The sumo world is undergoing a huge shift as aging wrestlers retire and new names make their mark on the banzuke. The latest shikona to add to the list is Arawashi. He was a makuuchi regular from 2014 through 2018, twice almost cracking into sanyaku, reaching Maegashira #2 three years ago at Hatsu ’17 where he claimed two kinboshi, one from Hakuho and the other from Kakuryu a few days later. A third kinboshi came in March from Harumafuji.
Arawashi had been a committed grappler, determined to win or lose in a belt battle rather than the slapping and thrusting of oshi-tsuki styles. After that first tournament at Maegashira #2 he fell a bit as the knee injuries set in. He crawled back to Maegashira #2 in 2018 when then chronic knee injuries forced a rapid slide into the lower ranks of Juryo, and then Makushita last year. After two straight kyujo tournaments, he was likely looking at further demotion to Sandanme, and decided to call it a career. Any news of retirement ceremonies will be posted here on Tachiai.
Intai Watch 2020
Hakuho’s shock admission that he plans to retire this year has put the sumo world on notice that change is coming. Obviously, the date for Hakuho’s retirement is likely in the latter half of the year but a massive question mark remains. With his and Kakuryu’s kyujo, dates for both announcements may be soon.
There are also several big name retirement ceremonies on the docket this year.
Takekaze’s intai celebration will take place at Kokugikan, next Saturday, Feb. 1. We should all get used to his elder name: Oshiogawa (押尾川). Below is the announcement from his official Twitter profile. If you’ll be in Tokyo next week there are only a few seats left in the A and B rings of the upper level!
The berserker’s wild, aggressive style was still quite successful in the lower ranks of the maegashira so his kyujo and subsequent retirement appeared to be quite sudden compared to the longer slides we have seen. We look forward to seeing the deshi Nakamura-oyakata (中村) produces.
Today was a bit of a hectic day at the Kokugikan, with a serious typhoon hitting Tokyo, and all public transport being in disarray. The matches usually start at 8:40AM, but the scheduled was changed, and they only started at 9:10AM. And still, as many as 15 of the lower-division wrestlers showed up late, and their bouts had to be rescheduled at a later time. Some Jonokuchi matches took place in between Sandanme bouts. Curiously, of the 15 late comers, 11 won and 4 lost, lending a new meaning to the phrase “late bloomers”.
My report will proceed as usual, from lower division to upper, regardless of the time of the actual match.
Remember Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect Kokonoe recruited back in Nagoya 2018? He looked promising when he started, then seemed to have had a bad turn, going only 1-6 in Natsu, and being fully kyujo in Nagoya. This dropped him back to Jonokuchi. He is back this basho, lean and mean. And I do mean lean. He is on the left with Yamamoto, from Asahiyama beya, on the right:
The kimarite here is uchigake. You can see why I like this little guy, I hope he can keep away from injury and put on a kilo or so.
Yesterday we saw how green Hakuho’s latest recruit, Senho, was. How about the second latest, gigantic Toma? He is up to Jonidan 29 by now. On the left, he faces Takakurayama from Onoe beya.
He seems to move better than last basho, but still, he has many kilos to drop. Can he drop them on Enho?
(Actually, Enho said he no longer aims to gain weight, and Hakuho says he won’t make him. ‘His size is his weapon’).
Next we follow up on Roman from Tatsunami beya, one of the guys who, apparently, did a runner from that heya, and had their hair cut, and were then somehow convinced to return. His hair still hasn’t even gained even the minimal length to be called “zanbara”.
Roman is on the left. His opponent is Mori from Tamanoi beya.
Roman didn’t escape from the heya due to weak performance on the dohyo, it seems. That guy has good potential.
Baraki from Shikihide beya, the “heyagashira” (leading rikishi in his heya), was over an hour late for his match. Shikihide beya, like Tatsunami beya, is located in Ibaraki prefecture. They need to take several trains to reach the Kokugikan.
Eventually little Baraki made it, and faced Kotokino from sadogatako, who attacks from the left:
Yeah, he is one of those 11 winners.
Today my selection includes mainly Mongolians. I’ll start with Kyokusoten, the under-achieving Mongolian from Nakagawa beya. It has to be said that he is at his highest rank ever at Ms19, and he is his heya’s head honcho (though Kasugaryu is probably more famous). And he is a nice guy. So here he is facing Tochimaru from Kasugano beya. The footage starts in the middle of the bout – Kyokusoten is on the right and facing us, and Tochimaru has his back to us.
Roga from Futagoyama beya is wearing chon-mage for the first time! here he is on the right, with Keitenkai on the left:
Keitenkai seems to have Roga’s number. Two matches, and the Onomatsu man won both. The previous one was also on day 1. Poor Roga. I hope he doesn’t get publicly shamed by his stablemaster again over this.
Next up, the slowly recovering former Ozeki, Terunofuji. He got some advice from Ajigawa oyakata – the former Aminishiki – about his sumo style. Ajigawa told him that if he catches the mawashi, he can trust to his sumo because he is strong there. But that he has to think about what to do if he can’t grab it, as his body is not going to move in the way he expects it to. Meaning, he can’t rely on improvisation.
So today we have Terunofuji on the left, vs. Higonojo from Kise beya on the right. Higonojo has some sekitori experience, but he only ever made it as far as Juryo.
Following the Tachiai it seems that Higonojo is gaining momentum, but the former Ozeki rallies, and sweeps him outside.
Up at the top we have the sharp Hoshoryu looking to bounce back up from the make-koshi that kept him away from Juryo last basho. His opponent is Akiseyama, who just dropped from Juryo. It’s a rather dangerous opponent. Hoshoryu is on the left, if any of you has a hard time telling him apart from Akiseyama.
Akiseyama goes for a standard tsuki-oshi tactic of thrusting a while and then trying a pull. Hoshoryu keeps on his feet and proves that he also has serious pulling capabilities.
The first bout features Arawashi, a guest from Makushita (shudder), vs. Asagyokusei, the newcomer to Juryo.
Arawashi looks much better in a proper oicho-mage than he looked yesterday in a lame chon-mage. He also looks better sumo-wise. He wins by sukuinage. Juryo bouts are an important factor in promotion decisions at the end of the basho.
Next we have Irodori, the returnee, facing Kaisho, the other shin-Juryo. Irodori is on the left:
Don’t you just love last-second reversals?
Yesterday we saw a rather genki Ikioi take to the dohyo. Today the same Ikioi is facing Kizakiumi from Kise beya (left), and starts up as genki as yesterday.
Alas, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Ikioi’s feet just can’t keep up with him, and certainly not with the pirouetting Kizakiumi.
Finally, we have an all-Mongolian match, between Mitoryu (left) and Kiribayama (right). Kiribayama usually enjoys showing us sparks of Harumafujiness.
But not this time. Mitoryu’s armpits are every bit as hellish as Nishikigi’s. He simply crucifies his lithe countryman, in the same way he did to Enho a few basho back, and in this case, the cross carries the crucified – right outside the ring.
The kimarite is kimedashi. And in the same way that one shouldn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, one should also avoid a morozashi on Mitoryu.