Haru Day 15 Highlights

We conclude a fine tournament in great style, with a playoff and a yusho for Sekiwake Kiribayama. He was able to beat Daieisho twice today to take him the cup, and score his second consecutive double digit tournament score. His finish in January was 11-4, and earned him the jun-yusho for Hatsu, along with the gino-sho special prize.

Naturally talk will begin to swirl about him being one good tournament away from a possible Ozeki promotion, already have 23 wins over two tournaments. One win each in the last two tournaments have been fusensho, so I am going guess that guidance from the kyokai will be for a strong performance in May.

Congratulations to Kiribayama on a fantastic tournament.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki lost this match when he allowed Tsurugisho to capture him. Yes, Kagayaki did have a double inside grip, but he could not muster enough power to do much against Tsurugisho’s ponderous bulk. Tsurugisho ends Osaka with a kachi-koshi at 8-7.

Kinbozan defeats Takanosho – Kinbozan had the inside hand position from the second step, and never really allowed Takanosho an opening to attack. There was a brief moment where Takanosho almost landed a good thrust, but it left him off balance, and Kinbozan finshed him with a sukuinage to finish Osaka 11-4 with a Kanto-sho special prize.

Azumaryu defeats Daishoho – A final win for Azumaryu, they went chest to chest at the tachiai, settling into a mutual right hand inside position. As they struggled for position, you could see Azumaryu working to set up the throw. He never quite completed rotation, but it was enough to get Daishoho stumbling, and he stepped out of the ring. Azumaryu finishes 4-11.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji able to finish in double digits at 10-5. He was able to set up a right hand inside grip on the second step, and quickly drove forward to send Kotoeko out.

Bushozan defeats Myogiryu – Bushozan had his hands inside and in contact with center mass by the second step. He immediately dialed up the forward pressure, and rammed Myogiryu out of the ring and into Oho’s lap. Both finish Osaka 5-10.

Hiradoumi defeats Oho – Oho is denied his kachi-koshi after Hiradoumi attacks well on the first step, and never lets up the pressure for a moment. Oho has no escape plan, and finds himself escorted from the ring in short order. Both finish the basho 7-8.

Mitoryu defeats Aoiyama – Mitoryu is able to end the tournament with a kachi-koshi thanks to his quick ring sense and reaction time. Both are pushing forward with all they can deliver, but Aoiyama momentarily loses traction. Mitoryu reacts with an immediate slap down to pick up his 8th win, and finishes Osaka 8-7.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura continues his unquestioned dominance of Chiyoshoma, extending his career record to 8-0. That could have been a matta as Chiyoshoma launched a tad early, but the fight was on. They battled for hand placement until Ura was able to duck inside and attack. He put power forward, and launched himself and Chiyoshoma out of the ring, taking out at least 3 cameramen. Both end the tournament 9-6.

Hokuseiho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had a brief window at the start of this match where he could have won, but Hokuseiho was able to capture Ichiyamamoto with his right hand, and shut down any further offense. They enter a battle hug, and that’s where things stay for a while, with just a few struggle sessions as Ichiyamamoto tries to improve his grip. But lets be honest, there is no way he’s moving Hokuseiho, he’s only making himself tired. After a long time, Hokuseiho decides he’s done. He powers forward and runs Ichiyamamoto out of the ring to finish 9-6.

Takarafuji defeats Hokutofuji – Our only Darwin match, and I am both surprised and delighted to announce that Takarafuji managed to squeeze out a kachi-koshi with an 8-7 finish. There were times last week where I worried he would be back in Juryo in May, but he’s going to stick around the top division for a while longer. Sadly the winning move may have injured Hokutofuji’s already injured right knee. Not what I was hoping he would take him from Osaka, to go with his 7-8 make-koshi.

Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Excellent work by Nishikigi to methodically work his hands to Kotoshoho’s mawashi. Once he had both hands attached, he was in charge and he attack with power, eventually brining Kotoshoho down with an uwatenage. Both end Osaka 6-9.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden finds only his second win of the tournament on the final day. Mitakeumi had a solid defense running until a missed move caused him to turn his back on Ryuden for just a moment, and Mitakeumi only recovered with his feet on the bales, but soon had to step out. Ryuden finishes 2-13.

Abi defeats Endo – Endo continues to struggle with Abi-zumo, again we saw him leave Abi to attack at will, and suffered a potent oshitaoshi as a result. Both end Osaka with 9-6.

Shodai defeats Midorifuji – One time yusho race leader Midorifuji suffers his 5th consecutive loss. He had a double inside grip against Shodai by the second step – it was both a blessing and a curse. Once Shodai had his heels on the bales, out came the “Wall of Daikon”, and Shodai bodily rammed forward. With his arms now locked around Shodai, Midorifuji had no escape. The resulting kimedashi pushed him into the front row, and both end the tournament 10-5.

Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Meisei snaps a 6 match losing streak with solid, aggressive sumo. Tamawashi really can’t generate or tolerate any forward pressure this month, and has been a fairly easy mark. Meisei pushes him out into a shimpan, and its a 5-10 finish for him.

Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – An even tachiai evolved into Tobizaru’s superior foot work setting up an uwatenage that sent Sadanoumi tumbling to the clay. Fast and effective, both end the tournament 6-9.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kotonowaka – An impressive 11-4 final score for Wakamotoharu, and it’s his third double digit finish in the past year. Consistency – check. A quick tachiai saw them lock up yotsu-zumo style to fight it out. The finishing move was a tumbling rescue utchari at the edge that saw Wakamotoharu land on his neck. A monoii was called, but the judge’s decision was affirmed, Wakamotoharu had won.

Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Ah, Hoshoryu. Never change you numb skull. Takayasu has stared down plates of food at his mother’s restaurant more potent than you. Delighted to see Takayasu in good form today. He took his time and dismantled Hoshoryu a piece at a time. He seldom fights like this any more, but this is the form that took him to Ozeki, coupled with almost inhuman endurance. Hoshoryu gives him a good fight, but by about 20 seconds in, it’s clear Takayasu has been building an uwatenage. The throw has to overcome Hoshoryu’s excellent mobility, but Takayasu has ample strength to make it stick. Both end the tournament 10-5.

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – The decider, and Kiribayama does what he needs to and takes out the yusho race leader to end the tournament with a 12-3 tie. Kiribayama played Daieisho perfectly, letting him get his mega-thrust train running, then stepping out of the way. Both win the technique prize, and we have a playoff for the yusho.

Yusho Playoff

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Kiribayama takes his first Emperor’s Cup, of what I hope will be several. Oddly enough it’s quite similar to their prior match, Daieisho is all power forward, Kiribayama absorbs two volleys then steps to the side. Kōnosuke calls it for Kiribayama, but they want a monoii to make sure. Clearly they are not up against a news break on NHK, so they have plenty of time. But of course Kōnosuke was right, and it’s time for Kiribayama to hoist a big fish.

Thank you, dear readers for sharing the 15 days of Haru with Team Tachiai. We hope you have enjoyed our daily coverage as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. We hope to see you all again during the Natsu basho in May, and please check back for commentary, and sumo news as it happens.

24 thoughts on “Haru Day 15 Highlights

  1. What an entertaining, yet frustrating, tournament! The sanyaku is depleted, and the joi-jin is like a WWI no-man’s land: cross at your own risk. Everyone is beating everyone else up, and it shows in just how many rikishi are either absent with health concerns or mounting the dohyo each day with injuries. But all that close combat is churning out some strong wrestlers. The future is looking brighter after all the young guns carried this basho.

    The last day made the demotion pool muddy, though! So many borderline candidates won, so I feel we might only get the two obvious Juryo promotions (Ichinojo and Asanoyama). So, I am really looking forward to May. Some strong rikishi are going to get punted further down the banzuke than their skills should allow (Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Ryuden, the two previously mentioned promotees), and if they return both healthy and motivated, I have a feeling we’re getting another Maegashira cup winner next time out.

    Lastly, the Ozeki promotion lanes are wide open. So many men are on runs in some stage or another. Kiribayama has jumped to the head of the pack, but surely Hoshoryu (fix your decorum!), Kotonowaka, and Wakamotoharu can’t be far behind. And poor Wakatakakage; he might fall out of the paid ranks entirely by the time his knee is healed. This era of change continues, and at least this March tournament gave me great hope that it’s about finished and the time of the young guns has arrived.

    • «The sanyaku is depleted,» That’s what happens when you kill the best years of 2 rikishis the way they did with Abi and Asanoyama. Both should be for the least Ozekis… if not Yokozuna for Asanoyama. With stronger and better trained rikishis than ever, the way the JSA deals with injuries must change. If they don’t respect the healing and rehab due process of sports injuries, they overexposed the safety and the short terms health of their main athletes. Shuld they continue sending season veterans down to the Makushita ranks. Send and old and aching Toshinoshin with the youngster and make fight 1day/2days and you can be sure to see him go back and forth fom Juryo to Makusita and again and again. In doing so, veterans are slowing the learning process of the up and comming recruits. When you reach 35 and your body can’t keep strong enough to keep your Makuuchi rank or to regain it after a basho as a Juryo, you should retire with compensation.

  2. Thank you Bruce and team Tachiai for the daily coverage and updates.
    As a fan of Kiribayama, I am very happy for his Yusho, he deserved it.
    This basho was exiting, with very solid matches.
    The excitement of the crowd, enhanced the taste of sumo bouts.

    In Juryo today there were two very good matches, Enho vs Hakuyozan and Ochiai vs Asanoyana, worth watching.

  3. Thank you for the excellent coverage as always.

    I really enjoyed this basho, as much for what was going on in Juryo as in Makuuchi.

    Apart from Kinbozan who looks san’yaku bound very soon the real eye-opener for me has been Takarafuji, I never thought he’d be able to come back from 2-7.

    • That’s so cute! I’ve been shouting in frustration and joy quite a lot this basho!

  4. Dear Team Tachiai, thanks for the fabulous commentary as always!

    Very happy for Kiribayama!!! And for Takarafuji. And bonus Konosuke is always a pleasure.

    I hope Wakatakakage and others get the time and care to heal well.

    Looking forward to more from Kiri, Wakamotoharu, Hoshoryu, and others – so many favorites by now….

  5. Thanks so, so much as ever to Bruce and the Tachiai team! Reading the Tachiai reports and previews is an absolutely essential part of my sumo rituals (and my sumo education).
    Thrilling, brilliant final day. Kinbozan looked like the total truth today. And that stare down! And in their first fight Kiribayama seemed to get Daiesho to levitate with the subtlest of parries!
    Also in Juryo – Enho’s win and the final Asanoyama v. Ochiai were utterly awesome.
    I’m already beginning to shiver and sweat with the onset of sumo withdrawal…

      • oh they most certainly help! I devour your post-mortems and banzuke predictions like an addict who has found a final rock down the back of the sofa… or something…

    • I completely agree! During the basho I start each day reading the preview and end each day with the highlights. It’s been so informative! I’m going to try and educate myself more during April, maybe look more closely at juryo and previous basho from before I started watching.

  6. Thank you, Tachi-ai Team for your sterling work explaining and commenting on the basho!

    Some of my highlights from Senshuraku:

    Ura!!! Full “espresso crab” mode from Blancmange-zeki! And he does love a dive off the dohyo!!! Great for him in his hometown!

    I KNEW Kotoeko would try something sneaky. But Nishikifuji knew it too! Take that! 10-5! I’m so happy!!! His journey has been wild this basho. I was so hyped for him, then so worried, but he ends on the leaderboard at 10-5 alongside greats like Shodai, Takayasu, big newish talent like Hoshoryu, and of course his pal Midorifuji! Love it! Back up the banzuke we go!

    Sexy-wake Kiribayama yusho! Right decision imho! So great to have a playoff. Clever stuff from Kiribayama in the first bout. I wonder how often a mono-ii decides the yusho… I bet the shinpan don’t like it!

    Really impressive from Takayasu to uwatenage Hoshoryu!

    Lol at Daishoho stepping out! Ooops! And Hokuseiho having a snooze mid bout.

    Two questions:

    I hope Wakamotoharu didn’t hurt himself falling on his neck like that. I don’t understand how he won that bout, though! Can someone explain the decision?

    I find the prizes a bit confusing tbh as they don’t always seem to relate closely to what they’re called?

    Miscellaneous thoughts:

    I loved some of the gyoji robes today especially bright pink at the start and dark blue and gold towards the end. Also the eagle head gunbai!

    I’m really excited for May, hopeful that injured rikishi will recover, and curious to see how the banzuke will shake out. I look forward to the Tachi-ai coverage again!

    • Kotonowaka stepped out, while Wakamotoharu was still touching the ground with his bales inside. In theory utchari means that you are with your back to the tawara and lift your opponent to your left or right outside. In practice it’s often an escape move and looks like in this bout.

    • Wakamotoharu appears to be just fine. He was in the car with Kiribayama, holding the winner’s flag and sporting a huge grin. He is also in a brief clip on today’s Sumo Prime Time, in which Kiribayama is surrounded by a host of buddies. (It’s nice to see that so many fellow rikishi are happy for him.)

    • Not enough comments made on the gyoji robes. Sumptuous, stunning, never asking for special attention. But at each bout a colourful surprise: this one an autumn night sky, this one a hedge of bright red berries.

      • Exactly! One of things that makes sumo so interesting and enjoyable. A bit like the kesho-mawashi, but I think they get more attention!

      • Yes! I always want to know more about them, beyond “your gyoji rank allows this color trim.” They are so gorgeous. How many do they have? Who pays for them? Why are they creased in that particular way? Is there a style guide?

        My friend always pays attention to the gumbai also. One of them has a bird on it.

  7. For some days I had been thinking that it would be Kiribayama’s. Kiribayama seems to me to be the rikishi everyone overlooks when compared to the more eccentric wrestlers or the more rotund. Bad luck to Daiesho and even more so to Midorifuji, but great to see Shodai moving back up the charts.

    Try as I do I cannot warm to Hososhoryu (or Hokuseiho) and I trust that after May Kirobayama will be the next newly minted Ozeki.

    Now that Ichi and Asa will be back in macuuchi and hopefully a fit and returned Yokozuna and ‘keisho May will feel as if everyone who by rights should be in the top division will for the first time in ages be there and we will be able to see the relative strengths of the combatants.

    Wonderful writing on this site as always – ‘struggle session’ Bwahahaha.

  8. Really enjoyed this basho. Kiribayama has for a while been someone flying under the radar. Not as flashy as Wakatakakage or Hoshoryu, but less risky and more consistent. I bet Hoshoryu is really pissed of that Kiribayama got a yusho before him.
    I really wish Hoshoryu was more likeable, cause many of his bouts were great sumo. This basho too. Today I was happy thought with my long time favourite Takayasu winning.
    Wakamotoharu is another one flying completely under the radar. Not sure yet what his ceiling is, but he is very stable and consistent outperforming his brother for the last 3 or 4 tournaments.
    Biggest disappointment this basho was clearly Hokuseiho. He is so overhyped here on tachiai, but doesn’t back it up with sumo. Just being big and tall is only sometimes a valid strategy. Others will figure him out soon enough and then he goes 3-12 instead of 9-6 … unless he finally learns not to lose every tachiai. Contrary Kinbozan was a huge delight. He looked great in Makushita and Juryo and transcended that to Makuuchi.
    Daieisho would have deserved the yusho too. But there can only be one winner. He is on an Ozeki run as well now.
    Finally Shodai showed up again as well. We will probably never learn what took his sumo away for the past year, but this is the Shodai I like to see. Unfortunately Mitakeumi is still without power.
    Looking forward to next basho. Without any math, I guess Asanoyama and Ichinojo will end up somewhere between M7 and M11, so they might not have as easy of a path to yusho. Still baring a miracle of a genki Teru, the top of the banzuke seems to be too close for anyone to dominate. So 13-2 from lower should be enough for a yusho.

    • In the defense of Hokuseiho, he has been hyped in most of the forums, not only here, because of his record.
      4 championship
      0 Make koshi, except covid related
      High winning ratio
      One more reason is he is Hakuho’s protégé.

      Also 9-6 for a Makuchi debut is not so bad, given his ineffective tachiai.
      Hope he will improve.

  9. Congrats Kiribayama.. a silent killer in the foggy mountain. When all the eyes were on Midirifusi and Daieisho he came out from no where, and took it all.
    It was funny that when there was the monoii, we had a glaring evidence that kriba stepped on the hand of daiesho. No need to summon Newton’s law. haha.

    One positive note for Chiyoshoma. Hey, you can go fine without that lousy henka. let’s go buddy!

  10. Sorry for late post – THANK YOU TEAM TACHIAI! YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!
    Love the accurate information, and yes Bruce and Andy – love both the
    of the humor you bring in also, while doing your regular work!

    Congratulations to Kiribyama and Toshunru!!! AWESOME!!!

    Liked the Post from Iksumo and Josh as well.

    Always a pleasure to read and great postings from all — Thank you!


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