Tochi-From-Kochi


Kochi is Tochiozan’s “shusshin” (出身). This was a post that I wrote a couple of years ago to commemorate a win Tochiozan had over Terunofuji. I thought I’d repost it since I have actually been to Kochi.

Tachiai (立合い)

Walking Along Shimanto-gawa Walking Along Shimanto-gawa

In light of Tochiozan’s upset of Terunofuji, I thought I would put in a quick plug for Kochi, his home prefecture. I have not been to his actual home town but I visited Kochi city with my family and a friend and we took the Anpanman train to Shimanto-gawa (Shimanto river). It’s an amazing place. The people we met were really friendly. Kochi is the source for a lot of yuzu and is famous for a particular fish dish called katsuo no tataki. We ate it at a really good restaurant, and we were invited to the house of a friend of a friend for dinner so we had it there, too. I’m no connoisseur of fish but it was good – I can tell salmon from tuna (raw or cooked) but when it comes to white fish, I’m lost. Aji might as well be catfish…

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Day 15 Osaka Recap


sansho-osaka

Beyond The Yusho

In addition to one of the more dramatic ends to a sumo basho that I have ever witnessed, there was a lot of great action on the dohyo for the final day. As we highlighted earlier, a lot of rikishi were still battling to secure a winning record (Kachi-koshi), and bid for promotion on the May ranking sheet.

First and foremost, in the Yokozuna battle, Kakuryu was able to prevail over Harumafuji, and finish the tournament with 10 wins. While not earth-shattering, his double digit score puts him squarely in the territory expected for a Yokozuna. Harumafuji’s loss continues to worry, as it’s clear he was hurt most or all of Haru, and competed anyhow.

Special Prizes

  • Outstanding Performance / Shukun-sho: Takayasu (3rd shukun-sho, 8th sansho overall)
  • Fighting Spirit / Kanto-sho: Takakeisho (1st kanto-sho, 1st sansho overall)
  • Technique / Gino-sho: not awarded

I thought there were some great kimarite unleashed in Osaka, and the Gino-sho should have been awarded.

Match Results

Takayasu was able to beat Tamawashi in the battle of the Sekiwake, and pushed his record to 12-3. Firstly, don’t worry about Tamawashi, he finished 8-7, and will remain at Sekiwake for May. Takayasu, however, now only needs 10 wins in May to secure an Ozeki promotion. This also marks a shift, as in prior basho, Takayasu would have a big early winning streak, run out of gas, get a disappointing loss, and then proceed to continue losing. This time, he pulled out of his losing streak and racked up 2 additional wins.

Kotoshogiku, in what may be his final match as a sekitori, faced another veteran Yoshikaze. After a good tachiai, Kotoshogiku quickly established his favored inside grip, and applied his familiar hug-n-chug (gaburi-yori) to the Berserker, and rapidly had him out. Yoshikaze already had his kachi-koshi, and this was (possibly) a goodbye match. I was happy that Kotoshogiku could end on a high note, while Yoshikaze lost nothing.

Mitakeumi finished strong as well, defeating Tochiozan, and confirming he is a contender for higher rank soon. Since turning from a pure pusher-thruster into a hybrid mawashi / thruster, Mitakeumi has improved greatly. I expect that he may take another dip or two down the banzuke in the coming months, but he has the size, speed, strength and skill to be a sumo leader.

Endo was also able to secure a winning record on the last day, taking it from Tochinoshin, who needs to visit whatever clinic gave Terunofuji his legs back. Ura also was able to defeat Ichinojo through a rather clever use of leverage and balance. It was different enough, the judges called a Monoii, but eventually gave Ura the win. Ichinojo is so tall, I swear it took him 30 seconds to finish falling.

Lastly, thank you readers of Tachiai. You have made this our biggest Basho yet, and it’s been wonderful to have all of you spend time on our site, sharing our love of sumo.

Haru Day 13 Preview


Preview-12

In Which We Skip A Day 12 Summary Post…

Hello Tachiai readers, you may have noticed no day 12 summary. I worked to cover the bouts that were pivotal to the story lines with some detail, but now find myself without enough time to really talk much about the rest of the action. A quick run down of what else happened day 12.

Kisenosato remains unbeaten at 12-0, the only rikishi in a position today is Terunofuji at 11-1. But this would require Kiesnosato to lose at least one, and Terunofuji to survive his Yokozuna bouts. Count on the NSK to try and have the ultimate battle be between Terunofuji and Kisenosato on the final weekend.

Ikioi, now that he has a clear make-koshi, has found his sumo, defeating Shodai today who now has his make-koshi too. Mitakeumi refuses to give up, and today defeated Takekaze to remain 6-6. Mitakeumi wants back in the San’yaku ranks and he is pushing for a kachi-koshi with everything he can bring. Hokutofuji lost today, but still has a glimmer of hope to escape his first ever make-koshi. Ura and Ishiura both lost on day 12, with their records now 6-6. I predict both of them will be take it right to the final day.

Haru Leader board

LeaderKisenosato
Hunt Group – Terunofuji
Chasers – Takayasu, Tochiozan

4 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Harumafuji vs Kisenosato – Kisenosato’s first real test will come as the final match on day 13, where he will face Harumafiji. The Horse has not been 100% this basho, but he still seems to have plenty of mojo, including enough to make Takayasu look like a forgotten sack of groceries. This bout is absolutely crucial for Kisenosato, as Terunofuji is likely to be his day 15 opponent, and he needs be the leader heading into that match. Harumafuji leads their career record 37-24. Be on the lookout for the mini-henke.

Terunofuji vs Kakuryu – Yokozuna Kakuryu seems to be running low on gas the past few matches. At the same time Terunofuji is in full kaiju mode, and may not be stoppable without summoning Mothra. If Kisenosato can win and Terunofuji lose, it more or less hands the yusho to Kisenosato. Kakuryu has a clear advantage overall with 7-3, but there is this kaiju mode that makes a lot of that irrelevant.

Yoshikaze vs Takayasu – I am a huge fan of both. In fact I have tegata of both on my wall. To me they represent all that I love about sumo. Both of these rikishi have the energy, power and skill to win this bout. In fact Yoshikaze, if he wins, picks up Kachi-koshi – he is doing pretty well this basho. This is a mental test of Takayasu. I fear he may now doubt his sumo, and will be hesitant. Given that Yoshikaze operates at a speed most rikishi can not even follow, any hesitation could equal a Yoshikaze victory.

Kotoshogiku vs Shodai – I fear it has come to Shodai, to some the symbol of the future of sumo, to drive a stake into the heart of Kotoshogiku’s revival. I still maintain hope that Kotoshogiku can bring it home, and exit sumo having restored his rank, but I fear the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan has a different course laid in. They have only fought 3 times before, with Kotoshogiku taking 2.

Shohozan vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji never gives up. He is one loss away from his first maki-kochi in professional sumo, but I expect he is going to find some way, any way to pull in a winning record if it takes him until day 15. This is the first match between these two.

Endo vs Tochiozan – Endo looked very good against Terunofuji on day 12, and it’s time for him to match against a surprisingly strong Tochiozan. This could be a very interesting match if no one goes stupid and tries a henka.

Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma has his kachi-koshi secured, and Ura still needs 2 more wins. If I had to guess, Chiyoshoma won’t be giving away a freebee to Plasticman today, and we will need to see him figure out something other than “low and bendy” as a way to carry the day.

Ishiura vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi will be looking to pick up his kachi-koshi on the back of Ishiura, who is still pushing to get 2 more wins. Given that Okinoumi is a skilled veteran, this may be fairly one sided.

Haru Day 12 Preview


12

Pressure Is Still On Takayasu

Now that Takayasu has his first defeat, he has been dropped back to the group chasing Kisenosato. His bout with Kakuryu was excellent in many ways, but as long as Kakuryu kept moving, Takayasu was marking time until he lost. But Takayasu’s troubles are not over, as he still will face Harumafuji. As stated earlier, in past basho, Takayasu has a problem fading out at the end, either by losing concentration, giving up on a goal or just because he doubts his own ability. Everyone who wants him to earn his Ozeki rank knows he must over come this. So Harumafuji represents a test of this flaw. Will he rise to the challenge?

Elsewhere on the Torikumi, Terunofuji has yet to face real resistance, but we can assume that he will have Kisenosato on one of the last three days. With 3 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki active, the final days will be a round robin between the 4 of them. So the chances of Terunofuji playing a day 14/15 spoiler are questionable as well.

That leaves us with Tochiozan. On day 12 he is bottom feeding on Maegashira 14 Myogiryu, which really seems to be tough to understand. He has yet to face anyone above Maegashira 6, which would seem reasonable given that he went into this tournament at Maegashira 10. But as he is now tied with second place, it would seem reasonable that he get someone like Yoshikaze to size himself against.

Haru Leader board

Leader – Kisenosato
Hunt Group – Takayasu, Terunofuji, Tochiozan

4 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kyokushuho – Planet Gagamaru comes to visit from Juryo. He faces off against Kyokushuho who is already make-koshi, so this match is mostly for entertainment purposes only. Gagamaru has really been underperforming in the last several basho, so I am not sure there will be much here.

Daieisho vs Sadanoumi – Daieisho shows a lot of promise, and could pick up his kachi-koshi today against Sadanoumi, who I have to assume is hurt in some way, as he is not quite as potent as he was in January.

Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is also a young rakish with a lot of promise, today he will try for his kachi-koshi against the lumbering giant Ichinojo, who may once again be suffering from an injured back. This is the first time these two have ever faced off.

Chiyonokuni vs Ishiura – Two powerhouse rikishi, with Chiyonokuni gunning for his kachi-koshi, and Ishiura working to refine his Makuuchi moves. In their past 3 matches, Chiyonokuni has won them all.

Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku must win 3 of his last 4. His first step on finishing that journey is defeating Takarafuji. Takarafuji is not showing overwhelming sumo this tournament, so Kotoshogikum has a decent shot at a win here. But I would guess the rikishi have figured out that if you keep moving, he can’t employ his sumo. Watch for Takarafuji to stay mobile.

Endo vs Terunofuji – A few moments of struggle, then Terunofuji tosses him away like a used baby-wipe. I love me some Endo, but he is not dialed up high enough to put a dent in this Mongolian Monster when he is operating in Kaiju mode.

Arawashi vs Kisenosato – Arawashi is not in a winning mode, so that indicates that Kisenosato will be able to defeat him while looking like he’s ready for his ukiyo-e close up. But then again, Arawashi took out Harumafuji a few days ago. Best not to underestimate him, because he has a history of surprises.

Harumafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu has beaten The Horse 4 times in the past. So it’s possible if Takayasu thinks he can do it. This is a mental and emotional test for him. Harumafuji is pushing hard through a lot of pain right now, but he is still an amazing fighter. Advantage here to Harmuafuji, unless Takayasu can tap his best sumo and make it happen.

Haru Day 11 Recap


Terunofuji-11

Outstanding Sumo All Around

As suggested in our preview of day 11, Kakuryu defeated Takayasu to narrow the yusho race to on very large, powerful rikishi for now – Shin-Yokozuna Kisenosato, who remains undefeated and alone in the lead for the Emperor’s Cup. In addition, Kotoshogiku’s bid to restore his Ozeki rank took a serious blow, when injured Ikioi kept mobile and was able to slap down the Kyushu Bulldozer as he was chasing Ikioi down.

Overnight, Kokonoe rikishi Chyoo withdrew citing a foot injury, and will likely end up back in Juryo for May, as he was Maegashira 15 and already make-koshi. But his default loss brought Takakeisho to 7-4, one win away from securing his kachi-koshi and ensuring a returning slot in Makuuchi.

Ura was able to defeat Kyokushuho, partially by confusion and surprise in one of the sloppiest matches yet. Ura went in very low, stayed low and wriggled his way around, but managing to stay upright until Kyokushuho stepped out. Kyokushuho now make-koshi and likely headed back to Juryo as well.

Ishiura’s bout with Kotoyuki featured a monoii, where the Shimpan award the win to Ishiura after reviewing the video. It was very close on who was out first, as Kotoyuki was falling as Ishiura stepped out. Kotoyuki seems to have sustained some damage in the fall.

Aoiyama won over Kagayaki via a rather ungraceful henka.

Tochiozan keeps winning, this time defeating Chiyonokuni. He remains part of the group (now 3 strong) that are one off the pace. The first bout started with a Tochiozan henka, and ended with a simultaneous throw that triggered a monoii. The Shimpan declared that the match would be re-fought, and in the second bout, Chiyonokuni henka’d, but Tochiozan was all over him and drove him quickly out.

Hokotofuji managed to win again, this time against the hapless Kaisei. A few days ago it looked like Hokotofuji was headed to his first career make-koshi. Today it looks like he is not ready to surrender, and has battled back to 5-6. Very impressive performance from this young college sumo champion.

Arawashi gave Terunofuji a great bout, but as expected Terunofuji prevailed and remains one behind Kisenosato. At one point Terunofuji tried to lift and carry Arawashi, but Arawashi was able to escape Takakaze’s fate. Both rikishi traded throw attempts multiple times, neither able to get the other off balance enough to complete the move. Amazing sumo.

Harumafuji’s win over Mitakeumi happened in the blink of an eye. Harumafuji launched out of the tachiai and his momentum drove Mitakeumi out in one single fluid move. This is the Harumafuji style we love to see.

The final bout of the day saw Yoshikaze pour on the attack against Kisenosato. The outcome of the bout was very much in doubt as Kisenosato was purely reactive at first, and struggled to find an opening to switch to offense. Eventually he was able to get an arm hold on the Berserker and maneuver him to be pushed out. Fantastic effort by Yoshikaze, and excellent recovery by Kisenosato, who is looking very much like the man to beat.

Haru Day 11 Preview


Bow-Twirling

Opening The Third Act

The third act of any basho is where dreams are crushed, the heroes are crowned, and legends are made. The 2017 Haru basho has progressed in new an exceptional ways, but with the final 5 days in front of us, it’s time to truly test those who vie for the Emperor’s Cup, and bring about a winner.

First and foremost, of course, is the remarkable performance of Kisenosato and Takayasu. They complete the firs 10 days of Haru undefeated. In fact, they seem to be able to shake of normal threats such as the day 10 Takanoiwa henka, and the several times that Kisenosato allowed his opponent to gain a brief, fleeting advantage. Unless something strange happens, one of these men will take the Yusho on Sunday. That something strange would be both Kisenosato and Takayasu losing at least once. The only rikishi that can catch them is the resurgant Terunofuji, who looms like a menacing storm front, one win behind the leaders. While Tochiozan has been going strong, he would be unlikely be able to beat all / any of the other three sekitori.

That’s not to say that the schedulers are going to let either Takayasu or Kisenosato have an easy road to yusuf. In fact I expect it will be as brutal as they can make it, in spite of the fact that most of the formidable opponents have been defeated already.

The next question, which many of our readers are starting to ask – Kotoshogiku. He needs three more wins to reclaim his Ozeki rank. He has certainly put on a remarkable performance in Osaka, and some would say he has already earned his way back. But those 3 wins are in part down to scheduling. They could have him face easy wins for the last 5 days, or they can have him face spoilers. Ringers include rikishi like Ikioi (who are excellent, but having a bad basho) and spoilers would include rikishi like Yoshikaze, who can flatten anyone on the right day.

Note, unless the leaders drop matches, there is no Chasers group now. Both Kakuryu and Chiyoshoma lost their day 10 bouts, and are now 3 losses off the pace.

Haru Leader board

LeadersKisenosato, Takayasu
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Tochiozan

5 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Ura vs Kyokushuho – Era is still pushing to get 8 wins, where a loss by Kyokushuho would put him clearly in Make-koshi. They only gave one prior match, which Ura won.

Ishiura vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki, who has been a pretty solid rikishi in the past, secured his Make-koshi already, and is going to sink down the banzuke for May. Ishiura is pushing for 3 more wins to hold rank. This will be their first match.

Daishomaru vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma has been turning in a solid performance this basho, and is one win away from Kachi-koshi. For some reason they sent him down to rough up Maegashira 13 Diashomaru. They two have even split their 4 prior matches.

Chiyonokuni vs Tochiozan – Great test match to see if Tochiozan is strong enough to match higher up the banzuke. Having already secured his Kachi-koshi, the NSK is likely seeing how high they can safely rank him in May. Chiyonokuni has been fighting with strength and skill this March, and needs one more win to secure his rank.

Kaisei vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is a fascinating story. He has yet to have a losing record in any of his tournaments. After a really weak start, it looked like he was going to have to swallow his first Make-koshi. But he has battled back with determination, refusing defeat at every turn. He has a tough path though, requiring 4 wins of his next 5 matches.

Kotoshogiku vs Ikioi – Ikioi is a solid rikishi, but Maegashira 1 is a crappy slot in the banzuke, and it usually leaves the rikishi defeated and demoralized. This should be an easy win for Kotoshogiku, who must win 3 of the next 5 to secure his return to Ozeki. Kotoshogiku has won 7 of their 11 prior matches

Arawashi vs Terunofuji – Roadkill. Terunofuji stays one behind.

Harumafuji vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi cannot be discounted, especially when “The Horse” is playing hurt. My gut tells me Harumafuji takes this one, but Mitakeumi puts up a great fight.

Takayasu vs Kakuryu – Crucible day for Takayasu’s yusho hopes. Takayasu has won 5 of the 16 prior matches with Kakuryu, or you can think of it as Kakuryu wins twice for every 1 of Takayasu. Kakuryu is fast, smart and inventive. This will be a tough match for Takayasu.

Yoshikaze vs Kisenosato – Yoshikaze overcame Kakuryu on day 10, and he is no slouch. If he defeats Kisenosato, it would be kinboshi #8, which would time him with Aminishiki for top kinboshi count among active rikishi. But then again, whatever Kami has taken up residence in Kisenosato’s tsuna seem to be indomitable, and it’s possible that 12 men armed with Louisville sluggers would be unable to defeat him.

Haru Day 10 Recap


Yoshikaze-Kinboshi

Kinboshi #7 For Yoshikaze

A wild and wonderful day of Sumo at Osaka overnight saw no change to the leaderboard, as the top 4 rikishi all won their matches. But there was plenty of drama, and a healthy dose of the unexpected. Because both Kakuryu, Chiyoshoma lost on day 10, there is really no one outside of Terunofuji or Tochiozan who can hope to challenge the unbeaten leaders Kisenosato and Takayasu.

Ura continues to struggle, but has kept an even record and hopes of kachi-koshi alive.

Ishiura seems to be a step ahead of Ura in his adjustment to the world of Makuuchi. Today he showed some amazing strength and balance in overcoming Takakeisho. Every so often he pulls a move that betrays his uncommon power to size ratio, and fans are left wondering “did I just see that”?

Tochiozan’s win over Diashomaru was henka powered, and that’s rather sad given he is one of the leader group. But Diashomaru was off balance at the tachiai, and may have not survived long anyhow. Tochiozan is either having a great streak, or has revived is prior winning ways, we hope he can maintain this going forward into May.

There was a monii in the Aoiyama vs Okinoumi bout, where once again the “dead body” policy played a role. Aoiyama applied a powerful throw which sent Okinoumi flying head-first off the dohyo, but stepped out a fraction of a second before Okinoumi landed. The Shimpan awarded the bout to Okinoumi.

Kotoshogiku keeps hope alive by winning decisively over Takekaze. He needs 3 more wins to regain his Ozeki rank, and at this point I think he may actually be able to do it if the schedulers give him a chance.

Takanoiwa deployed a henka against Takayasu. As Takayasu charged ahead strongly at the tachiai, Takanoiwa leapt to the side. In one of the more impressive moves I have seen in sumo, many hundreds of pound of sumotori came to a screeching halt, maintained balance, pivoted and attacked. With a single blow to the side of Takanoiwa’s head put him on the clay.

Just when I think Shodai is all hype, he gave Terunofuji a big fight, and nearly won. He’s still too high on his tachiai, but yes, he has promise still. Terunofuji continues to impress, and you can scarcely believe it’s the same rikishi who has limped and hobbled throughout the last year of sumo.

Yoshikaze, in my favorite match of the day, completely and utterly overwhelmed Kakuryu. Yoshikaze had control of the bout front the tachiai, and kept pressing the attack. As is frequently the case, Kakuryu was waiting to exploit an off balance move or mistake by Yoshikaze. I just checked with the EDION arena, he’s still waiting. Kinboshi for the mobile combat platform, the berserker Yoshikaze.

It’s no surprise that Tamawashi failed to provide much of a challenge for the apparently unstoppable Kisenosato, who seems destined to close strong in Osaka. Fans are hoping for a pair of 15-0 combatants facing off on the final day for the gusto, but there are still many challenges to overcome before that is a real possiblity.

Endo was not too much work for Harumafuji, who seems to be back in his grove in spite of his ever increasing roster of physical injuries. Harumafuji shows up every day and gives it his all.