Amanishiki Danpatsushiki

Yesterday, news came via the Hakkaku Twitter feed that Amanishiki (海士錦) had his haircutting ceremony. This touches on a discussion we’ve been having about rikishi, fans and social media. Because of social media, we get a deeper glimpse into the lives and careers of wrestlers but that image is carefully controlled by the heya.

Who is Amanishiki? The first challenge was with his shikona. I couldn’t find Kaishinishiki…I could not figure out his shikona. He’s not listed as retired yet on the SumoDB. I knew the “nishiki” was the last character and Amanishiki is the only nishiki listed at Hakkaku beya. I confirmed it by checking his rank on the Japanese banzuke, and sure enough, 海士錦 = Amanishiki.

From the images above, we see several of his stablemates taking part in the private ceremony, cutting a strand of his hair. And below, we see his younger brother, Amanoshima, taking his turn, with Okinoumi waiting in the wings. There is a Shimane connection here between Okinoumi and the Uno brothers.

The Uno brothers hail from Ama on Nakanoshima. It’s a small island among a cluster in the Sea of Japan, the biggest of which being Okinoshima. The younger brother joined the sumo world first, in 2011, with Amanishiki following in 2013.

Okinoumi, topographic Senpai

What kind of fighter was Amanishiki? We can find out by digging into YouTube and the data from the SumoDB. What kind of brother, stablemate, and friend was he? Well, that’s what we would be able to learn if there was more interaction via social media. Maybe one day? In the meantime, we’ll look through what we have and I think we have a character I would love to watch. As YouTube culls content on the basis of IP, some videos have been removed but we’ve got this great one from last summer against a guy whose shikona is a rather long, Ookuniasahi.

Ashitori! I love ashitori. It turns out, that’s a rather reliable tool for Amanikshiki. The youngster is clearly a smaller guy when it comes to the sumo world, so the fact that most of his wins come from hatakikomi should not surprise. What is surprising is that it was about as reliable as ashitori and yorikiri. The wily one likes a belt battle.

Click to go to the kimarite tool

In this bout with Wakaichiro from last year’s Aki tournament, we see the contrast in styles. Wakaichiro comes out with powerful tsuppari, pushing him backwards with straight forward oshi zumo. Amanishiki turns the tables by grabbing Wakaichiro’s belt and asserting his yotsu-style.

We get a clue to a possible reason for the early retirement in this video. He’s got bandaged knees and there’s one point in the bout where it appears his knee may have been about to buckle, or at least was a bit ginger on it. He had a prolonged kyujo for a few tournaments in 2017 but recently had been on a rise with 5 kachi-koshi records in his 6 tournaments since coming back — including two 4-3 records in Sandanme.

I would love to have followed this guy…if I’d known about him. This is where I hope the kyokai and the heya begin to extend their involvement on social media. It could be a great tool for sharing highlights and connecting with fans. Several rikishi do share streams on Instagram. The heyas themselves could cultivate a much closer relationship with fans on these platforms.

In the meantime, I’m going to pay closer attention to his brother. Amanoshima also likes ashitori but he seems to be about as reliable on the belt as he is with oshi-zumo. He’s cracked makushita a few times but will slip back a little deeper into sandanme in Osaka.

Ozeki Prediction Contest

We learned the other day that Takakeisho was denied an Ozeki promotion, for now. Obviously, it’s on him to perform well in March with potential promotion for May. In truth, he’s not the only wrestler on an Ozeki run. He’s also not the only wrestler on an Ozeki run with the strength of a yusho on his résumé.

Tamawashi enters the next tournament on 22 wins of the 33 “standard”. 10 wins is likely a bubble number but it would be very difficult to deny promotion with a repeat of 13 wins, however unlikely that may seem. Add Tochinoshin’s kadoban status to the mix and the composition of the Ozeki corps could be very different by summer.

So, how many Ozeki do you think there will be in May? Guess the correct number of ozeki for the May tournament, in banzuke order, and I will select one of the correct answers and send you a T-Shirt of your choice from the Tachiai Shop. My guess is five Ozeki: O1E Goeido (+ Osaka yusho), O1W Tochinoshin, O2E Takayasu, O2W Takakeisho, O3E Tamawashi.

Sumo Tournament: Takayasu Yusho

There were a couple of sumo events over the weekend. First of all, there was a 相撲トーナメント, sponsored by Fuji TV, involving many of the top wrestlers in an elimination-style tournament. The final bout featured Takayasu vs. Yoshikaze with Takayasu victorious by yorikiri (below).

Hakuho and Kakuryu were unsurprisingly eliminated in their first round bouts. Injuries are still hampering our champions and are a major concern going into March. But Yoshikaze was the surprise of the tournament, following up a disappointing Hatsubasho by channeling the kyujo Tochinoshin, and lifting Shohozan* before beating Abi in the semi-final.

I had hoped to provide a bigger update on injury status for wrestlers like Chiyonokuni, Arawashi, and Kotoyuki but one of the only tweets I could find was of Chiyonokuni in what appears to be a hospital room. Since none of them appeared in the Fuji TV tournament, let’s keep our fingers crossed that they’re taking it easy and will be ready to go in March!

*Edit: I originally said Tochiozan but I can’t read kanji well this early in the morning.

鬼は外‼ Seriously, devil, just get the f*** out already.

Today is setsubun, the last for the current Emperor. Herouth’s got some great highlights on her Twitter feed from this year’s mame maki events. Goeido was back home in Osaka with Hakuho, Mitakeumi, and Okinoumi? in Kanto. Hakuho walked rather gingerly down the temple stairs. Great timing for a month break.

I was re-reading my post from last year…are the giant maki rolls still a thing? Also, has anyone seen the stage version of Groundhog Day?

Kimarite Visualization Update

I updated the kimarite visualization with data from Hatsu 2019. I also took one of Herouth’s suggestions from before and tried to add oyakata. Some predate the data I have entirely, others don’t have complete data for what I have but some of the younger cohort, including Kotooshu, are in there. Note that the charts use the shikona, not the oyakata’s current name. (As a usability note, I usually click on the “full screen” view option, available at the bottom right of the visualization, rather than scroll, and I’m not a fan of how it bleeds over the widgets on the right.)

Kotooshu as Yotsu Specialist

A few other things that I quietly changed before the tournament are the date slider and the use of percentages rather than outright counts of bouts. This will let you see the wrestlers’ kimarite ratios in annual chunks, or for their career (back to 1985 for the older ones). It is interesting to compare Kotooshu to Akebono to see how versatile Akebono was. Kotooshu wasn’t a one-trick-pony as he certainly had a reliable uwatenage there in his back pocket. For sumo wrestlers, perhaps “up their sleeve” is a better phrase since their pockets are in their sleeves?