Kyushu 2023: Day One Highlights

“You’re back!”

Eric the Slayer

These weeks between tournaments seem to pass by so slowly, especially the weeks between the banzuke release and shonichi. It’s so excruciating. Once you get the bug, it’s difficult to get rid of, isn’t it? Anyway, I’m glad you’re back and we’re going on an adventure. There is a lot going on for this tournament, so let’s get to it.

Andy Gets a Taste of the Action

First some of the news about who is not here. Terunofuji and Asanoyama are out, as is Hakuoho, the Miyagino-beya phenom. However, there’s an exciting crop of new faces in the top division. While the Yokozuna is absent, Takakeisho is eyeing his opportunity to join him at the rank. Meanwhile, Kirishima and Hoshoryu will be looking to solidify their positions at Ozeki. Thankfully no one is kadoban coming into the tournament. That’s a marked improvement. And from our three Sekiwake, will we see one start a fresh run at Ozeki?

Rather than speculate over who might be set for a strong tournament (since my gut is usually proved wrong very quickly), let’s get going, shall we?


Kitanowaka (1-0) defeated Nishikifuji (0-1). Nishikifuji’s ottsuke was strong for the first few seconds. But once he relented, Kitanowaka latched on deep to the back of Nishikifuji’s belt and drove back. Kitanowaka finished him off with a fierce nodowa that drove Nishikifuji back onto his butt. Kitanowaka is a big dude so that nodowa must have been unpleasant. Good to finally see him in Makuuchi. If he keeps this up, he will be here for a while. Yoritaoshi.

Kitanowaka will face Roga tomorrow while Nishikifuji will face Tohakuryu.

Churanoumi (1-0) defeated Roga (0-1). Roga quickly locked on to the front of Churanoumi’s mawashi. Once he secured this belt grip, he followed Churanoumi’s drive wherever he went. Churanoumi thrust forward, this way and that, but was never quite able to drive Roga out. Roga seemed more concerned with fumbling for a grip and maintaining his balance than actually launching and attack. Suddenly, Churanoumi seemed to give up and Roga pushed him out. Gunbai to Roga. Mono-ii? After a bit of confusion from myself, at why there was a mono-ii, it was clear from the replay that Roga had been pushed out long before. One of Churanoumi’s thrusts had been strong enough to drive Roga back and force him to step out. Great work from Churanoumi and the eagle-eyed shimpan. Yorikiri.

Roga will face Kitanowaka, Churanoumi draws Ichiyamamoto.

Ichiyamamoto (1-0) defeated Tohakuryu (0-1). Tohakuryu tried three times to slap down Ichiyamamoto. It looked like the third time was the charm as Ichiyamamoto sprawled forward to the clay and Tohakuryu spun to the left. Gunbai to Tohakuryu. But the eagle-eyed shimpan called another mono-ii. Video doesn’t lie. Tohakuryu had stepped out first. Ichiyamamoto had driven him back and out first. Oshidashi.

We already know Tohakuryu will take on Nishikifuji while Ichiyamamoto gets Churanoumi.

Kindayu and Ginjiro will try to be more on the ball tomorrow.

Tsurugisho (1-0) defeated Tomokaze (0-1). Tsurugisho took the initiative here at the tachiai. Both men latched onto each others’ belts but Tomokaze seemed happy to play defense. Tsurugisho tried to drive forward but Tomokaze dug in and wouldn’t yield. Tsurugisho then pulled forward and threw Tomokaze to the ground. Uwatenage.

Tamawashi (1-0) brand oshi-zumo ruled the day over Takarafuji (0-1). Tamawashi never let Takarafuji inside to grab onto his belt. He planted a strong left arm squarely into Takarafuji’s right peck and drove forward, forcing Takarafuji backwards, over the edge. Maybe all the nipple attention at jungyo is just his method of scouting? “Will this be a firm spot to plant my attack? Or will it give? Hmm…” Oshidashi.

Tomokaze will face Takarafuji on Day 2; Tsurugisho is paired off with Tamawashi.

Hiradoumi had no chance here. Oho (1-0) defeated Hiradoumi (0-1) as he established his style of oshi-zumo, just as Tamawashi had. Fierce tsuppari kept Hiradoumi back. The sustained assault chased Hiradoumi wherever he attempted to flee and Oho launched Hiradoumi over the edge. If he keeps this up, Oho could make a charge. He has been a bit of a snooze, lately, if I’m honest. But this was power sumo. And power sumo is, “いい相撲”. Tsukidashi.

Sadanoumi (1-0) absolutely destroyed Kotoeko (0-1). Sadanoumi won this bout at the tachiai, driving Kotoeko backwards, immediately. Kotoeko attempted a twisting throw at the edge. But Sadanoumi’s head was squarely planted in Kotoeko, driving both off the edge, tumbling into the front row. Yoritaoshi.

On Day 2, Oho will take on Sadanoumi and Hiradoumi will face Kotoeko.

Ryuden (1-0) defeated Mitakeumi (0-1). Mitakeumi met Ryuden squarely at the tachiai and his chin, planted in Ryuden’s face. But Ryuden kept his head down and powered Mitakeumi back and over the edge. Mitakeumi is a shadow of his former Ozeki self. I had hopes for him to have a strong tournament as he is ranked quite low for his talents. From this start, however, he may have farther to fall. There was just nothing here. Yorikiri.

Atamifuji (1-0) defeated Myogiryu (0-1). Atamifuji wrapped his right arm around Myogiryu’s trunk and tried several times to snake his left hand over onto Myogiryu’s belt. But Myogiryu successfully kept separation between the two. This kept Atamifuji from his belt…but Atamifuji adjusted his strategy and just locked on to his entire right arm, locked in at the shoulder. With Myogiryu’s right arm secured in an arm bar, he pulled Myogiryu forward to the clay. Kotenage.

Ryuden will face Myogiryu and Mitakeumi battles Atamifuji tomorrow.

Kinbozan (1-0) defeated Endo (0-1). Kinbozan’s power oshi-zumo won the day. Endo drove deep to grab onto Kinbozan’s belt but Kinbozan wasn’t having any of it, driving Endo backwards with a powerful thrust. That thrust staggered Endo, forcing him off balance and looking for an exit.


Hokuseiho (1-0) defeated Takanosho (0-1). After the tachiai, Hokuseiho seemed happy to settle into a lean-fest. Hokuseiho’s passiveness forced Takanosho to take the initiative and try to drive the big lug back. Every attempt Takanosho had to drive forward was thwarted by Hokuseiho’s size. But Hokuseiho did not seem to want to counter-attack. He waited Takanosho out and they settled into a nice “lean.” The crowd always likes a lean and applauds, politely, as they wait for something to happen. Suddenly, Hokuseiho reaches out with his loooong left arm. He stretched deep behind Takanosho, grasping his belt. Takanosho’s thinking, “Uh-Oh.” Yorikiri.

Endo will face Hokuseiho on Day 2. Kinbozan gets Takanosho.

Shonannoumi (1-0) defeated Midorifuji (0-1). Midorifuji jumps first. Matta. Shonannoumi tried to end Midori twice at the outset, just crushing him with his size. But the smaller rikishi resisted, strongly. Again, Shonannoumi pulled and drove Midorifuji down while backing out. Oh, that was close. Gunbai to Shonannoumi. Mono-ii. Did Shonannoumi step out or did Midorifuji touch the clay first? It was judged that Midorifuji touched first before Shonannoumi stepped out. Hatakikomi.

Onosho (1-0) defeated Nishikigi (0-1). Solid tachiai and footwork from Nishikigi. Wakanohana appreciated Onosho’s tachiai, in particular. He noted that the strong thrust to the shoulders staggered Nishikigi enough to allow Onosho to get in close and wrap him up. Nishikigi countered with a desperate, strong twist and nearly forced Onosho down. Onosho’s foot sprawled out to catch himself. Once secure, he drove forward again, driving Nishikigi back and out. Oshidashi.

Shonannoumi trades Midorifuji for Onosho, which leaves Nishikigi for the Midori-man.

Abi (1-0) defeated Gonoyama (0-1). Abi-zumo. Powerful thrusts about the head and shoulders drove Gonoyama back and out. Gonoyama tried a change of direction to catch Abi out but Abi was locked on today. Solid work. Oshidashi.

Abi will go from Gonoyama to Ozeki Kirishima. Gonoyama will face Daieisho.

Kotonowaka (1-0) defeated Tobizaru (0-1). Kotonowaka seemed to taunt Tobizaru after the tachiai. A cheeky little slap to the face. “What are you going to do?” Tobizaru tried to move Kotonowaka and might have pushed him back a couple of feet toward the tawara but that was it. Then Kononowaka launched forward and sent Tobizaru flying from the dohyo. Oshidashi.

In a couple of fantastic feature bouts for tomorrow, Kotonowaka will fight Takayasu on Day 2. Tobizaru will get Hokutofuji.

Takayasu (1-0) defeated Wakamotoharu (0-1). Takayasu displays Ozeki-level mind games before the tachiai with an epic stare-down. “You will put your hands down first.” Wakamotoharu obliges, which was apparently a mistake. Takayasu met Wakamotoharu with a strong tachiai, locks on to his opponent, and rotates. As he rotates, Wakamotoharu chases after his belt grip…but it’s too late as Takayasu finishes the rotation throwing Wakamotoharu to the ground. Uwatenage.

Wakamotoharu will face Meisei on Day 2.

Daieisho (1-0) defeated Meisei (0-1). Daieisho won this brawl with overpowering tsuppari. Bam, bam, bam, driving Meisei back. Meisei put in a solid effort and shifted back to the center to try to get a secure position. Daieisho was just stronger today, reset and drove forward again. Bam, bam, bam. “Go out now.” Tsukidashi.

Hoshoryu (1-0) defeated Shodai (0-1) at the tachiai with a powerful nodowa that forced Masayo back clear to the tawara. Shodai had a rather meek attempt to counter. “Do you mind if I push back, sir? You do? Oh, okay, I can find my way out.” Hoshoryu kept up the pressure and forced him out. Tsukidashi.

A potential barnstormer bout tomorrow as Shodai fights back to spoil Takakeisho’s rope run. Hoshoryu will face Ura.

Kirishima (1-0) defeated Ura (0-1). Again, the Ozeki’s powerful tachiai drives his opponent back to the tawara. Rather than nodowa, Kirishima met Ura square in the shoulders and shoved. Ura was a bit more successful at resisting than Shodai was in the previous bout. He was able to back Kirishima to the center. But Kirishima closed on Ura and dashed him to the floor.

Takakeisho (1-0) defeated Hokutofuji (0-1): Honestly, this is the bout that I have been waiting weeks for but that was dissatisfying. Thumper was nowhere to be seen as Takakeisho drove him back easily. Hokutofuji merely delayed his exit by shifting to the left and Takakeisho followed. Oshidashi.

21 thoughts on “Kyushu 2023: Day One Highlights

  1. Wasn’t there a matta in the Takakeisho Hokutofuji bout? Takakeisho was all over Hokutofuji without Hokutofuji being even close to touching ground with his left hand.

  2. Hoshoryu got a virtual freebie, Shodai was mentally absent.
    Why don’t the sumo association suggest intai for Terenofuji, they did the same to Kisenosato, when he took regular kyujos

    • Shodai isn’t necessarily known for battling through aggressive attacks like that nodowa. I wouldn’t count it as a freebie but one reason Shodai is no longer Ozeki.

      As far as Terunofuji, I think there are a few things at play. I wonder if there’s some hope that if Kisenosato had taken off after his injury, he could have come back successfully and won more tournaments. There’s probably some hope that Terunofuji will be back and win again; he did win in May. But there’s also not another Yokozuna, nor is there a strong promotion candidate. If I remember correctly, there’s also a new chair of the YDC.

    • I don’t remember an actual recommendation for Kisenosato to retire. In any case, after his one yusho, he was absent for all or part of eight consecutive tournaments, then came back for a decent 10-5, then started 0-5 and pulled out, then started 0-4 and retired. I think Teru has to attempt to enter in January, and if it goes badly, he’ll be on thin ice, but he’s nowhere near Kisenosato territory yet, having won as recently as May.

    • Fun facts (If I did the arithmetic correctly):

      During the years 2020-2023, only 40% of the 460 match-days had a Yokuzuna competing (assuming the completion of the current tournament);

      In that time period, 9 entire tournaments out of the 23 had no Yokozuna competing.

      Terunofuji has competed in 52% of the matches since becoming Yokozuna; during the matches in 2020-2021 when Hakuho was on the books, he competed in 22% of the matches; and Kakuru competed in 22% of his eleigble matches in that time period.

      • Well it seems I did not do the math correctly since I double counted matches when two Yokozuna were on the books. There were 345 tournament days in the time period, but there were 460 matches where there was a Yokozuna eligible to compete. So it’s more accurate to say that 40% of the matches which could have had a Yokozuna competing, actually had one competing.

  3. Good grief! Someone tell Hokutofuji that practice bouts are over and the tournament has started. I’m not a super fan of his but I do like the guy and this has got to be the absolute lamest bout and sumo effort I can ever remember seeing from the guy.

    Even after the questionable start, he brought nothing in this bout.

  4. I think that should have been a matta. Even in real time, it looked to me like Hokutofuji’s body momentum was still going down to put his hand down while Takakeisho started his charge. In slow motion, he barely completes that movement before Takakeisho made contact. That meant Takakeisho’s first attack landed when Hokutofuji wasn’t able to take it and gave Takakeisho a massive advantage in winning this match. Given the outcome, I’m sure Hokutofuji wishes he could redo that hand placement so that he wasn’t so wide open, but Takakeisho got a generous decision from the gyouji today.

    • Absolutely agree. I’m not a Keisho fan in the least but he does get serious leniency at the match start.

      I don’t think it was a matter of Thumper not being present but simply not having a chance to engage as he has one of the best tachiai in sumo for power off the line.

      If he had managed any forward momentum I don’t think the end would have come as it did.

  5. I wouldn’t read too much into Mitakeumi’s loss to Ryuden—he’s only beaten him once in 9 tries, and lost to him regularly even when he was at the top of his game. Time will tell what shape he’s in, but this is just a bad matchup for him.

  6. Hmm, my guy Asakoryu is up against Hidenoumi down in the J’s today. Wasn’t Hid. A Mak. Fighter at one time ?..Hope Asa has a better day today….

    • He’d made a few Makuuchi appearances, and before his suspension, he seemed to be settling in as a mid-maegashira guy. Asakoryu looked rough on day 1 against Shimanoumi, of all people.

    • Yes. Hidenoumi was in makuuchi for a bit. His brother is Tobizaru. I remember a lot of talk about the two brothers in the top division.


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