Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 2


This post is the follow-up to Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 1.

Lower maegashira

M5 Chiyoshoma Tochiozan
M6 Ichinojo Onosho
M7 Daieisho Aoiyama
M8 Takanoiwa Ishiura
M9 Tokushoryu Chiyotairyu
M10 Okinoumi Shohozan
M11 Daishomaru Chiyonokuni
M12 Arawashi Takarafuji
M13 Takekaze Sokokurai
M14 Sadanoumi (J) Chiyomaru (J)
M15 Nishikigi (J) Kotoyuki
M16 Kaisei/Gagamaru (J)?

Make-koshi at Natsu in red; kachi-koshi in green; (J) = promotion from Juryo.

That looks like a lot of red. So I counted, and 14 of the rikishi in this part of the banzuke had losing records at Natsu. I guess that’s why they’re here. Only 6 of the wrestlers here who were in Makuuchi at Natsu had winning records, most notably Onosho, who jumps all the way from M14 to M6. It’s probably to Onosho’s benefit that he takes a big jump up the banzuke but gets more experience before having to face the highest ranks. Conversely, Chiyonokuni tumbles all the way from M1 to M11 (see “meat grinder, the” in the previous post; everyone but Endo finds themselves here: Chiyoshoma, Tochiozan, Daieisho, Aoiyama, Okinoumi).

I learned my lesson from Natsu banzuke prediction and stuck entirely to the order dictated by my computed ranks. So the only decision was how to break ties. In general, I gave the nod to the rikishi ranked higher at Natsu. But in a few cases, I bumped up wrestlers with kachi-koshi above those with make-koshi: Tokushoryu and Chiyotairyu above Okinoumi and Shohozan, Daishomaru above Chiyonokuni and Arawashi, and Chiyomaru and Nishikigi above Kotoyuki.

Finally, Kaisei/Gagamaru seems like a complete toss-up. Kaisei went 7-8 in Makuuchi. His 7 wins include 2 over Juryo opponents and a fusen “win” over Kotoyuki. Gagamaru went 9-6 in Juryo, including 1-1 against Makuuchi opponents. Their recent performances don’t give any reason to expect anything more than a mediocre performance by either at the bottom of Makuuchi, with a good chance of demotion to Juryo after Nagoya. But someone has to fill M16e…

Video Of Takayasu’s Ozeki Promotion


Overnight US time, Tagonoura beya sumotori Takayasu Akira was promoted to Ozeki, sumo’s second highest rank. As with these promotions, messengers from the Nippon Sumo Kyokai arrived at a hotel conference room that had been configured for a formal ceremony in front of the press.

Westerners may find it interesting there are microphones on the floor, but once the messengers arrive, members of both the stable’s party and the NSK’s party assume a deeply respectful saikeirei bow during both the announcement and the acceptance.

But like so many things in the wonderful country of Japan, once all of that formal stuff is over, it’s time to celebrate. To the delight of many fans, Yokozuna Kisenosato was present for the celebration (among many others).  Kisenosato and Takayasu have been long term training partners and stable mates, and it is my opinion that neither would have reached their current rank without the other’s constant support.

Congratulations to Takayasu, you earned it!

Some additional video from NHK here

Takayasu’s Ozeki Promotion Official


Takayasu-Wins

Second Promotion Campaign Succeeds.

Tagonoura riskishi Takayasu has ben grinding towards an Ozeki bid for the past year, which is generally recognized to be 33 wins across 3 basho for consideration. The actual promotion determination is made by the Nihon Sumo Kyokai, who consider a number of factors such as suitability and long term prospects of continued high performance.

His first bid to achieve 33 wins ended in make-koshi, and demotion, during the Kyushu basho in November. Interestingly enough, internet sumo guru Kintamayama in fact predicted Takayasu’s make-koshi.  The set back did nothing more than challenge Takayasu, and it seems that he and Kisenosato sequestered themselves for nearly endless practice.  Both of them benefited greatly from this period of intense training, as both have been promoted within the following 6 months.

The committee met immediately following the Natsu basho, and agreed that Takayasu’s bid had met or exceeded qualifications, and he has been promoted to Ozeki. The messengers will arrive Wednesday morning Japan time (Tuesday PM US time) to officially notify Takayasu and the Tagonoura stable. Anticipation in the Japanese press now is swirling around what acceptance phrase he will use, which many see as indicative of what kind of spirit he will bring to his Ozeki career.

With this promotion, Tagonoura beta will have a level of parity with Isegahama, who have both Yokozuna Harumafuji and Ozeki Terunofuji. Having two rikishi at such high levels of skill helps both of them stay sharp and competitive, and as we have seen with Kisenosato, having Takayasu as a sparring partner was essential to brining his sumo along to Yokozuna levels.

During Takayasu’s career up to this point, he has been a special-prize winning machine. His tally includeds:

  • 2 Gino-Sho
  • 4 Shukun-Sho
  • 4 Kanto-Sho
  • 4 Kinboshi

His performance has been truly a cut above, and he should make a strong Ozeki if he can keep himself uninjured.

Tachiai congratulates the shin-Ozeki, and we look forward to many years of Ozeki Takayasu bringing his strength sumo to all challengers.

More details from Kyodo News: Takayasu all set for promotion to ozeki
Still more from The Mainichi: Ozeki-in-waiting Takayasu aiming for sumo’s greatest heights

The Philippines: Next Sumo Powerhouse?


With Takayasu’s ozeki promotion and Mitakeumi looking to slide into his vacated Sekiwake slot, I thought I’d take a look at the Philippines. I almost lived there growing up. My dad was in the US Air Force and we were supposed to be stationed there but somehow ended up in Biloxi, MS instead. I always consider it a missed opportunity. This is not anything near the “Mongolian invasion” we’ve seen in sumo and more approximates the Bulgarian or Georgian mini-booms. But, will their rise to the upper echelons of professional sumo, timed as it is during a surge in domestic popularity, bring more interest in Filipino recruits?

Philippine Satellite Initiated by Japanese University Programs

This satellite mission patch graphically illustrates the commonalities and ties between the Philippines and Japan. On the face of things, the countries have some very interesting similarities. Both are sprawling, earthquake prone, volcanic, island nations sitting off the eastern coast of mainland Asia, of roughly similar population (Japan: #61, Philippines: #72) and size (Japan: #10, Philippines: #13). Basically, the smaller brothers of massive Indonesia (#4 in population; #14 in land area). Their histories are very different, but obviously interconnected at times. Colonized by the Spanish, Japanese, and Americans, the Philippines returned to democratic rule in 1984. Recently, the country has been in the news because of the actions and rhetoric from its controversial President, Rodrigo Duterte.

Because of its fascinating history, The Philippines has it’s own distinct, wonderful culture with flavors from Spanish, Japanese, and American colonizers. For me, culture starts in the kitchen. Traditional Filipino dishes have been noted to be among Takayasu’s favorites. In Japan, nata-de-coco went through its own mini-boom, kind of like the 1980s version of today’s American “cronut” craze.

Nata De Coco

Tonight, I tried nata-de-coco for the first time. It is really good. It’s more firm than gelatin and has an interesting, lavender-like flavor. Supposedly it has a lot of fiber. It’s big in Japan, though not as big as it once was and seems to be rarely eaten on its own. One of the desserts featured here from Denny’s was a great example. They don’t offer it anymore, but you can see it was offered up to 1992. My wife remembers it fondly and bought us a bottle of nata-de-coco from our local Korean grocer.

The quality of “Family Restaurants” in Japan like Denny’s, Skylark and Saizeria, compared to those in the US, will surprise you. I mention this because if you go to Japan, don’t avoid “Western” brands like Denny’s, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, etc., just because you think you know them. You sure would not find many desserts featuring nata-de-coco, or fresh mango back home. And my favorite bit is always the customer service. *Pro tip*: a call button is usually available in restaurants in Japan to summon help, or just yell “sumimasen!” In the US, we have to rely on making eye-contact with a busy waitstaff or our psychic powers to will them from out of their hiding places in the kitchen.

In DC, we have several Philippine restaurants with high reviews. I’d been planning to try one before posting this article but haven’t been able to make it to one since none are close enough to Navy Yard for me try at lunch. Then, on the weekend, I avoid DC like the plague and I’ve not found similarly high-rated examples here in the suburbs. I’m glad that I was able to at least try nata-de-coco before posting this. Keep an eye out for future posts on Philippine cuisine: like adobo, lumpia,

Ozeki Takayasu! 大関 高安!


Takayasu-Wins

Clinches Promotion With Harumafuji Upset.

Day 14 action in Tokyo saw a belter of match between Yokozuna Harumafuji and Takayasu. Having achieved his 33rd win in the last three basho, Takayasu was eligible for promotion to Ozeki, but it had been widely said that it was more or less contingent on his performance over the last 3 bouts. With his stunning victory over Harumafuji, that condition is for all practical purposes, lifted.

Given that his day 14 opponent is Shodai, Takayasu could even finish the basho with 12 wins, which would be his tie his Jun-Yusho in 2013 (and his thunderous performance at Osaka).

We have been stating for over a year that Takayasu represented the best hope to become the next Ozeki, and we are so very happy that he has reached sumo’s second highest rank. The Ozeki corps has been very shaky for some time, and Tachiai hopes the infusion of new blood will bring order and stability to upper San’yaku.

Natsu Story 1 – Takayasu’s Ozeki Moment


Takayasu-Natsu
Photo courtesy of http://number.bunshun.jp

10 Wins From Promotion

Takayasu stands at the cusp on one of the great moments in sumo – promotion to the hallowed rank of Ozeki. Having pushed and trained for most of his 27 years to hone his body and his skill, he is now 10 wins from earning sumo’s second highest rank.

His sumo style is based on strength and endurance, and he has learned the art of wearing his opponent down in a grinding battle of attrition, which given the chance he can apply better than anyone in the current joi. Fans know that when he locks up his foe and rests that chin on their shoulder and goes limp from the waste up, that he is pressing down with enormous pressure, forcing them to lift his weight and theirs or be crushed to the dohyo.

In his 36 career Makuuchi tournaments, he has spent 8 in lower San’yaku. While these ranks typically destroy other Sekitori, Takayasu seems to be made for battle. Over those 8 basho in San’yaku, he has racked up an impressive 62 wins / 43 losses. In fact, Takayasu was on the cusp of promotion late last year going into the Kyushu basho, but finished with a disappointing 7-8 record.

His performance at Hatsu and Haru were impressive, and it seemed that this time everything would align for Takayasu. But then stablemate and training partner Kisenosato suffered a terrible pectoral injury in the final days of Osaka, and has been unable to train.

Like any good sumotori, Takayasu applied himself and did what he could with what he had. But you cannot replace a daily regimen of sparring with Kisenosato, and fans would be right to worry that we could witness a repeat of Kyushu – success within reach, but not achieved.

Tachiai is honestly pulling for Takayasu to bring some much needed health and vigor to the upper San’yaku, and we hope that he has found a way to adapt, survive and overcome.

Takayasu’s Makuuchi Record To Date

36 basho

  • 1 Jun-Yusho
  • 1 Gino-Sho
  • 3 Shukun-Sho
  • 4 Kanto-Sho
  • 4 Kinboshi

Asanoyama: The Pride of Toyama Prefecture


Takasago beya, despite its legacy of big named stars, has fallen on hard times. To start 2017, the stable which produced Asashoryu and the American ozeki Konishiki had no active sekitori. According to the article, this was the first time since the 11th year of the Meiji era (1868) that Takasago beya did not have an active sekitori. Asanoyama’s promotion for the March tournament brought the stable back into the elite divisions. He will climb quickly into makuuchi on the back of his 10-5 record, just missing out on the Juryo yusho, losing a three-way playoff which included Osunaarashi and yusho-winner, Toyohibiki.
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