Sumo Stables For Beginners

If you’re like me, the sumo stables (heya) are a rather daunting mystery. There are so many of them that even after all of these years, beyond a few famous ones, I still can’t tell my Futagoyama from my Nishikido. After all, there are 45 active stables and there have been significant changes in the past couple of years. There are also many former and a few active wrestlers, ready to spread their wings and set up their own new stables.

There are great resources online to help out. First, the Sumo Kyokai’s website has the Sumo Beya Guide with a list of the wrestlers and staff. In a pinch, it’s a great, current roster. Then, of course, the SumoDB has a ton of information on the stables of each wrestler and does a great job tracking the history of changes; wrestlers do move from one heya to another — usually because a stable closes and its wrestlers are absorbed by a second stable, or a new stable opens and rikishi follow their recruiter to his new home.

Excellent Heya Roster and Sumo Reference

Hat-tip to Bruce for this excellent reference book. It has a complete roster with mugshots of all the wrestlers at the time of printing, grouped with their heya. It also has the staff, including coaches, hair dressers, gyoji, and support staff…my go-to reference, especially when watching those lower division matches because it includes the all-important furigana to help me penetrate some of the more bewildering shikona.

To add to these resources, I put together a little dashboard that I hope you will find as helpful as I do. This helps me get even more of a sense of not only which wrestlers are in which stable but also where the stables draw their wrestlers from. I can also drill into the kimarite (or winning techniques) the rikishi prefer, as well as what they fall victim to.

Feel free to click around. You can select a heya from the radio buttons on the right on either tab and the banzuke will filter to only those wrestlers from your selected heya. On the first tab, you can also click on a shusshin to have the banzuke filter to the wrestlers from that shusshin and on the second tab, click on the individual wrestler’s name to filter the kimarite chart. The kimarite includes each wrestlers’ career record — not just Osaka.

Oitekaze: A Southern Stable

As an example, let’s take a look at Oitekaze-beya, home of Endo, Daieisho, and just about everyone else named Dai~~ and Tsurugisho. Curiously, Oitekaze oyakata seems to recruit exclusively from the southern half of Japan. Tatsunami-beya, on the other hand, picks guys from the far north, the far south, and around Kanto…skipping over much in between.

Daiei-oshi

On the second tab, you can see how well each wrestler did in Osaka in the top graph. In the bottom chart, you can discern his strengths and weaknesses. For Endo, we’ve got a clear preference for yotsu techniques while Daieisho prefers an oshi-battle, win or lose. You can get a sense that he will force the issue and not allow anyone near his belt while Endo is not quite as able to assert his preference.

I’m eager to hear what you discover about your favorite stables…or if it helps you find a stable to investigate further. I’ll update this with the current banzuke as we get closer to Nagoya Tokyo.

The Strange Mirror of the Mock Basho

“… the Mirror shows many things … some never come to be …”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

What will the upcoming July basho bring, assuming that it takes place as scheduled? Some rikishi must fervently hope that the mock Natsu basho was a preview of things to come, while for others, it’s a scenario to be avoided at all costs. Let’s take a look at three camps:

Would take the mock basho results in a heartbeat

Mitakeumi This is almost too obvious to state. A 13-2 record, an unprecedented third non-Ozeki yusho, back-to-back victories over both reigning Yokozuna, and a solid chance to make Ozeki in the following basho—what’s not to like?

Asanoyama No shin-Ozeki hangover here: a solid 12-3 jun-yusho, a win in what’s shaping up to be a great rivalry with the yusho winner, and victories over both Yokozuna, including a first-time defeat of Hakuho. Sure, Asanoyama must wonder what might have been without the losses to lower-ranked Takanosho, Daieisho, and Aoiyama, but you can’t have everything.

Shodai, Daieisho, Yutakayama, Takanosho, Onosho, Aoiyama A winning record in lower san’yaku or joi maegashira is never something to sneeze at. Shodai would extend his run at Sekiwake to a 3rd-straight basho, Daieisho would have his first san’yaku kachi-koshi, Yutakayama would make his first-ever san’yaku appearance, and Takanosho would record a 5th-straight career-high rank.

Chiyotairyu, Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Sadanoumi, Kotoshogiku, Nishikigi Everyone in this group recorded 10-11 wins, not something one would predict. And while former Ozeki Kotoshogiku might not be happy to find himself lumped with the other names on this list, a 10-5 record would be a remarkable turn-around after 6 straight losing records that saw him drop from M1 to M14.

Acceptable, with room for improvement

Hakuho The greatest rikishi of all time cannot be satisfied with an 11-4 record, including back-to-back losses to Onosho and Takarafuji, but finishing the tournament with a solid Yokozuna kachi-koshi and being in the race until the final day certainly extends his career, providing more opportunities to add to his unequalled laurels.

Wakatakakage, Kotoshoho When your Makuuchi debut is derailed by an injury after a promising 4-0 start, sending you back to Juryo for two tournaments, you’ll take a 9-6 record in your second top-division appearance. And while Kotoshoho failed to claim his conditional kanto-sho on the final day, a kachi-koshi has to count as a successful start for the shin-Maku.

Everyone else with a kachi-koshi or mild make-koshi, with the exception of Kakuryu (see below) and Takayasu (injury).

Let’s pretend this never happened … oh wait

Kakuryu The often-beleaguered “other Yokozuna” surely wouldn’t want to withdraw for the 4th time in the last 5 tournaments.

Takakeisho The only acceptable outcome for a kadoban Ozeki is reaching 8 wins.

Okinoumi Seven losing records in seven san’yaku appearances? Not great!

Endo His worst performance in almost two years would bring to an end an 8-basho streak in the joi.

Enho Everyone’s favorite pixie surely would not want to follow his worst record in the top division with an even worse one.

Kaisei, Tochinoshin Two proud veterans we’re used to seeing much higher up the banzuke would find themselves on the demotion bubble.

Chiyomaru, Kotoeko, Kotoyuki The first rule of the top division is that you want to stay in the top division.

Terunofuji Saving the worst for last: obviously, the former Ozeki does not want his return to Makuuchi for the first time since January 2018 to ignominiously end with an 0-7-8 record. The last time the kaiju finished a basho in the top division with a winning record? May of 2017, when he recorded his second-straight jun-yusho from the East Ozeki rank, and looked headed for Yokozuna, not Jonidan.

Which rikishi do you hope put up either similar or very different performances in the next real tournament? Let us know in the comments.

Wrapping Up the Mock Natsu Basho

Thanks for following our coverage of the mock Natsu basho. In the alternate timeline where this tournament took place, what do the results mean for the rikishi?

The upper ranks

While Yokozuna Hakuho cannot be happy with an 11-4 record and a final-day loss, he did enough to extend his own record of 53 appearances at the top Y1e rung of the banzuke. Yokozuna Kakuryu pulled out after recording 8 wins and 4 losses, a result that will be questioned by the YDC. Oh, and he’ll once again occupy the odd Yokozuna-Ozeki rank, because we will have a lone (East) Ozeki, ascendant Asanoyama (12-3, jun-yusho), who did not miss a beat in his debut at sumo’s second-highest rank. Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho failed to record 8 wins, dropping to Sekiwake on the next banzuke.

Lower san’yaku

Mitakeumi’s 13-2 yusho should vault him over fellow Sekiwake Shodai (8-7) for the East Sekiwake rank, with Shodai sliding over to the West side. Takakeisho will occupy an extra Sekiwake slot (S2w to balance the banzuke). Daieisho (8-7) left it late, but his final-day victory will extend his stay at East Komusubi, while his counterpart on the West side will be shin-san’yaku Yutakayama, who also recorded an all-important 8th win on senshuraku.

Upper maegashira

The top 5 maegashira ranks should be occupied, in order, by M2e Takanosho (8-7), M2w Onosho (8-7), M4w Aoiyama (9-6), M8w Chiyotairyu (11-4), M5w Hokutofuji (9-6), M7w Tokushoryu (10-5), M8e Ishiura (10-5), M3e Takarafuji (7-8), Kw Okinoumi (5-10), and M4e Kagayaki (7-8), with M12e Sadanoumi (11-4) just outside this range.

Demotions and promotions

We have 4 clear demotions from the top division: M17 Terunofuji (0-7-8), M16 Kotoeko (5-10), M17 Kotoyuki (6-9), and M15 Chiyomaru (5-10). There are only three clear promotions in Juryo: the yusho winner J5e Kyokutaisei (12-3), the top-ranked J1e Meisei (9-6), and J4e Daiamami (10-5). The lucky fourth promotion should go to J3w Kyokushuho (8-7).

Two more Makuuchi rikishi have demotable records, but may survive by virtue of banzuke luck: M10 Kaisei (3-12) and M11 Tochinoshin (4-11). Tochinoshin’s final-day win likely ensured a stay in the top division, while Kaisei lost and is on the bubble, with the best candidate to replace him being J5w Ichinojo (9-6).

Mock Natus Basho – Videos?

It seems some amazing soul has been piecing together daily highlight reels (where possible) from the Grand Sumo Breakdown Mock Natsu basho from prior matches. I know more than a couple of readers said “I wish I could see that match” in response to my write ups, well some enterprising soul named Tanar Dial gave it a shot. I am impressed.

Go take a look at enjoy the basho that could have been.

https://www.youtube.com/user/TSwank/videos