Haru Day 3 – Ones to Watch

Beneath This Humble Visage Is a Man of Steel…

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.

Hatsu Day 1 – Lower division bouts

Join me as I dig through YouTube and Twitter for the bouts that never make it to the mainstream feeds.

Jonokuchi

Hattorizakura-Denpoya. Denpoya is the latest recruit at Isegahama, one of six men from Aomori prefecture. Unlike most of the recent recruits by that heya, he actually has the size for sumo. But he went 1-3 at maezumo and has a lot to learn. His lucky stars arranged for him to face Hattorizakura on the first day, after Watai from Chiganoura beya became a no-show.

Take a look at this rather amusing bout between the two:

What you see here is the bout begin in jikan-mae. That’s a rarity in itself. Looks like Denpoya is so green he doesn’t get the whole shikiri ritual yet. But Hattorizakura goes ahead and meets him, sort of. And so the gyoji starts conducting it as a bout – which, if this is indeed jikan-mae tachiai, is not a mistake. I suppose the shimpan considered this to be a matta rather than a jikan-mae with mutual consent. So they go at it again. No worries – Hattorizakura is there to dispense white stars for everybody.

Soon after this bout came one between two other beginners – Shimomura and Daitenma. I am keeping an eye on Daitenma as I always watch out for foreigners. But this bout (sorry, I don’t have footage) went to Shimomura. So Daitenma is not going to be the next Mongolian to enter the 21 club.

Jonidan

Apart from Wakaichiro’s bout, which you have already seen in Bruce’s post, there were several bouts that drew my eye. I give you the ever-popular Colin Powell Satonofuji vs. Azumaiwa. I’m glad to see Satonofuji still active. I thought he might decide to call it quits after Harumafuji’s retirement ceremony, where he performed what was probably his last yumi-tori shiki. However, I guess he likes his life just as it is:

Go Satonofuji! He even attempts a death-spin there.

Another veteran in Jonidan is Hanakaze, mostly famous for being the oldest active rikishi (aged 48). If he gets through Hatsu and Haru safely, he will be the first rikishi almost a century to do sumo over three different eras. However, this is not a good start:

Another match of interest in this division is the one between Takataisho and Miyakomotoharu. Takataisho is the tsukebito Takanoiwa has beaten up, buying himself a one-way ticket to the barber shop. On previous occasions (yes, I’m looking at you, Takanofuji, formerly Takayoshitoshi), the victims quickly found themselves out of the world of sumo, so I am keeping an eye on Takataisho, to see that he doesn’t suffer a similar fate. So far, he seems to be doing well. He now serves as Takakeisho’s tsukebito. And here is how he looks on the dohyo:

Whoa, Miyakomotoharu, you don’t have to take the winner down with you, you know. Takataisho seems to be genki. Good!

Makushita

Yes, I’m skipping Sandanme, as I haven’t found any footage from it. In Makushita, we open with Naya vs. Aomihama.

Straightforward oshi-zumo, and Naya gets his first gold star.

As we followed young Narutaki and his big brother Kyonosato through the Jungyo, I thought you may be interested in Narutaki‘s bout vs. Yokoe.

Unfortunately, Narutaki gets beaten rather spectacularly. He says he was very tense because this was his first Makushita bout.

And now we get into the “purgatory” part of Makushita, and we continue to follow Kototebakari as he takes on Tennozan.

A monoii is called. It takes Chiganoura oyakata quite some time to get up on the dohyo and he seems to be struggling with his link to the video room, but that’s his weapon of choice for the discussion. The video room says “dotai” – both down at the same time – so a torinaoshi it is, and this time Kototebakari gets a clean cut win.

Finally, we have a bout between two familiar names: Gokushindo, who had a very short visit to Juryo before dropping back to Makushita, and Wakamotoharu, also known as the second most gifted Onami brother

This is an entertaining bout between two rikishi who obviously have technique. But Gokushindo needs to work on his power.

Josh already gave you a wonderful summary of the day in Juryo, so all I have left to do is to give you the video to see for yourselves:

Now onward to Day 2, with Hoshoryu and Ura!

Hatsu Day 1 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

naya

As hopeless sumo fans, the crew at Tachiai are following many fine rikishi who are fighting their way through he lower divisions (yes, more than just Wakaichiro!). Out of more than a dozen “ones to watch”, only a handful are in action on day 1. Some notable matches

Wakamotoharu vs. Gokushindo – Another of the Waka* brothers takes on Gokushindo, as he battles to regain Sekitori status. This has the potential to be a real firecracker of a match.
Midorifuji vs. Sakigake – Midorifuji has certainly hit the Makushita “wall” and has found the competition thick and fierce. Today he takes on former Juryo man Sakigake.
Naya vs. Aomihama – Taiho’s grandson returns to Makushita, at the very last slot of the division. This time we look to see if he can hit and hold this highly competitive division. He faces off against veteran Aomihama, who suffered a disappointing 1-6 tournament in November.
Torakio vs. Taichiyama – Torakio is still working hard to escape Sandanme, and he starts Hatsu near his all time high rank of Sandanme 28. He seems to be an even match for Taichiyama, who is still struggling to recover from injuries.
Hattorizakura vs. Denpoya – In spite of his cringe worthy career record of 2-130 (no, not a typo), people love this skinny little guy, and always hope he can find enough genki to win something. His opponent, Denpoya, who is in his first tournament as a professional rikishi, is likely happy to have a nearly assured win for his first match as a pro.

Some notables that are not on the day 1 fight card: Kenho, Musashikuni, Ura, Shoji Hoshoryu and Akua.

A reminder that NHK World Japan will have the final hour of the top division live over their streaming service overnight US time. Work has it that Gunning will be doing the color commentary, and it’s never dull with him in the booth.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Final Day (Dec. 22)

🌐 Location: Tsuchiura/Ushiku, Ibaraki
😝 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽

It’s the end of the winter Jungo. The two towns of Tsuchiura and Ushiku probably planned this event with the intention of celebrating the return of Kisenosato. Takayasu comes from Tsuchiura, while Kisenosato comes from Ushiku. However, since the event was planned, Kisenosato had the disastrous Kyushu basho, followed by a long kyujo.

And so, Takayasu had to be the star of the day, all on his own.

Hey Takayasu! Today you are going to get so… loved… by the Yokozuna! Enjoy!

But there were other rikishi in the venue as well! There was Aminishiki, showing one of those rarer and rarer smiles:

I guess being around his heya’s yobidashi, Teruya, makes Uncle Sumo happy.

Ichinojo managed to convince Mitoryu to let him play a little

Mitoryu doesn’t seem to take this too seriously, though.

Kakuryu practiced with hand weights. In the past, this exercise was mostly associated with Harumafuji.

Shohoryu watches and learns.

Hakuho, on the other hand, was working mainly on his legs. He started with plain suri-ashi:

Then he did this… thing:

I’m rather amused by Nishikigi getting trapped in the hana-michi and not being able to escape. :-)

Then the Yokozuna did this:

Hehe… Yokozuna, try the Abi shiko. It will do wonders for your thighs (and your dohyo-iri)!

I wonder if the reason they called this janitor was to clean up after him…

There’s something very familiar about this janitor, though…

On the dohyo, the usual moshi-ai sessions took place, and there were several lengthy kawaigari sessions for the spectators to enjoy. Kakuryu decided to give his former tsukebito, Gokushindo, some love

Hey, even the gentle Kakuryu kicks!

Gokushindo took this as an encouragement to get himself back to sekitori status as soon as possible. He is going to drop back to Makushita tomorrow when the Banzuke is published. “Get back to the white mawashi quickly and you’ll be able to practice with me again!”, so to speak.

Goeido once again took on Chiyonoumi. I’m not sure why exactly, but hey, as long as somebody loves my man from Kochi!

Even Hakuho stops to watch, and nods his head approvingly!

Then, of course, the highlight of the keiko part of the day, was Hakuho’s kawaigari for Takayasu. There was six minutes of this:

This:

“[Get on your] feet! feet! feet! feet!”. Then finally, this:

Among the encouragement calls for Takayasu were also shouts of “Thank you, Hakuho!” coming from the Ozeki’s townspeople. Hearing this, the Yokozuna reacted: “The people of Ibaraki know their sumo”.

Which tells me the Yokozuna is well aware of the latest outrage campaign against his “evil kawaigari” going through the social media.

Poor Takayasu had to go through a lot of adoring fans when he got finished with that lovemaking session:

The people of Ibaraki may know their sumo, but they sure don’t know when to back off and let a man breath…

It’s time for shower, lunch and hairdos. And I have another behind-the-scenes revelation for you today!

Well, no controversial, um, reading material today. Just an amusing Asanoyama moment captured by Wakamotoharu:

In the afternoon part, Hakuho was doing the rope tying demo:

Here is the East side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri:

Note Abi tugging at Kagayaki to get him to respond to some fans his eye caught. Kagayaki obliges. It seems he is softening a bit! He also had a lively chat with Abi while they were both at the side of the dohyo waiting for their respective bouts. Maybe it’s the effect of Tamawashi’s kiss! 😘

I have two bout clips today. Here is Endo vs. Chiyoshoma:

Endo quite happily allows himself to win for a change, as Chiyoshoma is not a local boy.

The local boy himself was matched with Hakuho. And there was a lot of kensho riding on this match!

That’s not exactly common for a Jungyo bout… So Hakuho made his salt throw:

And went on the attack!

How surprising! The local boy won!

And this is it. The last bout of the last Jungyo day of this year! Now let’s get on that banzuke!

Your final pin-up is here