Haru 2020, Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

In Makushita and below, Day 2 is essentially just the second part of Day 1. That is, about half the rikishi do their first bout on the actual Day 1, and the second half do it on Day2.

It is also the day when maezumo bouts begin. While in other basho we are usually lucky if there are 10 new recruits showing up, Osaka basho has always been a basho in which dozens of rikishi join the profession. This time we have 45 new recruits (and one guy who is off-banzuke and needs to redo his maezumo), split into two groups. I won’t be able to cover that many in this little corner, but I’ll introduce one who has drawn some media attention.

Maezumo

The guy I want to introduce is a Mongolian chap, named Davaaninji. He has lived in Japan – specifically, in Sapporo, Hokkaido – since he was 5 years old, going occasionally back to Mongolia for family visits.

On one such occasion, while waiting for a connection flight at an airport in Korea, he happened to meet Hakuho. So he had his photo taken with the Yokozuna. And this was not the last time for them to meet. When the boy wanted to do sumo, Hakuho recommended the Tottori schools he is associated with. Davaaninji ended up in the famous Tottori Johoku high school, where Ishiura’s dad works in the sumo department. And now that he has graduated, Hakuho called him in to Miyagino beya.

Because he has lived in Japan more than 10 years, he doesn’t fall into the foreigner cap. That is, he can join Miyagino beya while Hakuho, its original foreigner, is still active (no, Hakuho’s change of citizenship didn’t change that). His shusshin is registered as Sapporo. But “Davaaninji” is still a foreign name, and accordingly, he got a shikona – Hokuseihō – from the Yokozuna.

He is doing his maezumo this basho. And he says he aspires to be like Hakuho. Which is a bit of a tall order. But he is a bit of a tall guy – the boy from the airport grew up to be 2 meters tall. And here is his Day 1 bout, and you can see the sea of recruits waiting for their respective bouts as well. His opponent for this bout is 15 years old Yagi, joining Yamahibiki beya, where he has an older brother going by the shikona Ienoshima.

Jonokuchi

So now we move to our regular fare. And we can’t start a basho without our favorite Jonokuchi wrestler, Hattorizakura. He is on the left, and his lucky opponent of the day is Onoyama, Tatsunami beya’s freshest recruit.

Believe it or not, Onoyama deploys gaburi-yori against Hattorizakura. This is the most unnecessary use of fine technique you’ll see today.

In the more serious section of Jonokuchi, we have Takeoka from Oguruma beya on the left, and Hayatefuji, the Isegahama recruit on whom high hopes are set.

And in his first ranked bout, Hayatefuji apparently delivers on those hopes. Also, I used to think Isegahama just wrecks his deshi’s knees as part of the progress of their career. But now it seems he takes in recruits with knees that are pre-wrecked. Sigh.

Next bout – we have another Isegahama. It’s Taiga, whom I’ve been following for several basho now. His wrist is still wrapped up, but this time he seems to want to do the whole basho, and not just the “Ryuden” bout at the end. He is attacking from the right. His opponent is Kyokushoriki from Tomozuna beya, who must have practiced with him often.

Nice throw, but you’ll notice how Taiga avoids using his problem arm. He may be able to get away with it in Jonokuchi. But I wonder how long it will take that arm to be usable if ever.

Next up, from the department of David vs. Goliath, we have svelte Toshonishiki from Nishikido beya, who can be seen occasionally doing tsukebito duty for Mitoryu, on the left, vs. Akiyama from Hakkaku beya on the right.

And this is why we love sumo!

Jonidan

In the “ones-to-watch” category, we have the Mongolian Dewanoryu, from Dewanoumi beya (obviously), taking on Kotonagahama, from Sadogatake beya (also obviously). Watch this one-to-watch:

I don’t think he is much bothered by the empty and quiet arena around him.

Next we have the old Bow Twirler and expert rope maker, Satonofuji, who still hangs on at Jonidan at age 42. His opposite number, Kitajima from Asahiyama beya, is only 19 years old. Satonofuji is on the right.

What I love about Satonofuji’s style is the nonchalant way in which he does his thing. “Oh, there’s a wrestler here?”.

And while we are into former bow twirlers, here on the right we have Kasugaryu, now the designated backup twirler while Shohoryu does the duty. On the left, Amamisho, from Sakaigawa beya.

Kasugaryu has to put in much more effort than did Satonofuji, but ends it with a beautiful throw he must have borrowed from his lord and master (Kasugaryu is Hakuho’s lead tsukebito).

Sandanme

I’ll start from the last bout. Masutoo, from Chiganoura beya, made great progress at some point last year – enough to bring him to within sniffing distance of nice, bright silk mawashi. And here he is, standing on the right side of the dohyo, having dropped all the way back to Sandanme. On the left is Sasakiyama from Kise beya.

Our favorite Hungarian seems to be worse for wear. How much longer will he stick around, I wonder.

An interesting new name on the Sandanme list is Fukai. He is a new recruit, who has been allowed to enter the world of sumo as a “Sandanme tsukedashi”, at rank Sd100. This is the privilege of those who made the top 8 in qualifying amateur and student competitions (the yusho winners of the same competitions earn entry as “Makushita tsukedashi” at Ms15, like Ichinojo did in his day). Famous previous Sandanme tsukedashi are Yutakayama, and Fukai’s own heya-mate, Asanoyama.

Those who land these privileges are generally strong contenders expected to become sekitori (barring injury, of course) within a short time. So let’s see what kind of sumo Fukai demonstrated in his first day on the professional dohyo. Fukai is on the left, and his opponent is Dewaazuma from Dewanoumi beya, a Sandanme fixture.

I would expect Fukai to be in the Sandanme yusho race.

In our next match, Hokutenkai – known as Takanoiwa’s nephew, who is chasing after the likes of Hoshoryu and Naya, his peers of the past. He is on the left, going for his first match of this Haru basho against Yutakasho from Sakaigawa beya.

It takes some time, but eventually Hokutenkai gets his grip and does the usual thing Mongolians do with it.

Finally, here is Ura. On the left, he starts his basho with a match against Masuminato, from Onomatsu beya.

No worries (unless you are Masuminato). Ura continues his climb back up the ladder, and Sandanme doesn’t seem to be where he is going to stop.

Unless, of course, those knees give in again…

Makushita

Here is a match between Terasawa, on the left, from Takasago beya, and Kotokuzan from Arashio beya – who got as far up as Ms2 in the previous Haru basho, hoping to become a sekitori as a gift to his nearly retiring oyakata. Those hopes were dashed and he was heavily make-koshi at the time, and has been struggling to regain his form since.

My main reason for interest in this bout is that these two guys seem to be completely unaffected by the empty arena, the lack of cheering, and the looming danger of cancellation.

Terasawa wins by tsukiotoshi. Nice match, isn’t it?

Amakaze, the former sekitori from Oguruma beya, is moving back up the ranks rather slowly. He has been registering kachi-koshi after kachi-koshi since he came back from injury down in Jonidan, but most of those were modest 4-3. Here he is on the right, while on the left we have Genki from Onomatsu beya.

Genki basically does to Amakaze what Hokutofuji did to Kakuryu. I am guessing Amakaze will continue to crawl up the ranks at that slow pace, but at this rate, he is going to hit the glass ceiling somewhere around Ms15, where the fires of the purgatory burn.

Up next, remember Motobayashi, the guy from Naruto beya, who won three yusho in Jonokuchi, Jonidan and Sandanme? Although his perfect record was cut short once he hit Makushita, where he got a modest 4-3 last basho, he is still the hottest sekitori prospect from his heya.

But now he has a new shikona. No more Motobayashi, meet… Oshoryu. Yes, now there is an Oshoryu in addition to Hoshoryu, Shohoryu and Tokushoryu… The “O” is the same as in “KotoOShu”.

Anyway, Oshoryu stands on the left side, and on the right side he sees Chiyoarashi from Kokonoe beya, who has been sekitori a couple of times.

Ah… at this level of Makushita, the flames blaze. Oshoryu will have to level up if he is to answer his oyakata’s high expectations, and his own (he wants to match Takakeisho, whom he regards as an old rival).

Finally, we take a look at Roga, Futagoyama’s Mongolian/Russian rikishi, who has also hit the Makushita purgatory, at Ms8e. Roga, on the left, meets Shikoroyama beya’s Irodori, who dropped from Juryo with an injury last basho.

Irodori looks like he has returned to the dohyo too soon. I’m sure he doesn’t want to get far away from the promotion line, but still, he should mind his health. Roga seems confident.

Juryo

I refer you to SumoNatto at YouTube for the daily Juryo digests. Day 2 included:

  • Toyonoshima up from Makushita and getting his first win from Mr. Bread, Akiseyama.
  • Wakamotoharu recovering as well – alas, at the expense of my poor Chiyonoumi.
  • Midorifuji getting his second win in a row, proving he didn’t get that silk mawashi just by closing his eyes and making a wish.
  • Hoshoryu very active but not very efficient, gets bumped by Takagenji.
  • Ichinojo in “almost, but not quite” mode, beaten by Churanoumi.
  • Terunofuji sends Tobizaru hurdling.

3 thoughts on “Haru 2020, Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

  1. This maezumo class is something else. Tons of recruits and several show real promise…though I cringe when they get paired against some of the “less robust” newbies.

    • That, I suspect, is done intentionally. It helps the NSK to show that they have “solid proteges” who “can lead sumo into the future” or whatever marketing speak you want to use to spin “having the skilled guys take on the newbies”.

  2. I was tied up and did not get to see much of this, thank you for putting it together. Great stuff as always.

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