After going as far south as Osaka yesterday, the tour heads back slightly north to Kusatsu, near Kyoto, on a trail that will eventually lead it to the true Japanese north. But in the meantime, it’s hot.
While Hoshoryu has hit the Makushita wall, his sometimes rival, Naya, finished day 7 with a 4-0 record. Already kachi-koshi, he now enters the yusho bracket, along with any other rikishi who manage to finish their 4th match with 4 wins. Day 7 also saw Terunofuji win, to bring him to 4-0, and into the Jonidan yusho bracket. Meanwhile Wakaichiro dominated his day 7 match against Kotourasaki, and improved to 2-2.
On to day 8 action!
Hoshoryu vs Kotodaigo – This is an even match of two lean, fast moving rikishi who focus on technical sumo over size or brute strength. At Makushita 7, Hoshoryu is finding the competition especially tough, and is challenged as never before in his sumo career. While very optimistic fans entertained the notion of a strong kachi-koshi launching Hoshoryu to Juryo, the top 10 ranks of Makushita are a slaughterhouse, and most feel thankful just to rack up their 4th win.
Ichiyamamoto vs Gokushindo – Former Juryo man Gokushindo dropped to Ms20 for Haru, but his 3-0 record brings him up to battle Ichiyamamoto. Gokushindo has been a sekitori, and he wants back in the life of sumo’s nobility, and he is fighting like he means it. Ichiyamamoto’s sumo is red-hot this basho, so this might be an epic clash of rikishis battling for their kachi-koshi.
Wakatakamoto vs Chiyootori – Another former sekitori, Chiyootori, is also in the 3-0 bracket. The winner gets their kachi-koshi and moves on to join Naya in the yusho bracket. The last of the lower ranked Onami brothers seems to have strong motivation to join his brothers in Juryo.
Torakio vs Oisato – Naruto heya scion, Torakio, is having a terrible Haru. He is 0-3, and a loss on day 8 would mean make-koshi. His rank means he is safe in Sandanme, but it would be a setback for his work to reach Makushita.
Torakio vs Mori – Sumo’s leviathan, Kenho, looks to pick up his second win against the much much smaller Mori.
Hattorizakura vs Toya – Hattorizakura has faced Toya 3 times, and lost every time. Although not as meek as Hattorizakura, Toya has yet to achieve a single kachi-koshi tournament.
With day 2 loaded to the rafters with action among our “ones to watch”, it was fantastic to see that time and again, the rikishi we are following won their first matches. Some notable highlights
Wakaichiro looks healthier than he has in a while, and immediately overpowered Kotoito and ran him off the dohyo. We are still looking for sharable video of the match, and will publish it once it’s on YouTube.
Kenho, who looked horrid and lethargic at Hatsu, came out strong and blasted Toshonishiki from the south edge of the dohyo.
Hoshoryu’s match against Tokushinho included a leg trip that was executed with great skill. I have to say its damn exciting to see this young man competing this well at such a high rank. We all hope he can keep it going.
For fans of Musashikuni, maybe it’s time to think he has his injuries under control, and we get to see what this guy is capable of. He looked strong against Okinofuji for day 2.
With so many of our Ones to Watch winning day 2, they are now in the 1 win bracket, and are competing again on day 3. This includes what seems to be most of Musashigawa’s clan on the dohyo at some point today. It’s a back to back late night of sumo goodness for those of us in the US! On to the matches.
Hoshoryu vs Kizakiumi – This is a rematch of the Hatsu day 2 bout where Hoshoryu lost. Is it time for him to even the score? Will Hoshoryu peel away those Clark Kent glasses and battle like a son of Krypton? In January Kizakiumi overpowered Hoshoryu, maybe tonight he can return the favor.
Akua vs Tamaki – Akua has won both of their two prior match-ups, and it remains to be seen if Tamaki is going to be much of a challenge. Akua is still trying to get his sumo back together after his September Juryo debut ended in injury and kyujo. He has been struggling since, so don’t count Tamaki out.
Ichiyamamoto vs Asabenkei – Another juicy nugget in the top grouping in Makushita, newcomer Ichiyamamoto takes on the much bulkier veteran Asabenkei. Asabenkei was ranked in Juryo last year, before taking two tournaments off to recover from injury. This one is going to be brutal.
Midorifuji vs Gokushindo – Gokushindo took the Makushita yusho last September, and promptly bombed out of Juryo in Kyushu. Since then he has been trying to regroup, and now he needs to overcome a fairly genki Midorifuji.
Wakatakamoto vs Asahisho – A rematch from Osaka last year, which Wakatakamoto won. Asahisho was a Maegashira in 2012, but has been struggling since then. But we can consider Asahisho representative of the kind of rikishi Wakatakamoto will need to overcome to join his brothers in the salaried ranks.
Musashikuni vs Omoto – The scion of Musashigawa heya looks to improve to 2-0 against former University rikishi Omoto, who has been struggling with injuries for the past year. This has left him drifting between upper Sandanme and lower Makushita.
Torakio vs Musashiumi – Naruto’s Torakio takes on another of the Musashigawa clan, where both are looking to pick up their first win. Musashiumi is a 37 year old veteran, and will bring that experience to bare against youthful Torakio.
Shoji vs Daishozen – A bit further down the Sandanme torikumi we see Shoji taking on Daishozen, who should be considered a Sandanme mainstay. Advantage on mass and reach go to Shoji, so let’s see if he can make it work for him.
Wakaichiro vs Wakakinsho – Coming from a strong day 2 win, Wakaichiro gets a rematch against Wakakinsho. These two last met at Aki 2017, where Wakaichiro, was out-maneuvered and lost. This will be an interesting re-test, as Wakaichiro’s sumo has improved massively since then.