In Preparation For Aki

Hello all, it’s Bruce here, warming up to bring you daily coverage of the 2023 Aki basho. There are a lot of topics to watch during this tournament, but I think the biggest news to me is that Yokozuna Terunofuji will be kyujo. This is not a surprise given the state of his knees, but he has only complete a single tournament in the past year. Granted the finish was a 14-1 thundering yusho. But I would expect we are closer to the time when he will step down as Yokozuna than the start of his reign. In some ways that’s going to be sad, but he’s really fought very well in the 2 years since he took the rope.

We also have the debut of shin-Ozeki Hoshoryu, who was promoted following his 12-3 yusho in Nagoya. Readers know I like his sumo but wish he would display more hinkaku, though many have taken vocal exception to my writing about it (more on that further down the post). Truth be told, I want the guy to be a bit more sure of himself. That means you should know that you are one of the best, and act with self assurance and confidence. You don’t need to act like a punk, and frankly displays of that sort would keep you from getting the rope should your sumo ever warrant it. The NSK had enough of that from your uncle, and I am sure they have explained that to you and your oyakata.

After sitting out Nagoya with injury, the longest surviving Ozeki, Takakeisho, returns to clear kadoban. This is his second kadoban this year, and with luck he will get at least 8 wins. In January I predicted that the NSK may regret not giving him the rope following Hatsu, and I worry that prediction may come to pass, though many readers took vocal exception to my writing about it (more on that further down the post). He is the only Japanese Ozeki, and if you think that does not matter to Japanese fans, guess again. I have often written that Sumo is a Japanese sport made by Japanese people for Japanese people who are living in Japan. Everyone else (like us) are mostly welcome to come along for the ride, but we are a fraction side show for this, Japan’s national sport.

Likewise Kirishima is kandoban, having fallen into the modern Ozeki curse of securing the promotion and immediately suffering a performance limiting injury. The real question is my mind: Is the san’yaku weak enough to allow 2 Ozeki to clear kadoban in the same basho? Looking at the roster the warning signs are there, and I would name the primary obstacles to that plan Wakamotoharu and Kotonowaka. I can see both Takakeisho and Kirishima struggling in act 3 to piece together their 8. While it would be huge drama in front of the Tokyo crowd (and make for solid TV ratings on NHK), it will be brutal. Of course I am wondering about both of them being 7-7 on day 15 and facing an Ozeki Grand Darwin battle. The stuff of nightmares.

I would like to close this post with some personal news. At the conclusion of Tachiai’s coverage of Aki, I intend to retire. Possibly forever, at least for a time. The daily 5-6 hour burden to takes to put together the highlight and preview posts take their toll. When I have less than that time available, I tend to make mistakes. The readership has become more vocal as of late, and frankly, I don’t need the hassle of a few people who are willing to complain that the coverage that we give freely is not up their their standards or their tastes. While I give a defiant middle finger to the louts who have posted garbage in the comments section of our blog in the past several months, I offer my thanks to all of the solid readers and commenters here who share our love of sumo. I will miss you lot indeed.

But after the birth of my second child in January, and his ongoing health problems, there are not enough hours in a day to earn my income, take care of my family, and write about sumo. So let’s ride this last basho together, and hope for a glorious Aki tournament full of brilliant fights and exciting matches.


45 thoughts on “In Preparation For Aki

  1. I’ve only been following for a year but I look forward to your previews and summaries each day. Godspeed to you and your family, random noise to those who choose to criticise rather then constructively contribute.

  2. I’ve been quietly enjoying your blog for a year or two, your comments and analysis have helped me understand and enjoy each match and basho. I’m sorry to hear you’re not going to be able to continue, but I’m sure it’s been a big commitment, but I’d like to thank you, and let you know that your efforts are appreciated. Thanks for the fun

  3. Sorry to hear of your pending retirement. That’s just selfish on my part. I learn a lot from you and thoroughly enjoy your summaries and insights. Regardless, family must come first. Best wishes and I hope all goes well for you and your family.

  4. Sorry to read about your leaving and looking forward to your comeback!
    (I agree with Peter who proposed U‘d concentrate on the highlights. Who says they have to be pretty serious stuff? I for one would love to get your „crazy descriptions“ with them.)

    I felt closest to U when U seemed to be the only voice of Tachiai who like me thought they should have promoted Takakeisho to Yokozuna (on two occasions even!).
    And I remember laughing out loud when U described Hakuseiho‘s fighting style.
    It was great also fun to follow your (mis-)calculations about possible yusho winners…

    Thanks for everything and best wishes.

  5. Best of luck in RL. Completely understand your priorities. I often lack the time to read your previews or the patience to wait with watching the actual bouts, but they sure have been fun to read.
    I doubt your love for sumo will fade, so when things have slowed down Hakuho II goes on a Yokozuna run, you will be well rested for coverage;-)

  6. I’m late to the party, but I would like to say that Bruce I always welcome listening/reading your comments on the best English fan-based site on all things sumo, and yep yep, I totally get it —- LIFE takes precedent over EVERYTHING! Family comes first, and I truly hope and pray that your baby child overcomes whatever health issues that are presently there and grow up to be very healthy and STRONG! Hopefully, one day, you will be back, but until then please take care and I WISH you and yours a very positive and uplifting future!!


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