Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 9

Yokozuna-level mind games, Hoshoryu

We start our coverage at the most predictable point of the torikumi – our friend Hattorizakura. Today he faced one of the lesser Narutos, Yamane with his back to us, who was 1-3. Hattorizakura himself was 0-4.

The result was about as unpredictable as a fusensho. Yamane improves to 2-3.

Jonidan

Our friend Homarefuji had a meeting with Sumo’s main Elvis figure – Mutsukaze, the man with the great mutton chops, but also a great singing voice. The footage starts mid-bout, with Homarefuji on the left holding on to Mutsukaze on the right.

Homarefuji again engages in a yotsu battle, and it seems also a stamina battle, as we can hear the huffing and puffing. The Isegahama man improves to 5-0, and remains in contention for the Jonidan yusho.

Sandanme

Wakaichiro mounted the dohyo to face Azumasho from Tamanoi beya. Both 2-2. Wakaichiro attacks from the left, Azumasho from the right.

It didn’t go well for the young Texan, who got caught in a hold he doesn’t know how to solve. Note how he picks up and re-arranges the shimpan’s sandals, which he probably disarranged in his fall, on his way back up on the dohyo. Ever a polite boy.

The shimpan, by the way, have two pairs of sandals with them. One pair is used for getting in and out of the arena, and one is used for mounting the dohyo in case of a monoii discussion.

Another match of interest today took place between Dairaido from Takadagawa beya, and Amakaze, yet another one of the recoverers we follow. Dairaido is an interesting fella, he is 39 years old, and has an experience of six basho in Juryo, back in 2006. 13 years after tasting the taste of heaven, he is still toiling in the lower divisions.

Here Amakaze is on the left, and Dairaido on the right:

For a 39 years old who is lighter and smaller than Amakaze, Dairaido is full of genki. Amakaze makes a grave mistake in the middle, and is late to get his bearings before Dairaido leads him out. Amakaze now 3-2. He will probably get his kachi-koshi, but his way back up to glory is going to be slow.

Makushita

Makushita is where it’s at this basho. We start at the bottom with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, who wants to get his kachi-koshi today. He is on the right, while Keitenkai – that’s the guy who beat Roga on day 1 – attacks from the left.

The former Ozeki has a problem getting any mawashi grip with his left hand, due to the dislocated finger. In addition, Keitenkai gets inside low – trying something of a submarine attack, I’d assume. But that’s about it from him. He is out of his league, and Terunofuji executes a kotenage. Keitenkai ends up with a bonus: a face full of gift-wrapped Ozeki junk.

Terunofuji is kachi-koshi, 4-1, and will hope to end 6-1.

Next, all Onami brothers were in action today, and the first we run into is Wakatakamoto, the eldest brother. He is on the left, facing Sagatsukasa from the little-known Irumagawa beya, on the right. Both are 3-1.

Sagatsukasa is 37 years old. Yet another odd case of someone who had a sekitori career – a real one, 22 basho in Juryo including yusho, 6 in Makuuchi. And yet he chooses not to retire but to continue in the lower division for years.

But all that experience tells. Sagatsukasa tries all sorts of wiles, and the first bout ends in a monoii and a torinaoushi.

In the Torinaoshi, it seems Wakatakamoto is trying a henka. This gets Sagatsukasa a bit pissed off, I believe, and he sets a beautiful trip, for the “chongake” kimarite.

Next, our buddies Akua and Midorifuji set out to try and maintain their perfect records. Aqua is on the left, and Midorifuji on the right, in this footage from SumoSoul’s Twitter:

The Deputy Pixie doesn’t manage to get anything going, really, and gets a hatakikomi, and a send off away from the Makushita yusho. Akua improves to 5-0.

Naya, who hurt his foot yesterday, mounts the dohyo today with some serious taping on his ankle. on the left, facing Churanoumi on the right, both are 1-3 and have “no tomorrow” – the loser is make-koshi.

Naya executes what seems like his best sumo this basho, but ends it limping heavily. He evades the make-koshi for now, but Churanoumi is not going back to Juryo this time around.

Our next Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, faces Seiro, the Shikoroyama wolf. Both are 3-1, looking for their kachi-koshi. Seiro on the left, Wakamotoharu on the right.

Haru nearly finds himself outside, when he realizes Seiro is out of balance, and quickly reverses his fortunes. Kachi koshi for the middle Onami. Wakatakakage also lost today, by the way, so Wakamotoharu was the only happy Onami on the way home.

Finally, the highlight of the day, the bout between Chiyootori, yet another hugely experienced former sekitori, and 20 year old Hoshoryu. Though I’m sure it’s easy to tell apart Chiyomaru’s brother from the slim Hoshoryu, I’ll still mention that Chiyootori is on the left and Hoshoryu on the right.

I recommend that you do not skip directly to the tachiai in this footage, but take a look at the pre-game. Chiyootori is slapping his belly emitting a “whoosh” from his lips as he does. Hoshoryu, on the other hand, concentrate on staring so hard you think either his eyes or his lips might fall off. He is giving Chiyootori the full “Asashoryu Face” treatment. This continues well after the gyoji reverses his gunbai – something which Hakuho got reprimanded for only a few days ago.

But then, Hoshoryu is not (yet) a Yokozuna.

Hustle, hustle, uwatedashinage. Hoshoryu improves to 3-2. I’m not sure whether a 4-3 will be enough for him to advance – it depends on the number of men dropping from Juryo. He will need that number to be at least three, or either of the Ms1 rikishi to have a make-koshi – and currently only Aminishiki is certain to drop, and Seiro and Irodori are 3-2.

Of course, first he needs that fourth win.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 8

Naya – a loss and an injury

We start our coverage with the indefatigable Hattorizakura, who is covered in 4k, on the left, facing Shiryu on the right.

The big pink lettering informs us that Hattorizakura was subjected to a dame-oshi. Shiryu, what’s up with that? That’s like beating up a freaking baby.

In other Jonokuchi news (which I cannot backup with footage), Mishima, the last of Naruto beya at 3-0, won his bout, got his kachi-koshi, and is joining his three heya-mates in the race for the yusho. In a few hours, some of them may or may not be eliminated, as three of them have matches today. How long are we going to stay with four yusho contenders from the same heya?

Jonidan

Those of you who find Terunofuji to be too high-maintenance may consider, instead, following the off-brand Fujinoteru, who is guaranteed to be cheaper on the upkeep. Fujinoteru, from Onoe beya, is starting this bout with a 0-3 standing, facing Sekizukayama. The footage starts with the smaller Fujinoteru on the right.

That looked a bit like the actual brand model. It’s a bargain!

In a more serious bout today, we have the titanic Toma on the left, facing Sorakaze from Oguruma beya on the right. Both 3-0 coming into this match. The footage includes the following bout as well.

Toma wins by yorikiri, achieves kachi-koshi, and keeps himself in the Jonidan yusho race.

Next, the recovering Homarefuji, on the left, vs. Daiyusho of Oitekaze beya. They, too, are 3-0 and want to try for the yusho.

Homarefuji looks genkier than whe have seen him in a long time. Got his kachi-koshi, and may have to face that Toma at some point. On Day 9 he is matched with Mutsukaze, the real sumo Elvis.

Sandanme

It’s been a while since we have seen Daitenma, the Mongolian kid who is the spitting image of Star Trek’s Data. He and his opponent, Hodaka from Onoe beya, are 3-0 at the start of the day. Daitenma is on the right:

Lack of experience, I guess. Hodoka pulls an easy hikiotoshi to get a kachi-koshi, and Daitenma has a very disappointed face as he waves the yusho prospects good bye.

We have another recovering sekitori here – Amakaze – who suffered a loss in our previous coverage, for a standing of 2-1. He is on the left, facing Kotokino from Sadogatake beya on the right. (Footage is timed to the Amakaze bout, but if you like, you can watch Terasawa’s bout before it)

Amakaze bounces back well from his loss. Forward, forward, and yorikiri.

Makushita

Fans of Terunofuji – the original brand – will go nostalgic at today’s footage. The former Ozeki attacks from the left, and Ichiki from Tamanoi beya is on the right.

Ichiki dangles like so much bait, but really, I would like one of the Isegahama elders to have a talk with Terunofuji about allowing morozashi so easily. These guys are not Yokozuna, who have their way with you willy-nilly. You should be able to stop a small fish like Ichiki from invading both your armpits.

So Terunofuji is now 3-1, and will face Keitenkai on Day 9. The guy who beat him, Onojo, had his Day 8 action facing the Futagoyama wolf, Roga. Both 2-1 into this match. Onojo on the left, Roga on the right.

Roga does not repeat the mistake of the former Ozeki. Now he, too is 3-1.

A bit further up the chart, Masutoo, Chiganoura’s Hungarian, faces Tsurubayashi from Kise beya. Both lossless before the bout. Masutoo on the left:

Alas, Masutoo suffers his first loss, going weirdly soft at the edge. Tsurubayashi is kachi-koshi and in the Makushita yusho race.

Further up, and we meet the middle brother of House Onami, Wakamotoharu. He and his rival, Tsukahara, are both 2-1. The footage starts in mid-bout, with Tsukahara having his back to us.

So Wakamotoharu is now 3-1 and having a rather good basho.

Finally, we come to the match at the top of the Makushita chart, Chiyootori, former sekitori and Chiyomaru’s “little” brother, faces Prince Naya, the grandson of Yokozuna Taiho. Neither of them is having a great basho, with 1-2 to show for it. Chiyootori is on the left, Naya on the right:

Um. Not only does Naya lose – again – he also seems to hurt his knee. He was still limping as he was going down the shitaku-beya. Let’s hope it clears quickly, as Naya has a bout against Churanoumi on Day 9.

The winner, Chiyootori, will be on the dohyo with Hoshoryu on Day 9. So you may expect him to appear on the next installment of this coverage.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 5

Heavy bandage on the dislocated finger

We start the day again with maezumo. I only have one bout though, and that at low quality. Our friend Hokutenkai (right) vs. Omura (left):

This match looks so much like his match from the previous day that I had to check to make sure the rival is, indeed, Omura rather than Kotoomura. He is now 3-0, so he is out of the maezumo rounds and ensured of having a good placement in Jonokuchi next basho.

Jonokuchi

And speaking of Jonokuchi, the king of Jonokuchi, Hattorizakura, met a guy named Numano, from Musashigawa beya. Numano is a pretty new guy, who had a heavy make-koshi in his first ranked tournament. One of his only two wins was, of course, against one, Hattorizakura. Numano on the left, Hattorizakura on the right:

The sad fact of life about Hattorizakura is that he may show sparks of real sumo one day, and then go back to being the same old Hattorizakura the next. And this was one of these “same old Hattorizakura” bouts. Numano gets his first win of the tournament.

Jonidan

Slowly-recovering former sekitori Homarefuji had two wins already coming into this bout, where he faces Kiryu from Miyagino beya (I think he is one of Enho’s tsukebito, not sure). Homarefuji on the left, Kiryu on the right:

Homarefuji is actually a pusher-thruster, and a chest-to-chest match, not to mention an uwatenage, is not exactly his specialty. But of course, nobody at Isegahama will reach sekitorihood without knowing how to perform a nage.

We are continuing to watch the shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya. We have already seen him win twice, and it seems like the hairdo is actually lucky for him. On the left we have Hokutoizumi from Hakkaku beya. On the right, Crew-Cut Roman:

The crew-cut works its magic, and now Roman is 3-0.

Sandanme

Our friend Narutaki is on a roll, with 2-0 in his previous bouts (His brother Kyonosato, however, is not as lucky, being defeated again and again in Jonokuchi. I guess his legs can’t really carry him anymore). Here on the left, he is engaging with Sadanosato from Sakaigawa beya.

This proves to be a difficult bout for Narutaki, despite his energy, and he starts to pull some point. It looks almost as if his rival had the best of him at the end, but of course, Sadanosato goes out first, and it’s Narutaki’s third win.

Next up, we have Shoji, the Musashigawa man, here on the left, facing Kaonishiki from Azumazeki on the right:

Shoji can’t get that first attack properly finished, and finds himself on the defense, and suffering his first loss.

So, how about Amakaze? Can he get the Sandanme yusho? On the left is Terasawa from Takasago beya, on the right, our friend from Oguruma beya.

Terasawa moves quickly and doesn’t let the bigger rikishi get any kind of real advantage, and then comes that little push at the end, and Amakaze’s yusho dream evaporates.

Makushita

Yesterday, we saw Onojo beat former Ozeki Terunofuji. Today, the same Onojo (left) faces the rising star, Shiraishi (right):

I’m starting to really dislike Shiraishi’s opening sidestep. It’s not exactly a henka, as he then immediately engages, but I suspect if he was faced with anybody with real experience he would have been punished with a serious hikiotoshi. Nevertheless, once he engages, he has some serious tools like that nodowa. Onojo not even close to winning this time.

And speaking of the former kaiju, Terunofuji (left) faced Karatsuumi (right). If the name is familiar to some of you, it’s because he won the Sandanme yusho in Haru, which bumped him to Makushita. Oddly, he lost 0-7 in Natsu, and is now back to Sandanme, and in this bout he is visiting Makushita.

Terunofuji wins this one, mostly by applying his bulk rather than his grip. He was aiming to get one with his right hand, but didn’t quite make it. The picture at the top shows him having a grip with his left, but I doubt he could put much power into it, because of that dislocated ring finger which “still doesn’t feel right”.

From one Isegahama man, we move to another, and we have Kaito from Asakayama on the left facing Midorifuji on the right. What kind of sumo does the new Isegahama pixie do have to offer us today?

His style really reminds me of Terutsuyoshi, though his mass is not quite there yet. Sukuinage, and Midorifuji is now 3-0.

Next on our list is Kototebakari, here on the left, facing Nogami, the Oguruma man. Both are 2-0 before the bout.

Kototebakari’s sumo is very efficient. He doesn’t waste energy. Tachiai, side step, send home.

And now, to the highlight match of the day, and frankly, one of Hoshoryu’s best performances. He is facing Churanoumi, again, a guy with sekitori experience, but not as much as Seiro. Churanoumi is on the left, Hoshoryu on the right:

Round and round, Hoshoryu manages to keep his balance in some dangerous situations, and tries kicks and trips, eventually winning this by kotenage. Lovely match.

Today, Hoshoryu has a Juryo visit, which means he will be wearing an official Oicho-mage for the first time. He already wore one in Jungyo, but he only did Juryo there as he was the “local boy”. This time he is a legitimate Makushita joi-jin. And his opponent of the day is none other than Kizakiumi, Churanoumi’s brother!

Juryo

I’m not bringing many Juryo bouts because frankly, there is much to be depressed about there, with favorites like Sokokurai and Ikioi faring rather badly, and others doing sumo that’s less than brilliant. But still, here is Ishiura vs. Chiyoshoma. And no, it’s not a double henka:

Ishiura tries what looks like a tasukizori, but Chiyoshoma isn’t biting.

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 3

Meet Hokutenkai, Takanoiwa’s nephew

I’d like to start today with some maezumo. Nine wrestlers are participating in maezumo this basho. Of them, five are formerly ranked rikishi who are coming back from banzuke-gai status, which is where you get if you don’t show up to any match while ranked in Jonokuchi. The other four are new ones – three who passed the new recruit health checkup prior to this basho, and one who passed it in the previous basho, but had to wait for his visa to be approved.

This latter one is Takanoiwa’s nephew, Sukhbat, who graduated from the famous Saitama Sakae high school, and really should have belonged to the Hoshoryu/Naya generation. However, he was looking for a heya at the height of the Harumafuji scandal, in 2018, and the well-oiled Mongolian placement machine was not willing to work for him. That is, until Harumafuji and Takanoiwa reconciled. You can read all about him finding his way into the sumo world in our coverage of Takanoiwa’s danpatsu-shiki.

He now has a new shikona – Hokutenkai, “Heavenly Sea Of the North” – which is a variation on the name of a former Ozeki that he looked up to: Hokutenyu. It is a bit surprising that a young Mongolian rikishi would look up to an Ozeki who was active in the ’80s, but there you go.

After all this time, the man was starved for the dohyo. And you can see that very well in today’s maezumo bout.

Another interesting figure in maezumo is Hakuho’s latest recruit, Hasegawa. Half Japanese, half Mongolian, he grew up in Japan, but then moved to Ulaanbaatar, where he attended a Japanese school and played basketball.

Senho – the latest in Hakuho’s growing list of uchi-deshi

This 16 years old, unlike Hakuho’s other recruits, doesn’t have much of a sumo experience. He did not belong to any sumo dojo as a kid, but he did participate in a major competition during his primary school days, where he drew the attention of one of Hakuho’s contacts, who tipped the Yokozuna. Tall, lanky, 16 year-old with a background more in basketball than in sumo. Hmm… whom does that remind you of?

That lack of experience did show in his maezumo bout.

The other two new faces in maezumo are Hisasue, who joins Kokonoe beya, and the gigantic Konno, who joins the fast-growing Naruto beya.

Here is a video showing first the preparations of all the participants, and then the bouts themselves, starting with Senho (left) vs. Bariki (right), then Hisasue (left) vs Konno (right), then finally, poor Urutora from Shikihide beya (left) vs. Hokutenkai (right):

Senho (meaning “A thousand pengs”, or “A thousand Phoenixes”) seems to have spent a little bit too much time around Ishiura. Yeah, I know, no sumo experience, shouldn’t expect much at this stage. Hokutenkai, on the other hand, is starved for sumo, full of self-confidence, and I wouldn’t want to be standing on the dohyo opposite him right now.

Jonokuchi

Resuming our regular programming, the sky almost fell today. Take a look at what happened in the Hattorizakura (right) vs. Yamamoto (left) bout:

A monoii. An actual monoii. And Hattorizakura seemed to be able to carry a bout of sumo against somebody twice his size. Wait, what was that shadow passing my window? Oh, a flying pig.

Jonidan

Continuing the adventure of the closely-shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya, here we have him vs. Kotokogyoku (let’s see you pronounce that three times in a row). Sadogatake man on the left, crew-cut Roman on the right:

Whoa. “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou”, I said, “art sure no craven”. At this rate Roman is a serious contender for the Jonidan yusho. I wonder how odd it will look to TV viewers if he does. BTW, Roman is not the only shorn rikishi in Tatsunami beya. There is another one, Yukiamami, who was also absent through Natsu, and is now back in Jonokuchi. Twitter is full of question marks about these two.

Sandanme

We continue to watch Amakaze on his trail back to fame and his beloved kesho-mawashi. Today he faces Baraki (left) who is one of Shikihide beya’s top ranking men, and famous for a stint in Shokkiri.

Amakaze nearly flattens the homunculus.

Next up is American-born Musashikuni (left) facing Kaizen from Asakayama beya (right).

Sorry it’s just a half-video. In any case, Kuni recovers from his initial loss, and is now 1:1.

A bit late, but I got Wakaichiro! So here he is. Kamitani from Michinoku beya attacks from the left, Wakaichiro from the right:

Frustrating misstep there for the young Texan. We hope he will bounce back. At least he is genki enough to lightly jump back up the dohyo. He is now 1:1.

Makushita

We continue to follow Genki, the Former Turtle, here on the left, facing Kaito from Asakayama beya (right). They start this match with 1-0 each.

This time Genki is not as overwhelming as he was on day 1. He is now 1-1.

Aoi, who almost had an arm torn off by former kaiju Terunofuji yesterday, faced a slightly less fearful rival today – the Tokitsukaze Mongolian, Yoshoyama. Aoi on the left, Yoshoyama on the right:

Yoshoyama recovers from his first defeat for a 1-1, while Aoi probably curses his luck for having faced him with two consecutive Mongolians.

Recovering Hakuyozan (left) faces Nogami from Oguruma (right) for what should have been a relatively easy match for the more experienced recovering former sekitori.

However, it is Nogami who prevails, and you can see the frustration on Hakuyozan’s face, as he is now 1-1, and at Ms10, this one loss may well have blocked him from a quick return to his sekitori status.

Eldest Onami brother Wakatakamoto faced Terao from Shikoroyama beya today. Waka on the left, Terao The Third on the right:

This is one of those uncontrolled spirals of death kind of pushes, where the pusher cannot stop himself and just hopes he will fall after his rival is out. Terao doesn’t have the presence of mind to sidestep, and so Wakatakamoto is now 2-0.

Next, what is going on with our favorite Russian/Mongolian wolf, Roga? Can he recover from that initial blow? Here on the right, he faces Fujita, of Shikoroyama beya, on the left.

Yes, much better, Roga. Yorikiri. And that length of hair should put him in a chon-mage already.

Finally, we have our highlight bout, in which Hoshoryu gets to meet Seiro, a Mongolian with real sekitori experience and even a couple of visits to Makuuchi. Hoshoryu on the far side, Seiro with his backside to us:

Seiro doesn’t allow Hoshoryu to fully engage with him, using a technique similar to Ryuden’s to keep him away. Eventually Hoshoryu loses his footing, and looks pretty sour. It’s 1-1 to the famous nephew, and he can only afford one additional loss if he wants to be a sekitori by Aki.