Published as audio to our iTunes / audio podcast subscribers. Our man in exotic lands, Josh, has checked in following two days in Fukuoka attending the basho. We talk about the town, the food, the basho, and the moment Josh was ambushed by a TV film crew.
Our man in exotic lands, Josh, has checked in following two days in Fukuoka attending the basho. We talk about the town, the food, the basho, and the moment Josh was ambushed by a TV film crew.
Welcome to nakabe, them middle day of the basho. So far, the tournament has been a festival of the unusual and the unexpected, and it has kept fans, new and old, guessing what twist will come next. With the middle day, we start to look at the yusho race, and at this moment it’s nearly wide open, with most of the crowd in contention being outside the normal ranks that one expects to take the yusho. With the Yokozuna all in dry dock, it was free fire for the Ozeki, but even they are facing losses in matches they should win, and none of them look to be dominant enough at the middle weekend to be considered a favorite. Out of the 8 rikishi who are in serious competition for the emperors cup as of day 8, there is only 1 Ozeki and 1 Komusubi – the other 6 are from the rank and file Maegashira.
This is a huge leaderboard for day 8, showing how things are very evenly matched with no Yokozuna on duty, and most of the Ozeki too hurt or distracted to keep the ranks on losing streaks. As of today, any of these rikishi should take home the cup. It’s a barnyard brawl to senshuraku!!!
Leaders: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Onosho
Chasers: Takayasu, Tochiozan, Chiyotairyu, Abi, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Mitakeumi, Myogiryu, Hokutofuji, Tamawashi, Shodai, Yoshikaze, Sadanoumi, Okinoumi, Endo, Daishomaru, Daiamami, Meisei
8 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
(As we are live blogging, we will be watching all of it!)
Kotoyuki vs Daishomaru – The question is, win or lose, how far will Kotoyuki end up in the zabuton section?
Onosho vs Meisei – Yusho co-leader faces Meisei, who is looking to bounce back after a day 7 loss. Onoshi is severely under-ranked right now, and is probably enjoying racking up the wins.
Arawashi vs Takanosho – First time match between two struggling rikishi. Arawashi’s bum leg continues to prevent him from really showing us much sumo, and Takanosho is struggling in his second ever Makuuchi tournament after an 8-7 finish at Aki.
Chiyomaru vs Endo – Chiyomaru maintains a glimmer of hope that he can pick up 6 more wins over the next 8 days. He must do that or he returns to Juryo to sort himself out. His offense is completely missing, and his defense lacks any stamina. Endo will be tough for him to overcome in this state, although “Endo the Golden” is struggling so far.
Chiyoshoma vs Yutakayama – After opening Kyushu with 4 straight losses, is Yutakayama finally starting to turn things around? With 2 wins already, he’s not too far from a safety buffer that would keep him in the top division for January. He has won 4 of the 5 prior matches with Chiyoshoma.
Kotoshogiku vs Chiyonokuni – Two high intensity rikishi: Chiyonokuni will go for mobility and attacking at arms length, and Kotoshogiku will want to bring Chiyonokuni to his his chest. As in the prior 3 basho, both are fighting well, but seem to lack the energy to finish the match with a win.
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – Daieisho shares a piece of the lead on day 8, and he will need to overcome his career 3-6 disadvantage over Okinoumi to keep it. Okinoumi is once again steering a course towards a comfortable but not over-performing kachi-koshi, and may not quite have enough genki in the tank to dispatch a surging Daieisho.
Abi vs Sadanoumi – Abi-zumo sputtered and wheezed on day 7, and a salty veteran like Sadanoumi may have a better chance to disrupting and overcoming the double-arm thrust attack that is every match for Abi. Does he win with it? Sure. Has it gotten boring? Yes.
Takanoiwa vs Shohozan – Takanoiwa went from hot (during Aki) to not (during Kyushu). Injuries, loss of an Oyakata, stable move, lawsuit with a former Yokozuna… need I go on? Takanoiwa is shambles right now. He’s a solid rikishi, and we hope he can get himself re-centered soon. Shohozan got a rather blunt yorikiri on day 7, which frankly I thought he could have avoided. I want him to bounce back and score another white star today.
Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – Takarafuji to me seems to exemplify this basho. A solid rikishi, he seems hurt, tired, distracted and off his sumo. This is true for at least half of the rikishi right now. While it means that the competition space is quite even, it also means that there are frequent reminders that some good athletes are far below their best this November.
Ikioi vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama is looking for his first ever win against Ikioi, who closed out a hot streak of 3 wins by losing yesterday to Kagayaki. Like Takarafuji, he’s a visible reminder that a large number of these “headline rikishi” are fighting far below their rated power.
Nishikigi vs Chiyotairyu – Coming off his loss to Ichinojo, Chiyotairyu will be looking to add more white stars to his score. I know I have poked fun at Nishikigi for his Maegashira 3 tenure, but I am quite delighted not only that he has 2 wins at the end of week 1, and he seems to fight better than I expected. I think he might actually make a spot for himself in the upper Maegashira soon if he continues to improve.
Tochiozan vs Tamawashi – After opening strong, Tochiozan went to defeat two days in a row. He’s now looking to stem the losing streak against Tamawashi, over whom he holds as 12-2 career advantage. This is probably the point where the NHK live stream will begin.
Takakeisho vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has never won against Takakeisho, but with the landscape of Aki a strange world of shadows and mirrors, any day could be the day everything changes. Myogiryu’s wins this tournament have come by yorikiri and yoritaoshi, so I am going to be interested to see how he defends against Takakeisho’s refined “wave action” attack.
Hokutofuji vs Kaisei – Hokutofuji will need every ounce of strength to take on Kaisei. Kaisei is not even at 90% genki, but he’s still a massive opponent, and can use his bulk with great effect. Hokutofuji’s approach will likely be similar to Takakeisho: raise him up at the tachiai and immediately bring him to the clay.
Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – About time we had a nice Sekiwake battle. Will we get passive Ichinojo, or the one that mounted the dohyo on day 7? Will Mitakeumi dial up the power, or phone it in? This will either be fierce, or like watching two bureaucrats argue at the end of a 4 hour conference call.
Goeido vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze shocked Tochinoshin on day 7. Though he is getting older and fading a bit, he is capable of beating any rikishi any day he mounts the dohyo if the fight is on his terms. Their long history has Yoshikaze with a slight 13-11 lead, and I assume it will come down to Goeido getting Yoshikaze off balance at the tachiai. Given that Yoshikaze will likely lead with his face, there could be blood on the dohyo.
Ryuden vs Tochinoshin – After his surprising win over Takayasu, Ryuden may be over-stuffed with confidence, perhaps enough to give him a fighting chance against the flagging Tochinoshin, who is in real danger of ending Kyushu kadoban once again. We have not seen Tochinoshin’s “lift and shift” power sumo very much this basho, so maybe he can get the opening against Ryuden and deploy his super-human strength.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Takayasu has struggled for at lest a year with chronic strains and pains in his lower back. Following his loss in a marathon battle with Ryuden on day 7, the “Wooly One” stood gingerly, seemingly in pain. Shodai does not stand much of a chance against Takayasu’s tachiai, but if somehow he can keep his footing, Takayasu will have his hands full with the chaotic, flailing style of Shodai.
Team tachiai throws caution and sleep in the corner and takes to the blog to cover nakabi, and the NHK World Grand Sumo Live. You may in fact need to refresh this page and this post to see updates.
Andy - Sun 09:11:09
How in the hell is Aoiyama in the running for the yusho??
Andy - Sun 09:02:57
Had a blast! See ya, Josh! To wrap up, Takakeisho leads alone but will have his hands full with Tochinoshin tomorrow. That will be an interesting match up. The slapper/thruster vs the wrapper/lifter
Andy - Sun 08:59:42
Shodai was asleep there. His weak tachiai met firmly by a steamrolling Takayasu. The nodowa sealed it.
Josh K - Sun 08:59:28
OK I’m outta here. Nice chatting with you Andy and Bruce, and thanks for joining us everyone!
Josh K - Sun 08:59:05
Utterly dominant from Takayasu. You have to give Shodai credit. That was one of the first times this tournament Takayasu has executed a truly enormous shoulder blast and Shodai took it full on. But Takayasu had the inertia and just kept moving forward, Shodai couldn’t put up any resistance after that. No match. He’ll face harder battles to be sure, but that’s the form Takayasu needs to display in order to contend.
Andy - Sun 08:58:27
The Takayasu flex and stare for the cameras…
Josh K - Sun 08:57:57
I can’t even fathom a Shodai yusho, never mind Yokozuna!
Andy - Sun 08:55:47
Yokozuna Shodai is a scary thought there. If he can do it, he’ll be there for a LONG time.
Andy - Sun 08:54:20
The Ozeki showing up for the NHK World fans so far. Can Takayasu make it three solid ozeki wins today?
Josh K - Sun 08:53:34
Shodai in the musubi-no-ichiban so often these days you’d have thought he was the Yokozuna.
Josh K - Sun 08:52:44
this is a good match. Ryuden’s entire game plan is to block that left hand grip from Tochinoshin. For a while, it works. Then Tochinoshin just tries to snap Ryuden’s arms off. Then he just tries to pick him up and carry him out from the armpits. Eventually, he gets enough of a shift that he’s able to land a double handed grip – but right hand in, left hand out – and we’ve seen this story before. Eventually he does get both of Ryuden’s feet off the ground, and gets his man out.
On the one hand, Tochinoshin’s clearly been found out. On the other hand, it is ridiculously impressive when everyone knows what attack is coming and you still manage to beat them with it.
Andy - Sun 08:52:02
Tochinoshin with the double arm bar, then morosashi for the yorikiri. Tochinoshin never in any real danger there. Solid for once this tournament.
Andy - Sun 08:49:12
Tochinoshin sure has not been able to do his usual sumo.
Josh K - Sun 08:47:26
Not sure if the pressure’s ever been off one man as much as it is off Ryuden right now.
Josh K - Sun 08:46:57
Tochinoshin needs to ditch the nice purple mawashi. I’m not a superstitious person but I think I do believe in mawashi luck. Get that filthy, disgusting looking old band-aid looking thing he used to wear back on.
Josh K - Sun 08:45:29
Yoshikaze beat himself there. Fast tachiai, Goeido takes the hit and spins around, and Yoshikaze launches an oshi attack at thin air and runs straight forward and right out the edge of the dohyo. That felt like a premium Harumafuji move to me from Goeido, although I think a lot of it was just lack of poise from Yoshikaze.
Andy - Sun 08:44:52
Goeido’s half-henka there, runs Yoshikaze out with the sidestep and shove.
Andy - Sun 08:43:45
Josh K - Sun 08:43:01
I kind of like Goeido’s black mawashi/yellow towel combo. He’s a good candidate for Sumo Batman.
Andy - Sun 08:42:17
As Takayasu waddles down the hanamichi, can’t help but wonder whether his back will be up for his bout today…
Josh K - Sun 08:42:02
The NHK G feed has basically not strayed from a covering a pensive looking Takayasu from multiple camera angles throughout the entirety of Goeido’s match preparation.
Josh K - Sun 08:39:58
Takayasu watches ominously from the shadows as Goeido prepares to do battle with Yoshikaze. The fans are chanting for the local hero. Goeido looks amped. I think this could get tasty.
Andy - Sun 08:37:56
Mitakeumi wins against the blocking sled Ichinojo…
Josh K - Sun 08:37:38
Really straightforward match. I think Ichinojo got thrown by the pair of matta beforehand. On the second matta it looked like he was really up for it, but in the actual event, he just kind of invited the hit and Mitakeumi marched him straight out. Bit of a damp squib, that one.
Ichinojo’s in big trouble now at 2-6, whereas Mitakeumi seems to have got his work in order at 5-3 and probably looks a decent bet now to get the 3 he needs to hold serve.
Andy - Sun 08:36:24
Third time the charm?
Andy - Sun 08:36:07
Yesterday’s bout, Ichinojo was on. He just won with ease. Let’s see what happens on try #2.
Andy - Sun 08:34:16
LOL, “perspiration over inspiration”
Josh K - Sun 08:33:56
Mitakeumi enters this match against Ichinojo in renewed form. I was NOT impressed with the manner of his listless defeat to Kaisei on day 5, but he’s turned it around since then. Curious to see what kind of Ichinojo turns up. this could be straightforward or actually quite interesting.
Josh K - Sun 08:32:33
Tochinoshin has got to be watching Hokutofuji and wondering how someone’s finally become sweatier than him.
Josh K - Sun 08:31:06
Nice perseverance from Hokotufuji to beat Kaisei. Kaisei looked like he invited the attack at the tachiai…. Hokutofuji didn’t deploy the oft-discussed “handshake tachiai” (you really should be listening to these tachiai podcasts, people). It looked like he had to take an extra step or two just to be able to make the contact he wanted. This was kind of a match of perspiration over inspiration for me. Hokutofuji just works tirelessly to break grips and eventually shove his man out.
Josh K - Sun 08:29:09
If you love a matta, have I got a basho for you or what
Andy - Sun 08:29:07
Gearing up for Kaisei facing a great looking Hokutofuji.
Josh K - Sun 08:28:28
By the way, if you love little man sumo like I do – both Enho and Terutsuyoshi won to maintain the 7-1 pace in Juryo earlier. Did Enho beat a bigger man with a throw? Yes he did.
Andy - Sun 08:27:42
It did look like Myogiryu’s hand may have touched before he went out. I wish they’d show a replay…
Andy - Sun 08:26:07
Takakeisho with the Hikiotoshi, side-stepping after the solid tachiai.
Josh K - Sun 08:25:23
Takayusho Takakeisho takes another step forward in his conquest by executing a hit and shift. Unclear to me at first whether he won with a slap down or eventually with an okuridashi, but looks like it’s been called the former. Belt stayed on – NHK G’s just done an extreme mawashi close up. Takakeisho now 7-1, and feeds an already very sweaty Hokotufuji some chikara-mizu.
Andy - Sun 08:23:35
The NHK World Commentators have been enjoying the little diversion there.
Josh K - Sun 08:22:17
Things might have got sexy in a real hurry if Takakeisho hadn’t just had a lengthy mawashi adjustment. There have been at times a team of three experts working on it while Myogiryu looks on, somewhat bemused.
Andy - Sun 08:22:00
I agree, Josh! Tochiozan has been on fire!
Josh K - Sun 08:19:50
Can’t help but be impressed with Tochiozan. I thought Tamawashi came out with good intent today, but Tochiozan was just the more poised and pushed the big Monglian baker to the floor after a minor grapple. Tochiozan now 6-2. Tamawashi needs to consistently be able to deploy his lethal nodowa.
Josh K - Sun 08:17:40
Nishikigi has just defeated Chiyotairyu in a manner that reminded me of the pirate boat level on one of the Super Mario games (forgive me, I can’t remember which one). With the cannonball flying at him, he just kind of gets on top of it and it goes harmlessly over the edge.
(OK, what really happened here is the underdog took the tachiai, shrugged off a few slap attempts and then tossed the round man away like a leaky bottle of ponzu)
Josh K - Sun 08:15:38
Oh yeah, I’m back baby! I’ve traveled to Tokyo since I last checked in on the live blog, so I’ll join back up for a few bouts here.
Bruce H - Sun 04:32:55
— Taking a break as I feel I am battling some kind of cough / chest cold. If I can shake it I will be back for Makuuchi. Hopefully if not, Andy can pick up coverage later tonight.
Bruce H - Sun 04:30:04
Musashikuni wins a close one, as the gyoji originally gives the match to Fujita, but a monoii was called. The judges reviewed the video of the match, and Fujita touched down first. Win goes to Musashikuni and he improves to 2-1-1 (aka 2-2).
Bruce H - Sun 04:16:37
Musashikuni is up in just a few minutes. If you are not aware of him, he is former Yokozuna Musashimaru’s (and Musashigawa Oyakata) nephew. A large Hawaiian man, he has hit the Makushita “wall” and is working to find a way through.
Bruce H - Sun 04:00:59
If you wanted to see the Ura match.
Bruce H - Sun 03:32:55
Ura plays a jaunty game of “Crack the whip” with Aio, sending him reeling into the east size zabuton. Ura picks up his kachi-koshi and remains unbeaten. There was a tiny amount of struggle for grip at first, but then Ura launched Aio down range.
Like a Boss
Bruce H - Sun 03:23:02
As Ura comes out to wait for his match, it’s amazing how broad his shoulders have become since his injury. I would guess that while he was not able to do full Keiko with his lower body, he ate a ton and worked his upper body like mad.
Bruce H - Sun 03:09:43
For folks wondering, Ura is up in about 15 minutes.
Bruce H - Sun 02:04:21
Heartbreak match for Wakaichiro. A solid effort that ended in his 3rd loss. Video once we can snag it from somewhere.
Bruce H - Sun 01:57:03
Wakaichiro on deck!
Bruce H - Sun 01:53:59
I would also add, to my delight, we have 321 subscribers to our video channel on YouTube! Thanks to all who take the time to enjoy our ramblings. A new video podcast comes out tomorrow morning, sharing Josh’s adventures in Fukuoka.
Bruce H - Sun 01:46:12
Looks like Jonidan 21 Nakao injured himself, and was unable to remount the dohyo to bow following his match. There have been a number of injuries during Fukuoka, and it’s tough to watch. At least he was able to slowly walk out on his own power.
Josh K - Sun 01:39:16
Like the wee Ezuka just flew out of the dohyo, I’m outta here. Good luck to Wakaichiro and all the Tachiai ones to watch today. I presume Bruce is on sake duty, so he’s got you covered.
Josh K - Sun 01:31:01
Tachiai now has 500 likes on Facebook! Thanks everyone – share the site with your friends!
Josh K - Sun 01:29:59
Easier said than done but it seems fairly clear that if you want to make short work of Jonidan, having a great tachiai will get you out of fifth division purgatory. Young rikishi have a million distractions (stable chores, serving sekitori, etc), but if I’m a Jonidan rikishi hell bent to make it to the higher divisions, that’s the number one thing I’m practising right now.
Bruce H - Sun 01:22:56
Another member of the 200kg club, Kenho, picked up his kachi-koshi. He is a man of great substance.
Josh K - Sun 01:15:07
Good to see the ol’ bow twirler Satonofuji pick up a win – against one of the rare rikishi he’s quite a bit younger than! The combined age of the men on the dohyo is 89 as the 41 year old defeated the 48 (!!!!) year old Hanakaze in a match best described as lethargic. You know, there’s always time.
Josh K - Sun 01:13:10
My goodness is that Kenho a big lad or what?
Josh K - Sun 01:12:46
Well hello there, Bruce and sumo fans. Just time for a spot of live blogging from the ANA lounge at Fukuoka before I blast out of here.
There was an interesting match a few minutes ago between Watatani and Zendaisho. Zendaisho absolutely dominated the smaller man, and the gyoji initially ruled in his favour, but it had certainly appeared that he had stepped out first while trying to execute a yorikiri. The judges agreed and after a lengthy monoii, reversed the decision. The lesson there is no matter how much bigger, more dominant or technically skilled you are than your opponents, watching your footwork is every bit as important in the final reckoning as to whether you get a promotion or demotion at the end to the basho.
Bruce H - Sun 00:24:12
Up now on the dohyo is the truly enormous Higonoryu, who is one of a handful of rikishi who weigh in at or above 200 kg (440 lbs). They look massive on video, but they are truly impressive in person.
Bruce H - Sun 00:14:01
[Bruce] Day 8 has started in Kyushu. We expect NHK’s Grand Sumo Live to start in about 8 hours. At the moment the torikumi is at the bottom of Jonidan. Coming up in about 90 minutes is Wakaichro’s day 8 match.
Part of my decision to live blog day 8 came about by looking at all of the rikishi further down the banzuke who will be in action on nakabi.
Wakaichio – In dire need of a win, he comes into day 8 with a 1-2 record, and plenty of chances to still come out of Kyushu with a kachi-koshi. He faces Onomatsu heya’s Mitsumune, a relative newcomer to sumo who is only competing in his 6th basho. Both men are 1-2 looking to score their second win.
Ura – Looking very genki thus far, Ura faces Shikoroyama heya’s Aoi, who has been ranked as high as Makushita 49, but has had two straight make-koshi tournaments. Sadly for Aoi, day 8 he faces a man capable of bending space-time and distorting the very fabric of the universe.
Musashikuni – With only one win thus far, the lead rikishi of the Musashigawa stable faces off against Shikoroyama heya’s Fujita. In 2014, Fujita was injured and spent enough time recovering that he had to return via Maezumo, and work his way up from zero. He quickly fought his way back to Makushita, but a seems to still struggle with injuries.