Aki Day 7 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Hoshoryu. Sometimes famous uncles are not a good thing.

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.

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Aki Day 6 – Bouts from the lower divisions

I owe you yesterday’s bouts before I start collecting today’s from the depths of Twitter and YouTube. Let’s go!

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Aki Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Push-me-pull-you, Hoshoryu

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.

Jonokuchi

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.

Jonidan

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.

Sandanme

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.

Makushita

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.

Juryo

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.

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.