Haru Day 15 Ones To Watch

Wakatakamoto – Visiting Sick Children In The Hospital

With most of the lower division yusho already decided, there are only a few matches left to finish out everybody’s 7. For our “Ones to Watch” it has been a tough basho. Last night Wakaichiro went down to his 4th defeat, from a forceful hatakikomi delivered by Hokutoshin. This was his 4th loss, and holding a losing record, he is likely to find himself in the top ranks of Jonidan for May.

Further up the torikumi, Hoshoryu gamberized and prevailed against Kaisho for his 4th win. At Makushita 7, he will likely be close to or at the top of the 3rd division for May, with a very real shot of making it to Juryo for Nagoya. He should be sharing that space with Ichiyamamoto, who went 6-1 from Makushita 13, and will have a spot near the top of the division too. I am already eagerly anticipating them facing off during Natsu. Although Naya also finished 6-1, his starting point at Makushita 51 will see him in the top half of the division, and facing much more determined opposition.

That being said, a few of our favorites are up day 15…

Terunofuji vs Roga – Both of these rikishi finished their Jonidan matches with perfect 7-0 records, and now they will meet to decide the yusho. This is a battle between an injured and diminished Ozeki who can still generate enormous power for the briefest of moments, against a future powerhouse rikishi who has completely dominated almost every time he steps on the dohyo. It’s quite literally the past vs the future.

Wakatakamoto vs Bushozan – The last Onami brother to make sekitori has already secured a kachi-koshi, and will be joining what is likely to be a brutally competitive Makushita joi-jin for May. This final match will determine which of these two rikishi will get a higher rank. Bushozan is another “big’un”, and will have mass on his side.

Musashikuni vs Kotodairyu – Much of the Musashigawa clan is make-koshi this tournament. Among that ignoble group is Musashikuni, who enters today’s match 4-2. The good news is that he has beaten Kotodairyu before. The bad news is was 3 years ago when both were in Sandanme.

Kenho vs Takabayama – This is a 1-5 bracket match, and both rikishi are having a terrible basho. Kenho seems to continue to have health issues, and problems with his lower body’s durability. He will be lower in Jonidan for May, and hopefully will regroup.

Amakaze vs Umizaru – Both of these rikishi are 5-1, and I would expect the winner of today’s final match to be posted close to, or in Sandanme for May. It’s great to see Amakaze back on the dohyo, and I am happy that he has his kachi-koshi secure.

Haru Day 11 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro Fights For Kachi-Koshi On Day 11

Many of our “Ones to Watch” were competing day 10 in Osaka, with Hoshoryu picking up his second win, improving to 2-3 in a lengthy match that saw both rikishi struggle for a dominant position. Although it seems to me that Hoshoryu is getting frustrated by the fierce competition in the Makushita joi, the struggle will improve his sumo. It also gives Naya a chance to catch up, as Otake heya yusho hopeful goes into his day 11 yusho elimination match. We are also happy to point out that Wakaichiro managed to pick up his third win with a recovery at the tawara after his balance almost sent him over the edge.

We also have Terunofuji returning to continue his Jonidan yusho bid, and Amakaze competing as well. It’s a full slate for day 11, so grab something to snack on, fire up the stream from Japan and enjoy the lower divisions.

Day 11 Matches

Midorifuji vs Tochinobori – Midorifuji will be looking to pick up win #3, and draw even prior to his final match for Haru. A loss today would mean make-koshi, and a trip down the banzuke for May. His opponent today is Kasugano heya’s Tochinobori, who won their only prior match.

Wakatakamoto vs Kaito – Wakatakamoto has already locked in his kachi-koshi, and now he’s just seeing if he can run up the score. He has two brothers to join in the salaried ranks, and it seems to have motivated him. Day 11 he faces Kaito, who he has a 2-1 career lead against.

Musashikuni vs Horyuyama – Musashikuni is looking to avoid a second straight make-koshi in 2019, and needs to “win out” his remaining 2 matches. Day 11 he faces off against 167 kg (370 pound) Horyuyama. Musashikuni is no tiny fellow, but this is a lot of rikishi to battle. But Horyuyama seems to be having health problems and has been make-koshi for the last 2 basho.

Naya vs Kotoseigo – Naya continues in the yusho bracket, now at 5-0. Day 11 he takes on Makushita 58 Kotoseigo, from Sadogatake heya. Kotoseigo has had 3 extended periods where he sat out multiple tournaments, presumably for health reasons. He is currently fighting at his highest rank.

Torakio vs Baraki – The Naruto heya scion has yet to pick up even a single win for Haru. Is he injured? With lower ranked rikishi, one never gets to know. But we hope he somehow finds a reserve of genki energy and lands at least one win.

Wakaichiro vs Kasugamine – Texas’ own Wakaichiro returns to the Haru dohyo, with kachi-koshi on the line. A win today against Kasugamine would be his 4th, and jubilation would break out across the great state of Texas. As with day 10, Wakaichiro will need to overcome a sizable opponent, who outweighs him by at least 100 lbs.

Roga vs Wakayamanaka – Jonidan yusho bracket match, Mongolian rising star Roga is looking to improve to 6-0, and knock Wakayamanaka out of the race. Wakayamanaka is a former Sandanme rikishi how dropped out of sumo for a time and re-entered, whereas Roga is a young powerhouse who has yet to lose a match.

Kenho vs Sakai – In the really disappointing bracket, the already make-koshi Kenho is clearly not functioning well, and has not generated much offensive or defensive sumo during Haru. Hopefully he can survive his last 2 matches without further injury, and can recover in time for May.

Terunofuji vs Shimomura – Another Jonidan yusho elimination match; former Ozeki Terunofuji is unbeaten in his first basho back in sumo since taking an extended leave of absence to get his health under control. Although not looking quite healthy or fit, he has been fighting well and as a result is in the thick of competition for the Jonidan yusho. His competitor today is 18 year old Shimomura, who is only in his 2nd tournament as an actual ranked rikishi.

Amakaze vs Sakaefuji – Amakaze has a good day of sumo ahead. He is already kachi-koshi in his return to active sumo, and he is safe from further demotion. So the schedulers give him the gargantuan Sakaefuji for his 6th match. Amakaze is a skilled sumo practitioner, but it’s always quite a difficult to battle a human being that large.

Hattorizakura vs Sawada – Having run out of people in Jonikuchi to lose to, they have brought Hattorizakura up to Jonidan to face off against Sawada, whom has beaten him once before. Hattorizakura is my reminder that there are many paths to happiness in this world, including many I don’t understand.

Haru Day 6 – Ones To Watch

Sakaefuji’s Says, “What Are The Rest Of You Going To Eat?” – Photo From The NSK Twitter Feed

Day 5 was brutal to our “Ones to Watch” group, with Musashikuni, Torakio, Shoji, Wakaichiro, and Kenho all going down to defeat. Given the group above, it was not a good day for the Musashigawa clan at all. Several of our lower division rikishi find themselves at a 1-2 record heading into the middle weekend, and having to work hard to avoid a make-koshi for Osaka.

But Ichiyamamoto and Wakatakamoto are at 3-0, and will likely move to the yusho elimination bracket over the weekend. For added excitement, Gokushindo and Chiyootori are also in the 3-0 group in Makushita, so we will see some great matches Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s torikumi features the 3rd match for the remainder of the lower divisions, and today’s final tally will provide a clear picture of the yusho race in all groups.

Day 6 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – A 1-1 bracket match, Hoshoryu faces another fast rising future start of sumo – the 150kg Kotokamatani from Sadogatake heya. Kotokamatani has spent 15 basho in Makushita, and is fighting at his highest ever rank.

Akua vs Dewahayate – Another 1-1 bracket match, Akua faces a match against frequent opponent Dewahayate from Dewanoumi heya. Like Akua, Dewahayate is a former Juryo man who would love to return to the salaried ranks. They have had 6 prior matches, and are evenly split.

Midorifuji vs Kainoryu – Again in the 1-1 bracket, compact powerhouse Midorifuji will attempt to get a second win over Tomozuna heya’s Kainoryu to improve to 2-1.

Naya vs Tenkaiho – In the 2-0 bracket, Naya will try to follow up his dominant performance on day 4 in his match against 190 kg former Makuuchi rikishi Tenkaiho. Since he lost his Maegashira rank in 2014, Tenkaiho slowly dropped through Juryo, and has been bouncing around of Makushita since. This will be an execellent test for Naya’s developing skills, as this is a skilled veteran.

Terunofuji vs Sakaefuji – With his win over Amakaze, Terunofuji is in the 2-0 bracket: bad knees and all. So the schedulers decide to try him out on the 200 kg Sakaefuji. I have no idea what Terunofuji is going to do with this meat-mountain of a man.

Amakaze vs Toyama – While not officially on our list, Amakaze fights yet another member of Musashigawa, and its Toyama, who is fighting at his highest rank.

Hattorizakura vs Hokutoryu – Its fun to watch the Hattorizakura matches, as the crowd cheer him on every time, hoping that this is the time that he decides to apply himself and put his heart into competition. Japanese sumo fans are (at times) the sweetest people on the planet.

Haru Day 4 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Please Don’t Hurt Yourself or Terunofuji on Day 4!

A light schedule today on our lower division ones to watch. Most of our crew saw action on day 3, and it was a non-stop lower division battle. For those following at home below are the results. I was especially bothered to see that Wakaichiro lost his rematch against Wakakinsho. But the young Texan had his balance a bit forward, and Wakakinsho knew what to do. He is still showing better physical health, and greatly improved form. Hoshoryu lost his match, and fans should be ready to come to grips with the fact that the top end of Makushita is, in some ways, tougher than Juryo. Sure they only fight 7 matches, but the competition is literally survival of the fittest. One only has to see what happened to Gokushindo as an example.

Win

  • Ichiyamamoto
  • Wakatakamoto
  • Musashikuni
  • Shoji

Loss

  • Hoshoryu
  • Akua
  • Midorifuji
  • Torakio
  • Wakaichiro

Highlight Matches – Day 4

Naya vs Chiyoarashi – Naya is on a slower, but mostly upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu. A year from now, it’s possible that the slower rise may result in Naya having a more confident, longer lasting posting to the salaried ranks. His second match is a preview of the struggle he will be in the thick of should he resume his climb, as he faces former Juryo man Chiyoarashi. Chiyoarashi has twice had to drop out of competition for several months due to injury, the most recent in 2015, and he is fighting to regain a slot in the top of Makushita, and a chance to try for a return to Juryo.

Kenho vs Tokio – In his day 2 match against Toshonishiki, Kenho seemed to get a surge of power and blasted his opponent off the dohyo in what I swear was an upward arcing path. Kenho has a lot of physical problems with his joints due to his ponderous body, and so I think most rikishi think of him as this soft, squishy practice doll. But when Kenho is healthy, there is little to do when that much rikishi comes on a rampage. Young Tokio is a slight fellow, and last time they matched (Aki 2018) Kenho played the part of a eastbound freight train to Tokio’s West Texas Armadillo.

Terunofuji vs Amakaze – I know Herouth and myself are screaming “no no no!” At this match. Two beloved rikishi who have sat our hurt for months, who are not actually well yet, who are trying to save their careers. So, hey – let’s have them fight! Sometimes you have to wonder where these ideas come from. Anyhow, I want them both to win, as I want them both back and in fighting form. My desire for this match is that neither of them get hurt.

Hattorizakura vs Houn – As if to underscore the WTF nature of day 4, one of the few rikishi who can ever claim that they lost to Hattorizakura will face him again. Houn holds a (what am I saying here..) 4-1 career advantage. For those watching at home, a Hattorizakura win requires you to drain your glass. Plan accordingly.

Day 6 – The Lower Divisions

Once again, Kintamayama has been in a generous mood and provided us with a Day 6 Juryo digest. Head over there and watch the whole thing.

Now, quickly repeat this sentence five times in a row: Takayoshitoshi beats Terutsuyoshi by okuritaoshi. The winner gets a free Acme Tongue Straightener.

Terutsuyoshi tried to reverse the charges and perform an ipponzeoi, but this time it didn’t work – his toe eventually touched the soft earth around the tawara and the gunbai pointed to Takayoshitoshi.

Why “this time”? Because he did something very similar with Takayoshitoshi’s twin brother back in November.

Takanoiwa got to do the splits, courtesy of Tochihiryu, a guy coming up from Makushita to fill in the gaps. Ouch.

Akiseyama is back to being a blob in a mawashi. He starts by launching a convincing tsuppari on Takagenji, but an attempt to switch to the mawashi gives Takagenji the initiative, and Akiseyama somehow manages to waddle his way out of the mess, and keep his place on the leaderboard.

Enho said in an interview on NHK yesterday that he wants to be a rikishi who gives the spectators an interesting match to watch. And he is certainly doing that. Only… he is already 1-5, has the worst balance in the three bottom ranks, and looks well on his way to lose the “zeki” suffix from his name and his newly assigned tsukebito.

mitoryu-helps-enho-up
Mitoryu lends Enho a hand up

Amakaze grabs his first win of the basho. I like Amakaze, I wish he may get a kachi-koshi, but winning his first white star on the sixth day means this is somewhat unlikely.

Homarefuji sends Gagamaru out under his own inertia, and is the only sekitori from Isegahama to win a bout today. By which I’m spoiling the next bout, which is Kotoeko vs. Terunofuji who is back to haunting the dohyo rather than dominating it. Kotoeko gets inside and lifts Terunofuji up, and the ex-Ozeki sums it in his own words: “My worst executed loss so far. If I don’t move forward I’m toast”.

(Well, my free translation of his own words, that is. He never mentioned any actual toasts in the Japanese version on the Isegahama website).

Tsurugisho can open a school to teach henka technique. That was the hennest henka in Kawashiland. Excuse the Japlish.

Aminishiki continues to suffer. He tries a heroic throw at the edge but can’t keep himself in balance long enough.

Sadanoumi loses for the first time in this tournament, and now nobody has a lossless record in Juryo.

Finally, Azumaryu meets Takekaze, who seems to be the genkiest we have seen him in months. Unless he gets very tired by the second half, the bullfrog is leaping back to Makuuchi.

Makushita

Midorifuji continues his winning streak, this time facing Ichiki:

Midorifuji is yet another rikishi in the “angry pixie” class – 169cm including his chon-mage. Ichiki here is slightly taller and heavier, but the more explosive Midorifuji wins the day.

Toyonoshima faces Asahiryu, the Mongolian from Asahiyama beya, and pretty much overwhelms him:

That boy is already two years in Sumo. He should put on some more weight.

Sandanme

Let’s take a look at Hikarugenji – that’s the man I introduced in the Pearl of the Day a couple of days ago. He is Arawashi’s tsukebito, and like most tsukebito, seems to be a fixture at Sandanme:

Here he is facing Chiyodaigo, the 20-year-old from Kokonoe. Can’t say this was exactly a matta, but Chiyodaigo seems to be caught off-guard.

Jonidan

Yoshoyama faced Kotoharamoto. I don’t have an individual bout so again, here is the complete Jonidan recording, time stamped for Yoshoyama’s bout (25:36):

I’m still not loving his tachiai, but the guy has technique alright. By the way, as the wrestlers start doing their shikiri, the announcer and the guest are discussing Kotoharamoto’s good sumo body, when the guy turns and shows the camera his front side. The guest promptly says “Oh, he reminds me of Kagayaki”. Jee, I wonder why.

The announcer calls that an okuridashi, but the official kimarite is actually tottari. He first has that hand in an ottsuke, and then converts that into a tottai.

Jonokuchi

And finally, we can’t do without Hattorizakura and his continued Sisyphean sumo life: