Kyushu 2022 Day 5 Highlights

We’ve got a great day of action here for you to close out the first Act of the Kyushu basho. Unfortunately, several fan favorites are still searching for their first win. Lots of surprises in store. Let’s not dally and just get to the action.

Selected Juryo Bouts

Daiamami defeated Enho: Oshitaoshi. Daiamami seemed to be the nervous one coming into this bout but he played Enho perfectly. He kept the spritely lad at arms length and expertly shut off access to the dohyo. It’s surprising to think that someone could be “cornered” in a circular dohyo but that’s exactly what Daiamami was able to achieve. With nowhere for Enho to go, Daiamami gave a simple shove to send Enho sprawling backwards. Both men are 3-2.

Daishoho defeated Kinbozan: Uwatenage. Kinbozan semms hurt bad enough to need to go kyujo. He was unable to press forward with his left leg and unable to use his left arm. After the tachiai, he latched on with his right and kind of hung, limply on Daishoho for support. Daishoho simply used his leverage, twisted, and threw Kinbozan…who then finally used that left hand to touch the dirt and keep himself from falling. Both men are 2-3.

Chiyonokuni defeated Tochimusashi: Tsukidashi. Chiyonokuni hit Tochimusashi so hard at the tachiai, both men were almost knocked off their feet. While Tochimusashi was still trying to figure out which city he was in, Chiyonokuni recovered his senses first and flew back across the dohyo into his opponent, blasting him over the tawara. Chiyonokuni

Akua defeated Churanoumi: Oshidashi. Akua was dominant at the tachiai. He quickly, and forcefully, shoved out Churanoumi who had no time to counter, much less mount an offense. Akua looks determined and improves to 5-0.

Makuuchi

Atamifuji (3-2) defeated Kagayaki (2-3): Hatakikomi. Kagayaki bloodied Atamifuji, leading with that head at the tachiai. Atamifuji seemed stunned, trying to stay upright while Kagayaki methodically drove forward, cutting off escape routes, forcing Atamifuji backward to the tawara. At the tawara, though, Atamifuji brought down the hammer and Kagayaki fell to the dirt. Both men started the day at 2-2 but Atamifuji improved to 3-2 while nursing his bloody nose. Kagayaki fell to 2-3.

Tsurugisho (5-0) defeated Azumaryu (2-3): Yorikiri. I don’t understand the weak harite at the tachiai. I’ve seen Hakuho do it, sometimes, too. It’s like a reminder that, “I could have slapped you but I just wanted to check if you shaved this morning.” Tsurugisho served up one of these touchy-feely “harite” while Azumaryu focused on locking in on his opponent’s belt. Once Tsurugisho got the morozashi, it was curtains for Azumaryu.

Ichiyamamoto(4-1) defeated Hiradoumi (3-2): Hatakikomi. Well executed Abi-zumo here from Ichiyamamoto. Repeated tsuppari, those strong forceful thrusts to keep Hiradoumi upright and off the belt. As Hiradoumi tried to advance through the torrent of slaps, Ichiyamamoto shifted and Hiradoumi’s momentum carried him over the bales.

Okinoumi (2-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (0-5): Kainahineri. “Nokotta, Nokotta!” Okinoumi and Terutsuyoshi engaged at the tachiai and locked in together with Okinoumi twisted to his left and Terutsuyoshi to his right. Okinoumi was the aggressor, driving Terutsuyoshi around the ring and eventually back to the tawara but he couldn’t quite finish him. Then, it was like a light-switch and Okinoumi snapped and shifted the other way, rolling Terutsuyoshi over. Okinoumi picked up his second win while Terutsuyoshi is winless. These Isegahama boys are hurting.

Oho (4-1) defeated Kotoeko (3-2): Tsukiotoshi. Kotoeko had one plan, launch into Oho’s face and shoulders with everything you’ve got. Oho seemingly just tried to survive. As the pair moved across the ring, Oho just tried his best to stay in, a couple of times almost stepping out. Kotoeko tired, though, and suddenly wrapped Oho up for a grapple. That was a mistake because Oho then flung the smaller man from the fighting surface by his lavender mawashi.

Onosho (4-1) defeated Chiyotairyu (1-4): Oshidashi. Chiyotairyu got his elbow up into Onosho’s face and tried to mount an attack with his right hand but Onosho simply pushed forward and easily walked Chiyotairyu out.

Aoiyama (2-3) defeated Kotoshoho (3-2): Hatakikomi. Aoiyama sumo was greater than Kotoshoho sumo. It was as simple as that. Kotoshoho tried to push Aoiyama out but Aoiyama just kind of walked around the tawara, slapping Kotoshoho back and occasionally going for a pull. The final pull worked. Simple as that. Kotoshoho needed to be either much more powerful or he needed another tactic. I got the sense Aoiyama could have weathered the shoves all day.

Abi (4-1) defeated Takanosho (2-3): Hatakikomi. Not to be outdone by Ichiyamamoto or Aoiyama, Abi pulled and forced Takanosho down. Abi-zumo. Simple as that.

Chiyoshoma (2-3) defeated Tochinoshin (2-3): Okuridashi. No henka here. I’m a little surprised. Instead, we got a solid tachiai and both men locked up for a grapple. Chiyoshoma worked Tochinoshin to the edge, then suddenly Chiyoshoma tugged Tochinoshin to the left while he jumped back and got behind, pushing him out from the back.

Myogiryu (3-2) defeated Endo (1-4): Okuridashi. The Endo ATM coughed up another stack of envelopes today. Myogiryu brought his hands down hard on the back of Endo’s head at the tachiai. This almost brought Endo down but as he struggled to maintain his balance, Myogiryu just followed, letting Endo’s momentum carry him off the dohyo.

Ryuden (3-2) defeated Takarafuji (0-5): Okuridashi. Three Okuridashi in a row. Wow. Ryuden got up a strong headwind, blowing the Takarabune back to the tawara before a sudden shift of direction allowed Ryuden to get in behind and usher Takarafuji out. The ships in Isegahama harbor are starting to look as aged and banged up as Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Nishikifuji (3-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-3): Hatakikomi. Nishikifuji had enough of my naval references and wanted to get back to celebrating Hatakikomi Day. So he quickly yanked Hokutofuji down at the initial charge for a quick win.

Sadanoumi (3-2) defeated Nishikigi (2-3): Oshidashi. Well, that was power. Sadanoumi pressed forward perfectly into a pulling Nishikigi, forcing the latter to lose his balance and crash off the dohyo.

Kotonowaka (2-3) defeated Wakamotoharu (3-2): Oshitaoshi. Kotonowaka used his powerful left hand on Wakamotoharu’s right shoulder to quickly, and roughly spin the middle Onami brother to the floor.

Sanyaku

Daieisho (3-2) defeated Kiribayama (3-2): Hatakikomi. A solid, forceful tachiai and an aggressive Kiribayama powerfully drove Daieisho back to the tawara. Just when Kiribayama thought he was going to win, Daieisho reminded him that it was Hatakikomi Day! Hurray!

Takayasu (4-1) defeated Tamawashi (1-4): Yorikiri. I was expecting a great oshi/tsuki battle here. What the hell? Both men locked each other up by the mawashi after a bruising initial clash. Takayasu was clearly more comfortable with this arrangement, quickly driving Tamawashi back and off the dohyo.

Wakatakakage (3-2) defeated Ura (0-5): Oshidashi. Ura tried power sumo as he was matched up with someone relatively close in size. He needed to do something new, having never beaten Wakatakakage. At the edge, Ura brought his hand down and went for a pull. However, Wakatakakage was prepared and maintained his balance as he drove forward into the retreating Ura. Both men flew across the dohyo, tumbling to the other side. Mono-ii. Video replay confirmed that Ura’s foot touched out first and he’s still searching for that first win against Wakatakakage.

Mitakeumi (4-1) defeated Tobizaru (3-2): Tsukiotoshi. You’ve got to see this one. My words would fail to do this bout justice. I saw today from Mitakeumi what I wanted to see from Shodai. WILL. Back against the wall, facing a tough loss, he was determined to win. At that final moment, he twisted and shoved Tobizaru down to the floor.

Frankly, I was shocked to see Tobizaru locked up, toe-to-toe with Mitakeumi. I mean, this was a bout where I was really impressed with both men. I never would have thought I’d see Tobizaru take on a guy like Mitakeumi on the belt. If he keeps this up, he’ll beat Wakatakakage to Ozeki.

Hoshoryu (4-1) defeated Midorifuji (2-3): Kawazugake. Hoshoryu locked up Midorifuji. As Midorifuji tried to get a better belt grip, Hoshoryu expertly brought his foot around and forced both men back. Well, frankly, that’s a kimarite you just have to see for yourself.

Meisei (2-3) defeated Shodai (2-3): Yorikiri. Meisei showed all of the aggression and power here. The only thing Shodai seemed concerned with was making sure he didn’t land on one of the fans as he tumbled off the dohyo. I would struggle to point out what offense Shodai attempted in this bout and yet you still get the sense that he was the more powerful of the two on the dohyo. That if he’d given an ounce of effort, Meisei would have been toast. Tobizaru will make for a more capable Ozeki one day.

Takakeisho (3-2) defeated Ichinojo (2-3): Oshidashi. Ichinojo’s a little too eager, jumps early. But it’s Takakeisho with the side-step…almost a henka there from the Ozeki? Then, as he pushed forward, he was doing almost more with his legs than with his arms. We didn’t really see wave action and I felt I was seeing more gabburi hip action there. Interesting.

Lower Division Highlights: Kyushu 2022, Day 1

That is a long, hideous title. I’ll think of something better as the basho rolls on. This series of posts is for those who are sick of the “hawt mess” in sanyaku. I’ll just say that sumo deserves an Ozeki who doesn’t tuck-tail and run from Tobizaru. That was utter capitulation. I’m looking forward to reading Bruce’s take on it. Anyway, as I’ve done in the last few tournaments, I’d like to look at the developing talent in the lower divisions. Lately, the recruiting classes have been small so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to just focus on Jonokuchi as I had been doing, so I thought I’d provide some updates across the lower divisions.

Juryo

Josh kicked things off with a great tournament preview for all of the guys in the second division. In an effort to keep that going, let’s track a few of the highlight bouts:

Tsurugisho started things off with a good ‘ole slap to the face (harite) of Bushozan but he quickly found himself in danger as Bushozan drove forward, forcing Tsurugisho to the edge. At the edge, Tsurugisho found leverage along the tawara and slapped Bushozan down. They called it a kotenage but I found it could have been more likely a katasukashi. (Oooo, look at you, Mr. FancyPants, challenging the kimarite!)

Hidenoumi demonstrated power, endurance, and superior position as he eventually forced Mitoryu out over the bales. Mitoryu found himself attacking Hidenoumi from above which immediately put him on the defensive. While Hidenoumi found himself a win, stablemate Kinbozan wasn’t quite so fortunate. Kotokuzan roughed him up pretty good before winning with a well executed pull-down. Hokuseiho showed a bit of patience, overpowering Chiyonokuni. Chiyonokuni’s gameplan was to be as wild and mobile and disruptive as possible but Hokuseiho wore him down; Chiyonokuni made the first mistake by stepping out.

The best bout, in my humble opinion, was Enho’s shitatedashinage win over Kaisho. First of all, I love to see Enho take someone on head-to-head, fighting big man sumo. He went right at Kaisho and didn’t get discouraged when his initial pull-down attempt failed. He re-engaged but as he couldn’t quite muster the strength to drive Kaisho back, he instead frustrated him with a solid left-hand belt grip which he used to pull down. Kaisho barely maintained his balance and tried to free himself from the pixie’s grasp. But as he stood tall to wrench Enho’s arm free, Enho drove forward forcing Kaisho to the bales. Enho then finished him off with a last, quick, hard pull on the mawashi.

Schedulers pitted the two Juryo division rookies, Tsushimanada and Roga, against each other on Day 1. Tsushimanada was raring to go and launched out at his opponent. Roga countered by slowing things down and forcing a belt battle. However, Tsushimanada proved too powerful today as he pivoted and threw Roga into the waiting gyoji. I’m eager to see this rivalry take off. Let’s hope both men have good tournaments and work their way up the banzuke in 2023.

Makushita

The big story in Makushita for this tournament will again be Asanoyama. He came just short of the division title in the last tournament but his otherwise dominant performance catapulted him into the Makushita joi, where his competition will be the most fierce since his return from suspension. Here, he’s going to face a potpourri of fading former top division wrestlers, borderline sekitori, and more recent hopefuls. Last night he took his first step to likely re-promotion by cautiously wrapping up Daiseiryu and walking him back over the bales. Slow and steady.

Ishizaki weathered Tochimaru’s tsuppari storm and won with a quick shift and thrust down at the edge. Up-and-comer Hayatefuji had a strong showing against Makuuchi veteran Akiseyama. He displayed excellent speed and power but Akiseyama’s wiles turned the tables on the youngster, pivoting at the edge for a hard fought win. Fujitoshi used his head, literally, to knock out Nabatame. Nabatame met Fujitoshi’s fiery tachiai head on, but when the crown of Fujitoshi’s head met Nabatame’s jaw the Futagoyama youngster crumpled to the dohyo. We’ll see if he has to go kyujo.

Setonoumi won his first bout against Kainoshima. Readers may remember Setonoumi from his lower division yusho as he came back from a neck injury. He’s now reached his highest-ever rank at Makushita 26. With the hay-makers he was throwing last night, he’s aiming higher. He charged out at Kainoshima from the word, “jump,” with aggressive harite and a high-energy, free-wheeling oshi-tsuki style.

Nihonyanagi pancaked Miyagi and Mukainakano greeted Wakatakamoto with similar treatment. Both Miyagi and Wakatakamoto bounced back up and neither appeared to be injured despite rather scary falls. Lastly, Mudoho met his match in Okinofuji. Okinofuji was too big and powerful to drive back so Mudoho tried a poorly executed pull/throw-thing at the edge. Yeah, I’m not too clear on what he was doing, and it seemed neither was he. When he ended up with his back to Okinofuji, it was over in the most ignominious way possible, okuridashi.

Sandanme

After 26 years, Dairaido is still plugging away and finding wins. Today he powered his way to a win over Ryutsukasa…who was born a year after Dairaido joined the sumo world. Takeoka chased Ishii around the ring, forcing the Miyagino-beya hopeful out. Hitoshi started off with a quick, dominating win over Ebisumaru. I can’t help but reminisce whenever I see Ebisumaru’s name about the great times I had in Ebisu in Tokyo. And shrimp. Especially the Cajun shrimp I used to get in New Orleans when we’d visit from Biloxi, Mississippi. But I digress… Hitoshi will find his way up the banzuke quickly. Ishii needs a bit of a rethink as his strategy against Takeoka looked more like a retreat, from the beginning.

Jonidan

Our Jonokuchi yusho winner, Otani, started Kyushu off with a win as Terutaka’s henka attempt went awry. I don’t think Terutaka’s heart was really in the henka but he sure didn’t want to take Otani head-on. That’s like playing chicken with a dump truck — whose driver’s blind. Anyway, Otani’s my favorite for the Jonidan yusho.

Jonokuchi

This tournament, there are two wrestlers making their debuts but the big story is the return of Kyokutaisei from injury. Newcomers may not know him but while he’s had a few appearances in the top division, he’s really been a solid Juryo mainstay for a good six years. Needless to say, he put away the outmatched Fujinonami with 1 and 1/2 good shoves. Of the two debutantes, Takerufuji will hope to challenge Kyokutaisei for the Jonokuchi yusho. His Nihon University pedigree gave zero f***s about his opponent, the hapless Higohikari, tossing him unceremoniously off the dohyo. The eventual highlight bout between Kyokutaisei and Takerufuji will likely be all she wrote for this yusho race, hence the scope creep for my posts this tournament.

Why does Higohikari never have a chonmage? He always wears his hair in the free, zambara-style. He debuted nearly 20 years ago and his official Kyokai profile shows a picture of him with a chonmage. If anyone knows, feel free to share in the comments. It’s just one of those curiosities that I don’t seem to find an answer for.

Some Juryo Hot Takes

The long title of this post is Some Juryo Hot Takes That Will Almost Certainly Be Proven Wrong, but that’s not good for formatting, and you get the point anyway.

Sumo Prime Time (in which Hiro Morita is rapidly achieving Cult Icon status of late) has recently done a Juryo spotlight which is worth checking out. It got me thinking about the state of the division at present, if it’s exciting and what makes it exciting.

I concluded that it is exciting and the reason for this is that we actually are seeing the realisation of what should be the next wave of makuuchi mainstays. Juryo has not been very good for the past several years. Lots of old guys have either retired or stopped clogging up the promotion lanes, and as a result we’ve seen an infusion of new, young talent.

I can’t write 6000 more words like I did for makuuchi after the last tournament [edited to add: apparently I can do 2300 though], so please don’t blame me for not writing absolutely comprehensive scouting reports about everyone’s sumo style. With some time you can find that on the web, there are lots of good sumo resources and hopefully we will be able to contribute some in-depth articles as well. But hopefully this can help some folks at least identify some names to watch.

J14W Gonoyama

As the name implies, he’s the first sekitori developed by former Ozeki Goeido. If this makes you feel old then you may not enjoy the next year as several of Goeido’s contemporaries will be bringing up their new stars as well. Gonoyama is a former Sandanme tsukedashi (accelerated start in sumo’s fourth tier for a formerly accomplished collegiate star), who picked up a yusho in Makushita and he’s hit the wall a bit in his first two Juryo tournaments. At 24 he needs a strong basho.

J14E Tsushimanada

The David Benjamin sumo book starts with a detailing of how newcomers to the sport might give rikishi a silly nickname. Sushi Man is a 29 year old journeyman from Kyushu making his sekitori debut at his home basho, who had come close on several occasions previously before being scuppered by performance or injury. This is the achievement for the Sakaigawa-beya man. The rest from here will be the icing on the cake.

J13W Roga

Before the pandemic, I sat down with Murray Johnson and he identified Roga as a lower division one to watch. Murray might well be right, and time is on the 23 year old’s side, but the Russian has made an awfully plodding run through Makushita (19 basho!) to get to his Juryo debut. He’s also the first sekitori produced by Futagoyama oyakata, former Ozeki Miyabiyama.

J13E Shimazuumi

The 26 year old enters his fifth Juryo tournament and hasn’t been entirely convincing. He’s been slightly better than average over the last several years and looks like he may be stuck in Juryo for a while, if he doesn’t drop out. He’s the first sekitori produced by the new Hanaregoma beya (former Sekiwake Tamanoshima), but in reality is a product of the former Nishonoseki beya and took his shikona later in his career in deference to the old shisho, former Ozeki Wakashimazu.

J12W Oshoma

Continuing the theme, here’s another first, the first sekitori produced by the new Naruto beya, led by former Ozeki Kotooshu. We’ve talked quite a bit about the heya’s comprehensive recruitment and lower division performance on this site but the Mongolian 25 year old is the first to make the breakthrough earlier this year, helped in no small detail by his Makushita tsukedashi debut placement (for the top collegiate champions). His May Makushita yusho (where he knocked off some very notable names) is looking more like an outlier at the moment, so hopefully he can properly bed into the division and find his feet. The expectation on a Makushita tsukedashi is that they will turn into a top division star, with names like Mitakeumi, Ichinojo and Endo achieving titles and notoriety, although in rare cares that doesn’t happen (Mitoryu, Daiamami).

J12E Tokushōryū

Not going to spend a lot of time here: the storybook champ is on the downswing of an unlikely end of career run. The blue jacket beckons for the man who made Nara proud.

J11W Takakento

The former Takanohana product is on his third Juryo stint, with only 1 winning record in his first six tournaments at the level before Aki’s 9-6. In the absence of an overpowering skill it may be a struggle to project the 26 year old as a makuuchi talent, especially with a tough crowd of prospects to fight through at the moment.

J11E Enho

Injuries and scouting reports have zapped the talented pixie of his mobility and unpredictability, but he is still able to be a chaos agent and others have shown there is still plenty of mileage in that approach, even in the top division. I hope he makes it back. He’s been largely a .500 rikishi over the last year, and while the new Miyagino oyakata (the legendary Hakuho) has been lauded for his recruitment, his coaching of Enho – who at 28 should be in his career prime – will be an intriguing watch.

J10W Kaisho

The first sekitori product of Asakayama oyakata, former Ozeki Kaio, he’s one of those guys that seems to have been around in sumo for absolutely ages. He had a laboured route to the salaried ranks, but despite mixed results (4 kachi-koshi from 10), the eye test does tell me he’s someone who could go a bit further than his Juryo 2 peak, and I feel like his belt work is projectable.

J10E Chiyosakae

The 32 year old made his debut nearly 14 years ago and now reaches his career high rank in his third Juryo basho, having successfully fought (by slim margins) in his first two. He’s on a wonderful 7 basho kachi-koshi run but is almost certainly due for a course correction sooner or later. It would be very surprising to see him continue his run into the top division.

J9W Daishoho

It’s been three years since the 28 year old last reached the top division, but he’s carved out a decent run for himself in the second tier. The Mongolian’s results have looked like a slightly less successful Azumaryu (albeit, he does have one top division winning basho), as he’s loitered mostly in the division’s bottom half since that top division spell. We shouldn’t expect too much more from the yotsu-zumo enthusiast.

J9E Daiamami

The rare former Makushita tsukedashi man that just doesn’t make the grade, Daiamami’s awkward oshi-zumo style has translated largely to good results in Juryo, but only 2 kachikoshi in 11 top division basho tells us he’s what baseball scouts would call a “AAAA” player – too good for the minors top AAA level, but not quite strong enough to hang in the majors. At 29 he’ll probably return to makuuchi a couple more times for the odd basho.

J8W Kotokuzan

The Arashio-beya vet has been a real success story for the new oyakata, finally making the breakthrough to Juryo in 2021 after years of near misses, and then making short work of the division en route to his makuuchi debut. But since getting absolutely leathered at Natsu where his pushing-thrusting style lacked power, he’s found the second division a bit tougher on the second go.

J8E Shimanoumi

It’s awful to say, but Shimanoumi has looked absolutely wretched and listless on the dohyo since his wedding earlier in the year. Hopefully it’s a coincidence. Assuming he doesn’t free fall right out of Juryo this time, he’ll reach 30 sekitori tournaments in January and become eligible to eventually take up the name he (allegedly) picked up the rights to upon marrying the daughter of the sadly deceased former Izutsu. He’s meant to be one of sumo’s nice guys, so hopefully he can turn it around.

J7W Kinbozan

Sumo’s lone Kazakh debuted a year ago as Sandanme tsukedashi and has rattled off six consecutive dominant performances including a pair of yusho. Entering Juryo at Aki, he posted double digit wins cementing his place in the prolific Kimura Sehei production line. Unlike many of his stablemates however, putting technique and experience aside he’ll be hoping to make Kyushu his second and final Juryo basho en route to a 2023 that could take him up to the san’yaku ranks at his current rate of progress.

J7E Tochimushashi

The top recruit formerly known as Kanno has blitzed his way from his Sandanme tsukedashi entrance to the middle of Juryo with just one make-koshi in ten appearances, and a very timely first yusho in his Aki debut in Juryo. He should easily chart the course to Makuuchi by early next year. And there are reasons why he draws comparisons to his stablemate Aoiyama…

J6W Kitanowaka

Tipped for big, big things for a long, long time, his star has dimmed a bit after experiencing a fairly indifferent couple years in Makushita. At 190cm he’s a tall drink of water and, although there are other talents in the heya, he may eventually represent one of 60 year old riji-cho Hakkaku’s last products to challenge in the top division.

J6E Hokuseiho

Derailed by injury and covid kyujo, the enormous Hokuseiho (21 years old as of basho-time) will look to continue his impressive development. Questions still remain about his ultimate ceiling: he has the physicality and apparently the determination to reach the top, but his sumo is a bit slow and lumbering. Still, with a career record of 74-21 heading into his third Juryo tournament, it’s hard not to dream on him.

J5W Chiyonokuni

Riddled by injury and with all of his former epic brawling opponents having ridden off into the sunset, it’s tough to see a path forward for the 32 year old energetic street fighter. He may well make his way back to Makuuchi for the odd appearance as he is still competitive at this level, but even being only 18 months removed from the joi-jin, it seems his best days are behind him.

J5E Akua

I never thought he’d make it to makuuchi, so I think it’s a great credit that he’s been able to hang tough and carve out a solid career in the second tier. Now 32, I think the realistic goal is to make it to the middle of 2024 in the salaried ranks to try and qualify for elder status.

J4W Yutakayama

While it feels fairly shocking to see him ranked here, such have been the disappointing results from the former top prospect that it’s hard to make a case that he belongs even at the back end of the top division right now. While it’s easy to argue he might benefit from a couple confidence boosting 9-6s to keep expectations in check, that’s more or less what’s happened on his last few Juryo demotions. He may be playing yo-yo for the next couple years, but at 29 and with 26 sekitori basho under his belt, he at least looks a lock to secure the 30 basho required to qualify for a kabu.

J4E Hidenoumi

While his brother is getting all the plaudits right now, 33 year old Hidenoumi continues to solidly motor along. Demoted due to suspension, he was making a decent go of it in makuuchi and probably belongs somewhere at the bottom division at the moment. Although, with the wave of new talent pushing upwards, his comfortability slugging it out in Juryo bodes well for the final stage of his career.

J3W Mitoryu

The former Makushita tsukedashi took forever and a day (27 basho) to make it out of Juryo and his debut Makuuchi performance was… not good. Overpowered and short of mobility, he was sent packing with double-digit losses. At 28, the Mongolian is looking like another for whom Azumaryu’s career (lots of Juryo time with the odd Makuuchi make-koshi thrown in) looks like a reasonable ambition.

J3E Tsurugisho

Another Juryo lifer who benefitted massively from the reduction in top division quality, Tsurugisho has been pretty OK at doing a whole lot of things on the dohyo and not particularly incredible at any one. The jack of all trades dropped down for this latest spell after a pair of 5 win tournaments and may yet yo-yo some more, but he surely reached his ultimate ceiling 3 years ago.

J2W Bushozan

Former Ozeki Musoyama’s starlet performed admirably in his first year in Juryo after spending an eternity (six whole years) in the third tier. This year though, he’s hit a bit of a wall. He’s been in promotion range several times before and not been able to get the job done, but after the basho he’ll be 27 and should be firmly arriving soon into the peak of his powers.

J2E Churanoumi

Churanoumi reaches his career high-to-date at Kyushu, and it’s not been a straightforward ride for him to navigate the penultimate division. He’s has several promotions and demotions back to Makushita, and while his current span in the salaried ranks has only been disrupted for a single basho since the start of 2020, he’s spent very little time in the top reaches of the division or fighting against the occasional top division opponent. This basho, then, is a real test for a guy who somewhat notably once defeated the likes of Kiribayama and Oho in title-clinching bouts in the lower divisions.

J1W Chiyomaru

This lovable character has made a career out of jostling at the top end of Juryo and lower end of Makuuchi and will go again as he enters his 10th year as a sekitori. He is what he is.

J1E Tōhakuryū

I often lament the lack of creativity in shikona assembly, and while the characters in play for Tohakuryu are fairly common, the order and reading is a little less so. I enjoy that. He’s yet another former Sandanme tsukedashi who made more or less quick work of the lower divisions (with one blip). But he’s not the biggest, and his run through Juryo has been plodding, steady if unspectacular. Here he arrives at his career high rank, in his prime at 26, at the position from which a kachi-koshi will certainly deliver him a promotion. However, should it be tight going into the second week, he’ll find many of these aforementioned talents breathing right down his neck…

Birthday Boys

Birthday Calendar Screenshot

Followers of the Tachiai Twitter account, and followers of the Sumo Kyokai’s own official account, may have noticed that Monday was Enho’s birthday and Tuesday was Endo’s birthday. Well, very soon you will be able to track rikishi birthdays dynamically on the site because I plan to release a Birthday Calendar. I’m teasing the information now because I want to gauge interest in the visualization before putting it out there for the public to use.

I’ve been working on several data visualizations and this is one that I believe will be most helpful to experts AND new sumo fans, alike. Rather than focus on the well-known sekitori, this calendar has data on ALL wrestlers from the July tournament so we hopefully become a bit more familiar with some of those from the lower divisions, as well.

October 17 was the birthday of Takadagawa-beya’s chanko-cho, Sakura (pictured). Sakura has been a long-time rikishi, debuting under the shikona Maeamami in 2003. He spent most of the first three years of his career in Jonokuchi but has mostly been in Jonidan since. His top rank so far has been Jonidan 5 in 2013.

On the 18th, along with Enho and fellow sekitori Kyokutaisei, Hirose from Arashio-beya celebrated another orbit around the sun. On the 19th, Chiyohokkai and Miyakojima partied with individualized Strawberry Shortcakes.

Tomorrow, Tsugunohana will be the only active Birthday Boy. Onomatsu beya The tweet below shows him carrying a zabuton. Is the shikona on that cushion “Terutsuyoshi?” Onomatsu is way out in Chiba. That’s a long commute to downtown Tokyo for tsukebito duties at Isegahama-beya. He was promoted to Sandanme for the first time this past summer but will likely fall back into Jonidan for Kyushu.

These workhorses of the heya life are rarely noticed by the media so this will help us superfans dive a bit deeper into the sumo world. I am very interested in feedback from users but I’ve still got a little work to do before it’s ready for prime time. I’m enticingly close, though, so that’s why I’m teasing it out a wee bit early.