Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Senshuraku is always a fun day of sumo. I have had the good fortune to attend a few of them, and in the day before COVID, there would be a genuine festival atmosphere among the fans in attendance. The day starts in the afternoon due to the short schedule, and the fans show up mostly before Juryo gets underway. There are ceremonies, awards presentation, some singing, and the whole things ends with a gyoji being tossed into the air.

Looking at video from Tokyo, its clear the sumo fans are trying to carry on as close to customary is possible, while in the middle of a state of emergency. I can only hope the time when it all goes back to it’s wild, raucous natural form is close at hand.

With most of the make / kachi-koshi already decided, today’s matches were more for ranking in July than anything, at least until we got to the finals, where Takakeisho defeated Terunofuji in the final match, forcing a playoff. This was the spot that I think the oyakata were curious about, Terunofuji had shown losses in Makuuchi playoffs in the past. Some had declared he lacked the mental toughness to really come back from a situation like what had just happened on the dohyo, to be able put it behind him and face it as a brand new match.

But we can now assume the remake of Terunofuji was extensive and meticulous, and he dispatched Takakeisho in the first 10 seconds, to claim his second consecutive yusho, and set the stage for an attempt at Yokozuna promotion in July. He becomes the first rikishi since Futabayama to win two consecutive yusho starting from Sekiwake. As mentioned over the course of this basho, he is the only man putting up Yokozuna grade results right now, and he is doing it consistently.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Kotonowaka – Ishiura continues his perfect record against Kotonowaka, overwhelming him at the tachiai. Kotonowaka did give it his all, but he finished dumped to the clay by Ishiura’s shitatehineri. I know Ishiura has some injuries he is working around, but he finishes strong with 2 straight wins. Both end Natsu wit 7-8.

Daiamami defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki got a double inside grip at the tachiai, but struggled to do anything with it. They both paused for a while, thinking it through. When Kagayaki dialed up the pressure, Daiamami turned and swung Kagayaki down to pick up his 7th win. Kagayaki really needs to regroup and return to his good sumo.

Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – The only Darwin match, and really Shimanoumi, were you drinking rather than watching old Chiyoshoma matches? If you were not sure how to find them, there are plenty on Jason’s sumo channel and the always golden Kintamayama. While everyone in the sumo world was looking for a henka, including everyone who read Tachiai’s day 15 preview, it seems Shimanoumi was not. Chiyoshoma improves to 8-7 and is kachi-koshi while Shimanoumi is make-koshi at 7-8.

Takarafuji defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru defaults to slap and tug sumo on days that end in “Y”, and Takarafuji knew what to do with that. Chiyomaru can bring some intensity, but he can’t keep it going for long. So Takarafuji stayed stabled, kept his sumo efficient and rode out the storm. As Chiyomaru tired, Takarafuji took control, ending with an oshidashi push out. Takarafuji improves to 7-8 for May.

Kaisei defeats Tochinoshin – I was half wondering if we were going to see a straight up yotsu battle from the start, and indeed we did. The Tochinoshin of old had the brute power to lift and carry Kaisei about, but with his bum knee, that is now a distant memory. Kaisei consolidated his grip, dropped his hips and pushed forward with power to finish Natsu 9-6.

Akua defeats Hidenoumi – Akua attempted a giant haymaker slap, which was only partially effective. In response Hidenoumi locked up Akua in a rather awkward position, robbing him of any use of his left hand. It looked like it was all Hidenoumi, but Akua managed a throw at the bales to rescue the match. Both end the tournament at 5-10, with Akua declared captain of the Juryo bound barge of the damned.

Chiyotairyu defeats Onosho – Onosho went for the mega-thrust during the tachiai, and did not keep his eyes on Chiyotairyu. Chiyotairyu stepped to the side and slapped Onosho down. Chiyotairyu improves to 10-5 for Natsu, while Onosho is make-koshi at 7-8.

Kiribayama defeats Tsurugisho – Kiribayama got his preferred grip in the tachiai, and Tsurugisho struggled to do anything other than try to stay steady. Kiribayama improves to 6-9 for his final Natsu score.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – Terutsuyoshi tried a jump to the side, and if the intent was to get inside and against Aoiyama’s chest, it worked brilliantly. With Aoiyama’s thrusting attack unavailable, Aoiyama was at the mercy of his smaller opponent. After a few struggles to consolidate his position, Terutsuyoshi unleashed the throw, bringing Aoiyama down. Terutsuyoshi finishes 7-8 for Natsu, winning 6 of his last 8 after a terrible start.

Hoshoryu defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru was the early aggressor, but could not really control the match. Hoshoryu rallied and drove Tobizaru from the ring, but not into the fans, to the great disappointment of many. Hoshoryu finishes 7-8.

Okinoumi defeats Meisei – Meisei delivered a strong tachiai, but Okinoumi wrapped him up, shut him down and rolled him to the clay with a kotenage. Okinoumi finishes May 9-6.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji puts up quite the pre-tachiai show, but today Tamawashi went hard into Hokutofuji’s chest, and just never slowed down. It was 3 steps to the bales, and Hokutofuji was out. Tamawashi finishes Natsu 7-8.

Kotoeko defeats Wakatakakage – Kotoeko continues his dominance over Wakatakakage. Wakatakakage launched hard at the tachiai, and was pushing well on center-mass. But Koteko pulled and leapt to the side, sending Wakatakakage to the clay. Both end Natsu with 9-6 records.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Daieisho managed to find one last win this May, in a tournament I am sure he wants to put behind him. Myogiryu offered only token resistance, and it was over. Both end 6-9.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo seems to have settled on his “Boulder” defense for this match, and Mitakeumi was not impressed. There was a moment when Ichinojo had an opening, but for whatever reason decided to thrust against Mitakeumi’s head, leaving his body wide open for the push that sent him over the bales. Mitakeumi finishes the tournament with 10-5, and a likely return to Sekiwake in July.

Takanosho defeats Takayasu – Takanosho chose to test Takayasu’s endurance, which was a fun decision. But it did not take him long to understand this would never be in his favor. Fortunately for Takanosho, he had no locked up with the former ozeki, but managed to stalemate him at arm’s length. Through some well timed lateral moves and a deflection sumo, he managed to get above an over-extend Takayasu and thrust him down. Takanosho ends the tournament at 5-10.

Shodai defeats Endo – I know there was a minor hype bubble around Endo these past two days. He had some sharp sumo and played spoiler better than anyone could have imagined in act 3. But Shodai, on the verge of losing his 7th match, remembers his Acme tools, somehow re-asserts his balance when he is on one foot, and just body bumps Endo completely off the dohyo. Shodai ends 9-6, and Endo is not going to be able to participate in any playoff. Nice ottsuke, Shodai. More of that please.

Takakeisho defeats Terunofuji – A solid “Stand him up and slap him down” gambit from Takakeisho send Terunofuji face first over the tawara, taking Takakeisho to 12-3, and tying up the yusho race in the final match. This was the moment of discovery – we had seen the Terunofuji of old mentally crumble at this point.

Playoff match – Terunofuji keeps his balance over the arches of his feet, and stays stable. Takakeisho tries a hit and shift strategy a few times, but Terunofuji knows if he remains upright, owns the center of the ring and waits, he can get his hands on Takakeisho and own the match. This comes on the 4th merge, and Terunofuji returns the favor from the first match, slapping down Takakeisho from the side and taking his 4th Emperor’s cup. Well played to both of the Ozeki, and congratulations on a tournament well fought.

With that, Tachiai’s daily coverage of the Natsu basho is complete. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing our love of sumo, and reading along with us each day.

22 thoughts on “Natsu Day 15 Highlights

  1. Thank you, Bruce! What a stellar basho! Shodai showed up, finally. Endo did pretty well. Kotoeko was a bit of a surprise…and Wakatakakage! But over all, Terunofuji starts a rope run after winning half of the yusho from the last calendar year. Just gotta win one more!

  2. Hearty thanks to Bruce, Andy, Herouth and Iksumo, for guiding us through what began as a calm progression towards step one of Terunofuji’s yokozuna quest, and turned into something thrilling till the very end. Plus for clarifying the Asanoyama scandal.
    My take-home thought is that while all eyes have been on Terunofuji, Takakeisho has been making steady progress. Yokozuna or not, we now have two very worthy ozeki, which is more than could be said for a long time. Fingers crossed for no injuries.

  3. That’s a super tasty looking giant macaroon. That aside, the final day offered up some delectable sumo, too. Glad to see the best rikishi win; Terunofuji was head and shoulders above his competition this tournament. Lots of guys with minimal 7-8 make-kochi should make the upcoming banzuke meeting a drunken one indeed, even without factoring in the Asanoyama situation and the dearth of promotion candidates from Juryo. July will truly be a blast, especially if Hakuho can return triumphant one last time before riding the Olympics into retirement.

  4. Thanks a lot Bruce for the quality coverage you provide day in, day out. Much much appreciated.
    What a great basho. And what a great finish. I only know the Terunofuji post injury, but I really wondered if he was going to find the strength to start again. But boy, did he! Awesome showing from the ozekis today. Loved the basho of wakatakakage and Hoshoryu also. Now we go to withdrawal week. See you soo soon dear friends.

  5. There is a lot of talking about Terunofuji, but we are technically staring two Yokozuna runs. Could we possibly have 2 Yokozuna at once if Takakeisho beats Terunofuji in a July playoff?

    • I doubt a 12-3 Jun-yusho will be enough unless maybe he goes 15-0 next basho. Vice versa a 12-3 yusho and a Jun-yusho might be too weak for promotion either. Had this been a 14-1 playoff, things would be different. I think Teru will have to win July to get the nod.

  6. Thanks so much, Bruce and Tachiai, you are the best!

    Looking forward to rope runs, more from Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu and Kotoeko, Ura in the top division, and did I hear that the third Onami brother will soon be in Juryo too?

    Best wishes for Midorifuji and Chiyonokuni in their recoveries, and to Asanoyama who has been so stressed and depressed and must be infinitely more so now. I hope he finds a path forward whatever it may be.

      • Okay, thanks I thought I heard something in an interview with Wakatakakage about his elder brother, but I was pretty sleepy at that point….

  7. Great thanks to Bruce and Team Tachiai for another basho full of quality coverage. It is much appreciated, folks!

    Congrats to (a) Terunofuji for another hard-earned yusho, (b) Ura for his yusho and return to the top division, and (c) Abi for his yusho and return to the salaried ranks. I’m very much hoping the schedulers give us an Abi-Ichiyamamoto bout in July. What happens (other than comedy) when two rikishi employ Abi-zumo against each other?

    I am hoping against hope that the ankle injury suffered by Oho on Day 14 isn’t serious.

    And I’m worried about what happened to Enho in the last moment of his Day 15 bout. Enho sought to brace his left foot against the tawara, but his foot skidded over it, causing his right knee to buckle inward. Enho immediately reached out to that knee, and afterward struggled to walk.

    • Yes, the end of Enho’s bout was concerning… looked like a groin issue possibly – hopefully not so bad that a week or so of rest &/or physio won’t put right. It reminds me now that Meisei possibly had an issue at the finish of his bout today as well…. the right leg crumpled a little and he instinctively reached to that knee as he was on the ground & put his weight through his left leg to return gut himself…. again, hopefully nothing lasting or major amiss there.

  8. Huge thanks to you all at Tachiai-beya…. the coverage has been nothing short of brilliant, … I for one would be completely un-knowledgeable (as opposed to mostly un-knowledgeable) without the day-by-day breakdowns of the tourney’s multiple storylines, so I hope that you’ll all be organising a group photo soon complete with multiple big fish and the full set of Special Prize trophies… you all definitely deserve that at the very least.
    Today’s finale was nerve-shredding but in a good way… the right man won out, but oh-boy,… final regulation match had me worried seeing Terunofuji touchdown both knees first – like his knees could do with some unplanned impact at this (or any) stage. It seems that even Teru’s gristle & scar tissue is made of sterner stuff than what this mere mortal would call fully functional knees. Takakeisho might bemoan his loss early to a fresh Mitakeumi, (though prob shouldn’t as Teru put the same foe away 2 days after), and the loss to (a mostly mis-firing) Daiesho was more costly as it turns out, but overall, Teru deserved the yusho, I feel (with the memory of the Myogiryu ‘hair pull?’ bout and the Endo synchronised toppling match filed under ‘thankfully didn’t matter – case closed’).
    This basho has served well as a ‘market correction’ tourney – some were obviously under ranked (Ichinojo, Endo…. hello you guys), and some were maybe flying a little high for their current stage of career (some on the way up overall, some gradually on the way down {Tochinoshin sadly is a case study there})…. I think July’s banzuke will be closer aligned with the overall ranking of capabilities, so with Teru & Takakeisho fighting so well, Takayasu looking to plant his flag on Ozeki ground once more, and then perhaps throw in some improved form from Shodai and a healthy motivated returning Hakuho; well hopefully we’ll see fireworks in July. And to think a rejuvenated Asanoyama could’ve mixed that all up even more…. so sad. Anyway, I just want July basho to start already…..

  9. The future of the sport is looking bright, with May pro sumo debutante Ishizake (Sandanme #100) going 7-0 and winning a playoff to clinch his yusho. Abi will be back to being paid in Juryo come July, and Ura makes his long-awaited return to top division soil. Tomokaze was 5-2 down at Sandanme #88 and managed to stay healthy through the whole tournament. The old cohort is seeing their time end, and a new era of lighter, more modern, sumo will take its place.

  10. Exciting basho with great sumo and an ending that was a thrilling!!! And I can’t think of a better place to follow all the action than right here. Love you guys!

  11. Awesome coverage as ever, folks. Thank you! However, (unless I missed it) it looks like you’ve forgotten to update us on a key piece of info: any news on whether Hidenoumi is still “only into sumo & babes”?

  12. Day 15 and the basho is over and we’ll have to wait for July to get our next fix.

    As for the final day some observations:
    1) Now we can all focus our attention on Ryuden and his baby mama fiasco and what becomes of Asanoyama.
    2) Hoshoryu salvaged a 7-8 record so shouldn’t slip too far from M5 East
    3) K3 sank to 9-6 but clearly demonstrated that he’s real and has some game
    4) Endo graciously bowed out of the yusho race to allow the 2 Ozeki to settle it as he flopped for No-Dai
    5) No-Dai is simply the WORST Ozeki we’ve seen in a long long time. In how many matches was he gifted a win and how many times did he win while still ending up on his belly face down in the salt? Let’s face it, this guy sucks.
    6) Would be nice to someday see The Big Itch actually put in maximum effort for each match during the 15 days. This basho was the latest example of him being content to kachi-koshi and collect a paycheck.
    7) Not so happy that The Bear lost to Takanosho. 11-4 would have been much better for him and his chance to regain the Ozeki rank. As for Takanosho, glad to finally see this ass-clown departing the sanyaku ranks.
    8) It’s now plainly evident for all to see that Butterball wants no part of any real man-to-man heads up match with T-Rex. He has clearly signaled that he doesn’t have the confidence to beat T-Rex. I have to strongly disagree with Bruce’s comment “A solid Stand him up and slap him down gambit”. Sorry Bruce but it wasn’t either of those things. In the final match of the day Butterball side stepped about 2-3 seconds in (I wouldn’t call it a henka) in order to dispose of T-Rex quickly and not let it turn into a power match. It also helped that T-Rex’s tachiai was terrible and not solid or controlled.
    9) In the play-off T-Rex came with a much better tachiai and Butterball had no answer for him. You could see when the match was over as after some ineffective thrusts Butterball panicked and resorted to his One Trick Pony head pull down maneuvers. They failed and like a few days before he flopped hard to the dohyo when T-Rex decided he’d had enough and ended the bout.
    10) Regardless of a play-off and T-Rex taking the yusho (yea!!!) I’m really not a fan of these 12-3 yusho. I still believe it’s very bad optics for the JSA but the Japanese fans seem to love it and most buy into the hype of these manufactured basho.
    11) Thank the Gods we were spared the BS of a “great Japanese Ozeki come back yusho”. That would have been too much to stomach without ingesting excessive amounts of either Gin, Rum, Scotch, Vodka or if everything else failed Tequila.
    12) Now the T-Rex Yokozuna run is officially in gear for July. Somehow, I doubt it’ll happen but at least we have something to look forward to along with Clown Prince Abi making it back to Juryo.

  13. Thanks again for your fantastic coverage. I’m happy to see Yago, Yutakayama and Nishikigi all kachi-koshi, Yago likely getting back to Juryo after slipping down to Makushita 2 with Nishikigi and Yutakayama finally breaking their long runs of losing records. Impressed with Hokuseiho (age 19) and Tokunomusashi (age 20 from a very small island between Okinawa and Amami) doing well in Makushita.

  14. Thank you, Team Tachiai! Also, I checked out the Natsu Basho reference page and it is very well done. Thank you for compiling everything to a page and also for creating so much content and keeping us informed on sumo news.

    Late to the party on providing my own summary, but I was shocked that Takakeisho forced a playoff. I’m not a Terunofuji fanatic so I was delighted! Too bad Endo didn’t make it a party of three, but go figure Shodai managed something at the tawara… I hope Takanosho can recuperate and get his sumo together, alongside Meisei who was swinging his leg to check his knee. Oho also went kyujo – hope that ankle can heal before next basho. I almost want Yutakayama to have another round in juryo. Not that it’s an easier two weeks, but his elbow probably needs some more time and reinforcing the use of a variety of techniques as he’s done in juryo can’t hurt his sumo. I don’t need to see Ishiura swinging him down with the bum elbow. And Akua: I was glad that he stopped his panicked judo headlock throws, but his “never say die” dohyo drops are painful. How he doesn’t come up dazed and concussed is a matter of luck and maybe technique on taking a fall. But I hope his oyakata steers him toward the Tamawashi longevity approach. Get him a kotsu anzen omamori, too!

    And on the upswing – Ura and Bushozan and Takakento doing their brand of sumo. Plus, Mitakeumi in Nagoya (let’s hope the state of emergency is gone by then.) Some home team action! Let’s power through that second week, Mitakeumi!


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