Lower division bouts – Day 8

Nicola captured the former Ozeki; even the loyal fans in the background couldn’t help

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.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 17

🌐 Location: Gyoda, Saitama prefecture

Today the Jungyo lands in Saitama. The prefecture boasts one of the finest high-school sumo departments at Saitamasakae high, and accordingly, also boasts many rikishi who call it home. In fact, two top-notch sekitori are in the home-boy position today: Abi and Hokutofuji.

And while Abi has a long line for photos and handshakes inside, Hokutofuji distributes safety pamphlets and shakes hands outside the venue:

Inside the venue, Ichinojo is practicing his shot put. The one tiny thing missing is the shot, of course:

In the “Everybody loves Enho” series, today it’s Kagayaki’s turn to play:

Finally, a video has turned up which will show us what it is that Kakuryu is doing with that strange combination of rubber tube and a towel. I’m sure it will make perfect sense once we watch it:

Errr…. no. It still looks absolutely ridiculous.

The other Yokozuna is getting his morning greetings while Goeido is smearing someone on the dohyo.

It occurs to me that by the time the good mornings are over, the spittoon at the corner of the dohyo is probably full to the brim. Poor yobidashi.

The kawaigari session there doesn’t seem to be related to this short one Goeido is having with Takanosho:

Takayasu is in a mentoring mood this Jungyo. A couple of days ago he tutored Onosho. Today he is giving a proper class to his army of tsukebito. And we finally get to see what the mystery move he was teaching Onosho was:

Why, he is teaching them how to dance like Cossacks!

If you’re wondering, normal sekitori only get to bring one tsukebito to Jungyo. But Ozeki may bring five, and Yokozuna, eight.

This is Tatsunami oyakata:

Aside from being a good-looking fella, he has also been in charge of preparing some of the events – interacting with the sponsors and the like.

Tatsunami oyakata runs a modest heya up in Ibaraki, far away from the sumo hub at Ryogoku. And in that modest heya, he has acquired a gem not long ago. Namely, this guy:

This is, of course, Asashoryu’s nephew, Hoshoryu. Tatsunami oyakata knows quite well this one has a huge potential, and he is doing everything he can to get the boy the best environment in which to develop. That includes apprenticing him to his only sekitori, Meisei, and sending him off to practice at Miyagino and at Isegahama, outside his own ichimon.

I’m pretty sure the plan when setting him as Meisei’s tsukebito was for Hoshoryu to do the Jungyo as early as possible and hobnob with sekitori as much as possible. But the problem is that the NSK introduced a new rule recently, that minors are not to join the Jungyo unless invited by the sponsors. And Hoshoryu is not 20 yet.

So Tatsunami somehow brought him along with him to this event. Not sure exactly what the pretext was, but bottom line, Hoshoryu got to participate in his first Jungyo today. This included all sorts of good stuff like a butsukari session with Tochinoshin. “Wow, Ozeki are that heavy” commented the youngster.

Now, Hoshoryu was only 4-3 last basho, but that doesn’t mean anybody should dismiss him as too weak for the top of Makushita. Take a look at this practice – apparently with Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi):

Oh, did he just beat a sekitori? But you may notice Tochinoshin watching him from the side lines. He told him his wrestling style invites his opponent in, and is also dangerous for his knees. “Be careful not to be injured!” admonished the still-Ozeki, who knows what he’s talking about.

Hoshoryu also got workout advice from Kotoshogiku:

Jumping ahead a little, here is his bout with Ichiyamamoto:

Whoa.

Here are some practice bouts. First, Shodai-Shohozan:

Hehehe… the guys really swamp Shodai there in an attempt to get his nod.

Ichinojo-Ryuden, Endo-Takarafuji, Aoiyama-Takayasu:

Practice time over, let’s move on to the afternoon part. Today the Makushita bouts were in the form of “kessho-gonin-nuki”. This means five rikishi on the West face five rikishi on the East. Each takes his turn, and if he wins, he stays on the dohyo with the next opponent from the opposite side. The winner is the first who beats all five opponents. I don’t have the bouts themselves, except the one we have seen with Hoshoryu above. But I do have the gonin-soroi-bumi. That is, the five wrestlers on each side go up on the dohyo and perform synchronized shiko, similar to the san-yaku-soroi-bumi we see at the end of events just before the last three bouts:

Next was the Juryo dohyo-iri. And of course we get an Enho sandwich:

One pixie, between two slices of Daishomaru and Daiamami

In the dohyo-iri itself, Akiseyama completely breaks the Japanese stand-in-line etiquette.

And Chiyomaru also looks like he is getting ahead of his turn.

The Juryo members change and wait for their bouts, and Chiyomaru decides to tickle Daishomaru in the ass a bit with one of his sagari rods.

I think Chiyomaru may think again before he tries a prank on Daishomaru next time, as he finds himself slammed against the wall.

Whoa, whoa, aren’t you overreacting just a bit?

It’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And just a reminder, the one who announces what’s going on is always a gyoji.

In this case, a rather casually seated Shikimori Kinosuke, from Sadogatake beya.

While the Makuuchi rikishi show off their kesho-mawashi, the Yokozuna’s tsukebito work hard at making him pretty for his own dohyo-iri:

Shame on you if you don’t know which Yokozuna that is…

OK, with all dohyo-iri done, it’s time for… what, you thought it’s time for bouts? As far as the Makuuchi rikishi are concerned, it’s time for playing games and goofing around, that’s what it is.

You know sumo wrestlers love sumo when they opt to do sumo to pass the time before they do sumo:

On the other side, four rikishi play rock-papers-scissors. Daieisho is mightily relieved when he wins it. It’s probably another one of the “lose and you get… pain” games that rikishi love so well:

Looks like a group version of atchi-muite-hoi, but I can’t imagine what the rules are when there are three fingers pointing.

Ichinojo checks the order of matches but the fans call from behind. The big man seems to be a bit bewildered by all the attention. Look, there’s even some grandpa aiming a phone at him from the second floor:

“Look over here, Ichinojo zeki!”

That’s what happens when you win too many bouts in honbasho, dear boulder.

Of course we can’t do without our favorite pair of clowns, Nishikigi and Shodai. This time they find a back room in this sports facility, and strain a poor vaulting box that never thought it would have to take that much weight:

The goofy mood spreads all the way to the top, as Takayasu gives Tochinoshin a hearty massage:

Takayasu is generally in a good mood today:

This seems to be post-bout, so he must have beaten Kakuryu in their daily match.

The only match I have today is an “off the list” – an extra bout between local boy Abi and Meisei. Why Meisei? I guess the sponsors wanted a duel of pretty shiko:

I think Meisei didn’t get the memo about letting the local boy win, though.

And I leave you with today’s pin-up rikishi, Kiribayama:

With a shikona like “Foggy Horse Mountain”, can you guess where he is from?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 5

🌐 Location: Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture

Today was the second day in Hyogo prefecture – but right on the opposite side of it than Day 4’s event. Early morning, the dohyo is already consecrated from the day before.

And… what’s this parking right in front of the entrance to the venue?

Why, it’s Ryota Hama’s Chanko Nabe bus!

While in Tokyo or Osaka honbasho you rely either on the food supply inside the venue or the regular restaurants around it, events in small towns rely on mobile stalls. So as yobidashi Hiromasa calls the townspeople with his drum, a little matsuri is being set up around the venue.

And early-bird Hama got the most lucrative location, right at the entrance! Mmmm… chanko!

But not yet, the stalls are just being set up. First, it’s time to shake hands with some favorite rikishi. For example, Hyogo local Terutsuyoshi.

Ah, the contrast between the beautiful kimono of those ladies gathering around him, and his own ratty yukata…

Yokozuna in the house!

Low-ranking rikishi practice on the dohyo, while around it some sekitori are starting to stretch and exercise:

Very entertaining squats on the left side there.

On the sidelines, Sadanoumi practices his oshi:

Ando is doing suri-ashi:

And so does Aoiyama, though in a totally different style:

It’s time for the Juryo rikishi’s practice on the dohyo. We have Kyokushuho with Wakamotoharu, then Kyokushuho with Azumaryu:

And in the session’s closure, Takakeisho gives butsukari to Wakamotoharu:

Then Makuuchi gets into the picture. Aoiyama faces Meisei, then Okinoumi, then Asanoyama, then the latter takes over and faces Ryuden.

This is not the end of the road for Ryuden, who later gets Mitakeumi (for some reason this bout appears twice in this video). Then we can see Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin:

Practice time is over, and we can relax and enjoy Shokkiri. Here is the full performance.

Apparently, in this Jungyo, the gyoji is getting creative. When the two performers fall down together, he leaves the dohyo, and consults with some spectator – preferably a child: “I should call that dotai, right?”.

“Dotai” is when both rikishi touch ground at the same time. In a normal bout, the gyoji doesn’t call it – the gyoji always has to point the gunbai one side or the other – and this is settled with a monoii and a torinaoshi. In shokkiri, of course, the gyoji makes all the decisions himself. Or with the help of a child, as it turns out.

Next up is the Jinku performance. And once again I have the full version:

But hey, aren’t you hungry? It’s nearly noon and we haven’t tasted that chanko, yet!

Apparently they also serve Udon. But who cares? Chanko!

There is also a mobile Takoyaki stall if you’re tired of Chanko, as some rikishi are

Both lunch and Jinku over, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And Sokokurai is arguing some point with Gagamaru:

Skipping the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri, right before Makuuchi, Takakeisho, the local hero, receives a bale of rice as a gift – and apparently, a large amount of beef.

The area of Toyooka is known for its stork-friendly rice. Apparently, Japanese storks have been on the decline, and the city of Toyooka is making an effort to bring them back, by raising rice that coexists with the creatures that storks feed on to sustain themselves. So Takakeisho got a bale of stork-friendly rice. I don’t know how stork-friendly the beef is, though.

So let’s see some bouts! Here we have a series of bouts from Juryo:

  • Daiseido-Kiribayama
  • Kyokushuho-Azumaryu
  • Daishomaru-Tokushoryu
  • Daiamami-Chiyomaru
  • Shimanoumi-Kotoyuki

This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:

  • Ishiura-Yutakayama
  • Kotoeko-Toyonoshima
  • Tomokaze-Kagayaki
  • Shohozan-Yago
  • Sadanoumi-Terutsuyoshi
  • Aoiyama-Asanoyama
  • Chiyotairyu-Okinoumi
  • Kaisei-Nishikigi

Tochiozan vs. Endo:

Sanyaku-soroi-bumi, and Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi

Tamawashi’s killer nodowa does it again.

Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:

I think Tochinoshin forgot that he was supposed to let the local boy win.

Finally, Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.

I think I have yet to see Kakuryu win a bout this basho.

Finishing with our pin-up… How about Nishikigi for a change?

The arms are strong with this one

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 1 (Dec 2)

Yes, we’re back with the series of Jungyo Newsreels that will try to keep your blood sumo levels above the emergency threshold until a new tournament is in site.

As a reminder – the Jungyo is a promotional tour in which the sekitori (Juryo and Makuuchi) participate. Each takes one tsukebito (manservant, a wrestler ranked between Jonidan and Makushita), except Yokozuna and Ozeki who get to have a “team”. Together with a bunch of shimpan, gyoji and yobidashi, and of course the big heads from the Jungyo department, they travel through small towns around Japan, performing from morning through the afternoon, and letting the locals get a bit of live sumo and sumo-related fun. For a fuller description, refer to the Introduction To The Jungyo I published a while back.

The winter Jungyo is supposed to be the shortest Jungyo of the year. However, with the rising popularity of sumo, it’s not that short any more. The 2013 Fuyu Jungyo included only six events. The 2018 Fuyu Jungyo includes 17 events spread over 21 days! In fact, there were more Jungyo days in 2018 than honbasho days!

So without further ado, let’s see what we had on day 1.

🌐 Location: Nagasaki, Nagasaki
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◽️◽️◽️

Nagasaki is a popular tourist destination in Japan. So some members of the entourage took time to explore. While Hakuho had a little excursion to the lighthouse to have some Champon (a Nagasaki noodle dish), Kokonoe oyakata decided to visit the famous Spectacles Bridge:

Rikishi wisely assembled just above the support column

One rikishi was on the tour, who was neither sekitori nor tsukebito. Tachiai favorite Wakaichiro had a one-day adventure. The reason for this is that he is registered as coming from Nagasaki. His mother is from Nagasaki, and his grandparents came to this day’s event to watch him. As you all know, he actually grew up in Texas. He mostly spent summer vacations in Nagasaki. This being his first Jungyo, he had a bit of trouble getting the hang of things (remember, there are no sekitori in Musashigawa). The press was mostly amused that he decided a good place to camp in the shitaku-beya would be right between Takayasu and Tochinoshin. (Well, yeah, it is a good place!)

As a “local boy”, he received some kawaigari (TLC – the euphemism for butsukari, especially when used as a torture session) from Jokoryu. This was the effect:

Wakaichiro was not the only novice in the Jungyo – though the others have the advantage of traveling with familiar faces and being used to the company of sekitori. One new face in the Jungyo is Midorifuji, who is serving as Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (I’m getting worried about Terunohana, Terutsuyoshi’s long-time tsukebito, who has been kyujo for quite some time). Midorifuji is considered one of the most promising current talents at Isegahama beya, and I think they decided to send him on the Jungyo to get some “sekitori experience”. Here he is with Terutsuyoshi and Aminishiki’s tsukebito, Terumichi:

Another new face in the Jungyo is Wakamotoharu (though he had been on at least one event in the past). He is there as his little brother’s tsukebito – the little brother being Wakatakakage, of course.

The shimpan squad has also been refreshed. In the previous Jungyo we saw Futagoyama, Tomozuna and Furiwake. This tour we have Asakayama, Hanaregoma and, of course, Kokonoe.

This is before they wear their heavy mon-tsuki kimono

And what are the rikishi up to? Well, it’s early morning, so Ichinojo demonstrates his ability to squat while sound asleep:

Luckily, there are no wolves in Japan

Then there are these inseparable two. Surprisingly, Terutsuyoshi is rather hands-off today:

But of course, most of the attention goes to one participant: Hakuho, back from his post-operative kyujo, and trying to regain some fitness. Here he is doing some shiko:

Mmmm… Hakuho said he can stomp with power now, but this seems to be very tentative shiko.

By the way, the Yokozuna also changed his seating arrangements in the Jungyo bus. Apparently, one of the reason his leg got worse in the previous Jungyo was sitting with cramped, bent knees for hours on end, while traveling. He used to sit in the front seat of the bus, but decided to change to the back seat, to allow himself to fully stretch his legs. I suppose that means he took the entire back bench to himself and stretches himself on it – he did mention something about getting some sleep. Maybe he should borrow one of Yoshikaze’s folding mattresses…

By the way, I did not mention this before, but there are several rikishi who are kyujo from this Jungyo – at least for the time being. Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Goeido, Kaisei and Arawashi from Makuuchi, and Kyokushuho, Kyokutaisei and Chiyonoo from Juryo. All Tomozuna sekitori are absent! Yoshikaze was also off the torikumi, but he is definitely in the Jungyo.

This also means that Hakuho is left with only one Makuuchi rikishi from his own ichimon for the dohyo-iri. Indeed, his tsuyuharai is Chiyoshoma:

The shiko here is stronger, of course.

Chiyoshoma looks a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. I predict that for the Meiji-Jingue dohyo iri of January 2019, we’ll see Terutsuyoshi as his tsuyuharai (this will be after the new banzuke is announced so Terutsuyoshi is expected to be in Makuuchi).

Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. First, Hakuyozan vs. Takagenji.

Then, Meisei and Aoiyama:

Aoiyama seems to be getting more and more confident lately. Here he is vs. the Yusho winner (that’s Takakeisho, if you have been on another planet last month).

Takayasu is saying he wants to work towards his first yusho, but he won’t get there if his keiko looks like this:

That’s Tochiozan – not exactly a semitrailer.

Here is todays full Sumo Jinku. Yes, that’s 15 minutes of Jinku. You are allowed to press stop only if you understand everything they say. 😛

The members of the Jinku team this Jungyo are:

ShikonaHeya
TochigidakeKasugano
KoshinishikiTatsunami
MutsukazeOguruma
KotomyozanSadogatake
KotomanabeSadogatake
DaishowakaOitekaze

It’s easy to recognize Mutsukaze by his prominent mutton chops. If you can’t recognize the others, here’s a little challenge: try to guess who is who by the kesho-mawashi they wear. It’s supposed to be borrowed from a sekitori in their heya (OK, so that won’t help you with the two Sadogatake guys…).

Going into the competition part of the event, the lower divisions each had its own elimination-format tournament, while the upper divisions had the traditional format torikumi. I’m sorry to say that Wakaichiro dropped in the first round of the Jonidan tournament. The winners got prizes – which is not an everyday occurrence for lower-division wrestlers.

  • Jonidan winner, Imafuku, won a bag of rice. At least, that’s what it looks like.
  • Sandanme winner, Wakanofuji, won a big bottle of saké.
  • Makushita winner, Obamaumi, won a… picture of rice crackers? Hey… It sucks to be in Makushita!

OK, so if you’re wondering about those two Goofometer points above, here is what was afoot between Juryo bouts:

Hidenoumi decides to tickle Terutsuyoshi with his sagari. Terutsuyoshi, in response, goes all “Oh yeah, baby, ooh, that’s good, give it to me, baby”.

Hidenoumi has an expression like “God, man, aren’t you enjoying this just a little bit too much?”, or maybe “Whoa… do I really want this guy hanging around anywhere near my little brother?”

Not that his little brother is any better…

OK, OK, so we have a few bouts to see! Here are the “Kore-yori-san-yaku”. Well, two of them. By the way, there was a slip in the torikumi program. They had Hakuho doing the musubi with Takayasu. Hakuho is not really dohyo-ready in any way, shape or form. So eventually Asanoyama was placed at the bottom of san-yaku for a second bout, and everybody else was shifted one space up, sort of.

And once again Takakeisho needs a mawashi adjustment right before the bout.

Asanoyama, of course, is no match for the mighty tadpole – who gets some kensho.

The Mitakeumi/Ichinojo bout is rather comical. I’m not sure Ichinojo actually intended to belly-bump Mitakeumi. That’s a funny tsukiotoshi.

Yago
Chiyomaru
DaiamamiMeisei
DaishomaruTakanosho
OnoshoChiyoshoma
AoiyamaEndo
SadanoumiOkinoumi
KotoshogikuYutakayama
DaieishoShohozan
AbiIkioi
TakarafujiKagayaki
TakanoiwaAsanoyama
ShodaiChiyotairyu
Nishikigi
Ryuden
TochiozanTamawashi
MyogiryuHokutofuji
TakakeishoAsanoyama
MitakeumiIchinojo
TochinoshinTakayasu

OK, so who shall we put up as our pin-up boy this time? Maybe Terutsuyoshi?

Hey, what’s with the sour face? We know you are quite capable of a big smile. Especially if you’re looking at Enho. Anyway, that photo looks a bit like a Soviet propaganda poster, doesn’t it?

So maybe just revert to Enho:

Now we can all have a big smile! This commercial for “Macho” proteins brought to you by Ishiura, by the way.

Kyushu Day 7 – Recap

1:59 bout vs. Takayasu, Ryuden

The first week of this tipsy basho is coming to a close, and the basho signals to us that it still has enough bottles of saké to develop a good delirium tremens, and that any advance bets and dares are at our own risk (how was your rump steak, Bruce?)

Daishoho does today’s duty as the Juryo fill-in, facing Meisei. He envelopes Meisei right off the Tachiai, and none of Meisei’s wriggles are to any avail. Yorikiri, and Daishoho picks a nice envelope in his first Makuuchi bout.

Chiyomaru and Takanosho are both 1-5 coming into this match. Takanosho is aggressive and pushes Chiyomaru to the edge. Chiyomaru tries to sidestep, but Takanosho maintains his balance and keeps up the pressure, leading him to the other edge. So Chiyomaru tries it again. This time it works. Hatakikomi, Chiyomaru grabs his second win. I believe both of them are heading down to Juryo by the end of this basho, but I’m not staking any body-part steaks on that.

Arawashi‘s bout with Onosho might as well has been a fusen. Onosho rises, and pushes unresisting Arawashi straight off. Watching Arawashi this basho is really painful.

Endo attempts a harizashi (slap-and-slip) on Chiyoshoma, but never gets to the sashi (slipping his hand inside) part. Chiyoshoma advances, retreats, advances again and seems in control, but Endo pulls and wins this one by hatakikomi.

Okinoumi and Daiamami are “kenka-yotsu” – meaning one of them prefers migi-yotsu (right hand inside), and the other hidari-yotsu (left hand inside). And indeed most of this bout is spent attempting to get their favorite grip and denying the other his. Daiamami maintains a strong grip on Okinoumi’s belt, but it’s just an “ichimai” – hold on one layer – and it’s Okinoumi who manages to wrap Daiamami up and yori-kiri him.

Chiyonokuni‘s match with Daishomaru starts with a strong kachiage – but it’s actually a matta. On top of that, that kachiage causes Daishomaru’s nose to bleed. He needs to take a break and returns to the dohyo with a wad of tissue up his nostril – not exactly a beautiful sight. The match restarts. This time Chiyonokuni is a bit more hesitant in his tachiai, and Daishomaru exploits that and yori-kiris the Kokonoe man.

Both Aoiyama and Sadanoumi look better than one would expect this basho, and start this match 4-2. Sadanoumi takes the initiative and has his right hand inside, but Aoiyama locks it, prevents him from achieving a proper yotsu position, and adds a bubious nodowa (you’re not supposed to do that with your fingers folded, though one can’t call that an actual punch), sending Sadanoumi for a dive. Oshitaoshi.

Yutakayama does not look very good this basho. However, he starts this match with a kachiage to Kotoshogiku‘s throat. Follows that with two powerful nodowa, and when Kotoshogiku applies all his strength to the ground to withstand those, steps aside and lets the former Ozeki’s strong legs to all the work. Yutakayama gets his second win by tsukiotoshi.

Daieisho, who somehow found himself in the chaser group without us even noticing him, is not impressed with Abi‘s well-known opener. He withstands a couple of shoves, goes under them and does some shoving of his own. Daieisho is now 6-1.

In the battle of the single-kanji wrestlers, Ikioi lands a shallow grip, but Kagayaki frees himself and starts a pushing attack that puts Ikioi in reverse gear and out of the ring. This is Kagayaki’s first win against Ikioi.

Something really is up with Takanoiwa this basho. It’s as if he is afraid of contact. Takarafuji manages to land a brief hold on him. Takanoiwa retreats, frees himself from that grab, but instead of making any attack of his own, keeps retreating and Takarafuji really doesn’t need to do much to win. Both end this match 2-5, and I’m sure Takarafuji was scratching his head asking himself how exactly he won that, as he was going back to Isagahama beya’s lodgings.

Shohozan starts his bout with Asanoyama with a mighty morotezuki… only he does it without having actually touched his hands to the ground – and soon-to-be-promoted Konosuke will have none of that. In the second tachiai, he touches very slightly, and repeats the morotezuki, following it by a brief morozashi. Asanoyama is very active, releasing himself from that grip first on one side and then the other, and then getting his own hold. From then on it’s Asanoyama all the (short) way.

Tamawashi starts his typical oshi bout with Nishikigi, but Nishikigi defends well, and starts his own attack. He really should have attempted to lock a hold on Tamawashi, though, because Tamawashi has years of experience and as he nears the edge quickly reverses the fortunes. It wasn’t far from another Nishikigi upset, though.

Hokutofuji is not letting Tochiozan‘s 5-1 record distract him. A shove. A nodowa. Another aggressive shove. Tochiozan ends up losing for the second day in a row, his magic gone.

This bout is exactly the reason why Kaisei decided to enter the basho while still injured. Despite Myogiryu‘s tenacity, the huge Brazilian envelopes him and doesn’t really leave him much room for maneuver. Kaisei wins, and if he picks enough such wins, the next banzuke may see him drop to a position that’s easier to defend on the one hand, and safe from demotion on the other.

Tachiai. Chiyotairyu slams into Ichinojo. Goes for the throat. But that only manages to wake Ferdinand up, and you can see Ichinojo getting warmer and his thrusts getting fiercer. Chiyotairyu’s own thrusts seem to leave no impression – other than the loud “Slam!” sounds reverberating through the Fukuoka International Sports Center. The last slam sees Chiyotairyu at the corner beyond the bales, and I can only hope that this has woken up Ichinojo enough to show us some of his better sumo in the next few days.

Mitakeumi starts a powerful shoving match with lossless Takakeisho right out of the tachiai, and it’s boom-forward-boom-forward. Takakeisho deftly sidesteps at the edge, but Mitakeumi was not born yesterday. He turns around with an “Oh yeah?” expression on his face. Takakeisho probably regrets having stepped so far away at this point, because if he was closer he could have pushed Mitakeumi from behind. Instead, the Sekiwake lunges at him, and an exchange of thrusts begins, at the end of which Mitakeumi grabs Takakeisho’s neck and pulls him down.

Takakeisho slowly rises, while fiddling with his chon-mage, hinting at the shimpan that his hair was pulled. I am not sure they noticed that, because only after the rikishi make their bows does the head shimpan, Onomatsu, signal a monoii. Perhaps he got a call from the video room. The shimpan confer, and Onomatsu oyakata goes back to his seat and gives a confused summary. “The hand, the mawashi, the hand, the whachamacallit, the hand didn’t grab the mawashi, the gyoji’s decision stayed”. I wonder how much the shimpan drink before starting their day below the dohyo.

So Takakeisho is no longer lossless, and the way is open for the single-loss Takayasu to claim the yusho – assuming you don’t think that Daieisho is a legitimate candidate. But the day is not over yet.

Next we move to our first Ozeki match. Tochinoshin faces Yoshikaze. Now, Yoshikaze’s tactic today somewhat reminded me of Enho’s opening gambit. Of course Yoshikaze is not Enho’s size, but relative to Tochinoshin, it’s not that far off, and the agility is certainly there. He scrambles for a maemitsu grip, while denying the Ozeki access to his own mawashi. Eventually, though, he gives up that tactic, and slides up that left arm, which was seeking the maemitsu grip, under the ozeki’s arm. A beautiful sukuinage ensues. Nice touch there, forcing Tochinoshin’s head further down making him lose his footing. Tochinoshin, a pretty solid yusho candidate before the basho, finds himself needing to get enough wins to avoid kadoban instead.

OK, so now that Takayasu knows Takakeisho lost, he knows he is in the spearhead of the yusho race. All he needs to do is beat 1-5 Ryuden. But Ryuden is not impressed by the Ozeki’s kachiage, and manages – momentarily, to get his favorite morozashi. Takayasu quickly releases himself on one side, and Ryuden is left with a hand inside with no grip on the left, and an outside grip on the right. Ryuden tries again and again to achieve the grip with his left, but the Ozeki denies him with a right ottsuke. Ryuden tries an attack. But he simply doesn’t have the muscle power against the Ozeki’s 180kg. The stalemate continues.

Then Takayasu frees himself on his right side and uses the left inside grip he has on Ryuden to try and turn the Maegashira away and out. Ryuden is not easily thrown off, though. He manages to get a maemitsu grip. But his combined grip is problematic – you want to get at least one hand on the back side of the mawashi. With both hands in front he can’t create leverage, though he tries again and again.

But as the stalemate continues, Takayasu’s lower back problems are starting to assert themselves. Yet another attempt by Ryuden, and the Ozeki finds himself out of ring – and out of the leader group, again. Ryuden, barely able to breath, gets a hefty batch of envelopes, and his first win against an Ozeki! What a match!

The musubi-no-ichiban is anticlimactic by comparison. Shodai manages to briefly get a good hold on Goeido, and his previous success makes him impatient. He tries to drag Goeido to the edge. Goeido is not obliging. Shodai soon finds himself in the typical Goeido embrace, and down below the dohyo.


What a day this has been. Here is the leaderboard after Cray 7. That is, Day 7:

6-1

  • K1E Takakeisho
  • M9W Daieisho
  • M13E Onosho

5-2

  • O1W Takayasu
  • M2E Tochiozan
  • M5E Chiyotairyu
  • M7E Abi
  • M12E Aoiyama

Hey, Abi, grab that Yusho! (わら)