Bouts from the lower divisions – Aki 2020, Day 2

Here we are again, in the second half of the first day, so to speak. The lower divisions matches are arranged to spread the rikishi’s 7 matches over 15 days. And other than near the end of the basho, this generally means that each pair of days is a “round”, in which each rikishi fights once. Then they pick the next round’s matches based on the standings at the end of the previous round – matching men of equal scores.

So today we will see matches of men who didn’t fight the first day. Let’s get moving!

Jonokuchi

I have one match from Jonokuchi for you today, between Nagahara, from Shibatayama beya (left), and Yaotsufuji, from Isegahama beya (right). Both are very fresh – it’s their second ranked tournament. Yaotsufuji fought under his real surname, Sakashita, in the July basho. This basho, he was given the shikona “Yaotsufuji”, which is based on the name of his home town, Yaotsu. This is common practice. The only problem is that “Yaotsu” and “Yaocho” are almost the same, not just in Latin characters. But how good is he? Let’s see:

Yaotsufuji manages to survive this, but not exactly win it. The match ends in a non-technique, Nagahara’s tsukihiza. Oh well, Yaocho… I mean, Yaotsufuji, still has a long way to go.

Jonidan

We set off with another pair of rookies. Unlike the ones above, who are in Jonokuchi in their second tournament, because they were make-koshi in the previous one, both of them sported a nice 5-2 in the July basho. On the left, we have Machi, from Shikoroyama beya. On the right, Tamanohoshi, who joined Tamawashi and Tamakongo at Kataonami beya (now also including K… Tamashoho).

And it looks like young Tamanohoshi does have some sumo.

Next, by special request, we have 50 years old Hanakaze from Tatsunami beya, whose win it the previous basho was the first time a 50 years old rikishi won an official match in 112 years. He ended last basho 2-5. In fact, Hanakaze has been preparing to end his 3-era-spanning career, but the COVID pandemic threw a spanner into his plans, as the job he was promised became unavailable. So he keeps gambarizing on the dohyo, until the situation is resolved. He serves as the head chef – “Chanko cho” – of Tatsunami beya, though lately he started delegating the duty to his new apprentice. We’ll get to that apprentice later on.

OK, so without further ado, on the left, Methuselah Hanakaze, and on the right, 19 years old Kotetsu from Otake beya.

This kind of reminds me of Aminishiki in the late stage of his career. But a win is a win, and given the state of his joints, it’s a semi-miracle.

Next up, here we have Hagiwara, the half-Turk of Naruto beya. This is his second ranked basho. Yes, Hagiwara is also the former Kisenosato’s real surname, and Kisenosato also started out in a heya called Naruto. But they are not related. Hagiwara is also a top-level pianist who won national prizes in middle school. But how good is his sumo? Let’s see. Hagiwara is on the left. Fubu from Musashigawa beya is on the right.

I think it’s safe to say that Jonidan is not a division in which Hagiwara is going to stay very long.

Next, we have Umizaru from Miyagino beya, on the left, and Hozan, Otake beya, on the right. We covered two Naya yesterday, and Hozan is the third one to have entered Grand Sumo. Rumored to be less talented than his younger brothers, he actually finished his previous basho 6-1, which is not a score to look down upon.

Indeed, Hozan does not shame the name of Naya.

Yesterday we had the first Ukrainian rikishi in sumo (if you’re not counting Taiho’s Ukrainian roots). Today we have the first Bolivian rikishi, who said in an interview he wants to be a Yokozuna – and the future president of Bolivia. Perhaps unfortunately for him, he joined Asahiyama beya, which is not exactly known for its sekitori production line. In fact, none of its rikishi has ever been ranked above Jonidan, except the recent arrival from Nakagawa beya, Okuniyama, who had a short visit to Sandanme in his previous heya.

But Kirameki had kachi-koshi in the two basho since his maezumo, and if he keeps that up, he will become heyagashira soon. On to the match. On the left side we have Sawada from Michinoku beya, and our Bolivian friend, Kirameki, on the right:

I don’t know if he is going to become Yokozuna (or president of Bolivia), but he is certainly going to make it to Sandanme soon. Before joining sumo he was a Greco-Roman wrestler.

The match you are about to watch next is a real, official match, not Shokkiri. I say this because the match-up looks comical. On the left we have the minuscule Baraki from Shikihide beya, easily the shortest rikishi in the sumo world. On the right, probably the tallest rikishi, at 2m. Baraki is one of the most highly motivated rikishi in his heya. Hokuseiho won the Jonokuchi yusho last basho.

Hokuseiho is yet another one of Hakuho’s flock of uchi-deshi. And he is an avid fan of the dai-Yokozuna. He is Mongolian, but grew up in Hokkaido (which is why he could join Hakuho’s heya, where the Yokozuna still occupies the foreigner slot). He met Hakuho by chance in an airport in South Korea when he was a kid, when he went with his parents on a visit to the old home land, and Hakuho happened to be waiting for his connection flight at the same time. Hakuho recommended Sumo. The whole family converted immediately. The kid entered sumo, and then went to schools the Yokozuna recommended, the latest of which was the Yokozuna’s favorite recruiting spot, Tottori Johoku High.

I have to disclose, though, that I don’t like the boy very much. As a true disciple of the yokozuna, he is copying Hakuho’s least attractive behavior. I’ve seen him do a couple of dame-oshi, a harite and an elbow strike – and that’s just in his debut basho! I prefer his somewhat less talented heya mates, Ishii and Senho.

That being said, I guess he will appear often in these lower division roundups. He is definitely “one to watch”, I’m just not a fan.

So, Baraki on the left, Hokuseiho on the right.

Ah, yes, ending a bout on top of your opponent is yet another Hakuho quirk he seems to be emulating. Also, Baraki, don’t try to Enho someone from the original Enho’s heya. He’s probably seen some very creative ways to solve the Enho attack in his short stint at Miyagino.

Sandanme

We move on to another of Hakuho’s disciples. Toma’s July basho was a disaster. It started with his ominous-sounding Tanabata wish (Tanabata is a festival held on July 7th, in which people prepare small strips of paper with wishes and hang them from bamboo branches) – “I wish to get my body in shape”. In the basho itself he went 0-7, which is not a score you would expect from a 20 years old who was youth Yokozuna in his day. He just couldn’t put any power to ground.

My own suspicion is that he got diabetes, which wouldn’t be a big surprise for a young man his size. It had a similar effect on Terunofuji, after all.

So here he is in the first bout of this basho, on the right, facing Sekizuka, of Tagonoura beya, on the left.

(Note: the video above is from the Russian VK social network. Some readers reported they cannot see videos from VK. But it’s the only source I have for this match)

Toma seems to have lost considerable weight. And gained some of his strength back. I hope whatever it was that ailed him, diabetes or otherwise, is under control.

Our next Sandanme bout features a former sekitori – Masunoyama. Recently he said in an interview that he was inspired by Terunofuji’s comeback and he hopes to make one of his own. Turns out he suffers from a chronic spinal problem (ossification of the yellow ligament), which has caused paralysis in one of his quads, despite surgery. He is doing rehab and practicing with Makushita rikishi, but the problem is not fully curable. He just hopes to brave it.

Here he is, then, on the right, facing Kamitani from Michinoku beya on the left.

I can’t detect any particular problem in his mobility, I have to say, but returning to sekitori status may be a tall order given the background.

Makushita

The sole reason I’m bringing you this next bout is that you must be curious as to the rikishi whose mawashi got stolen, Terasawa, and how he is doing with his new mawashi and without the protection of his cremated rabbit.

So we have, on the left, Terasawa, Takasago beya, sans Raruki, and on the right, Kotodairyu, Sadogatake beya:

(Sorry for the lack of Tachiai)

So apparently Raruki can still bestow its leporine protection even without the presence of blessed ashes on Terasawa’s person.

Up next, we have the man who has been apprenticed to Hanakaze as replacement chanko-cho for Tatsunami beya. The heya has been publishing videos and photos of Kitadaichi dressing fish, turtle, and all sorts of creatures as they start on their way to his heya-mates’ bellies. And it turns out cooking is not his only talent. He also bought a sewing machine and sewed masks for the other members of the heya. And he does other odd jobs around the heya. So one must immediately ask – can he do any sumo, then?

Well, here he is on the left, facing Sadanohana from Sakaigawa beya.

Typical Makushita sumo, at least as far as enthusiastic pace is concerned.

Our next bout features a serious “one to watch” – 17 years old Yoshii. Though he has no yusho at any level as yet, he achieved kachi-koshi in all 7 basho he has under his belt. He was recruited by Nakagawa oyakata, and I suspect having recruited a real talent in his heya is part of the reason the oyakata became abusive towards the rikishi he “inherited”. When the heya was dissolved, Yoshii is the only rikishi to have moved together with Nakagawa oyakata to Tokitsukaze beya.

So Yoshii is on the right. On the left, Chiyodaigo (Kokonoe beya):

Yoshii is unperturbed by Chiyodaigo’s attack to his head and shoulders. That boy doesn’t look like a 17 years old at all.

Up next, Roga, of Futagoyama beya. He started his career as Mongolian, and then at some point changed his place of origin to Russia, where it turns out he spent more time than in Mongolia. He started his career with a series of good results and everybody was expecting him to be a sekitori in short order. But something went wrong. He had 2-5 scores in the past two tournaments. No kyujo or anything.

He is here on the left, and Yuma, from Onomatsu beya, is on the right. Yuma has an interesting record. Having joined in 2014, he had a long unimpressive record in Jonidan and Sandanme. And then he went kyujo – not sure about the reason – for 5 basho. Perhaps he had some medical condition fixed, because after his repeat maezumo, his career path took a turn for the better, with a string of kachi-koshi all to Makushita. He had a make-koshi there, followed by taking the Sandanme yusho, and returning to Makushita… only to go kyujo again. He had 5-2 in July, and it’s interesting to see if he can reboot once more.

That was quite a match. Roga definitely has the basics, but Yuma has both enthusiasm and more experience.

Up next: a match between two former sekitori. One is Toyohibiki, on the left, and the other, on the right, is Ichiyamamoto, the Abi clone from Nishonoseki beya. Both are hoping to return to sekitori status. They are not within promotion distance at this stage, though (unless one of them wins the yusho).

Are we agreed about the “Abi clone” description?

We are nearing the very top of Makushita, and we have Tsushimanada from Sakaigawa beya, who always seems to hover around that level, and Tokisakae, from Tokitsukaze beya. In the past I used to warn about confusion between him and Tomisakae. However, it appears that warning will not be necessary anymore, as there are strong hints that Tomisakae has retired. Not official, yet, though.

Since he was recruited in March 2019, Tokisakae has not had a single make-koshi. If he keeps that up, he will be promoted by the end of the November basho at the latest.

Tsushimanada on the left, Tokisakae on the right.

I loved how Tokisakae flings away Tsushimanada’s sagari without missing a beat in his enthusiastic attack.

Finally, the bout you have all been waiting for. On the left, Kotodaigo, Sadogatake beya. On the right, Ura. Without further ado:

Ura starts with a Tottari, and as Kotodaigo resists, he converts it into a shitatedashinage. And does a little dance. Ura, we miss you!

Juryo

Here is the Juryo digest:

  • The two Isegahama representatives will not lose under the gaze of their oyakata.
  • The two Isenoumi representatives, though…
  • Akua looks lonely now that his heya mates are in Makuuchi.
  • Only two of the swarm of Chiyos win today. Chiyonokuni is one of them, and I am smelling a yusho. Early days, though. Especially in Juryo.

6 thoughts on “Bouts from the lower divisions – Aki 2020, Day 2

  1. Ichiyamamoto is very Abi clone. After Abi’s suspension, we may see the two in battle.

    Wow. Toma has lost A LOT of weight. I almost couldn’t recognize him with his hair up and he even seems to have lost his tan.

    There were some real brawls in those Makushita bouts. I’ve been missing them with Yoshikaze out and Shohozan’s decline.

    Kirameki is another good one from that Hatsu2020 class. :)

    Suppon…one Japanese delicacy that I’m not sure I will ever try. If I do, it would likely need to be mixed in a chanko nabe.

    It’s nice to see Dr. Takasu back.

    • I did press “like” but let me protest the warmth toward Dr. Holocaust Denialist, Corporal Punishment Supporter Takasu.

      • Cue the Moe Szyslak “Whaaaa…?” gif. Did not know that. Actually, now that I’ve read the tweets and why he was expelled from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, well, I’ll be happy to expel him from the blog with a bit less ceremony than I expelled last night’s dinner. I’ll not be mentioning him again unless he uses all of his cosmetic surgery powers to remove his head from his ass.

  2. Good illustration of the Hokuseiho problem as he just picks the little fella up and splats him. When you can win by sheer brute force there isn’t much incentive to develop technique. We shall see…

  3. Great post Herouth, really interesting to hear the background of all these guys alongside the matches.
    I agree re Chiyonokuni, he’s looking back to his best which is good to see

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