Quick Hatsu Review – Liam Loves Sumo

After a short break, I’m back with a short review of the 2019 Hatsu Basho. In this video, I briefly discuss the biggest ups and downs of the Hatsu Basho, surprises and disappointments, the Banzuke picture for the upcoming Haru Basho, and the big stories coming out of January.

I want to thank Bruce for encouraging me to post this to the front page. I’ve been brainstorming some new videos and content and I’m very excited to try them out.

Stay tuned, more sumo content coming soon!

Hatsu Day 8 Highlights

Japanese Emperor Akihito’s Final Visit To The Kokugikan
From the Sumo Kyokai Twitter Feed

His serene highness, the Emperor of Japan, paid a farewell visit to the Kokugikan to take in some of the day 8 action. Japan adores the emperor, and the crowd welcomed him with applause, shouts of well wishes and waving of Japanese flag. He is set to retire in April due to declining health, making the upcoming Natsu basho (May), the first sumo tournament of a new imperial era.

Matters were less serene in the Ozeki ranks, as the two remaining both took losses to further underscore how their poor health in the new year is hampering their progress towards the safety of a kachi-koshi. This is in stark contrast to Hakuho who remains the only unbeaten rikishi in the top division, and looks to be charting a course towards his 42 yusho.

Highlight Matches

Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Juryo visitor Terutsuyoshi attempts a hit-and-shift against Yutakayama, which really seems to fire him up. Terutsuyoshi gets chased around the dohyo and receives the sumo equivalent of a “pile driver”.

Yago defeats Daiamami – An astute reader pointed out that newcomer Yago looks surprisingly like Shrek, and I think we now all see the resemblance. Daiamami did manage to get Yago turned around for a moment, but Yago was able to reverse and send Daiamami to Far Far Away.

Chiyonokuni defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki found himself completely bamboozled by Chiyonokuni’s sumo. It quick flurry of slaps were exchanged, and Chiyonokuni side steps for the win.

Meisei defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru is winless, make-koshi, and the first passenger on the slow boat to Juryo for Osaka.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotoyuki – Sadanoumi’s level of bandaging would be comical if it did not represent how dedicated he is to competing in spite of multiple injuries. Kotoyuki drove this match from the tachiai, but Sadanoumi rolled him out at the tawara with a well executed uwatenage.

Kotoeko defeats Ikioi – Reports had surfaced prior to the match that Ikioi’s left eye, which took a finger in his day 7 match, had given him blurry and cloudy vision. But Ikioi being Ikioi (he has 3 eyes, you see), he mounts the dohyo anyhow and continues to compete. He blasted out of the tachiai and took the fight to Kotoeko, going chest to chest. He looked to be in the drivers seat, but Kotoeko rescued the match by thrusting Ikioi down and out at the edge.

Abi defeats Chiyoshoma – A rapid, blistering delivery of solid Abi-zumo carried the day.

Takarafuji defeats Ryuden – Ryuden continues to struggle in day 8. Takarafuji lands a mawashi grip and controls his opponent throughout, really not much in the way of offense from Ryuden.

Asanoyama defeats Yoshikaze – The ghost of Yoshikaze continues to mount the dohyo with little offensive sumo on tap. Painful to watch, we can only imagine how miserable it is for him. The rest of the rikishi corps seem to be in on whatever is plaguing him, as they seem to take great care to keep him safe.

Kaisei defeats Kotoshogiku – Kaisei’s first win over the Kyushu bulldozer. Kaisei withstood the hug-n-chug attack, and applied the sukuinage for the win. Even Kotoshogiku seemed impressed.

Okinoumi defeats Daieisho – An early surge by Daieisho was soon reversed by Okinoumi for the win.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shodai – Comedy match as Shodai’s miserable, weak tachiai is paired against Chiyotairyu’s 191 kg cannonball charge. Shodai actually was airborne for a moment as a result of collision. It was over that fast.

Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Endo seems to have dialed in his sumo, and is fighting well. Hokutofuji attempts the handshake tachiai, but Endo is ready and counters with a double arm thrust attack to the shoulders, which drops Hokutofuji.

Ichinojo defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s budding sumo power seems to be absent for the past few days. He has always struggled with Ichinojo (has yet to beat him). Ichinojo landed his preferred left hand outside grip at the tachiai, and there was nothing that Nishikigi could do.

Tochiozan defeats Myogiryu – Two battle hardened old veterans made this a quick match, with Tochiozan giving ground while maintaining grip, dropping Myogiryu to the clay.

Takakeisho defeats Onosho – These two are long term rivals, and friends. They also represent the archetype of the tadpole form. It was a fierce match that favored Takakeisho, and he gave no quarter to Onosho, who made a quick exit powered by Takakeisho’s thrusts.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido drops to 3-5 as Tamawashi did not give the Ozeki any opening to bring his offense to the match. Multiple times Goeido went for a grip of any kind, and found himself reactive to Tamawashi’s oshi attacks.

Shohozan defeats Takayasu – Points to Shohozan for having the stones to unload a henka with the Emperor watching, and Takayasu bought it. To be honest, Takayasu is less than normal, and Shohozan’s execution was very good. But it would have been better to see these two fight it out.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama opened strong with his preferred thrusting attack, but Hakuho absorbed it all and remained on balance and poised. In the blink of an eye, Hakuho moved in close to Aoiyama and loaded a throw. Its both amazing and impressive to see that much Bulgarian airborne. Hakuho remains undefeated.

NHK Charity Sumo Event

Ikioi Sings

During Saturday, the sumo worlds, attention was once again focused on Tokyo’s Kokugikan for the NHK charity event. This is a yearly single day program that features elements of Jungyo, at least one rikishi interview, demonstration matches, dohyo-iri and lots of celebrity appearances with famous rikishi.

There was an interview with Tochinoshin, and the people attending were treated to photos of his wife and child in Georgia. As expected, Ikioi treated everyone to his truly talented singing voice, and even Mitakeumi had a song with idol band WaaSuta.

Reports are that the event was sold out, and parts of it will be shown in Japan on NHK-G next weekend. Sadly for us sumo fans outside of Japan, we have to resort to finding parts of it on YouTube.

Eating Sumo: Which Rikishi Has the Best Lunch?

kisenosatoboxlunch
Photo by the author, pixelation by iPhone 7

The last time I visited Ryokogu Kokugikan, the lunch selections were named according to the various sumo ranks – “Yokozuna Box,” “Ozeki Box,” etc. But today, I went to the hallowed stadium for day 2 of the Hatsu-basho, and found that the bento selections had been named after some of our nearest and dearest superstars.

So, for a bit of fun, let’s run through each of the selections, and then you can vote for the rikishi with the best bento at the bottom (EDITED: all of the poll embeds were breaking so just leave your selection in the comments). All of these bento boxes are the same price, so your choice strictly comes down to the contents, and the descriptions are more or less verbatim as they are presented in English on the menu. If you want to be cheeky, feel free to create a menu for another rikishi’s bento in the comments.

Takayasu

  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Mackerel in miso sauce
  • Chicken nanban
  • Lotus root seafood scissors
  • “Cut the cooked kelp”
  • Pickles marinated with soy sauce
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • Cherry tomato

Goeido

  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Grilled beef
  • Beef croquette
  • “The spitted cutlet of pork”
  • Potato salad
  • Cherry tomato
  • Japanese style omelette
  • Kinpira burdock root

Kisenosato

  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Salty mix of chicken and Japanese leek
  • Mushroom marinade (Marinated mushroom?)
  • Boiled egg
  • “Food boiled and seasoned: Radish, Carrot, Konjac, Shiitake mushroom, Japanese butterbur, Taro”
  • Honey pickled plum
  • Meat ball

Kakuryu

  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Sirloin pork cutlet
  • Beefsteak
  • Boiled egg
  • Boiled vegetables: Carrot, Potato, Pumpkin, Broccoli
  • Pork sausage
  • Cherry tomato
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • Pickled vegetables

Hakuho

  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Deep-fried chicken with Japanese leek sauce
  • Deep-friend Chinese style dumpling
  • Boiled egg
  • Boiled vegetables: Carrot, Potato, Pumpkin, Broccoli
  • Cherry tomato
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • “Stir-fry shrimp in chilli sauce”

 

Hatsu Dohyo Under Construction

Dohyo construction Jan 18

With the start of the much anticipated 2018 Hatsu basho just days away, the Kokugikan crew is busy constructing the dohyo that will be the focus for the January tournament. Re-built each time a tournament is about to start, the dohyo is a masterpiece of hand crafted earth, packed firm with simple wooden tools and laid out according to long standing tradition.

Early Saturday, Tokyo time, the dohyo will be consecrated in a solemn ceremony, and this event is typically open to the public. For sumo fans, it is a fascinating spectacle, and features attendance by many of the top men of the sport.