Lower division bouts – Day 8

Nicola captured the former Ozeki; even the loyal fans in the background couldn’t help

Hot on the heels of Bruce’s One’s To Watch post, here are some low-division bouts, including many of the Ones To Watch and their wreckage.

Let’s start at Jonokuchi. Although I thought Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic recruit, would do well in Jonokuchi, simply on the merit of his combined weight and experience, he came into Nakabi with a 1-2 record. Here he is facing one of Futagoyama’s newbies, Denuma:

The boy has a lot of improvement to do despite this win here, if he is going to meet the standard set by all the other uchi-deshi recruited by the dai-yokozuna, namely, to become sekitori and hold that position (barring injury – poor Yamaguchi).

By the way, remember Ito, the guy thoroughly pancaked by Toma on day 3? Well, it seems that getting a 206kg cannonball may be good for your career – he is currently 4-0 with a chance at the Jonokuchi yusho.

Next we move to Sandanme, only stopping at Jonidan long enough to inform you that Toshonishiki is on fire this tournament with 4-0, and I really wish I could find some footage because the man is almost as thin as Hattorizakura. Maybe he charms his opponent with his pretty face.

Well, at the very bottom of Sandanme we have Shiraishi, the tsuke-dashi. That is, a wrestler who entered sumo as Sandanme 100 instead of going through Maezumo and Jonokuchi. This is a privilege you attain by being top 8 in one of the applicable amateur championships. And so far, he has justified it, arriving at Nakabi with a 3-0 record. Here he faces Kaiyuma, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s stable):

Our friend Yoshoyama is currently at Sandanme 9W, and has a straight win record. If he can keep it up and win the Yusho, he may land right very close to the Makushita “here be dragons” zone. He faces Fujita, who is rather bigger than he is:

This doesn’t stop the Mongolian from Tokitsukaze beya from keeping his straight record.

Next up in Sandanme – Amakaze, who can do the mean splits, and apparently, the mean sumo as well:

Don’t blink. Amakaze is on fire.

Finally, we arrive at the wreckage that is the Terunofuji vs. Daishosei bout. Both come into this bout lossless:

The former Ozeki makes an amateur mistake there, thinking that Daishosei’s foot went out and dropping his defenses as a result. Daishosei is not intimidated enough to miss the opportunity thus opened. Terunofuji goes down the hana-michi cussing (well, to the extent that you can cuss in Japanese – and Mongolian doesn’t even have cuss words).

We’re up to Makushita, and we have Musashikuni vs. Fukuyama. Musashikuni is not having a very good tournament and comes into this bout 1-2:

The American ends up sitting frustrated at the edge of the dohyo, needing to win all his bouts from this moment on.

Next we have Midorifuji vs. Asabenkei. They, too, are 1-2 each as they mount the dohyo. While Midorifuji is very talented, he is also very small. Asabenkei, on the other hand, has some Juryo experience, but seems rather worse for wear.

Midorifuji executes a rather nice katasukashi. You can’t see it in this footage, but Asabenkei has real trouble getting up and over to his position for the bow. Sigh.

So let’s take a look at Hoshoryu vs. Ryuko.

Hoshoryu can’t even cite his lack of weight in this bout. I guess lack of experience.

On a higher note, here is Naya vs. Kaito:

Typical Naya tsuppari, ending in a kachi-koshi and a chance at the Makushita yusho.

Finally, we are up to Juryo – where Kizakiumi is paying a visit, facing Arawashi. Kizakiumi is Churanoumi’s brother, and he is so fresh he can’t even get the oicho-mage that is usually granted to Makushita rikishi who have a Juryo bout.

I thought Arawashi was in a better state than this before the basho. But he may find himself saying goodbye to his kesho-mawashi for the first time since 2013.

My final bout for this report is Daishomaru vs. Aminishiki. Believe it or not, Aminishiki is in the picture for the Juryo yusho, trailing Takagenji by a mere 2 loss margin together with Toyonoshima.

Amazingly, he can still win a bout going forward.

Low Division bouts – Day 3

Kotokamatani wearing an oicho-mage for his Juryo visit today

Here are a few bouts I collected for day 3.

Down in Jonokuchi, Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic uchi-deshi, had his second bout for this basho, vs. Ito, and his first monoii.

Ow, ow, ow. Poor Ito. He looks completely out of it. Well, 206kg falling on top of you is no small matter (see what I did there?). He is lucky the shimpan did not decide on a torinaoshi.

First loss for Toma, then.

Edit: This bout from the TV angle. The Isamiashi is much clearer:

Edit: I found Kitanowaka’s bout vs. Tokisakae – here it is:

Mmm. That man belongs at least in Sandanme at the moment, if not Makushita.

The rest of the videos I found are from Makushita. Let’s start with Tomisakae, who faces Tanabe.

Yeah, the video doesn’t include the tachiai. But Tomisakae, Isegahama’s back-flipping rikishi, seems to be serious this basho.

The famous Naya vs. Koba:

This bout reminds me of a Takakeisho bout. Could it be he is influencing his tsukebito already? Naya does well to maintain his balance as Koba tries to dispatch him near the edge there, and then actually wins by pulling wildly – which will not always work for him.

The match between Hoshoryu and Jokoryu today was all over the Japanese press. “Hoshoryu’s first bout with a former san-yaku wrestler”, the titles shouted. Let’s see how this went, in NattoSumo’s excellent clip:

Hoshoryu said, in an interview after this bout: “I guessed that he will go for a slap, and slap he did. By the time I had reacted he already had his arms well inside. I am glad I was still able to push forward”.

Yes, it wasn’t a bout Hoshoryu should be too proud of. His Tachiai was, indeed, not quite fast enough for a good opponent.

As for that monoii – NattoSumo says he doesn’t understand exactly what happened. Well, the sportscaster is saying “It seems Hoshoryu’s leg was out first… but by then, Jokoryu was already out of balance. The commentator agrees: “He had no body” (that’s like saying his body was dead). But says the word “bimyo” – which means this is not clear-cut. The kyogi (discussion of a monoii) proceeds, and Onomatsu oyakata announces – surprisingly clearly – that they were discussing the leg, but decided with the judge. So it seems that they indeed judged Jokoryu’s body to be dead.

Hoshoryu is 2-0, and fans expect him to be matched next with Takanofuji (the former Takayoshitoshi, you know), who is also 2-0 and looking very aggressive.

Ichiyamamoto vs. Fujiazuma:

Compared to all the above drops and falls, this bout looks positively serene.

We venture into Juryo, where Kotokamatani is visiting to balance the odd number of sekitori in this basho. For this reason, he gets a fine-looking oicho-mage. He goes against our friend Akiseyama:

Akiseyama uses every bit of his experience, but Kotokamatani plants his head and exhibits a lot of patience. He is rewarded by becoming todays blob on the NSK’s “Fan-chosen Fighting Spirit Rikishi” list (Makushita rikishi don’t have a photo in the NSK app, so they are shown as a rikishi-shaped blob if they get elected for that list).

Let’s finish with Aminishiki, who is facing Irodori, the newbie. Aminishiki tends to win first encounters:

And indeed he does, in his usual style. Your opponent gets too enthusiastic about his tsuppari? Move a little sideways and let him enjoy the view from below the dohyo.

Lower Division Bouts – Day 2

Hoshoryu, wearing a severe expression before his bout

Here is a brief collection of lower-division bouts I found interesting. Some of these have been summarized by Bruce earlier.

Jonokuchi

We can’t start the the new era without seeing Hattorizakura lose his first bout of the Reiwa era. And no, you can’t tell me that was a spoiler.

Hattorizakura – here facing Kitajima – vowed to make a kachi-koshi in Reiwa. It will probably not be in Reiwa 1.

Our next bout features Hakuho’s most recent uchi-deshi. Reminder: an uchi-deshi is a wrestler who has been recruited by a senior member of a heya (usually an oyakata, but apparently Yokozuna also qualify) who has plans to form his own heya. While he is still in his original heya, the uchi-deshi belongs to that same heya and answers to the stablemaster there. But when the time comes for the man who recruited him to form his own heya, the uchi-deshi will join him there.

So Hakuho has four uchi-deshi to date – Yamaguchi, Ishiura, Enho and – most recently – Toma. Toma is 18 years old, fresh out of high-school – the famous Tottori Johoku high-school where Ishiura’s father is head coaching. And he weighs more than Kaisei. 206kg. He faces Tomiyutaka here:

I don’t think he should have too many problems getting through Jonokuchi, given both his weight advantage and obvious sumo capabilities. But Hakuho commanded him to lose weight, and I think we can see mobility issues even at this stage, which will manifest themselves once he gets to the higher levels. I just hope Hakuho’s command will be more effective than the one he gave Enho.

Also in Jonokuchi – and I do not have a video, sorry – is Hanakaze from Tatsunami beya. He made history today getting his first win in the Reiwa era, being the only active rikishi having fought in official matches in three different eras. Born in 1970, he joined Sumo in 1986, which was in the Showa era, continued through the entire Heisei era, and is now trying to complete at least one basho in the Reiwa era. He won his bout with a rather convincing uwatenage.

Sandanme

Other than telling you that Satonofuji won his bout, I don’t have much to say of Jonidan, so I’ll skip directly to Sandanme. First, here is Yoshoyama, whom we have met in Jungyo. Although Mongolian, he has not blazed his way through the lower divisions. Nevertheless, so far he only has one make-koshi to his name.

His rival in this match is Ryuseio, who has both height and weight advantage. But as you can see, Yoshoyama is no weakling.

Next, let’s take a look at Roga, the Jonidan Yusho winner from Osaka. By the way, like Toma, he is a graduate of the Tottori Johoku high-school, which he joined on Hakuho’s recommendation. He faces Hokutotsubasa in this bout:

Looks like he is going to have a chon-mage by Senshuraku. But alas, this is his first career loss, probably due to ring rust.

For many of us (read: me), the highlight match at Sandanme this day was, of course, Terunofuji vs. Daishomune. The former Ozeki has been working on his upper body, and seems to be slightly less bloated and slightly more mobile than he was in the previous basho:

Harizashi? Really? Oh well, all is fair in love and Sumo.

Makushita

Naya, Taiho’s grandson, remember him? A few days ago I lamented the fact that there are no sekitori at his stable to pull him up. Well, guess what? He has been assigned as tsukebito to Takakeisho, no less.

Here he is vs. Sagatsukasa:

No worries!

Now, let’s take a look at Midorifuji. He is one of two Isegahama sekitori hopefuls and a pixie. His style seems to follow that of Terutsuyoshi, adjusted for his lower weight, of course.

The bout is good, but his final win seems to be due to Nogami’s leg collapsing. Nogami barely makes it to the bowing spot.

Finally, the one you have all been waiting for. Well, maybe. It’s Hoshoryu, Asashoryu’s nephew and the guy shown in the top photo with a very severe expression on his face. Hoshoryu does not want to end up like Roga. He wants to be sekitori, and he needs every win he can muster.

This video, by the way, is taken from NattoSumo’s channel, where you can watch full daily Makuuchi digests, including stats and some commentary. It’s my personal substitute for Kintamayama’s channel for this basho.

Hoshoryu shows superb oshi work, especially for a wrestler who is a typical Mongolian and an expert thrower.

Jungyo Newsreel – Final Day

🌐 Location: Mito, Ibaraki prefecture

Yes, friends and readers, this is the last – and relatively short – report of the Haru Jungyo! It’s day 25, and the rikishi are finally at the end of their long, long journey. The next day, the banzuke is to be published, the era is going to end, and then it’s intensive practice all the way to Natsu basho.

In the evening before this Jungyo event, these two guys (and others) were spotted at a Mito restaurant:

This pair is always up to something. And unlike some, this does not mean pain to others necessarily. What are they up to? We shall see!

So the next morning, we have our rikishi shaking hands as usual. Nishkigi decides he is a great admirer of Ryuden, and stands in line to shake his hand:

Inside the main hall, rikishi are stretching and exercising along the walls. Here we have Tobizaru doing his mata-wari (splits):

This is not the last Tobizaru we have today.

Ichinojo wants to play with Enho (don’t we all). Just look at the size difference between Ichinojo’s hand and Enho’s.

This being nearly May, the weather is fine, thus exercise is not limited to the venue itself. Outside, under a great tree, Yutakayama makes sure no evil spirits haunt the grounds of the city of Mito:

Back inside – and on the dohyo – we have yet another practice bout between Takayasu and Tochinoshin. I think both benefit from these practices, and we may hope to see both in good form in Natsu:

Sekitori practice over, it’s time for all the activities like Jinku and Shokkiri, then low-ranking bouts. So first the low-ranking rikishi get their hair done:

Then they opt to wait in the customer seating section, as the venue is far from full. Actually, the smart ones keep the seats folded and just sit on the floor. Why smart? See that rikishi in the third tier wedged between the hand rests? That’s why.

Yoshoyama spotted the camera

It’s a known fact that rikishi have a problem going on dates, partly because common activities like cinema or theme park rides become rather awkward when you are twice as wide as anybody else.

But where are the sekitori? Now we come to what Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima have been plotting. This day, April 29th, is Showa Day. It used to be the Showa Emperor’s birthday.

So Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima decided to organize a photo shoot to celebrate the Showa-born sekitori (that means, anybody born before January 8th, 1989), and show that they are still alive and kicking and ready for the third era of their lives. This was the result:

“Men of Showa”

The “S” stands for “Showa” though they said it can stand for “Sumo” as well. Brilliant photo, isn’t it? It was taken using a Birdie:

It’s not the first time Toyonoshima and Kotoshogiku arrange a fun activity for the sekitori. Three years back, they were also behind the sekitori rendition of “Hiyonoyama Kazoe Uta”, better known among Sumo fans as the Hakkiyoi Song – reminder:

(“Sekitori rendition” – because the song was originally performed by the oyakata)

Toyonoshima and Kotoshogiku are cool guys.

So this ends the practice part of the day, and here are the Juryo wrestlers waiting for their dohyo-iri, just as their juniors did earlier:

But they don’t have as much sense as Yoshoyama and his mates.

Then they await their bouts. Tobizaru is doing fansa during the wait, and not just simply signing autographs with a bored face, either:

Gagamaru is all envy for all the attention the handsome monkey is getting. He then grabs a camera from one of the su-jo and photographs Tobizaru close up:

Sorry, Gagamaru, Tobizaru is still prettier than you. Tobizaru returns the favor:

But we are spared the resulting close-up of Gagamaru. Thank you, camera owner.

As Takanosho is interacting with a fan, or at least standing near her, waiting for the oicho demonstration to be over and the bouts to start, Hidenoumi nearly topples him over her:

(Sorry, I know you’re going to ask, but Hidenoumi first asks whether this is a photo or a video, she says video, and then… I can’t quite catch his reply).

For some reason, this is the only glimpse of a Juryo bout I managed to uncover – looks like Daishomaru beating Kyokutaisei:

Time for Makuuchi. But this is Ibaraki prefecture. So we have this guy coming as a guest star:

Now the bouts can begin. Again, sekitori waiting in customer seats, but this is really pushing the limits:

Shodai is doing some fansa, and he is a lot nicer to kids than he is to his tsukebito, let me tell you.

I don’t really have much in the way of videos. Again, only tantalizing photos. For example, who is winning this bout between Abi and Onosho? I’m sure it’s somebody whose name begins with a 阿.

Whichever it was, they seem to be having fun.

And here is Takarafuji with his tsukebito, Sakurafuji. His sagari says he lost this bout.

Mitakeumi is giving Hokutofuji a nodowa from hell. But is it a winning nodowa?

The musubi-no-ichiban is also not quite clear:

Sigh. Well. Here is at least the summary video of the day. Actually, a concatenation of two news reports:

At least it includes a bit of Takakeisho vs. Tamawashi. That’s it – the last bout of the Heisei era we are going to report!

And our pin-up boy of the day is – of course – Tobizaru!