Aki Day 15 Highlights

Tachiai congratulates Tamawashi on his second yusho, which is a considerable accomplishment on many levels. At 37 years and 10 months, he is the oldest rikishi in the modern era to claim the title. The man is completely dedicated to his craft, and has not missed a match ever in his career. Well done Tamawashi; your sumo this September was indeed the best.

Thus ends Aki 2022, with everything more or less how you might want it to end. I have to admit that the final day was the least surprising day of them all, with nearly every match going the way you might expect. As has been the case over the last 4 years, when there is no Yokozuna in the tournament, it opens the door for unexpected performances, and for new champions to rise.

There were outstanding performances from a variety of rikishi, and I note with some enthusiasm that Tobizaru not only reached kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank, he scored a hearty 10-5. Likewise, Wakatakakage’s Ozeki run has started again with his 11-4 finish. As long-suffering fans of both, I was very happy to see both Hokutofuji and Takayasu score double digits, and participate in the yusho race up to the final weekend. Great effort by many, and some rather enjoyable sumo for us all to share.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Yutakayama – Well, you can see Yutakayama’s right leg / foot trying to give out again, and after that it’s easy for Tsurugisho to take the win. It’s tough to watch these guys fight hurt. Tsurugisho finishes Aki at 5-10.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu had a solid enough defense that he was enduring Ichiyamamoto’s initial attacks, but he took an off-balance step forward when Ichiyamamoto released pressure. That was enough to unbalance Mitoryu, and Ichiyamamoto put him on the clay. Ichiyamamoto finishes Aki at 6-9.

Ryuden defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, that was odd. Terutsuyoshi’s had a typical submarine tachiai, Ryuden was able to maintain a hold as Terutsuyoshi tried to circle away, and as a result was behind him for a second. They both kept trying to circle and break contact, and it came to an end when Terutsuyoshi stepped out. Ryuden finishes with 11-4. Welcome back to the top division indeed!

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – Today Chiyoshoma did not mind his foot placement, and had his right foot on the janome as he went to throw Kotoeko. They called it yorikiri, so… ok. Kotoeko picks up a final day win to avoid double digit losses at 6-9.

Aoiyama defeats Hiradoumi – Aoiyama has been in poor condition this basho, but it was good to see him put together enough of his old sumo to dispatch Hiradoumi. He finishes 6-9 with a hatakikomi.

Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Interesting to watch, as neither of these guys could really generate or withstand a lot of force with their hips or lower back. Takarafuji’s frontal right hand grip did most of the work, and he secures a final win to finish 5-10.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyotairyu – Everything Chiyotairyu had went into the first combo. He tried to stand Nishikigi up and slap him down, but Nishikigi was ready, and his balance remained stable. From there it was an easy win, and both end the Aki Basho at 6-9.

Ura defeats Oho – First of our Darwin matches, if you blink you may miss it. Oho pulls Ura on the second step, and gets him tumbling. But Ura manages to push Oho out before he hits the clay. Ura finds his 8th win and kachi-koshi on the final day to finish 8-7.

Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – Second Darwin match, Kotoshoho opens up with a lot of power to Meisei’s face and neck. But as Meisei has done so many times this basho, he times a move to the side and breaks Kotoshoho’s balance. Kotoshoho falls forward, and Meisei takes the win to finish Aki 8-7.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka takes command of the match, but does not keep his opponent in front of him. Nishikifuji escapes near the bales, and moves Kotonowaka out from behind. Nishikifuji finishes the tournament at 10-5. His first two basho in the top division both end with 10-5 scores, wow.

Midorifuji defeats Onosho – Onosho opened his chest to Midorifuji, and it only took a moment. Midorifuji gets both hands on center mass and drives forward with everything he can muster. Onosho ends up in the timekeeper’s lap, and Midorifuji finishes Aki at 7-8. Not bad for his first shot at the top of the Maegashira ranks.

Tobizaru defeats Takanosho – While it’s acres of fun to watch Tobizaru go “kitchen sink” against his opponents, I have to compliment Takanosho in this match. He was able to absorb and defend against multiple waves of chaotic sumo from the flying monkey, and kept his feet. I wonder if he practices in the heya by having 2 or three Jonidan guys all try to attack him at the same time. Tobizaru wins a special prize for just crazy man sumo, has a 10-5 kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank, and is simply on fire right now.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – The big match for all of the gyoza, it was a callback to the delightful days of 2017 when these two used to beat the stuffing out of each other once per basho. Sadly we got Takayasu “wild man” sumo from the start. You can see him load so much energy into that initial hit that he ends up completely off balance. He’s easy meat at that point, and Tamawashi finishes him off. Tamawashi wins the yusho with a powerful 13-2 final score. His sumo has been excellent for the past 15 days. Well done sir!

Kiribayama defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu has still not figured out how to beat Kiribayama, as Kiribayama extends his career record to 4-0 over Myogiryu. Today it was all down to hand placement. Kiribayama finishes Aki 9-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Tochinoshin does a masterful job of capturing Ichinojo and shutting down any attack mode he might have. They take a moment to figure it out, but the moment that Ichinojo gets a left hand outside grip, Tochinoshin knows he is on the clock. So forward march, and walk the Boulder out. Tochinoshin finishes at 7-8.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – I am a bit sad that Hokutofuji could not muster a final win in a tournament that has seen some of his best sumo in several years. But he did not keep his hips square to his opponent, and Daieisho moved to the side and sent him into Endo’s lap. Daieisho finishes Aki at 7-8.

Hoshoryu defeats Endo – Last of our Darwin matches. Not too happy with Hoshoryu pulling a Harumafuji style mini-henka, but I guess he is super fond of that Sekiwake title. He finishes 8-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Sadanoumi – Looks like the Ozeki run is back on, and started in glorious fashion. Sadanoumi was off balance nearly the whole time, and that robbed him of any real chance to lay down much of an attack against Wakatakakage. Wakatakakage drives him out, and takes his score to 11-4.

Wakamotoharu defeats Mitakeumi – In this condition, Mitakeumi is not even proper practice ballast. He has a bit of power at the tachiai, but once Wakamotoharu gets his hands set, it’s a quick walk forward to take the soon to be former Ozeki out. Wakamotoharu finishes with double digits at 10-5.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Takakeisho continues his dominance over Shodai, who almost attempted some kind of head lock pull for the briefest of moments, but Takakeisho already had him at escape velocity. Takakeisho ends the tournament 10-5.

Thank you, dear readers, for following along with Team Tachiai during this Aki basho. We have enjoyed bringing you daily coverage, and hope you will join us in our post-basho analysis, and the days that lead up to this year’s final tournament in Kyushu, just 6 weeks away.

27 thoughts on “Aki Day 15 Highlights

  1. First off, Murray Johnson finally got to commentate the final day NHK World highlights package. I didn’t think they allowed a non-Japanese person to have that honor.

    Congrats to Tamawashi, a rikishi who I disliked when I first got into the sport but now admire for his dogged perseverance. Too bad for Takayasu, but from his opening tachiai, it was clear the hairy one had lost the mental battle before the physical one started.

    Tobizaru looks ready for his sanyaku debut, and I think he’s gonna stay there a while. And Wakatakakage is on the express train to Ozeki-hood; who’s gonna stop him? Hokutofuji lost enough in the final days where he won’t get shot up the banzuke only to get knocked back down, and Midorifuji will get another chance in the joi. Truly, November is looking quite intriguing… except the current and former Ozeki. Them, I just cringe thinking about at the moment.

  2. That basho was really tupsy turvy. Of the sanjaku only Wakatakakage was convincing.
    Besides the two out of order ozeki, especially Hoshoryu was disappointing. His henka in the koshi decider was the icing on the cake. Great tournaments by Tobizaru, Tamawashi, Nishikifuji and Midorifuji (yes, he wenn make koshi, but still was very strong from M1) among others.
    All in all, big fun!

  3. As a fan of Tamawashi I’m very much happy for him. As a fan of sumo I have to admit that the sport doesn’t need an almost 38 year old yusho winner right now.
    Terunofujis days are numbered as I’m sure he doesn’t want to diminish his legacy by handing out free kinboshi for the rest of his career. And with Mitakeumi out of the picture we only have Takakeisho who holds up the rank of ozeki. Its tiresome to even talk about that other guy up there…

    So yeah, what sumo needed was a Wakatakakage yusho or Hoshoryu finally having his break-through tournament. Just trying to look like the “big bad mongolian” doesn’t get you anywhere if you barely manage to get a winning score.
    There are other names and you all know them but I don’t see anyone outside the San’yaku making a run for ozeki anytime soon.

    • I think the actual Wakatakakage Ozeki run is now underway. I would think he will be promoted following Osaka. That gives him half a year to take care of his “cold start” problem. I say Osaka because I am going to guess they want to see him fight a recovered (if possible) Terunofuji a few times before they give him the nod.

      • He can reach 33 over 3 with 14 in Kyushu, which would surely do it. 13-2 might also, given the state of the Yokozuna and Ozeki. Otherwise, he needs 22 over Kyushu and Hatsu. By Osaka, the Aki performance will be “off the books” by conventional Ozeki run standards, although Asanoyama’s promotion suggested they look at a longer time frame sometimes.

        • He went 8-7 including a fusen last basho. As much as I want Wakatakakage to become an Ozeki, I dont hope July will be considered worthy as the start of any run.

          • Not that you’d want to hold him up as an example, but Shodai’s run was 8-11-13 with a fusen in the 11. Factor in what happens if Shodai doesn’t get 8 and Mita doesn’t get 10…they only let the number of Y/O drop to 2 once, in 1993, for a single basho before Takanohana’s promotion.

  4. Fantastic Basho. Well done to the Iron Man Tamawashi. Well done also to the Flying Monkey. I really, really enjoyed watching Nishikifuji. He is slippery like an eel and yet he is a goodly size.
    Many, many thanks as always to the Tachiai team! Can’t wait till November….

  5. For me, there is new vigor in the recent members of Makuuchi. I am more excited about the future of sumo than I have been for a couple of years. Shodai, Mitakeumi, and even Takakeisho – they have always felt a little shy of what I think deserves to be an Ozeki. Additionally, the lower and middle ends of the top division have been filled with what I think was a large set of vets for many years that just seemed to bounce around but mostly stay in the same relative space. Lately though, there have been so many interesting new rikishi filling the ranks of Makuuchi that are fresh and exciting to watch. I’m thinking of Kirabayama, Kotonowaka, The “Waka” brothers, Kotoshoho, Nishikifuji, Hoshoryu, Takanosho, Tobizaru, Midorifuji. The last time I remember getting excited about the potential of the new batch of younger folks was when “the tadpoles” first came on the scene. However, I feel like the potential for exciting, powerful rivalries in that batch kind of fizzled out. Also, the tadpoles all seem to be streak-y: they are not consistently solid. At least that’s how it feels. This new batch….they have a ton of energetic sumo. It is exciting to see them get better every tournament. I hope a bunch of them can fill the Ozeki ranks and make things really exciting that the top of the top. Fingers crossed.

    • Juryo is bursting with good young sekitori. Tochimusashi, Atamifuji, Hokuseiho, Kinbozan, Kitanowaka, Oshoma, with Roga on the way. They won’t all be perennial sanyaku guys but a few of them will have excellent careers near the top of the banzuke.

  6. Very dissapointing day for me. First I believe the Ura vs Oho match should have had a mono ii. Then Takayasu basically lost his fight at theb tachiai. Now I don’t dislike Tamawashi, but I still rooted for Takayasu today. Most of the other matches were meaningless and went pretty much as expected.
    Overall there were some good performances from the rank and file this basho giving me some hope for the next year, but overall I enjoyed Juryo more when I watched it. Everyone there is just so much more healthy.
    Tochimusashi(yusho) and Kinbozan both pretty impressive in their first Juryo basho. Hokuseiho faded in week 2, but at 21 after his 2nd basho should be near the top of Juryo in November and Atamifuji, who just turned 20 should give his makuuchi debut next basho.
    Oshoma, whose debut got covid-stopped last basho recovered after a weak start for a kachikoshi.
    There are a number of fresh and healthy guys in Juryo who could move up quickly. Makuuchi desperately needs more genki guys.

  7. I enjoyed the basho overall, but there did seem to be a high number of bouts with little interest, because one or both of the rikishi were carrying an injury that didn’t allow them to perform at the level we expect in makuuchi.
    To me, one of the great unasked questions is just why Tamawashi has never missed a day of competition, He must be doing something right, but nobody seems to have any interest in finding out what that might be. After discovering from Iksumo’s post that he is the only sekitori in a heya of only four rikishi, I am wondering if not getting beaten up in training may be part of the answer,(That’s a joke, but who knows?)

    • he’s said he’s careful to not gain weight, and his straightforward style probably has something to do with it, but a lot of it can probably be chalked up to a combination of good genes and good luck

      • Interesting that he said that, I believe he’s heavier at the moment (174kg) than he’s ever been, having put on quite a few kilos over the last year or two. Certainly not doing him any harm.

        The most interesting thing about his career profile is how suddenly he improved at the age of 32 and became a san’yaku mainstay. I don’t think this can be put down just to fading competition from 2017 onwards, the improvement was more than just a rank of two. There’s hope for wrestlers still improving in their late 20s like the Waka brothers (as well as Tobizaru who has turned 30).

        • I think it mainly has to do with competition. There was just such a sharp drop in quality around 2017. Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu all had greatly reduced appearances or went intai. Kisenosato and Terunofuji went long term kyujo. Long time stable sanyaku Tochiozan and Myogiryu started their fade in 2016. The decline of Goeido and Giku also started around that time. This was just a great opportunity for rikishi who were just missing a little bit to make that jump.
          Most of those names also had quite a good formula against oshi sumo prepared. His scores before 2017:
          Hakuho 0-6 (1-10 from 2017)
          Harumafuji 3-4 (1-4 from 2017)
          Kakuryu 1-6 (4-4 from 2017)
          Kisenosato 0-9 (2-0 post injury)
          Terunofuji 2-4 (7-7 from 2017)
          Goeido 3-5 (5-10 after that)
          Kotoshogiku 2-6 (10-2 from 2017)
          Tochiozan 2-9 (1-5 from 2017)
          Myogiryu 4-3 (6-3 from 2017)

          a lot of losing match ups had either greatly reduced attendance or just faded away.
          Another reason might be his small stable taking him longer to polish his sumo. Also experience obviously plays a huge role in sumo and while other rikishi have to use that to balance their increasing health issues, Tamawashi seems to be unaffected of those.
          My memory might be wrong as the top of the banzuke seems to be all belt huys in my memory, but in the 2010 till 2017 or so Oshi specialists generally had a hard time in Makuuchi.

          • Thank you for the detailed reply – I had been thinking mainly of the Yokozuna. It’s still a big jump from the M5-M12 area to san’yaku, but maybe there was a general decline even outside of the extended group you mention.

            As for his longevity, I wonder if being at a stable with so few wrestlers might actually have helped. I know the mantra is that injuries are caused by lack of practice, but this can surely only be true to a point…

      • I agree straightforward style probably does have a lot to do with it. But I’m unwilling to give credit to good genes and good luck. Everyone’s luck runs out eventually and I don’t believe there are genes for not getting injured. My subtext is that injuries are markedly diminishing the quality of sumo, he doesn’t get injured, maybe the sumo world could learn from him, if it wanted to.

  8. The look and confidence of Wakarakakage reminds me of Chiyonofuji. I have always enjoyed the way Hokutofuji could take a licken’ and keep on tickin’. It was sad to see him lose steam after that henka. To reference another old TV ad, Takayasu has become Mr Avis – the number 2 who tries harder. Tadpole Tsupari Sumo is not the way to Yokuzuna. There is no list of great Yokozuna known only for their devotion to tsupari.

  9. Thank you all at Tachiai for all the excellent previews, reports and other articles. The highlight bout of the basho for me was Tobizaru v Ura on Day 11, and the lowlight was of course Takakeisho’s dastardly henka. Hopefully Hokutofuji will get another chance at the top of the leaderboard, I had begun to worry his best days were behind him.

  10. Shame on the judges for not calling Chiyoshoma’s defeat correctly: that was an isamiashi, and you don’t see those very often: and yes, I did have to look it up.

    • They usually only call that when you inadvertently step too far forward while pushing out your opponent (before he is out).

  11. 5 memories from this basho:
    1) Oho goes 7-3 over the first 10 days and then 0-5 in the final act. What happened?
    2) Tamawashi taking the yusho.
    3) Hoshoryu on day 12 clutching victory from the jaws of defeat versus Shodai or was it Shodai clutching defeat from the jaws of victory? Take your pick but either way it was enjoyable to watch.
    4) Takakeisho getting payback the next day after pulling the henka.
    5) Ryuden’s successful return to the top division with an 11-4 record.


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