I created an updated banzuke in Tableau. This time the map shows where the heya are, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s interesting to see just how many of them are pretty far out from Ryogoku, into Chiba and Saitama prefectures. So if you’re staying in Tokyo, but not near Ryogoku, there may still be a stable nearby that you can visit.
With just one week to go, Josh joins Andy and Bruce to discuss the Natsu banzuke, the upcoming tournament and our always regrettable predictions.
This is the audio only version, with the video podcast showing up in a few hours. Until then, enjoy 45 minutes of sumo fandom!
🌐 Location: Uji, Kyoto
The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:
These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.
There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:
Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.
They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:
This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:
At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).
On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.
But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.
Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.
So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:
And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?
This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.
This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:
On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:
While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:
…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.
So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:
Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:
Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:
Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.
Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:
Yep, that nodowa again.
Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.
Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:
And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:
By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.
During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:
I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:
Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.
The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:
Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.
So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho:
I’ve been going a little nuts with dashboards lately. I took the new banzuke and through this together last night. This is version 1.0. It currently only has the sekitori, and is in dire need of some TLC to pretty it up, but I thought you may enjoy it. Darker purple on the left side means there are more wrestlers in that heya. I just realized I need to add that legend.
If you listen to the podcast, you’ll note references Josh makes to several of the heya. There are many stables so the text colors are a bit…busy. But if you click on a heya’s name, it will highlight wrestlers from that Heya. I thought it was interesting to see how many Juryo wrestlers are from Kise beya.
The banzuke committee decided, against [edit: what this Westerner would consider] common sense, to move Kisenosato up into the top East Yokozuna slot, despite his 0-5-10 record. Perhaps he can retire at the top. This dropped Hakuho and Kakuryu to Y1w and Y2e, respectively.
Following his 12-3 jun-yusho, Takayasu takes over the top East Ozeki slot from Goeido, who slides over to the West side. You might think the same “losses are better than absences” logic might move 8-7 Tochinoshin ahead of 8-4-3 Goeido, but the Georgian continues to occupy the O2w rank to balance out the two East-side Yokozuna.
As predicted, the Sekiwake ranks are manned by yusho winner Takakeisho (new career high rank) and by Tamawashi, who last held this rank exactly a year ago. I correctly forecast that the Komusubi slots would be held by Mitakeumi and Myogiryu, although in a surprising departure from past practice, Myogiryu (M1, 8-7) is ranked ahead of the former East Sekiwake (7-8).
In the maegashira ranks, my forecast tended to err in favor of rikishi with strong winning records. I correctly had Tochiozan, Ichinojo, and Nishikigi in the top three ranks, but I thought Shohozan’s 10-5 record would be good enough to jump him ahead of Hokutofuji and Shodai; the banzuke committee disagreed. I also had 11-4 Okinoumi ahead of 10-5 Kotoshogiku, 9-6 Daieisho ahead of the make-koshi duo of Chiyotairyu and Ryuden, and 9-6 Endo ahead of 6-9 Takanoiwa.
Toward the bottom of the banzuke, Kotoyuki and Kotoeko return from Juryo in higher positions than is typical. And Daishomaru gets to stay in Makuuchi despite a record poor enough to warrant demotion. Terutsuyoshi, who put up Kyushu numbers that should have been good enough for promotion, has to settle for the top rank in Juryo, to the disappointment of his many fans here at Tachiai. We’ll console ourselves with the fact that a winning record in Hatsu should definitely translate into a top-division debut for the diminutive rikishi who wrestles like a much bigger man.
In all, of the 42 Makuuchi ranks, I called 31 correctly, and in 20 of these, also got the East/West side right. Of the 11 misses, 6 were by half a rank, 4 by one rank, and one by a rank-and-a-half. That’s right, my biggest miss of the entire forecast was ranking Chiyotairyu at M7w vs. M6e.
With the official rankings now in the books, and hopefully more forecasting lessons learned by yours truly, it’s on to the basho!
Between the Olympics black-out and the natural gap between Hatsu and Haru, sumo fans are seriously starving for information! Have no fear, the Haru bazuke is published in about 24 hours from RIGHT NOW.
Of course, Tachiai will bring you analysis and details in the two-week run-up to Osaka’s yearly sumo tournament. We expect there to be a flurry of news and action prior to March 11th’s opening day.
I am honored to be invited by Andy and Bruce to contribute this guest post. I’ve been following sumo for less than a year, and have learned so much from reading Tachiai. Judging by past basho, I believe that the banzuke for the next basho is mostly predictable based on the rikishi’s ranks and performances in the previous basho. Basically, for each rikishi, I assign a score that’s a combination of their previous rank and their win-loss record. The rikishi can then be sorted by this score and assigned to (any available) sanyaku and maegashira slots in order. The tiebreaker for rikishi with the same score is win-loss record. The main deviation from the straight score order is that rikishi with make-koshi must move down in rank, even if the formula would place them at (or above) their previous rank (indicated with *).
With these preliminaries out of the way, here are my predictions for Natsu:
Y1E Kisenosato Y1W Kakaryu
Y2E Harumafuji Y2W Hakuho
O1E Terunofuji O1W Goeido
These are pretty self-explanatory. Kakaryu and Harumafuji stay in the same positions given their identical records and a head-to-head win by Kakaryu.
S1E Takayasu S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)
KE Mitakeumi KW Okinoumi
The only “open” slot is the one at Komusubi vacated by Shodai. Mitakeumi doesn’t get to move up this time, as it usually takes 11 wins to “force” an extra slot, as Takayasu did for Haru. Given the terrible performance by the lower ranks, there were no good contenders for the Komusubi slot (really, by past standards, nobody deserves to be ranked above maegashira 3 at Natsu). The 3 contenders with equal scores are Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshikaze, and Okinoumi gets the nod by virtue of his double-digit wins. I wish Yoshikaze had picked up another win; he’s definitely the sentimental candidate for this slot.
Given the devastation in the upper maegashira ranks at Haru, there will be a lot of turnover here; all of the predicted M1-M3 rikishi were ranked lower at Haru. There are some big jumps, with Daieisho and his 11 wins coming all the way up to M2 from M11.
M1 Chiyonokuni Yoshikaze
M2 Daieisho Chiyoshoma
M3 Endo Tochiozan
A mix of guys moving up or dropping down (in some cases, waaay up—Takakeisho—or waaay down—Shodai, Takekaze, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Shohozan, Arawashi).
M4 Takarafuji* Aoiyama
M5 Takanoiwa Takakeisho
M6 Hokutofuji Takekaze
M7 Ikioi Shodai
M8 Shohozan Sokokurai
M9 Ichinojo Ura
M10 Kayagiki* Arawashi
A mix of Juryo escapees and guys hanging on to Makuuchi.
M11 Tochinoshin* Toyohibiki
M12 Ishiura* Tokushoryu
M13 Kotoyuki Onosho
M14 Daishomaru* Chiyotairyu
M15 Oyanagi Osunarashi
The promotions of Osunarashi and Kyokutaisei are perhaps the most speculative bits of the whole predicted banzuke, but I think they get the nod over Miogiryu and Kaisei, the last two contenders to hang on to Makuuchi but whose performances didn’t really warrant it.
Demoted to Juryo, from least to most likely:
Miogiryu, Kaisei, Kyokushuho, Sadanoumi, Nishigiki, Chiyoo.
Promoted to Makuuchi, from most to least likely:
Toyohibiki, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Oyanagi, Osunarashi, Kyokutaisei.
Chiyomaru would be the next in line for promotion if someone retires or withdraws before Natsu. The other interesting candidate is Asanoyama, Juryo Yusho-doten along with Osunarashi, but it’s probably too big a jump all the way from J12 to Makuuchi. If he keeps performing like he has been, this young rikishi will get there soon enough.