Nishiiwa Beya To Open Feb 2018, 5 Wrestlers Promoted to Juryo


Hat-tip to Asashosakari for posting on Reddit that the new Nishiiwa Beya will open in 2018, headed by former Sekiwake Wakanosato. Nikkan Sports reports that this will be the 46th stable, an off-shoot from Taganoura stable where he is currently coaching. Youngsters Wakanoguchi and Wakasatake will make the move with him. Both were Jonidan-ranked wrestlers for the Kyushu tournament, having made their debuts earlier this year. The Japanese Sumo Kyokai’s website has a full list available.

Five wrestlers were promoted to the full-time salaried ranks of Juryo. Mitoryu (6-1) and Akua (5-2) will make their Juryo debuts Hatsubasho. Three others will be returning, Kizenryu, Daishoho, and Makushita yusho winner Tochihiryu.

In other news, nine wrestlers announced their retirement with the headliner obviously being Yokozuna Harumafuji. Kotohayashi from Sandanme, four Jonidan wrestlers (Suekawa, Kasuganami, Hasugeyama, Mutsumi), two Jonokuchi wrestlers (Tomiyama & Masuyama) and unranked Wakainoue also called it quits.

Heya Power Rankings: October 2017


Is it still October? OK, cool. A few folks have sent messages asking: “where in the heya are this month’s power rankings?” Here they are! Apologies for putting this together a little late, but as a measure of where everyone’s at, maybe it’s timely to publish this around the banzuke announcement. Of course, as stables don’t compete against one another, this is more of a fun exercise anyway.

I’ve made a couple changes this time from the original calculations. Owing to the craziness that was “Wacky Aki,” it didn’t really make sense to award a kyujo rikishi the same amount of points as one who battled all 15 days, only to fall to a 7-8 make-koshi. So, for the first time, I’ve introduced points deductions, only for kyujo rikishi:

  • 10 points deducted for makuuchi rikishi who is kyujo the entire basho
  • 5 points deducted for makuuchi rikishi who is kyujo for part of the basho
  • 1 point deducted for juryo rikshi who is kyujo for any or all of the basho
  • 0 points deducted for rikishi in either division who is kyujo but still manages a kachi-koshi (this did not happen at Aki, but it’s a good rule to set going forward as fighting through an injury to achieve a winning record should still be recognised with the full amount of points)

Finally, Andy had asked a cool question after a previous iteration of these rankings: what if we could also measure by ichimon – the network of stables to which each heya is affiliated? I’ve now included a chart of that as well – it could be interesting to watch over time. Changes in the strength of a stable can take years to materialise in many cases, so I would imagine it will take several years to see shifts in the strength of groups of them.

chart-8

I’ve added in Naruto-beya here (formed in April this year by former Ozeki Kotoōshū), which isn’t of consequence yet but perhaps someday soon it will be. Let’s jump into the “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):

  1. (+1) Isegahama. 147 points (+52)
  2. (+4) Sakaigawa. 67 points (+20)
  3. (+4) Kokonoe. 56 points (+13)
  4. (+-) Tagonoura. 55 points (-20)
  5. (+5) Oguruma. 48 points (+16)
  6. (-5) Miyagino. 40 points (-67)
  7. (+8) Takanohana. 38 points (+20)
  8. (-3) Oitekaze. 36 points (-12)
  9. (-6) Kasugano. 30 points (-48)
  10. (-2) Izutsu. 30 points (-10)
  11. (-2) Dewanoumi. 25 points (-10)
  12. (+7) Onomatsu. 25 points (+12)
  13. (-1) Sadogatake. 24 points (+2)
  14. (**) Shikoroyama. 23 points (+17)
  15. (+1) Hakkaku. 20 points (+2)
  16. (**) Takasago. 20 points (+15)
  17. (-6) Kise. 15 points (-10)
  18. (**) Tomozuna. 17 points (+5)
  19. (-5) Kataonami. 15 points (-5)
  20. (-3) Tokitsukaze. 15 points (even)

Movers

As opposed to August’s chart which was fairly placid, the combination of a bizarre basho along with some new rules has created all manner of changes and lots of movers.

Isegahama returns to the top spot, because when you have a champion Yokozuna, everything is wonderful. Harumafuji’s title more than makes up for Terunofuji’s injury-inspired absence, but while that’s the main driver, the stable’s four other sekitori all scored more points than in the last basho as well. Sakaigawa vaults up to #2 fuelled by a Goeido jun-yusho, in spite of Sadanoumi’s kyujo start.

Kokonoe makes up the final spot in the top 3, owing to a solid basho in which all of their six rikishi matched or improved their standing from the previous rankings. Oguruma places in the top 5 owing to the continued resurgence and special prize of Yoshikaze along with a debut point for Yago, while Takanohana-beya benefits from continued good performance from the potential starting to emerge in Takakeisho and a rebound from Takanoiwa.

Losers

Three stables took a particularly significant tumble this time, all owing to missing stars:

Miyagino lost a truckload of points owing to its yusho-holding Yokozuna missing the entire party, while Ishiura continued to struggle. Reinforcements may soon be on the way as we have covered in some detail, but a present Hakuho is a dangerous Hakuho and this may be a one-basho blip for their chart position, while Ishiura may well benefit from diminished competition and be able to challenge for a Juryo yusho like many before him who have made the drop.

Tagonoura’s drop is simply down to the absence of its only sekitori for all (Kisenosato) and most (Takayasu) of the tournament. It is more difficult to forecast a rebound here, not knowing if either will really be able to withstand the full tournament in Fukuoka. And finally, Kasugano takes a huge drop, owing to its Nagoya jun-yusho winning slap-happy Bulgarian missing half the tournament. Tochinoshin’s make-koshi didn’t help matters.

Up Next

Chiganoura-beya will post points next time for the first time, as Takanosho (formerly Masunosho) makes his Juryo debut. He’s only their second ever sekitori since reforming 13 years ago. And Takagenji’s return to Juryo may help Takanohana move further yet up the ranks should their other rikishi be able to maintain their recent encouraging performance.

Finally, while a number of other heya have numerous immediate promotion candidates, the longer term outlook for Miyagino-beya is starting to get interesting. While the focus is on Ishiura putting it together and Hakuho staying healthy, Enho and Hokaho could put themselves into promotion contention early in 2018. We’ve talked breathlessly about the former, but the latter has quietly racked up 5 straight kachi-koshi. While his track record and somewhat advanced age makes it unlikely he would ever make a serious or sustained dent in the second tier, the presence of 5 rikishi headlined by a constant yusho-challenger could give Miyagino depth similar to their ichimon-mates at Isegahama.

Speaking of which… here are those ichimon totals:

chart-9

While I’m comparing these to the previous basho, I may start to show a longer term view when we revisit the rankings in December.

Reader Request – Visiting A Sumo Stable?


Sumo-Heya

Image courtesy of http://www.broketourist.net

A Tachiai reader named Tom is looking to visit a sumo stable to watch practice on a weekend morning. For an outsider, it seems like it could be a challenging goal – how do you contact the heya to request permission? What sort of things should a visitor keep in mind?

Having never tried this myself, I have a bit of curiosity as well. For any of our readers who have successfully visited a sumo stable, please post any hints, tips, instructions or general impressions of the experience.

Thanks!

Musashigawa Enoshima Beach Clean Up


Musashigawa-Beach1

The rikishi of Musashigawa heya spent a portion of their weekend on a great community outreach project, cleaning the beach on Enoshima, a small but beautiful island in Kanagawa Prefecture. In addition to a squad of rikishi, a number of people from the community and fans of Musashigawa joined in, and they made quick work of the trash.

Following the clean up, the Musashigawa crew held an outdoor / on the beach practice and exercise session, with their supporters free to join in. This included giant rikishi sparring against children and generally having a good time all around.

Musashigawa-Beach2

Full details on the Musashigawa web site. Clean up pictures here, and community practice session here

Heya Power Rankings: August 2017


Welcome to the third installment of the Heya Power Rankings. The purpose of this series is to gauge how the various stables are performing relative to each other, and track their progress over time. Now that we’ve been looking at this over the first four basho of 2017, we can start to identify some trends.

For a refresher on the methodology and calculations behind these rankings, visit the original post. Let’s jump in:

chart-7

And in “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):

  1. (+1) Miyagino. 107 points (even)
  2. (-1) Isegahama. 95 points (-29)
  3. (+1) Kasugano. 78 points (+20)
  4. (-1) Tagonoura. 75 points (even)
  5. (+4) Oitekaze. 48 points (+14)
  6. (-1) Sakaigawa. 47 points (-3)
  7. (+-) Kokonoe. 43 points (+2)
  8. (+-) Izutsu. 40 points (even)
  9. (+3) Dewanoumi. 35 points (+5)
  10. (-4) Oguruma. 32 points (-10)
  11. (-1) Kise. 25 points (-8)
  12. (+1) Sadogatake. 22 points (-7)
  13. (-2) Isenoumi. 20 points (-13)
  14. (+-) Kataonami. 20 points (-5)
  15. (+-) Takanohana. 18 points (-6)
  16. (+-) Hakkaku. 18 points (-5)
  17. (+-) Tokitsukaze. 15 points (-5)
  18. (+1) Takadagawa. 15 points (-2)
  19. (-1) Onomatsu. 13 points (-7)
  20. (**) Nishonoseki. 13 points (+5)

Movers

Well, there aren’t really that many, which may come as a surprise, but less points were awarded on the whole due to there only having been 2 special prizes this time, and a clear jun-yusho (Aoiyama). We can probably isolate 5 clear “winners” this time out:

Miyagino takes the top spot on the same points total as last time, so this is more a product of Isegahama not getting the production despite having twice as many rikishi. The only change here is that Yamaguchi and Ishiura trade make- and kachi-koshi, as of course Hakuho wins another yusho.

Kasugano makes another big points gain off the back of Aoiyama’s pushy-thrusty jun-yusho, but this isn’t as spectacular a gain as it would have been for another stable as it replaces Tochinoshin’s jun-yusho last time out. That being said, all three rikishi here performed well and even if they lose points for not mounting a championship push next time out, we should see some promotions and hopefully their inevitable fall down the power rankings won’t be so tough.

Oitekaze makes a big move up the charts off the back of Daiamami’s Juryo yusho. The fun might stop there. The stable is otherwise looking at a series of demotions (including the worrying health of top man and “Mr. Popularity” Endo) in spite of this, and will lose Tobizaru to Makushita in September.

Dewanoumi has moved up to the limit of what they can achieve without special prizes, yusho challenges or Ozeki promotions from Mitakeumi. Worryingly for a stable of 16 rikishi, only 2 of the men behind Mitakeumi have put up back to back kachi-koshi (and one of them is 33 year old Kihonoumi), so it’s going to be up to him for the foreseeable future. Finally, Shohozan propels Nishonoseki onto the listing in the final position, off the back of a nice tournament.

Losers

Andy referenced that he wanted to see what would happen to Sadogatake on this chart and the results are surprising – they actually move up a spot, but again this is just due to less points having been awarded in total, as the stable has lost 8, 6 and 7 of our points in each of the past three tournaments. Mostly this is of course due to Kotoshogiku fighting at lower levels and not winning, but this slide is going to continue as we’ll see demotions for all 3 sekitori. Kotodaigo will fight at his highest level in Makushita at Aki, but unless he has a big tournament then we won’t see him at Juryo until the new year, at which point the situation could be considerably more dire and there aren’t many more reinforcements coming any time soon.

Isegahama‘s drop is largely down to Terunofuji’s downturn in performance and Harumafuji’s failure to challenge for the yusho, but a decent tournament from either (however unlikely) could see them regain the top spot next time out. Kise takes a bit of a hit owing to Ura’s injury-influenced make-koshi, but will have a decent spot at at least holding their position next time out due to a pair of Juryo promotees in Kizenryu and Daisedo. The rest is much of a muchness, but a word for Isenoumi who will be reliant on Ikioi regaining his form to move back up the listings.

Up Next

We noted last time that Kise had reinforcements on the way, and had a remarkable 11 rikishi fighting at Ms19 or higher in Nagoya. Two have been promoted, but 24 year old university man Kizaki may not be far behind. We highlighted his performance last time out, as he’s never suffered a make-koshi in his 8 competitive tournaments so far (including zensho-yusho at Jonidan and Sandanme). He’s taken a minute to acclimate to Makushita but might be on the cusp at Aki, after another solid 5 win performance in Nagoya at Ms7. Shimanoumi’s Juryo comeback bid was halted in Nagoya, but having put up 3 wins he should get another bite at it this time.

Arashio-beya has been feasting and more recently in famine depending on Sokokurai’s results, but Wakatakakage has been rocketing up the banzuke and could be around to provide backup soon. He’ll be due a big promotion to the top end of Makushita after a 6-1 tournament. Likewise, Takasago‘s Murata may be arriving soon to provide backup for Asanoyama having lost the Natsu yusho duel to Wakatakakage back in Sandanme, and having adapted almost as well to the next level of competition.

Heya Power Rankings: June 2017


With the banzuke announcement just a few days away, it’s time to revisit the Heya Power Rankings series. Thanks to everyone who commented on the first version of this post – this time I’ve been able to make the key update of stacking the bars vertically, and hopefully by the time August rolls around I can get them sorted properly and then we’ll really be off and running!

For a refresher on the methodology and calculations behind these rankings, visit the original post. I’m pretty happy with how this held up for the second version – for example the accomplishments of Tochinoshin (kachi-koshi and jun-yusho from M12) are ranked equivalent to Tamawashi’s kachi-koshi at S1, and that seems fair. Without further ado:

chart-2

And in “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):

  1. (+1) Isegahama. 124 points (-1)
  2. (+2) Miyagino. 107 points (+57)
  3. (-2) Tagonoura. 75 points (-55)
  4. (+5) Kasugano. 58 points (+24)
  5. (-2) Sakaigawa. 50 points (-10)
  6. (+5) Oguruma. 42 points (+15)
  7. (-1) Kokonoe. 41 points (-2)
  8. (-3) Izutsu. 40 points (-5)
  9. (-2) Oitekaze. 34 points (-4)
  10. (+3) Kise. 33 points (+9)
  11. (+7) Isenoumi. 33 points (+18)
  12. (+3) Dewanoumi. 30 points (+10)
  13. (-5) Sadogatake. 29 points (-6)
  14. (-2) Kataonami. 25 points (even)
  15. (-5) Takanohana. 24 points (-6)
  16. (-2) Hakkaku. 23 points (even)
  17. (-1) Tokitsukaze. 20 points (even)
  18. (**) Onomatsu. 20 points (+15)
  19. (**) Takadagawa. 17 points (+8)
  20. (**) Minato.  / (-3) Tomozuna. (both 13 points)

Movers

Isegahama takes the top spot this month on a slightly diminished score owing to quality AND quantity: Terunofuji’s second straight jun-yusho and consistent levels of performance across the board push them up to the summit. Miyagino vaults up as the greatest gainer on points owing mostly to Hakuho’s zensho-yusho (we’re not currently giving a bonus score for a 15-0, but this is something to think about), and Ishiura grabbing a KK didn’t hurt.

Kasugano takes a big jump up the listing owing to a big performance from Tochinoshin which more than offset declines elsewhere. Yoshikaze’s special prize gives Oguruma a boost, while all four Kise rikishi grabbed winning records to propel the stable forward with modest gains. Isenoumi is the greatest chart gainer with just two rikishi, but Nishikigi’s Juryo yusho and Ikioi’s regained form give the heya a big boost. Dewanoumi’s sole contributor Mitakeumi grabbed a special prize and he’ll likely have a good shot to maintain his score next time out as he will in all likelihood fight at a higher level.

Finally, 3 new heya hit the chart as Onosho’s performance drives Onomatsu, Kagayaki and Ryuden’s solid performances put Takadagawa on the board, and Ichinojo grabs a kachi-koshi for Minato.

Losers

Tagonoura lose their grip on the top, but this is simply owing to Kisenosato not winning (in any capacity). Their top 3 spot should be relatively safe however, with Takayasu’s promotion confirmed, and both of them when on-form now represent title challengers. Elsewhere, Sakaigawa takes a hit just owing to Toyohibiki coming off a Juryo yusho onto a make-koshi and not much support among the rest of the crew beyond Goeido. Meanwhile, Kokonoe’s quality doesn’t translate to quality as despite 6 sekitori, only 3 could manage winning records and the toppermost – Chiyonokuni and Chiyoshoma – ran into a san’yaku slaughterhouse.

Up Next

Takanohana could be set for another dip, with Takagenji heading out of Juryo and Takanoiwa and Takakeisho likely swapping ends of the banzuke. Tomozuna’s fortunes will also likely get worse before they get better, with Asahisho likely following Takagenji, moviestar Kyokutaisei set for a drop down to the nether regions of Juryo, and Kaisei looking like he may only be a couple tournaments behind.

Shikoroyama (not ranked) should grab their second Juryo rikishi as Abi should certainly be promoted (5-2 at Ms1), and one would think Iwasaki (6-1 at Ms2) would join him in the pro ranks to give Oitekaze a shot in the arm. If Daishoho can get his act together soon and join up later this year, the stable would have a truly impressive number of rikishi in the top 2 divisions.

Kise had a great basho at Natsu as outlined above and they may also be ready to call on reinforcements soon: they boasted 7 rikishi between Makushita 1 and Makushita 12 and while none look like certain promotion candidates for Nagoya… ALL of them scored winning records, as did 2 of the 3 just behind (so that’s 13 of their top 14 with a kachi-koshi – bear in mind some stables don’t even have that many rikishi in total!). As always with the larger stables, a number of these guys are journeymen and also-rans, but the names to watch here are Shimanoumi (5-2 at Ms5W won’t get the job done this time, but he’s scored no less than 5 lower division unbeaten yusho and will be determined to get back to Juryo after fighting back from a period out of competition), and former university man Kizaki (who has raced to the top of Makushita in a year with 7 straight KK, including a pair of yusho).

Beyond The Boss


Hakuho is a legend, and if you are reading this site then you probably know this. The meteoric rise, all the titles, all the techniques, all the style and lately, all the attitude. There’s a lot that’s interesting about Hakuho, and you could probably do a whole site just about him. However that’s not only why you’re here, and so we’re going to talk about Hakuho in the context of not really talking about Hakuho.

One of the things that has been discussed quite a bit recently on the site is that there are some interesting story lines involving top rikishi and their relationships with others within their stable: Kisenosato and Takayasu, Terunofuji and Shunba, etc. There are also a number of rikishi at the top who hail from notable heya which have stacked the banzuke with talent. To name just a few: the Isegahama powerhouse, belly bop king Kotoshogiku topping the ranks of the prolific Sadogatake stable, and of course the incredible volume of wrestlers created of late by Kokonoe.

But Miyagino, Hakuho’s stable, hasn’t produced a whole lot of note beyond the man himself over the past 20 years. There are potentially numerous reasons for this. One of them is that they simply don’t carry many rikishi – there haven’t been more than a dozen at a given time since Hakuho’s emergence. Another might be that perhaps the stable just isn’t good at producing talent in general: Hakuho’s emergence in its own right was unexpectedly one of the greatest stories in sports after no other heya would accept him and Miyagino took him on only as a promise and/or had him foisted upon the stable, depending how you hear the story told. Still yet another reason could come from dysfunction at the very top: stablemaster and architect of legends Chikubayama was forced to give up the elder stock to Kanechika who obtained it by marrying the daughter of the previous holder (perhaps not a recipe for coaching excellence in any sport). Kanechika was a fun guy who, after eventually having to hand the elder stock back over to Chikubayama after getting snaffled in a match fixing claim, then had his assistant eat a whole tub of wasabi in addition to inflicting a bunch of other punishments upon him (what’s not to love?).

All of that turmoil can’t have been helpful, but let’s look at it by the books. Here are the four men who have been #2 to The Boss since his ascendance to top dog at Miyagino in March 2004:

  • Kobo: a journeyman and one of the first products of Chikubayama to become sekitori, he was already on the down slope by early 2004 and only made a solitary appearance (at Maegashira 17!) in the top division after Hakuho surpassed him. His career as a sekitori was over 3 years later.
  • Ryuo: a Mongolian who surpassed Kobo at Nagoya 2006, but whose career was spent almost entirely in the bottom divisions. He managed 4 tournaments in makuuchi and only one kachi-kochi (though he did manage to claim the scalps of young Kisenosato and Goeido during his brief stay). He finished his career with 4 unbroken years as a Makushita before calling it quits.
  • Yamaguchi: some 6 years later, he appears at Haru 2012 out of Nihon University and instantly becomes the second highest ranked in the stable upon his debut. Managed a single makuuchi bout as Daikiho before everything fell apart and he tumbled down to Sandanme. He has been working his way back up over the past 4 years however and seemed like a good bet to challenge for a makuuchi promotion in the near future before a catastrophic Natsu basho landed him with a 10 loss make-koshi in a tournament which, as this site has covered, was both a massively up-for-grabs and turgid affair. Still only 28 though, and with a lack of can’t miss talent at his current level, could be back in the big time by 2018 if he can string together some winning records over the rest of the year.
  • Ishiura: at Nagoya 2014, having just been dealt his first make-koshi after a strong start to his career (including two lower division yusho), Ishiura moves past Yamaguchi and he’s been at that level since. Notably, he possesses a pedigree the 3 aforementioned rikishi do not and makes quick work of the lower divisions, making his pro debut in 2 years. We’ve all seen quite a bit of him over the past 4 basho in makuuchi and his evolution from henka-addict to a more respectable rikishi trying to develop what he would probably describe as “his brand of sumo.” Namely, not being a particularly excellent pusher-thruster or mawashi man or as flexible as Ura, he seems to either run around a lot or just get in low and try to pull his man down, and will need some more developed facets of his game if he’s able to consolidate and push up the banzuke in a meaningful way.

Beyond these folks, there just hasn’t been anyone of quality at all in the stable since Hakuho started to dominate the sumo world, which makes Hakuho’s achievement all the more stunning in that no one else that his coach has coached has even shown promise of being a top level rikishi until Ishiura.

One of the signals of a fast moving rikishi is racking up multiple unbeaten records/yusho at the lower levels (in many cases back to back) in their first few basho, and so for this reason it will be worth keeping an eye on young Enho who went unbeaten in his first tournament at Natsu and will make his Jonidan bow at Nagoya. Many rikishi who have made a dent on the top division, including Goeido, Yoshikaze, Ishiura, Aoiyama, Hokutofuji, Takakeisho, Sokokurai, Ura, and the recently deposed Yutakayama, have managed this. Many, many others at the level managed at least a single early yusho in their first tournaments (notably, Hakuho did not, mostly owing to his unique development as a very slight rikishi in his younger days).

Given that the percentage of rikishi reaching the top level is so small to begin with, and the number of Miyagino rikishi reaching that level is just 2-3 per decade, it will be interesting to see if Enho can establish himself. Of course it is silly to read too much into a rikishi at this stage of their career, though his sumo best seems to be described as “composed.” He appeared unrattled in all 7 wins at Natsu and the only rikishi to even put up a serious challenge was his former university-mate Tanabe, who created a fight better than some of the stuff we get on the NHK highlights (Enho is the little guy):

Hakuho is obviously a force, and statistically he will retire in serious contention to be debated among the very greatest of all time. A lot of this comes from his background, his sheer desire to continue to develop, and his coaching. But it is curious in the context that his stable does not possess a particularly keen ability to scout and develop as evidenced by their lack of ability to put a second even competitive product onto the dohyo. Hopefully at least, with continued improvement from Ishiura and the development of rikishi like Enho, that could soon change.