Here we are again, nearing the half-way line, many rikishi have completed their fourth match in the lower divisions, and some of them even collected their kachi-koshi or make-koshi already.Continue reading
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.
Hot on the heels of Bruce’s One’s To Watch post, here are some low-division bouts, including many of the Ones To Watch and their wreckage.
Let’s start at Jonokuchi. Although I thought Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic recruit, would do well in Jonokuchi, simply on the merit of his combined weight and experience, he came into Nakabi with a 1-2 record. Here he is facing one of Futagoyama’s newbies, Denuma:
The boy has a lot of improvement to do despite this win here, if he is going to meet the standard set by all the other uchi-deshi recruited by the dai-yokozuna, namely, to become sekitori and hold that position (barring injury – poor Yamaguchi).
By the way, remember Ito, the guy thoroughly pancaked by Toma on day 3? Well, it seems that getting a 206kg cannonball may be good for your career – he is currently 4-0 with a chance at the Jonokuchi yusho.
Next we move to Sandanme, only stopping at Jonidan long enough to inform you that Toshonishiki is on fire this tournament with 4-0, and I really wish I could find some footage because the man is almost as thin as Hattorizakura. Maybe he charms his opponent with his pretty face.
Well, at the very bottom of Sandanme we have Shiraishi, the tsuke-dashi. That is, a wrestler who entered sumo as Sandanme 100 instead of going through Maezumo and Jonokuchi. This is a privilege you attain by being top 8 in one of the applicable amateur championships. And so far, he has justified it, arriving at Nakabi with a 3-0 record. Here he faces Kaiyuma, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s stable):
Our friend Yoshoyama is currently at Sandanme 9W, and has a straight win record. If he can keep it up and win the Yusho, he may land right very close to the Makushita “here be dragons” zone. He faces Fujita, who is rather bigger than he is:
This doesn’t stop the Mongolian from Tokitsukaze beya from keeping his straight record.
Next up in Sandanme – Amakaze, who can do the mean splits, and apparently, the mean sumo as well:
Don’t blink. Amakaze is on fire.
Finally, we arrive at the wreckage that is the Terunofuji vs. Daishosei bout. Both come into this bout lossless:
The former Ozeki makes an amateur mistake there, thinking that Daishosei’s foot went out and dropping his defenses as a result. Daishosei is not intimidated enough to miss the opportunity thus opened. Terunofuji goes down the hana-michi cussing (well, to the extent that you can cuss in Japanese – and Mongolian doesn’t even have cuss words).
We’re up to Makushita, and we have Musashikuni vs. Fukuyama. Musashikuni is not having a very good tournament and comes into this bout 1-2:
The American ends up sitting frustrated at the edge of the dohyo, needing to win all his bouts from this moment on.
Next we have Midorifuji vs. Asabenkei. They, too, are 1-2 each as they mount the dohyo. While Midorifuji is very talented, he is also very small. Asabenkei, on the other hand, has some Juryo experience, but seems rather worse for wear.
Midorifuji executes a rather nice katasukashi. You can’t see it in this footage, but Asabenkei has real trouble getting up and over to his position for the bow. Sigh.
So let’s take a look at Hoshoryu vs. Ryuko.
Hoshoryu can’t even cite his lack of weight in this bout. I guess lack of experience.
On a higher note, here is Naya vs. Kaito:
Typical Naya tsuppari, ending in a kachi-koshi and a chance at the Makushita yusho.
Finally, we are up to Juryo – where Kizakiumi is paying a visit, facing Arawashi. Kizakiumi is Churanoumi’s brother, and he is so fresh he can’t even get the oicho-mage that is usually granted to Makushita rikishi who have a Juryo bout.
I thought Arawashi was in a better state than this before the basho. But he may find himself saying goodbye to his kesho-mawashi for the first time since 2013.
My final bout for this report is Daishomaru vs. Aminishiki. Believe it or not, Aminishiki is in the picture for the Juryo yusho, trailing Takagenji by a mere 2 loss margin together with Toyonoshima.
Amazingly, he can still win a bout going forward.