Hatsu Day 3 Highlights


Yoshikae-Down

With three days worth of data, its becoming clear that the mandated changes to Hakuho’s tachiai have really put him off tempo. In addition, I have to wonder if there may be an additional physical problem that is robbing him of his normal excellent performance. Not to detract from Hokutofuji’s excellent sumo on day 3, but he has been quite a bit less than himself for each of the first three days.

However, the real danger is Kisenosato. There was quite a bit of talk pre-basho on how he was nearly back to his old self. His fans and people who generally think he’s a good guy hoped that was the case. But then the science of medicine strongly suggested that was just not possible. Sadly it seems that medicine may hold the final say.

On top of that, poor old Terunofuji withdraws due to complications from diabetes. The original report in the Japanese press was that his knee was once again preventing him from good sumo, but later reports changed it to “ill health”, which the sumo grapevine clarified to diabetes. We all hope that Terunofuji can get his body well, and come back strong.

Highlight Matches

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama seems to be back in his groove again after struggling in Kyushu. He has a respectable 3-0 start to Hatsu, and his win over Ryuden was convincing.

Ishiura defeats Daiamami – Fast and strong again today from Ishiura. At the tachiai he deployed a henka, but immediately latched a deep left hand grip on Daiamami, and from there he controlled the match. Being short in stature, he was close to Daiamami’s knees already, so he picked one up and danced Daiamami out for a shitatenage.

Abi defeats Takekaze – Abi picks up his first win of the basho with a straight ahead shoving match with Takekaze, who seems to be sharing whatever malady has plagued Yoshikaze.

Daieisho defeats Kagayaki – Daieisho unleashes a very strong and well coordinated oshi attack, which Kagayaki seems unable to counter. While I think Kagayaki has potential, he is far to easy to bring high and off balance.

Chiyoshoma defeats Endo – Chiyoshoma is lightning fast this bout, employing something similar to Harumafuji’s mini-henka. Following the hit-and-shift, Chiyoshoma gets behind Endo and pulls the uwatenage. Endo never had a moment to recover.

Tochinoshin defeats Okinoumi – Clearly Tochinoshin is feeling well and can apply his enormous strength. Okinoumi puts up a valiant effort to try to block Tochinoshin’s grip, but he eventually goes chest to chest, at which point Tochinoshin overpowers him for the win.

Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – This was always going to be a mighty Oshi-battle, but like some of Takakeisho’s earlier fights, it took an odd turn, with Takakeisho engaging in a flurry of tsuppari, then breaking off and diving back in time and again. This seemed to throw Tamawashi completely off his sumo, and the end was fairly sedate.

Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – Onosho came out strong and had Mitakeumi moving backwards. But Mitakeumi used Onosho’s forward momentum at the edge of the dohyo to slap him down for the win. Onosho really having a crummy start to Hatsu.

Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – Takayasu continues to employ his shoulder-blast off the tachiai, and it successfully disrupts Chiyotairyu’s battle plans. From there it’s an Oshi-battle with Takayasu controlling the short match.

Goeido defeats Kotoshogiku – It’s very painful to watch Kotoshogiku fade away, but he is fading quickly. Goeido on the other had seems to have his sumo together this basho, and is fighting well. He may not face a real challenge until week two.

Ichinojo defeats Kisenosato – Much as I want Kisenosato to be healthy, it’s nice to see Ichinojo grab a kinboshi. But really, Kisenosato is not even fighting at Ozeki level right now. Again. Ichinojo completely overpowered him, and Kisenosato could do nothing to stop it. I am going to assume we will be losing another Yokozuna soon.

Hokutofuji defeats Hakuho – The second kinboshi of the day, Hokutofuji has now taken a gold star from four different Yokozuna, quite an achievement so early in his career. After a false start, Hokutofuji took the fight squarely to The Boss. Hakuho seemed to be searching for an offense, while Hokutofuji kept moving forward. One of the great things about Hokutofuji is that you can beat his upper body to a pulp, but his lower body keeps moving forward. Great sumo from a rising star today.

Kakuryu defeats Yoshikaze – Something is seriously amiss with Yoshikaze. Is it the flu? It’s almost as if he’s not got any strength at all. Kakuryu simply rolls him in the first few seconds. I hope whatever the Berserker has going on, he can overcome and return strong.

Terunofuji Withdraws from Hatsu Basho


Tachiai has learned that former Ozeki Terunofuji has withdrawn from the 2018 Hatsu Basho. This marks the fourth tournament in a row that Terunofuji has been forced to leave prematurely due to crippling lower body issues. As stated in a post article this Sunday by Tachiai writer Herouth, merely resting back at Isegahana beya has not been enough to bring the once mighty Kaiju back to health, and has only contributed to his weight gain.

To reiterate a point I made earlier today, unless Terunofuji chooses the path of medical intervention, he risks injuring himself beyond repair and ending his promising career before he reaches his full potential. Having gone kyujo just two days in, and baring an ill-advised return later in the Basho, we can expect to see him drop into the Juryo division come March. We at Tachiai sincerely hope Terunofuji takes the necessary steps to recovery, and that the mighty Kaiju rises again.

As a result of his withdrawal, Daishomaru will get the fusen win on Day 3.

Update: Rather than his ailing lower body as many had guessed, the official reason for Terunofuji going kyujo is health issues caused by diabetes.

Hatsu Day 3 Preview


Kotoshogiku-Flying Lesson
Kotoshogiku Gets A Flying Lesson

The first two days of Hatsu have exceeded my expectations, producing some exciting and enjoyable sumo. One of the Tachiai team, Josh, is in Tokyo this time, and I am incredibly envious.

Meanwhile, we seem to have all three surviving Yokozuna in workable condition, and turning in solid performances. Add to that that both Ozeki also seem to be on top of their sumo, and we are anticipating final day scores to see a dramatic departure from recent history. Over the past year we saw multiple upper Maegashira and San’yaku rikishi turning in double digit scores. Over the history of sumo, this is an unusual occurrence. Normally the named ranks completely wreck everyone from Sekiwake down into the joi. So don’t be shocked or disappointed if your favorite tadpole gets sent packing down the banzuke this time.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Ryuden vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama comes into day 3 with 2 wins, and I am quite sure Ryuden will give him a good test. These two have only had one prior match, in Juryo, and Asanoyama was the winner. Both rikishi are looking sharp and aggressive early in this tournament.

Ishiura vs Daiamami – I am starting to hope that Ishiura has gotten back on top of his sumo. His tachiai looks greatly improved, and he’s not submarining into an inevitable hatakikomi so far. Can he make it 3-0 to start the new year? This is their first career match.

Daieisho vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki is also looking to establish his credibility as a solid Maegashira rikishi, and his next stop is long term opponent Daieisho. Kagayaki will work to try and land a grip and use his superior strength, and Daieisho will try to stay mobile and work towards a throw / thrust out. Their career record of 5-6 indicates they are evenly matched.

Tochiozan vs Kaisei – Greatly inflated Panda-kun Kaisei faces Tochiozan day 3, and Tochiozan may have his hands full trying to maneuver that much churrasqueiro. As I have stated many times, being enormous is not a long term sumo strategy. But in some cases, it can be decisive. Tochiozan is a skilled technician, and may show us how its done.

Chiyoshoma vs Endo – Excellent pairing from the schedulers, we take two experienced, skilled rikishi with no losses thus far facing off. Endo holds a 4-2 career advantage, and tends to win by throwing Chiyoshoma.

Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – I am going to make a guess that Okinoumi is in reasonably good health for now. He faces off against Tochinoshin, and his incredible strength. These two will go chest to chest from the start, and it will come down to who gets the best grip. If this goes long, it favors Tochinoshin, so look for Okinoumi to end it in the first 30 seconds. Their 5-6 career record shows how evenly these two are matched.

Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – Another great match from scheduling. Two tsuppari / oshi masters going head to head is a formula for an explosive bout. Even thought Takakeisho holds a slight 2-1 career advantage, Tamawashi is pressing hard for double digits.

Mitakeumi vs Onosho – Mitakeumi is looking genki, and Onosho has yet to settle down and get his sumo running well. So this may be all Mitakeumi. But this could also be the day that Onosho clears the cobwebs and brings his blistering offense to the dohyo.

Chiyotairyu vs Takayasu – Match of the burly-men, I am quite sure this is all Takayasu, and it’s going to be over in short order, I expect.

Goeido vs Kotoshogiku – A long term rivalry that goes back years, this match strongly favors Goeido. The first two days have seen Kotoshogiku hit the clay twice. He seems to be cold and disorganized, which is a huge shame.

Ichinojo vs Kisenosato – Ichinojo presents a significant challenge to Kisenosato. Given his performance in the past two days, it seems that he is still not nearly as strong as he was prior to his injury last March. At 215 kg, Ichinojo represents a huge mass to overcome, and Ichinojo has been fighting well.

Hakuho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has never been able to present a reasonable challenge to Hakuho, and much as I love Hokutofuji, I don’t expect his day 3 match to be appreciably different.

Kakuryu vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze really seems to be lacking any kind of spark in his first two matches, and frankly fans have to wonder if he is injured. On the other hand, Kakuryu seems quite genki, and he has been calling the shots in his first two matches.

Day 3 Undercard Matches to Watch


After a great Day 1, it seemed like some of the early basho rust began to show on the second day of the 2018 Hatsu Basho. We may see a bit more rust tomorrow as Rikishi get back into the swing of things. That being said, so far I’ve been very impressed with many of the young rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke. Here are a few Day 3 undercard matches that should be entertaining, including several first time encounters.

Ryuden vs. Asanoyama

The day starts off with what should be an excellent matchup between Asanoyama and Ryuden. Asanoyama looked dialed in on Day 2 and easily took care of Nishikigi. His more serious demeanor seems to be doing wonders for his sumo. Ryuden was not so lucky on Monday, and he will be looking to get back into the win column on Day 3. This bout has the potential to become an uwatenage competition, as both men are known for their skillful throwing techniques. They have met once before in Juryo at the 2017 Natsu Basho in a match Asanoyama won.

Ishiura vs. Daiamami

Ishiura and Daiamami will face off for the first time in their careers on Day 3. Ishiura is no stranger to fighting much larger rikishi and has beaten behemoths like Ichinojo, Chiyotairyu, and Chiyomaru with his patented submarine attack. The only difference now is that pretty much everyone and their okasan knows how to deal with Ishiura’s favorite move. Given that Daiamami has never taken on Ishiura, we may see the smaller man try the submarine once more. Daiamami will have to be quick on his feet if he wants to pick up his second win.

Takekaze vs. Abi

While watching Takekaze this morning, I realized that if he were fifteen years younger he’d fit in quite well with the rest of the tadpole brigade. Therefore, from now on I’ll be dubbing the veteran rikishi Grampa Bullfrog. On Day 3, Grampa Bullfrog will square off against newcomer Abi, who again over-committed in his match with Ishiura yesterday and paid the price. This is another first-time matchup, and both men will be looking to secure their first win this basho.

Daieisho vs. Kagayaki

It may be too early to tell, but Kagayaki might finally be coming into his own this Basho. He looks far more focused and comfortable on the dohyo and has dominated his opponents so far. Tomorrow he takes on Daieisho, another member of the tadpoles. These two have a very long rivalry going, and have met eleven times previously. Kagayaki has won 6 of their bouts. Will Daieisho even their series, or will Kagayaki keep chugging along?

Sokokurai vs. Aminishiki

Aminishiki surprised me with his straightforward win against Chiyomaru today, and I was even more surprised that his knees survived pushing around Chiyo’s bulk! On Day 3 he meets another wily veteran in Sokokurai, who has a history of using all the tricks of the trade to outmaneuver his opponent. Wouldn’t it be something if Sokokurai pulled a henka only for Aminishiki to side step him at the bales? This should prove to be a very interesting match.

Terunofuji vs. Daishomaru

Despite Terunofuji having the size advantage, my money is on Daishomaru to win when these two meet for the first time on Day 3. Time and time again we at Tachiai have stated that Terunofuji is not well, and at this point, it’s depressing to watch the man everyone pegged as the next Yokozuna barely able to hold his own on the dohyo. At Maegashira 10, were Terunofuji to pull out he would very likely drop out of the Makuuchi division. But if he soldiers on he risks cutting his career short before he reaches his full potential. Unless he follows in Ura’s footsteps and goes down the route of medical intervention, I fear we will continue to see the mighty Kaiju get his mawashi handed to him for some time to come.

This Basho has just started and already things are heating up! Here’s hoping Day 3 is just as good, if not better!

 

Hatsu Day 2 Highlights


Kisenosato Sigh of Relief

Top line result – Kisenosato won today. He won in a tough battle against a strong, healthy youngster in Hokutofuji. Meanwhile, Hakuho looks uncharacteristically tentative, Kakuryu dismantles Takakeisho’s wave action attack, Takayasu goes the distance with a persistent Kotoshogiku, and I worry there is something amiss in Yoshikaze-land.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Ryuden – A pair of loose mawashi leads to a rather challenging battle, where Daiamami was able to muscle Ryuden out at the edge.

Asanoyama defeats Nishikigi – I am starting to hope that Asanoyama has gotten his sumo back under control. Asanoyama was double-inside at the tachiai, and Nishikigi offered very little resistance.

Ishiura defeats Abi – Ishiura seems to have gotten his sumo together. He is looking focused, tight and he is using his size and strength to his advantage. Abi, in spite of his sunny disposition and outstanding shiko, is still looking for the recipe to get a Makuuchi win.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – This version of Kagayaki is quite different from the disorganized mess of the last three basho. It’s probably the case that Kagayaki is not yet ready to succeed at upper Maegashira level, but here at the bottom, he is doing great.

Aminishiki defeats Chiyomaru – Uncle Sumo locked up Chiyomaru and went chest to chest with the big man, and won! Not a great or glorious battle, but good to see Aminishiki going straight out into battle.

Kaisei defeats Chiyonokuni – Two false starts put both contestants in a hesitant mode, and Kaisei took control of the smaller but more aggressive Chiyonokuni. I am really concerned about Kaisei’s bulk. At that size, one bad fall and it’s all downhill.

Endo defeats Ikioi – In the battle of the Japanese virtues, it was Endo all the way. There was some question on who touched down first, but Endo prevailed. I am starting to be cautiously optimistic that Endo has put his health problems behind him.

Tochinoshin defeats Arawashi – It was not even close, and frankly it was startling to see how small Arawashi (who is not small in person) looked as Tochinoshin lifted him over the tawara. I am eager to see how Tochinoshin does when he starts facing the San’yaku in a few days.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Alright, that’s two weak days from Yoshikaze in a row. As a fan I am starting to worry that something is wrong with the berserker.

Goeido defeats Onosho – Goeido has started Hatsu strong, and he’s completely dialed in on the 2.0 software. The ankle repair appears to have been a complete success, and I think he’s fighting as well right now as I have seen in the past two years.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – For recent joiners of the sumo fan world, this was a classic Takayasu match. Enormous strength and almost inhuman endurance. It’s also a huge measure of respect for Kotoshogiku as he was able to match the Ozeki during that lengthy battle, and never gave up one inch without a fight. Classic match.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – That’s two days in a row where the boss has struggled. Yes, Ichinojo is the Obelix of sumo, but in prior engagements, Hakuho has been able to eliminate Ichinojo’s size as a factor. One can assume that the change up in his tachiai has significantly disrupted his sumo.

Kakuryu defeats Takakeisho – Amazing bout from Big K! I refer to Takakeisho’s big weapon as a “Wave Action Tsuppari”: he tends to do a double arm thrust 3 times then move. Kakuryu knows this, stops the first wave at the tachiai and moves inside with a shallow grip. Takakeisho moves to escape and Kakuryu does not let him re-set. Takakeisho’s out in the blink of an eye.

Kisenosato defeats Hokutofuji – And all of Japan breathes a sigh of relief. This was actually a very good match, and my compliments to Hokutofuji, who put up one hell of a fight. From the tachiai, Hokutofuji works hard to block Kisenosato’s left hand grip. He then makes the mistake of grabbing Kisenosato’s left forearm and pulling. This seems to really fire Kisenosato up, and he unleashes a hell of a storm on his opponent. After a few very strong blows, Kisenosato lands his deep left hand grip, at which point it’s all over. Great match, if a bit sloppy.

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”