Nagoya 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 1

I’m one of those guys who’s rather early to bed, so Jonokuchi’s 7-8pm start time, depending on Daylight Savings, lets me watch some live sumo action. While the sumo is not usually the highest quality early in the day, it gives a good glimpse at some of the up-and-comers before they get bulked up. I mean those images of scrawny Hakuho, Kakuryu, and Harumafuji…it’s hard to believe those Najima-sized kids turned out to be Yokozuna.

I’ve got five bouts for you today from Jonokuchi Match Day 1. The tournament opened with our first bout, Ikazuchido vs Yamadaumi. Ikazuchido has a judo background and has an athleticism which should see him do well in the lower divisions. He went 0-2-2 during maezumo, unfortunately being paired off against two tough opponents and then getting injured and actually missing out on his “introduction” wearing the kesho mawashi. No signs of injury in this bout, just some good footwork as he spun Yamadaumi around and pushed him backwards and off the dohyo.

Oyamada fought Ikazuchido in maezumo and pulled off a solid win. However, he’s still quite green, as we see in the next bout against Nippon Sports Science University graduate, Takahashi. Takahashi’s physically larger so Oyamada’s decision to attempt to meet force with lesser force, was ill-advised. Takahashi just drove forward and shoved Oyamada off the cliff. Takahashi will be a factor in the yusho race.

If there’s ever a big media frenzy around a sumo recruit, it’s usually a famous sekitori’s son or brother or nephew or something. But this tournament the big story has been Tokyo University student Suyama Hotaka. It’s not often that an Ivy Leaguer goes into amateur sports after graduating college but Suyama has made quite the splash by choosing the Heya Life. He drew lots and got to be the one to knock Sawaisamu over today. He will face bigger challenges this tournament.

As always, Najima’s heart was in his bout today but his opponent, Jokoki, dropped him like a rag doll. That slam, back hitting on the tawara, could not have been very comfortable. Ouch. We’ll get ’em tomorrow, Najima!

Lastly, two early favorites in this division are Toshunryu and Kazuto, and they fought today. Tamanoi beya recruited Toshunryu from Nippon Sport Science University, and he has decided to completely confuse me by not using either kanji for dragon at the end of his shikona, instead going with the character that I associate with taka (隆), as in Takanosho. Kazuto comes from a high school with a sumo background and is connected to the Sakamoto clan (as in Kiryuko) so he has joined them at Tatsunami stable.

We got a great, solid tachiai out of these two but after taking an early swing at Toshunryu, Kazuto ducked down to drive forward but his head was far too forward of his feet. Toshunryu struck out, pulling Kazuto’s head down and forward. It didn’t look like the first blow was going to win it, so he was ready to follow up with another shove, but Kazuto’s balance was gone. As soon as his knee hit the clay, he was done. We’ll get good bouts out of both of these gentlemen.


Jonokuchi Match Day One, Nagoya 2021

Day 1 began with Shonanzakura facing Tatsunami’s recruit, Byakuen. It’s amusing to see a bit of nerves from young Byakuen pre-tachiai. Standing 171cm and weighing in at 67kg, Byakuen is 9cm shorter and nearly 19kg (~40 lbs) lighter than the more experienced Shonanzakura. Shonanzakura actually gets the jump on his opponent. But despite the physical disadvantage and complete lack of timing, Byakuen shot out like a bullet and blasted Mr. Futility off the dohyo.

My apologies while I work on the logistics here. My videos of the next bouts were terrible, which is unfortunate because the next couple of bouts featured a few nice throws. I will work out the glitches. Shunrai easily won his first bout against Tamatensho with a sukuinage. He drove Tamatensho back to the tawara while seeking a belt grip with his right hand. But when Tamatensho’s foot reached the bales, Shunrai quickly twisted him down from the left. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Sakamoto brothers rise up the banzuke, and which one makes it further.

Hitoshi followed that up with a kakenage, tripping up Nobehara. This was a great bout with both rikishi of similar, solid build. Hitoshi was “cornered” at the bales but twisted to throw Nobehara. I think it was actually Nobehara who initiated the “kake” but Hitoshi used the leverage to push Nobehara over. Kyonosato put in a valiant effort but Arikawa escorted the Isenoumi-beya taste tester out of the ring for the yorikiri win.

This victory started an Eastern rout as the next five gunbai also pointed stage left. Fujimusashi, Mihonoumi, Abe, Asasorai, and Kirinohana all claimed victory. The best of these bouts was Asasorai’s uwatedashinage win over Takashoki. Kirinohana caught out Higohikari’s henka attempt, easily. I anticipate a poor showing from Higohikari during this tournament, and possibly kyujo as he did not seem close to 100%. Lastly, Sawanofuji and Shiraishizakura put together a great bout with Sawanofuji winning with a kotenage.

Part 2

Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch the second half of the action which occurred tonight, July 4. I’d hoped to get back earlier from the cookout…but it was a good cookout. If I find any footage, I’ll post it. Kiryuko replicated his brother’s success by defeating Daitensho.

Veteran Kokuryunami was able to get to rookie Daitenshin’s mawashi and defeated him with a sukuinage. In the headline bout, Mukainakano defeated Miyagi by tsukitaoshi and Takatairiku followed that up with another tsukitaoshi against Kato. Tamanotora and Kyokutaiga defeated fellow classmates, Yoshinofuji and Takabaho, respectively. Taniguchi and Mogamizakura bested their veteran opponents, Sawaisamu and Moriurara. Lastly, Asahimaru beat Matsugi.

Looking Ahead

The “Winners bracket” after Day 1 is:

  1. Byakuen
  2. Kiryuko
  3. Shunrai
  4. Mukainakano
  5. Hitoshi
  6. Kokuryunami
  7. Arikawa
  8. Fujimusashi
  9. Takatairiku
  10. Mihonoumi
  11. Tamanotora
  12. Abe
  13. Kyokutaiga
  14. Asasorai
  15. Taniguchi
  16. Kirinohana
  17. Mogamizakura
  18. Sawanofuji
  19. Asahimaru

The first half of Match Day 2 will actually offer the bulk of the yusho race bouts. Eight bouts, involving 15 of these men will happen tonight. First up, young Byakuen will be thrown into the fire now. If his timing was off against Shonanzakura, he may want to be better prepared for Mukainakano. Next, Kiryuko will fight Hitoshi. Shunrai will likely face Arikawa tomorrow, but that’s it for the “rookie” bouts tonight.

The other winner bracket bouts are:

  • Fujimusashi vs Kokuryunami
  • Abe vs Tamanotora
  • Asasorai vs Kyokutaiga
  • Kirinohana vs Taniguchi
  • Mogaizakura vs Sawanofuji
  • Asahimaru vs (Jonidan) Kirimaru

Along with the likely Shunrai/Arikawa bout, tomorrow’s schedule will likely put Takakairiku against Mihonoumi. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t see the second day matches I can’t really pick a complete list of favorites but I must say Shunrai and Hitoshi definitely impressed me during the Day 1 action. Asasorai also had a great throw but I can’t see him being competitive against some of the top recruits but it should certainly be interesting.

Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 13

Light schedule today, as most of our favorites will compete this weekend to try and sort out their final scores. There are a lot of matches that will decide the promotion picture to come on Saturday, so followers of our “Ones to Watch” will be guessing right up until the end. On to today’s matches!

Naya vs Daiseido – A lot of fans are dissapointed that Naya has 4 losses already, and won’t be in the Makushita joi-jin for Aki. Like so many solid rikishi before him, he will drift back down the banzuke, and work to challenge “the wall” again.

Roga vs Ichiki – 4-2 Roga, in spite of his Oyakata’s public shaming, is kachi-koshi and will get to remain in Makushita for September. This one determines where he places next, and although he has fought well this tournament, I think he will find himself out-gunned if he gets much higher in the ranks.

Amakaze vs Kaiho – 4-2 bracket match, both are kachi-koshi, so this is to dial in how much promotion mojo is added to the September banzuke. Amakaze has looked well for a man who had some critical knee surgery.

Wakaichiro vs Fujihisashi – Darwin match, both come in at 3-3, so the winner gets kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi and likely returns to Jonidan. Wakaichiro has faced the pressure of this kind of situation in prior basho, so we know he can pull it out. The two are evenly matched size and weight. Go Texas Sumo!

Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 11

What? Ones to watch? I have slacked off on these posts because Herouth covers the action so very well in her daily video round up. It’s some fantastic stuff. At this point, our lower division competitors have had 5 matches, and more than a few of them have hit their 4 wins and are safely kachi-koshi. A few are event at 5-0, and are competing for their division yusho.

But today there are a few matches I wanted to talk about, so let’s get rolling.

Akua vs Tsurubayashi – Yusho elimination match, can Akua leap-frog quite a few higher ranked rikishi to snatch a return to Juryo? It’s a long shot, but if he is the eventual yusho winner, it’s not out of the question.

Hoshoryu vs Nogami – If Hoshoryu prevails, it would mark his 4th win, and quite possibly his debut in September in Juryo. I am looking forward to lksumo discussing the promotion / demotion prospects later this week. I know there is a lot of hype and a lot of buzz around Hoshoryu, and I worry it would be too soon for him to start battling against the “bigs” in Juryo.

Terunofuji vs Roga – This is it. The BIG it. We had hoped there would be a rematch, and it seems the schedulers are finally going to throw the red meat to the fans. These two last met during the Jonidan yusho playoff in Osaka, with Roga taking the playoff match. Since then they have been on an almost parallel track to their current posting at the bottom of Makushita. Both rikishi are greatly improved since that Jonidan meeting. I know every fan wants to see if Terunofuji’s weight loss and muscle tone changed the calculus between these two, or if Terunofuji’s knees are just too far gone for him to present a young hard-charging rikishi a challenge.

Shoji vs Asanojo – Winner takes home kachi-koshi. For Shoji it’s doubtful he can return to Makushita for September, but the top of Sandanme would be a fine mark to hit.

Wakaichiro vs Kotokume – After a strong start, Wakaichiro had a couple of matches he was winning go south, and then his 5th match was against a rather round fellow, who seemed to be immune to Wakaichiro’s thrusting attack. He comes into his day 11 match 2-3, and needing to win his last 2 for kachi-koshi. He has done this before, and we are sure he can do it now