Chiyotairyu. Great opening tsuppari combo from Chiyotairyu today.

Yutakayama defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi got inside at the tachiai, and landed a deep right hand grip. Robbed of his desired oshi-battle, Yutakayama returned the mawashi grip and dropped his hips with gusto, bucking forward and catching Sadanoumi a bit by surprise. Was that gaburi-yori I saw? I think it was. Nice win for Yutakayama outside of his normal sumo style book.

Takanosho defeats Ryuden – Annoying, hokey fake matta again from Ryuden to throw off his opponent’s timing. But Takanosho was completely unfazed. Multiple times, Ryuden reached for a mawashi grip and came up empty. Takanosho kept his mind on his attack plan, and shut Ryuden down. Solid sumo from Takanosho.

Aoiyama defeats Onosho – It’s a common problem; Onosho’s balance was too far forward, and Big Dan Aoiyama knew exactly what to do. He focused his blows on Onosho’s face, and Onosho was unable to remain upright for long.

Shohozan defeats Tochinoshin – Sadly Tochinoshin is still hurt; at least that is what the consensus seemed to be in Tokyo as he shifted to the side at the tachiai, leaving Shohozan to circle around and bring the fight to the former Ozeki. Tochinoshin seemed to lack any offensive plan, and succumbed to Shohozan’s attacks.

Enho defeats Takarafuji – The crowd went berserk before the match even started, and the fireworks of this match pushed the energy higher still. To his credit, Takarafuji was able to execute what I think his plan was—stalemate Enho and then attack on his own terms. In the past, this would have been quite effective, but Enho continues to evolve, and responded with skill and strength to Takarafuji’s attack. Enho somehow managed to load a throw from a seriously poor body position, and made it work. Amazing.

Shodai defeats Meisei – Typical weak tachiai from Shodai, but his stablity allowed him to absorb Meisei’s opening advance, and his patience got him the inside arm position. Then Shodai advanaced strongly, and drove Meisei down. If someone can get this guy a potent tachiai, he’s a monster.

Okinoumi defeats Abi – Okinoumi once again shows he can shut down Abi-zumo. Abi opens strong with his long-armed attack, and seems to be in control. But Okinoumi gave ground sparingly, and Abi lost traction and received a face full of Tokyo clay. To my eye, it was a bit of a surprise loss.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – I know in the prediction podcast I called for Takayasu to get his 10, but he did not look strong today against “Arm Breaker” Tamawashi. Tamawashi proved effective at raising the Ozekiwake and moving him back. Once Tamawashi puts you in motion, the match is likely his.

Asanoyama defeats Mitakeumi – Wow, another amazing fight. Mitakeumi almost blew this match early with a pull down attempt that Asanoyama was ready to exploit. But Asanoyama only gained a bit of ground, and Mitakeumi set his defense. The two go chest to chest, but Mitakeumi wasted precious seconds trying to figure out his gip. By then, Asanoyama has assumed one of his classic sumo poses, and we all know it’s a fast trip to woodblock print land for Mitakeumi. Fortunately the Edo Tokyo museum is next door, and the Hokusai museum is down the road.

Hokutofuji defeats Goeido – Hokutofuji is known for slapping himself around before a match, but he took it to loud extremes today. We knew both were going to try for an overwhelming opening move, but Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai found it’s mark on Goeido’s throat, and the Maegashira had control of the match. With Goeido focused on escape, Hokutofuji disrupted his balance and swung the Ozeki to the clay.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu still has not found a way to overcome Takakeisho’s sumo (now 9-0), though he got in a few solid shoves.

Endo defeats Kakuryu – After an even tachiai, Kakuryu went into reactive mode, working to blunt and deflect everything Endo used to attack. But Kakuryu resorted to a pull, and I was surprised when the gumbai went to Endo. From the stadium it looked like Endo stepped out first. The monoii upheld the gumbai, and the crowd cheered. On replay (which I saw hours later) it was clear that Kakuryu’s foot was out long before Endo touched down.

Hakuho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho came painfully close to making it 2 wins in a row over the dai-Yokozuna. Hakuho started with his obligatory face-slap, but found himself being pushed back by Daieisho’s advance. But The Boss was not going to let Daieisho repeat, landed a right hand outside grip, and put the upstart Komusubi over the bales.

24 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 1 Highlights

  1. I can imagine the lasting impression the Aussie family you sat with have of sumo will be of names such as The Grand Tadpole, Mr. Fundamentals, Big Dan, the Power Pixies, The Kyushu Bulldozer, and The Boss!

    Thanks for the report, Bruce.

  2. At least Takakeisho delivered for the Ozeki, ex-Ozeki, and soon the be ex-Ozeki. Today was very sad for that demographic, and thank the Great Sumo Cat for Takakeisho. Question- might any of that be ring rust or are we just looking at injuries? And I was relieved Hakuho did nothing gratuitous to Daieisho, Phew. Enho- just a ball of highly charged pixie dust molecules and what a show! Also huge fun was watching a female sumo fan in the first two reacting to everything- she was delightful and clearly loves sumo.

    One thing Bruce, Josh always tells us what he eats. Helps the vicarious experience. Also, what’s for sale?

    • I do intend to focus on some foodie bits probably starting day 3. Right now I am in the thick of the photo safari, with day 2 being the “prime” day for taking pictures. I will say that the food trucks outside are back, and the Chanko this basho looks very good (yet to have it). I have also been directed by Tachiai management to review some of the bento boxes. Naturally, I will obey.

  3. Azumaryu got loooooooowwwww on his tachiai! WOW! I wondered why he was starting so close to the bales, but because of his height, and his angle of attack he almost has to start there. Impressive stuff from him today!

    I was saddened to see the amount of tape that Kotoshogiku is wearing. I do not see this basho going well for him.

    I wonder if Big Dan thought “Foolish Mortal!” when Onosho attempted his opening gambit. It sure felt like it with the nonchalance he flipped his opponent over.

    Okinoumi won because he let Abi get overzealous and overbalanced with his attacks. Okinoumi controlled the distance between him and Abi and that’s the main reason why Abi overextended and lost his footing. Abi needs to be much more aware of those things instead of simply focusing on thrusting.

    Tamawashi won easily because Takayasu completely screwed up his tachiai. Once they collided, this bout was literally over. Tamawashi’s hands were both below where Takayau’s elbows were! “Thanks for the help, Mate! Let’s see you out, shall we?”

    Goeido isn’t even up to version 1.0 based on today’s match. He needs to upgrade his sumo system pronto.

    I wonder if Takakeisho won because Myogiryu was expecting his standard “wave attack”. That’s not what Takakeisho did, for the most part, which is definitely a way to disrupt an opponent.

    A surprising mistake from Kakuryu! I don’t expect that to happen again anytime soon.

    Hakuho won, but as usual, he really had to fight for it. Daieisho was also INCREDIBLY nervous before the bout, so that also helped Hakuho too.

    • Have to beg to differ on one little point: Tamawashi beat Takayasu because he’s the better damn wrestler. That’s why he’s the one with a big picture hanging from the rafters of the Kokugikan.

      • Beg to differ. Takayasu is by miles the better wrestler, but he is notoriously injured, more or less on a continuous basis since his promotion to Ozeki.
        It’s no accident that takayasu has 12 makuuchi tournaments with more than 10 wins and another 5 with 10. Tamawashi has 2 and 4 respectively. He is a one hit Wonder. I still like him, just wish he would less frequently break other people’s arms.

  4. It’s good to see a lot of exciting and enjoyable bouts on day one, especially after the many injuries in Kyushu last year. Sure, not everybodys favorite won and this isn’t the greatest start for Kakuryu but it beats seeing a good portion of the rikishi having to wait for a wheel chair.

    Just as a interesting question: If Goeido is demoted back to Sekiwake next basho and there’s no one coming up to fill his slot, which of the Yokozuna will be disgnated Yokozuna-Ozeki? Is there a set order?

  5. Kagayaki and Yutakayama seem ready and able to make big strides this basho, while Asanoyama is looking large and in charge.

    I was impressed with the power Hakuho generated from his injured arm; it really made the difference in the bout. On the other hand, Meisei has joined the ranks of the one-armed rikishi.

    Abi’s knee clearly is bothering him; he’s hobbling a bit. Speaking of bad knees, I think Tochinoshin had an offensive plan: He wanted to get Shohozan off-balance at the tachiai by sidestepping him, then use the skycrane. However, as he was reaching for that crane grip, Shohozan got up in his grill and didn’t let up.

    Note that Enho deployed a nice leg pick to set up his throw of Takarafuji. Gotta love his creativity.

    Where’s Endo’s gold mawashi?!?

    • Where’s Endo’s gold mawashi?<<

      I actually exclaimed that out loud as he mounted the dohyo. I had to look hard to make sure I had not screwed up reading the torikumi.

    • Just a guess of course, but now that he’s a married man, he wanted a change. “New beginnings.”

  6. I was really disappointed by Mitakeumi. He completely overrun Asanoyama at the tachiai to then go for this stupid pulling attempt, that gave up all the ground he won and much more. Even if he managed to drag it out a little bit, he never got into a defendable position again afterwards.

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