Nagoya Day 15 Highlights

The Nagoya basho is in the record books now, and it was Hakuho who took the cup after the final match. The 45th yusho of his career, he continues to defy all expectations, including (it seems) some of his own. Following a hard fought battle against Terunofuji, we saw a brief flash of elation, a fist pump, a shout, and a smile of victory. There are some sumo fans who will find his behavior unacceptable, but as a fully fledged barbarian who loves sumo, it made me shout and smile myself.

He is literally peerless in the world of sumo, and possibly in the world of individual athletic competition. 45 championships. This basho marks 14 years since his first appearance of Yokozuna. He has out lasted all of his contemporaries (Harumafuji, Kakuryu, Kisenosato). He endured orthopedic surgery 4 months ago that would have left most people hobbling for a year, and came back and beat everyone he faced.

I personally thought the basho would be too much for him to endure, and his body would give up under the grind, but he managed all 15 days, and took home the cup yet again. Some may ask, “But what is he going to do with all of that beef?” (from one of the prizes). I am certain Hokuseiho will eat most of it.

Congratulations to Yokozuna Hakuho, you again prove that you are some kind of bio-engineered sumo machine sent from the future to collect giant macarons.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Akua – Ishiura double arms Akua at the tachiai, as Akua’s opening gambit to get a right hand on Ishiura’s mawashi fails. Ishiura is rewarded with an inside lane, and drives hard to the front, running Akua quickly out. He ends Nagoya 9-6.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyonoo – The first Darwin match goes to Ichiyamamoto, as Chiyonoo loses defensive foot placement, attempts a throw that disintegrates, and gets shoved out. Ichiyamamoto is kachi-koshi, and will remain in the top division, further reducing promotion prospects from Juryo.

Kotonowaka defeats Tsurugisho – Kotonowaka gets to 12 wins, and picks up the Fighting Spirit special prize, and generally finally shows us the kind of sumo that we had expected from him from the past year. I am not sure if has been injury, or mental challenges, but this is the kind of sumo that Kotonowaka is capable of, and I hope he can continue to compete at this level of excellence. Well done sir!

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru had nothing to offer today in terms of defense, save being incredibly large and round. It took Hidenoumi a few moments to get his hands and hips set, but he found he could move forward and took Chiyomaru over the bales. Hidenoumi ends Nagoya 7-8.

Aoiyama defeats Kaisei – The battle of the mega-fauna was over quickly, with Aoiyama getting Kaisei turned to the side with that left hand, and he then shoves and pushes Kaisei from the side to send him out. Aoiyama ends Nagoya 7-8.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Somehow Chiyoshoma just gave up on sumo and wanted to slap Ura around. It was quite useless as Ura attacked inside anyway. Chiyoshoma panics, tries to pull, and Ura runs him out. Some concern that Ura’s knee seemed a bit painful following the match, but what a finish. 10-5 for his return to the top division. Watch out above, here comes trouble.

Myogiryu defeats Daiamami – Myogiryu’s first surge forward from the tachiai comes up short, but he consolidates his position and attacks again. The second combo works, taking Daiamami out of his defensive position, and Myogiryu picks up a much needed 5th win to finish Nagoya 5-10.

Kiribayama defeats Shimanoumi – I am not sure where that version of Kiribayama was, but it’s nice to see his old, super genki form that got him to the top division. He ends Nagoya at 9-6 with a fast yoritaoshi.

Onosho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi attempts a hit and shift at the tachiai, banking that Onosho would be off balance into the initial clash. But it seems that Onosho was quite prepared for this predictable move, and attacks with vigor. Terutsuyoshi, having gambled on the mini-henka has no defensive position, and absorbs Onosho’s battering as best he can before a final shove ends his efforts. Onosho finishes Nagoya 7-8.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – When this match went chest to chest, it was pretty clear just where it was going to end. We have seen Tokushoryu pull that move at the bales countless times. One fan refers to it as his “super power”. I was glad to see it on display again, but that is how you get Chiyotairyu ending the basho at 4-11.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoeko – Color me impressed. Tochinoshin found some reserve of pain tolerance and rallied from a terrible start to finish with a mild 7-8 make-koshi. But I have to mention that Kotoeko, deeply make-koshi at 2-12, poured on everything he could muster. My heart goes out to him, as he gave it everything he could muster.

Tobizaru defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi’s opening salvo only partially connects, and it fails to move Tobizaru back. In response, Tobizaru gets a double inside grip and goes on the attack. Try as he might, Tamawashi can’t shake Tobizaru, or turn the match to his control. Tobizaru, for his part, remains patient and sets up the winning throw well. Hey, where were you the prior 14 days?

Hoshoryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hoshoryu gets to double digits with a solid win over Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji comes in low, probably too low, and is ripe for a slap down, which Hoshoryu delivers with precision.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Ichinojo makes it to 10 with a quick win over Takarafuji. Takarafuji tries to step back and draw Ichinojo into Takarafuji’s defensive sumo, but instead Ichinojo slaps him down – hard! This is the first double digit performance from Ichinojo since March of 2019.

Takanosho defeats Chiyonokuni – The second Darwin match, and a contrast of oshi-sumo styles. Takanosho was relentless against Chiyonokuni’s center-mass, while Chiyonokuni was solely focused on Takanosho head and face. Key tip, if you can endure the bashing to your head, center-mass will carry the match. Takanosho ends Nagoya 8-7 and is kachi-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – As if to punctuate the point above, Daieisho blows past Okinoumi’s defenses and drives thrust after thrust into Okinoumi’s chest. Its about 7 steps forward and Okinoumi is out. Both end Nagoya with deep 5-10 make-koshi scores.

Meisei defeats Kagayaki – The third Darwin match goes to Meisei, who is kachi-koshi to end Nagoya. This match was 100% Kagayaki’s offense with a lot of thrusting power, but Meisei timed Kagayaki’s final finishing charge expertly and stepped out of the way, sending Kagayaki to the clay.

Wakatakakage defeats Mitakeumi – Brilliant reversal by Wakatakakage as Mitakeumi pressed forward to shove him out. Glad to see Wakatakakage finish with at least one strong match, he ends Nagoya at 5-10.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – The final Darwin match, Takayasu opened with a left hand outside grip, and Shodai returns with his own inside grip. Takayasu attempts to rotate into a throw, but can’t maintain the grip. With his back now turned to Shodai, he tries to escape, but Shodai pushes him out from behind to escape kadoban, finishing Nagoya with and 8-7 kachi-koshi.

Hakuho defeats Terunofuji – The grand finale, the brawl to end it all. They spent a good amount of time staring daggers at each other prior to the tachiai. This turned into Hakuho’s match the moment Terunofuji reacted to Hakuho’s attacks. The Boss really had to work for it, and that little celebration at the end? It has sumo fans around the world talking. Its a bit uncharacteristic for a Yokozuna, but given all that Hakuho has been through, maybe understandable. I don’t think he was certain he could pull it off. Hakuho finishes Nagoya at 15-0, a perfect score and his 45th yusho.

That concludes our daily coverage of the Nagoya basho. Thank you dear readers for sharing our love of sumo, and following along through what has been a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable tournament. We will continue to follow the stories that come out of this basho, including the expected announcement of Terunofuji’s promotion to the 73rd Yokozuna.

22 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 15 Highlights

  1. Hakuho is the best. Together with Terunofuji they returned like from a different sumo era.

    But Hakuho’s last two fights were only borderline fair. All that mind games, slaps, shoulder hits and even the final twisting of the hand, like he would like to win at all costs.

    • I guess that is what you get when Hakuho is told to deliver or go out. Since loosing is not an option for him anyways, he does what he needs to do to a) win his bouts and b) protect his body to the best of his abilities. If that manifests in less than “good looking, clean sumo”, so be it. At least in his mind.

      As a Yokozuna, there is a second side to this coin – you are not only expected to win, you are expected to win with a ceertain effortless flair and style, while maintaining a stoic fasade the whole time. And that is where his critics do indeeed have a point – this basho he won. From a sportive perspective most convincingly even, but from that traditionalist/cultural/more than a sport perspective, he was lacking in the “softer” aspects of what it means to be Yokozuna.

      As a westerner with no deeper ties to sumo, I was overjoyed to see him overcome the odds, while meanwhile regreting that he couldn´t deliver that Yokozuna Sumo, that manifests itself in more than just results. I guess he would be less critizised if he had taken on Shodai and Terunofuji head on and lost. Becaus while it´s okay for a Yokozuna to loose a hard fought bout, it´s not okay to trample over the sense of “how sumo is supposed to be done” – after all, you are the one in the highest rank and therefore a shiny beacon of what it means to do sumo.

      And as such, Hakuho failed this basho to uphold the spirit and the heart of sumo, sacrificing it for his own personal glory.

      • Oh, that did take an unexpected turn while writing it down. But at the end of the day, I think that´s the feeling i´ve got. I ´m amazed by his sportive acomplishment, but the damage he did to the soul of sumo is keenly felt.

        • “… the damage he did to the soul of sumo is keenly felt”?? Wow! Well done, arm-chair Yokozuna! We all appreciate your contributions to sumo, of course!

      • Hakuho was given an ultimatum, even tho he is fresh out of knee surgery. He comes back, destroys the field for most of it, gets a glorious victory to finish it off, then stands up and screams “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”.
        I don’t think I’ll ever understand “the spirit of sumo”, but this basho had pretty much everything that makes me love sumo. Slaps and all.

    • His opponents are allowed to do all of the mind games, slaps, shoulder hits, etc. In my mind the fights were definitely “fair.” I, personally, think Hakuho’s sick of having to chase after guys. Even Takakeisho seemed intimidated to fight Hakuho in the past. That kind of sumo is unworthy of bringing to a Yokozuna.

  2. What a basho, what a climax. We all wanted the brawl, And a brawl is what we’ve had. The staredown was epic, and the boss is still and forever the boss.
    Thanks Bruce, Andy for your hard work. Much appreciated.

  3. Hakuho is like Jokovic in an era without Federer/Nadal. Hope Teru’s arm is alright tho, one Kisenosato is enough.

    • I think his being promoted to Yokozuna can’t come soon enough. I suspect he’ll have a couple bashos where he’s either entirely kyujo or performs at a somewhat subpar level. Recall what happened to Takayasu after his elbowbreaker vs. Tamawashi in Nagoya 2019. Took a long time for him to come back to full strength (only to then have that leg injury once he was looking better). Won’t want to see this for Teru.

  4. Delighted for Hoshoryu getting the technique prize, and finishing with double digit wins! Brilliant. I’m so glad that Ichiyamamoto finally managed to wrest out his KK, I was starting to think he was going to blow his fantastic start and fall back out of makuuchi.
    Worrying about Ura every day was exhausting but he seemed to grow a little more comfortable as the basho went on. Not great to see him struggle to mount the dohyo today. He didn’t seem to be moving awkwardly or painfully afterwards as he walked away, though, so maybe it was more ’cause Chiyoshoma’s clattering had rung his bell a bit
    I know there are mixed feelings about the finale but man it was thrilling. I loved seeing Hakuho’s team watching absolutely stoked from the hanamichi

  5. What impressed me even more about Tochinoshin’s improvement throughout the basho was that he had a couple of lift-out wins. Today’s tsuridashi even involved a pivot on that right knee, which isn’t supposed to be able to bear his whole weight and Kotoeko’s. When he was just scraping together a few wins with henkas and ugly sumo, I was wishing he would just retire, but know I don’t know.

  6. The way Terunofuji’s elbow popped on the Kotenage has me worries. But what a bout. The sheer joy and adrenaline Hakuho showed was fantastic. Great day

  7. The final bout reminded me a bit of Arthur vs Modred at the battle of Camlann in 537 AD. With the battlefield strewn with the bodies of fallen adversaries the old king finally faces the young champion. Spoiler: the old man wins. See also Edward G Robinson vs Steve McQueen in “The Cincinnati Kid”.

    I was cheering on Terunofuji all the way and was gutted when he lost but there was something so primal, brutal and beautiful about Hakuho today. When my old cat Bob kills a mouse, part of me thinks “poor mouse” but another part of me says, “well done son, you did what you were born to do”. That’s kind of how I felt watching Hakuho win.

  8. Thank you very much Andy, Bruce and all at Tachiai for your usual stellar coverage of the basho.

    Loved the staredown! Like others have said I’m in two minds about Hakuho – but given his age and the way he’s come back I find I can forgive him a lot.

    One of the best things about this basho for me was the performances of Hoshoryu, Meisei, and (in Week 1 and finally again today) Wakatakakage. The future’s not looking too bad :)





  10. Hakuho resorting to BS tactics before the bout (two straight days!) to ensure victory leaves a bad taste in my mouth, just as his post-match shoves and other theatrics do. They’ve gotten worse as he’s aging out, and injuries do not excuse the classlessness. Wrestlers lower down the banzuke can get away with what Hakuho has been pulling, style-wise, but it’s only his name/reputation that’s letting Hakuho pull this garbage.

    Once, he was the pinnacle of the title Yokozuna. Now, he’s a shell of that, still clinging on, with plenty of skill and know-how to dominate… if his body will let him. But the attitude, the small things, it does not befit the grandest of grand champions. He’s the best, but much like Ty Cobb or Barry Bonds in baseball, the baggage associated with the greatness cannot be forgotten. I’d rather have seen Terunofuji win, as I fear even finishing 14-1 and being the only rikishi performing at Yokozuna level over the last year (granted, against depleted ranks) might leave him rope-less still come Wednesday. But the whole tournament was great spectacle, despite the title race being narrowed quickly. It amps up expectations for September, for sure.

    • If we’re going to mention shoving an opponent after a win then Terunofuji is waaaay more guilty of that than Hakuho. I’ve been cheering for Terunofuji since he started his climb back through the ranks but the last few tournaments on numerous occasions he’s given opponents an unnecessary shove off the dohyo.

  11. Love how Emily Post-ish certain parties around here get when it’s a Hakuho victory under discussion. Congratulations, GOAT! Congratulations and get well soon, Kaiju!

  12. Every Mongolian in the top division got kachi koshi this tournament! May the dominance continue!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.