Haru Day 1 Highlights

A satisfying first day of sumo in Osaka. I really have to compliment Shodai on showing up and executing sumo in the style of his former Ozeki days, it’s great to see it once more. Other highlights were Oho battling an apartment block, Kinbozan making it look easy, and Ura with another of his peerless escapes.

I note with some interest a growing number of spectators setting aside the wearing of masks. Given how wearing masks in Japan is endemic and expected, I can’t help but wonder if Osaka is about to the point where people have decided that 3 years into this mess, they have run out of patience. I do enjoy the enthusiasm from the crowd, and hope that we get a rowdy bunch for the next 14 days.

Highlight Matches

Asanoyama defeats Mitoryu – Welcome back, Asanoyama. Immediate right hand inside against Mitoryu, leaving Mitoryu without any real options. Asanoyama walked him back and patiently waited for him to step out, improving to 1-0. Fingers crossed that Asanoyama can do well this March.

Tsurugisho defeats Chiyoshoma – I love that Tsurugisho deflected or side stepped a good portion of Chiyoshoma’s tachiai. Tsurugisho set up a left hand outside hold, and the two battled for hand placement. Tsurugisho’s left hand outside led to his right hand inside, and he quickly set up the throw that put Chiyoshoma on the clay. Tsurugisho starts 1-0.

Hokuseiho defeats Oho – Oho is not used to fighting city buses, or garden sheds. Left with a puzzle, Oho tries a nodowa, but it’s almost a bit comical how high he has to reach. Hokuseiho seems to take it all in stride, as you would expect with any civil engineering project, and calmly overwhelms Oho with sheer brute force. I expect the city zoning board will weigh in at some point, but for now Hokuseiho is at 1-0.

Kinbozan defeats Bushozan – If. you thought Hokuseiho was impressive, Kinbozan’s casual dismissal of Bushozan from the ring was stunning. Not that Bushozan is a pushover, but Kinbozan totally dominated that match. He starts Haru 1-0.

Daishoho defeats Kotoeko – Daishoho demonstrated outstanding knowledge of Newtonian principles by playing the “enormous” card early and well. He completely out-bulks Kotoeko, and never lets the Kotoeko get any sort of foot placement or hold. Daishoho 1-0.

Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – Takarafuji looked quite rough today, but the elements of “Defend and extend” held true, and carried the match. Kagayaki chose slow but powerful as his approach today, and on the surface was connecting well. But Takarafuji has enough of his old sumo back that he was able to ensure that Kagayaki could not square his hips to his opponent, and never could connect at full power. Takarafuji starts Osaka with a win at 1-0.

Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – A quite even start to the match, it went Takanosho’s way when Azumaryu tried to pull, and handed offensive control to Takanosho. I was happy to see Takanosho able to stay low, stay in contact, and show the kind of forward pressure he’s not been able to use for several months. Fingers crossed, Takanosho now 1-0.

Nishikifuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu was quite effective at stalemating Nishikifuji’s offense. From the tachiai, it was clear that neither man could overpower the other, and it was down to who could keep their hips lower. I am a bit concerned by that heavy brace on Nishikifuji’s left elbow, as those kinds of injuries tend to sap fighting power as the 2 weeks of the basho progress.

Aoiyama defeats Hiradoumi – Aoiyama gets a couple of good hits in before Hiradoumi decides to try to go chest to chest with Aoiyama. Hiradoumi gets a nice shallow left grip, but soon finds his right has been captured by Aoiyama, and receives a kotenage shortly afterwards. Aoiyama starts 1-0.

Ura defeats Ichiyamamoto – Just about the time I think that Ura might be tapped out, he delivers a performance such as today. Ichiyamamoto employs “his brand of sumo” as best he can, delivering volley after volley of double arm attacks to Ura’s upper body. But he let his success blind him to the danger as he lunged forward to finish Ura off. Never one to lose a match easily, Ura delivers a scarcely believable pivot and levitate on top of the bales, ensuring that Ichiyamamoto touches clay first. Ura opens with a win in front of the home town crowd and is 1-0.

Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – Takayasu wins this one with sheer power. I did not see Hokutofuji’s legendary lower body agility at work today, so I am going to chalk this one up to ring rust on his part. Takayasu 1-0.

Endo defeats Sadanoumi – I am really impressed by how low both of these rikishi stayed the entire fight. Endo was, at first, unable to find any working advantage, and had to settle for a stalemate. Frustrated that his offense was ineffective, it looked like Sadanoumi worked to set up a throw, but his pivot move was clumsy, and Endo broke his balance, and ran him out of the ring. Endo starts 1-0.

Midorifuji defeats Kotoshoho – Midorifuji got underneath and stayed there. This match was won at the tachiai, as Midorifuji was able to capture Kotoshoho, and not let him adjust into a working defensive posture. Well played, Midorifuji. Your reward? 1-0.

Onosho defeats Meisei – I am not sure what Meisei had planned, but it could not have been what actually happened. Onosho made contact sharply, and never let Meisei even get his balance. Quick and brutal, Onosho starts 1-0.

Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Daieisho exactly as he needed to, and was able to merge his tsuppari attack with blocks of Nishikigi’s attempt to reach for Daieisho’s belt. The result was no offense and no real defense from Nishikigi, and Daieisho put him out smartly, starting 1-0.

Kotonowaka defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s mechanics looked good, but there was just now forward pressure and no real power in his sumo. This is the same arrangement that lost him his Ozeki slot, and it’s got to be some kind of injury, like a hernia, in my book. Kotonowaka rallies after the tachiai, and walks Mitakeumi out for a yorikiri win, and a 1-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Ryuden – Simple but impressive win by Wakamotoharu. He was denied any real grip, but used hand placement and his upper body to contain and move Ryuden with great effect. That man has a lot of potential in his sumo. He is at 1-0 after day one.

Kiribayama defeats Abi – At this stage, the upper ranks all have faced Abi enough that they have a fair chance of shutting down his only real attack program. So as Abi flails away without any visible effect, Kiribayama bundles him up and shoves him out of the ring. Kiribayama starts Haru 1-0.

Shodai defeats Hoshoryu – Wow, we got the “Wall of Daikon” on day one. Note Hoshoryu played it straight and hard, going for a left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, only to find this giant fleshy mass ramming him back on his heels. A deft hand to the face, and it was exit time for Hoshoryu, and we got a glimpse of Ozeki Shodai as a treat today, he’s 1-0.

Tamawashi defeats Wakatakakage – What the hell, Wakatakakage? You had Tamawashi off balance and in trouble with his back to you, and he was allowed to recover and beat you. I am not sure what happened to Wakatakakage’s yusho winning sumo, but it was back in Tokyo today. Excellent agility as always from Tamawashi, and he scores an opening day win to be 1-0.

Tobizaru defeats Takakeisho – Excellent lower body agility from Tobizaru today. He was able to sell that step to the side with great effect, and he caught Takakeisho at the moment he was delivering a forward push to move out of the way. Tobizaru finished him with a hand to the back, and it was “Ozeki down!” to end the day. Tobizaru 1-0.

12 thoughts on “Haru Day 1 Highlights

  1. A couple quick thoughts:

    The new crop of top division debutants really look solid. The future of the sport is looking brighter.
    Three former Ozeki on different tracks: Takayasu looks revitalized (almost jumped the start), Mitakeumi looks done (to me, he seems to know he’s gotten as high as he’s going to and is just waiting for the end), and Shodai finally has all the pressure off, so his skill is showing through again.
    Did Tobizaru get away with an inadvertent top knot pull in his big win?

  2. Today, Monkey Boy (Tobizaru) gave us definitive proof why the association was right not to promote Butterball (Takakeisho) to Yokozuna. I understand that all Yokozuna lose from time to time but this defeat would have been even more embarrassing than it already is if Butterball was a Yokozuna.

    That’s 3 basho in a row now that the Ozeki has no solution for defeating the Monkey and that just ain’t Yokozuna level sumo.

    Things don’t get any easier on day 2 when Tamawashi visits the Ozeki. Will be interesting to see if the Grand Old Man goes Ozeki scalp hunting or eases off.

    QQ to all: Is it just me or did Mitakeumi appear to step off the dohyo quite gingerly today? Something is way off with him. He’s been in free-fall mode since May 2022 when he went 6-9 in his second basho as an Ozeki. The closest he’s been to a winning record since March 2022 is 7-8 in January of this year. This is not the same rikishi his fans cheered for all the way to his Ozeki promotion.

  3. Hokuseiho as a “civil engineering project” is priceless. I think he’s more like one of those giant cranes you see engaged on said projects. Whatever, he is getting very good at what he does. Take your time, don’t panic when things go wrong, play to your strengths, do your thing. You aren’t going to see men of his stature hopping around like Enho after 12 cups of coffee.

    • Absolutely agree! The whole commentary of the match is work of genius’s! I do not know if Hokuseiho will keep going this way but for the moment I am enjoying!

      • I often wonder with the giants…How long will it take the wise ol hands to figure him out???… Does he have what is needed to develop a skillset beyond simply being a skyscraper… ???

  4. At least Wakatakakage went back to his classic mawashi. Needs to rediscover that form as well.

  5. I’m wondering if Chiyoshoma doesn’t have the power to do his full-on brand of sumo anymore. He went for a lift against Tsurugisho and got completely shut down. He’s M16, so anything less than a kachi-koshi means he’s on the Juryo barge.

    Hokuseiho has a worse tachiai than Shodai! Standing straight up is going to cause him problems eventually. Anyone who’s previously dealt with Ichinojo will have experience dealing with “I’m Large and In Charge” opponents. He’ll probably do well at his current rank, but above that? I’m not convinced yet.

    The foot switch that Takarafuji pulled literally on the bales was fantastic. I think he still has enough in the tank to stick around. I hope I’m right.

    An Aoiyama who uses throws regularly is going to be really problematic for a lot of people. I’m looking forward to seeing that more often. Less pulls and more throws, please!

    Ura’s escape today caused him to land knee-first right on the bales. I hope that doesn’t cause him problems in the upcoming days. Fingers crossed.

    This is the Takayasu I have been looking for in the recent bashos. No nonsense, low hips, and all business. More of that, please, as often as possible.

    I’m wondering if his recent quality record has given Onosho more confidence and ring awareness. If he puts some more pieces together in his sumo he’ll be formidable.

    I agree with everyone else that Mitakeumi is injured. There’s definitely something wrong and I don’t know why he’s mounting the dohyo when he knows he can’t compete properly.

    I agree that most people know Abi’s “one trick” at this point, Bruce. But, I haven’t seen many people dismantle him like Kiribyama did today. Absolute perfection for deflecting Abi’s thrusts.

    Well, I think Shodai has recovered from whatever was bothering him. At least I hope so, because I’d love to see him start wrecking people “unexpectedly” in this basho.

    I suspect that Wakatakakage is putting a lot of mental pressure on himself to win. That’s based on his reaction to his loss today. He needs to relax and just go with things instead of force them.

    Apparently, Takakeisho forgot that if you’re on a rope run then you have a massive target on your back. I hope he remembers and has more of a plan other than “shove forward without thinking” tomorrow. A+ stuff from the Flying Monkey.

    • I agree that High crane needs to work on his tachiai. i hope Hakuho can help him on that. He is always awkward after tachiai. Once he overcomes that, things get ok.

    • Totally agree with Hokuseiho’s tachiai, it’s very awkward.
      As a fan and rooting for him, I felt like, what the heck is he doing.
      It looks like he is afraid of full on contact.

  6. I am used to seeing Tobizaru with a “Hey, that was fun!” face, sometimes even when he loses. Not used to the “I am taking this serious business seriously” face he had this time after winning. Maybe the nice big bundle of kensho will eventually lighten his mood.

    Very happy to see Ura and Takarafuji pull out wins!

    • No way, it’s always hilarious trying to hold back that big smile, he just tries harder when he”supposed?’ to, like such a big stakes match.

  7. Fantastic to see and hear the full crowd cheering again.
    Highlight of the day for me was Tomokaze winning down in Juryo – so happy to see him back as a sekitori.


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