Juryo Promotions Announced (Kyushu 2021)

Some sail to Juryo on a barge from Makuuchi, for others, it’s a luxury cruise

The Japan Sumo Association has set up its banzuke for November and determined there will be three wrestlers promoted to Juryo from Makushita. One wrestler, Kotokuzan, returns to the salaried ranks. His debut in July yielded four wins but eleven losses and quick demotion back to Makushita. Four wins this tournament were all he needed to go back up, indicating that the 3-rank fall may have been a bit soft. Prior instances of 4-11 records from near the bottom rung of the Juryo ladder resulted in drops to the fifth or sixth rank in Makushita* (corrected). From that rank, even Shiba’s 5-2 was insufficient for promotion. I expect him to be at the bottom of Juryo this time with a short leash, meaning that another four-win performance in Kyushu should result in a more significant drop.

Juryo Debuts

The other two wrestlers will be donning kesho mawashi for the first time as professional wrestlers, Asanowaka and Hiradoumi. Asanowaka is the new shikona for Terasawa, who had been competing under his family name until this promotion. Asanowaka seems to have requested the shikona from current Takasago coach Wakamatsu, as back during his fighting days Wakamatsu never had any kyujo, or absences, throughout his career. If that name change helps him stay healthy, succeed, and remain in the paid ranks for at least a few more tournaments, he may well become heyagashira in 2022 as his former senpai, Asanoyama, tumbles into Makushita.

Tachiai readers may remember a feature article on mawashi written by Herouth, inspired by the unsolved mystery of Terasawa’s pilfered cloth, which happened to be imbued with mystical powers from the remains of his late pet rabbit. That article is always worth a read, not just for the bizarre who-done-it, but the wealth of information about practice mawashi and competition mawashi in both amateur and Grand Sumo. There’s a discussion of sagari as well as the difference between the silk shimekomi (which Asanowaka will now wear with stiffened sagari), and the cotton mawashi.

What are you still doing here? Go. Read it. Now. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Fascinating read, no? Hopefully that answered some of the questions you had and likely pointed out some things you never even noticed.

Hiradoumi also joins Asanowaka in Juryo. It’s quite the basho for Sakaigawa beya as Sadanoumi’s 10-wins will lift him back into Makuuchi and Myogiryu’s jun-yusho performance was also rewarded with a special prize. However, both of these veterans are in the latter stages of their careers while Hiradoumi, at 21 years old, is still trying to establish himself. This was his fifth consecutive kachi-koshi record, making a rather determined slog through the grist mill at the top of the third division. Congratulations to all three!

The Intrigue

Not so fast, there Andy, I’ve got another question.

So, does this mean there were supposed to be two promotions and with Hakuho’s retirement Kotokuzan gets the “free pass,” and joins the pack on the lead lap? (I’ll find out who’s here for NASCAR references.) Or does this mean that Hakuho’s announcement was still not done in time for the banzuke committee to remove his name from the banzuke? I think it would be very odd for Hakuho to still appear on the list in Kyushu since he announced his retirement before the banzuke committee drew up their list. So Kyokushuho might still make the cut due to the lack of other promotion candidates among the top makushita ranks. If Shiba had a 6-1 record or a yusho, would he have joined the other three and taken Kyokushuho’s slot? Or will Kyokushuho drop, essentially for nothing?

Given the weak demotion given to Kotokuzan after his 4-11 record in July, I find it hard to demote Kyokushuho from a rank and a half higher on a 6-9 record. We know that 7-8 is often good enough to maintain ones rank and Kyokushuho has already had a couple of recent instances of two-rank drops with 6-9 records. Why not drop him to Juryo-jiri and only demote Takakento after his 3-12 and Asashiyu after his 1-14? This avoids the difficult choice of trying to decide who is the next deserving candidate from Makushita when it’s hard to justify Jokoryu at Ms4 with a 4-3, Shiba at Ms6 with a 5-2, or Tsushimanada at Ms9 with 6-1.

Anyway, my banzuke for Kyushu has Hakuho off and Kyokushuho sitting on the bottom rung of Juryo.

The Addendum

Not so fast, again, Andy! As Leonid rightly points out below, Takagenji’s gone. That’s what you get for removing the Scandal Meter. While his slot was conspicuously vacant in the last tournament, it will certainly be filled this time around. So that means two promotions were “extra” this time around? Will Takakento be saved? No. I think that’s the point that puts Hakuho back on the banzuke. My point above that the Kyokai would have to “go fishing” for a lackluster promotion candidate is only half the story. They need to find two promotion candidates from that field. Kyokushuho was never in danger of demotion.

So let’s turn back to those promotion candidates. A promotion from Ms6 with 5 wins is rare but has happened three times this century, to Baruto and Satoyama. Baruto proceeded to a very successful 12-3 record in that debut tournament, while Satoyama’s makekoshi 7-8 was still safe because he had been promoted to Juryo 12E from Ms6. His case was a highly unusual one, though, as he was one of nine promotions that tournament. The yaocho scandal had claimed many scalps that year. The Ms9 promotion with 6 wins is even more rare, last granted…let’s see here…to some up-and-comer named Hakuho in 2003. There are certainly more promotions from Ms4 with 4 wins, with Akiseyama’s promotion last year being the most recent example.

Without a fourth promotion, Hakuho is on the banzuke and someone’s getting robbed of a position in Juryo, and the victim appears to be Jokoryu.

18 thoughts on “Juryo Promotions Announced (Kyushu 2021)

      • The prevailing theory on Sumo Forum is that the retirement isn’t official official yet, so the banzuke meeting didn’t take it into account. Hakuho will either appear on the banzuke or be blanked out, but either way there will not be an M18e rank, Tsurugisho drops to Juryo, Kyokushuho survives and Jokoryu stays in Makushita. There’s really no other plausible way to read the 3 promotions.

        • He wouldn’t be blanked out because he retired on honorable terms. I think he stays on the banzuke, making it yet another collectible one.

          • You have almost convinced me that this is precisely why there’s this Hakuho drama. It’s one last chance to cash in on merch before the GOAT hangs up his mawashi for a suit and tie.

            Forget that. I’m completely convinced. It’s all manufactured drama to get a bit more money and I am all for it. It’s the most peaceful solution. Ergo, I’m all in. Eager to get my banzuke, one of those nice ones with the wood frame…

    • Which part? The stolen mawashi with the cremated rabbit remains? Or the fact that I forgot Takagenji? Or keeping Hakuho on the banzuke?

  1. If you look at who ended up in the Makushita promotion zone, it was pretty slim pickings, which is how Kotokuzan got such a lenient drop.

  2. ” I expect him to be at the bottom of Juryo this time with a short leash, meaning that another four-win performance in Kyushu should result in a more significant drop.”

    I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Sumo isn’t a team sport where players are “getting a second look” by their head coach or anything like that. Kotokuzan got a lenient demotion last time because there was nobody better to take those spots, he’s getting promoted this time because there’s nobody better to take these spots either, and his next re-ranking after Kyushu will be completely at the mercy of the overall banzuke situation as well. If that requires another lenient demotion to be made, it’s going to happen again. That’s all there is to it.

    • While the banzuke makers surely strive for fairness, we know there’s certain “wiggle-room” allowed exactly because of these situations. There sure seems to be a grounding in logic and rules to making the banzuke but certain scenarios present themselves where some wrestlers get more benefit than others…the “art” which accompanies the “science” and I do think they try to be “fair.”

      As an example, while the record is the guiding metric, sometimes I do wonder if quality wins and fusen play some part when making those difficult decisions.

      In the case of a wrestler at Juryo 13 with 4 wins, the prior precedent goes all the way back to 1949. There are few cases, understandably, but it seems they target Makushita 6 or so. It seems that even from the rank of Juryo 12 the “standard” if there is one, is to rank those at Makushita 3. Jokoryu fell three full ranks last tournament with a 3-4 record. Shiba, with the identical record, fell two. I just think it’s not quite as simple as “there was a formula and he was the ONLY possible benefactor available.”

      With the wiggle-room available on any banzuke, I just find it hard to say, “Shikatanai.” If he doesn’t perform again, I think we’ll find that he won’t be given such a gentle cushion.

  3. I think Terasawa/Asanowaka’s rabbit’s ashes have been cursed. Ever since they were stolen he has been making real progress. Somewhere in Tokyo there is a thief who keeps falling from window ledges and getting caught by policemen who weren’t even looking for him.

    I don’t think that Asanowaka is going to be heyagashira, though. By the time Asanoyama hits Makushita, Ishizaki would probably be on the race to Makuuchi.

    • I am very eager to see Ishizaki break through. He and Atamifuji did not sail through this basho and Ryuden should be back. There will be fireworks.

    • Hizanishiki. Bad joke, but I couldn’t resist. I hope someone will step up. There are clear opportunities to challenge for a yusho. Meisei has been doing well but he needs to take it to the next level and win consistently against the top ranks. I can never tell with Shodai and Takakeisho if they have peaked or if they can pick it up.

  4. Hakuho’s resignation hasn’t been officially approved yet, so I don’t see how he can NOT appear on the next banzuke.

    Also, you’ve put “Prior instances of 4-11 records from near the bottom rung of the Juryo ladder resulted in drops to the fifth or sixth rank in Juryo.” – shouldn’t that be “fifth or sixth rank in Makushita.”?

    • I just can’t see how it hasn’t been “approved.” He’s not the only retirement, just the biggest, and he clearly made that decision in time for it to be considered for the next banzuke. My question would be, when should he have made his announcement in order for it to have been considered for the Kyushu banzuke?

      Oops. Yeah, that would be a typo. Will fix.


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