Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 10

🌐 Location: Tokorozawa, Saitama

The Jungyo took us today to rainy Saitama.

venue

There are many rikishi hailing from Saitama, with three current sekitori – Abi, Daieisho and Hokutofuji. In the nobori in the above picture you can see many Hokutofuji flags, one for the absent Abi, one for Daieisho (and one for the… NSK’s Jungyo department? OK…). Hokutofuji comes not just from Saitama, but specifically from Tokorozawa, which made him king of the day.

And as befits a king, he arrived an nothing less than a Corvette:

And his driver was wearing a matching outfit, no less. Remember that rikishi are not allowed to drive (remember Osunaarashi?).

Even before this, he had a pep rally sponsored by his personal support group:

hokutofuji-support-group

Note the guy in the audience who is wearing a shirt made of that same Hokutofuji yukata cloth.

On the dohyo, Kakuryu decided to give him no less that 8 minutes of butsukari:

hokutofuji-kawaigari

No footage of the deed itself, but you can see the results of it in this little clip:

Kudos for still being a nice guy and shaking that spectator’s hand.

Later he starred in the hair styling show:

hokutofuji-oicho

And had a bout with Endo. I mean, the torikumi guys seem to always assign the star of the day to Endo. Kill two birds with one stone, I guess. Which means that Endo has been losing a lot of bouts lately. This one Hokutofuji won by Yori-Kiri.

hokutofuji-endo-wardrobe-malfunction

OK, wait a second. This is like Groundhog Day. A wardrobe malfunction again? This is the third time I see one (and I haven’t seen all of Endo’s bouts). I think Konosuke is starting to get a little exasperated. Endo is growing too thick for his own shimekomi? Or his tsukebito is due for a lesson in knot tying from some seasoned sailor (I recommend Aminishiki).

In non-Hokutofuji news, Hidenoumi decided to go get some health boost. Rikishi seem to believe in all sorts of weird health claims and alternative treatments. And this visit was to a “cryo sauna”, or “Whole body cryotherapy”:

Those are degrees celsius. This footage was taken by Churanoumi, BTW.

In addition to the famous sekitori from Saitama, Baraki from Shikihide beya and his brother, Rao from Tatsunami beya, made an appearance in this Jungyo event. I think they just came in for the day, as Saitama is not far from Tokyo:

baraki-rao

Kisenosato continued to do san-ban with exactly the same results as yesterday – 12 wins, 2 losses, mostly against Daieisho, yet another local boy. Far from perfect yet, the papers say. When his rival gets a right hand inside, the Yokozuna is still helpless.

The goofy part of the day included Terutsuyoshi getting very intimate with Yago. You do remember who Yago is, right? 🙂

terutsuyoshi-yago

But the pixie’s aim was not to get his face caressed, but rather to lift Yago. And here are the results:

terutsuyoshi-lifting-yago
“Whoa, this is not actually happening!”

Mitakeumi decided to give Kaisei a pretty hairdo. Only… he wasn’t doing the hair on his head:

mitakeumi-brushes-kaisei
“Can you braid them for me?”

Fine, fine, you want to see some sumo. Here is today’s Kakuryu vs. Kisenosato:

That’s it for the day in Saitama. Here is your Enho du jour:

enho

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 9

This post was originally intended to be bundled together with the main Nagano event of day 8, as I wasn’t expecting a small town event in the same prefecture to produce much material. Turns out I was wrong. Lots of unique footage and amazing scenery. Enjoy!

🌐 Location: Shimosuwa, Nagano

picture-perfect-exercise

Shimosugawa lies right on the edge of Lake Suwa. This means that today’s event involved the most gorgeous picturesque scenes you can even imagine.

The view towards the mountains was not bad, either:

hidenoumi-shimanoumi-tsurugisho
Hidenoumi, Shimanoumi, Tsurugisho

Hokutofuji made Tobizaru look like a flabby couch potato:

hokutofuji-makes-tobizaru-look-flabby

And… I mean… Sunflower field? This place is like a pamphlet!

sunflowers

Wait a second, why is everybody outside? It’s a work day. Where is the venue?

Ah, this is the venue:

venue-at-shimosuwa

The sky could make René Magritte cry… But it’s a freaking tent. You know – a place without air conditioning. And the electric fans you see – they just help move hot hair from side to side.

Yes, electric fans and ice, again:

ice-again

Yes, indeed, that’s Tamawashi with Sokokurai. Sokokurai is apparently out of kyujo and back in the Jungyo, together with Gagamaru and Takekaze who joined at Niigata.

Sokokurai brought with him a full entourage of Makushita rikishi:

fukugoriki-kotokuzan-onami
Fukugoriki, Kotokuzan, Wakatakakage, Wakatakamoto, Wakamotoharu

Suddenly, four additional Arashio beya wrestlers materialized. About half of Arashio beya is at the Jungyo. I’m not really sure what this is all about. Well, I can understand why the Onami brothers (in addition to sekitori little brother Wakatakakage, big brother Wakatakamoto and middle brother Wakamotoharu) would be there – the Jungyo is going to pass through Fukushima soon, and they are the hot thing in their home prefecture. Fukugoriki also hails from Fukushima. But I’m not really sure what Kotokuzan is doing here.

The Onami brothers seem to be popular not just in Fukushima, though. For some reason, both of the elder ones were assigned Juryo bouts today – hence their oicho-mage, which their little brother, who is the one who should be wearing one by rights, still doesn’t have enough hair to have.

Shimosuwa is in Nagano prefecture. This means the Mitakeumi worship has still been going strong:

more-mitakeumi-worship

If you notice, he has been getting cupped again. Or again had a date with the M-113 creature. He had moshi-ai with aoiyama:

mitakeumi-cupped-again

And this time, Goeido decided to give him his full attention. Here is a a complete butsukari session for you – seven minutes of TLC.

I’m not really sure why the spectators are so enthusiastic about seeing their local hero wallowing in dirt, gasping for air, but that’s sumo for you. At least there were no kicks.

Note Nishikigi-Mama cleaning dirt from Mitakeumi’s hair. 🙂

Earlier in the day, Mitakeumi and Sokokurai went on a shrine visit at the Suwa Taisha shrine. Here is a bit of Japanese culture for you. They went to get a purification and offered a sakaki branch to the gods. And apparently, the gods also like autographs.

Aside from Mitakeumi, there was also sumo jinku:

I must say the heat is affecting the poor jinku performers’ voices. Or maybe it’s the acoustics.

A summary of the day’s events, including the Mitakeumi-Goeido and Kakuryu-Kisenosato bouts:

Speaking of Kisenosato, he switched gears in his dohyo practice today, and started having real bouts. He had bouts with Daieisho, Shodai and Sadanoumi, totalling 14, of which he won 12. The newspapers clearly say that Aki is going to be his “make or break” basho.

And an update to the Ikioi fans who have been following his fiancee the past few days: he was asked about her by the press. He said she has always been a very hard working athlete, and that she never thinks “Great, Done!”, but rather focuses on her next goal. He said that both being busy athletes, they have very little time to meet, but that whenever she is able, she flies over to see him, wherever she is. “I’m a lucky man” he summarized with a big smile.

To wrap up, there was no Enho photo today, so instead I give you Kyokusoten meditating under a tree like a little buddha:

kyokusoten
OK, the laughing tokoyama doesn’t fit in with the Buddha thing

Who is Kyokusoten, you ask? Well, he is Tamawashi’s brother-in-law. And I think he serves as his tsukebito as well in this Jungyo, as Kataonami beya is a little short on wrestlers who are over 20 years old and can serve as tsukebito (in fact, it has only three wrestlers all told – including Tamawashi).

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

🌐 Location: Otsu, Shiga

hakuho-practices-tachiai

The Jungyo took the sekitori to Otsu today, where 2300 spectators came to enjoy some sumo.

Lest people fall under the impression that Shiga prefecture is all about stinky fermented sushi, Yutakayama is here to provide you with a more balanced view of the menu.

Yeah, that’s Yutakayama + tsukebito + Shodai + tsukebito + my mouth watering.

The Jungyo day opened with a drum roll:

drum-welcome

Note how yobidashi performing the drum duty don’t wear the special Yobidashi costume (Tattsukebakama).

Sekitori were practicing where they can – on or off the dohyo. Here are Ishiura and Chiyonoumi.

Mitakeumi, who didn’t practice on the dohyo yesterday, and said to the press that he was doing things at his own pace, suddenly showed up on the dohyo and gave butsukari geiko and general pushing guidance.

mitakeumi-gives-butsukari

It’s not that the Yusho winner just woke up in a mood for keiko today. He is known to hate keiko. This attitude does not fly too well with the veterans. Hakuho already said yesterday that once he feels well enough to get on the dohyo, he is going to give Mitakeumi a lovemaking session he will never forget. I hope a video of that turns up because Hakuho tends to make his torture sessions very entertaining.

But Hakuho was not the only one miffed by the lazy would-be-Ozeki. Kasugano oyakata gave the sekiwake direct orders to start guiding the youngsters. So he did, and then told the press how important it is to guide the youngsters. 😀

The rikishi were not only practicing – there was also fansa (“fan service”) to be done. Kakuryu was being polite:

And Hakuho also signed stuff before going in to get dressed up. But he somehow seems rather impatient about it:

The thing to note about this scene, though, is how the Yokozuna is wearing a chon-mage, while his tsukebito is wearing an oicho-mage. This is the kind of thing you’ll see only on a Jungyo. His tsukebito, Kasugaryu, is the yumi-tori performer. Apparently, he gets his hair done for the performance early – perhaps in order not to bother the Tokoyama while they are busy with the sekitori. So he and the shokkiri team walk around in fancy hairdos while the sekitori are still wearing their off-stage chons.

Speaking of shokkiri, it turns out that today we had a different shokkiri team. Yesterday we had Shobushi and Ebisumaru, but today they were replaced by Tochimitsuru and Tochisato of Kasugano beya. Here is their act:

Once again we have the gyoji involved in the shokkiri routine. Kudos to that gyoji. I wouldn’t dream of fighting with a rikishi of that size.

Here is a curious way of getting ready for the Torikumi:

terutsuyoshi-hidenoumi
Terutsuyoshi feeling up Hidenoumi. Terutsuyoshi is a very touchy-feely guy for a Japanese.

Yes, there were torikumi. The star of the day, in lieu of any local sekitori, was the former sekitori Nionoumi. And he won his (Makushita) match with Daishoryu and even got interviewed, where he said he aims to win all his bouts in the Aki basho and become sekitori again. Just so you know, in the last three basho he was 2-5, 4-3, 4-3. Tall order, I’d say, especially given the bubbling cauldron that is the top of Makushita today.

The four missing Mongolians were back in action today and participated in the Juryo torikumi.

The only bout I have any information about is Takakeisho vs. Endo, which Takakeisho won, apparently using yotsu-zumo. Again. I wish I had a video of that, but the only one I do have is the musubi-no-ichiban:

Once again, what’s up with Kakuryu’s foot?

And of course, I’ll finish with the obligatory Enho:

obEnho

Because let’s face it, the sumo ladies just love this guy.

Nagoya Day 1 across the divisions

tamawashi-bowling
Hakuho bowling with Tamawashi as the ball

Jonokuchi

The hardcore fans have been eagerly awaiting Hattorizakura’s best chance at securing a white star. The opponent was Wakaoyama. A 16 years old boy who weighs just 67kg, and whose record at Maezumo was a miserable 0-5. Hattorizakura weighs 88kg, and has a lot of experience.

Well.

Hattorizakura now has the interesting scoreline of 1 win – 111 losses in his career.

Tomorrow (or should I say, today) I’m going to watch Chiyotaiyo’s bout with interest. He is 175cm tall, weighs just 70kg, and looked like a stick insect in his shin-deshi presentation. But unlike the above Wakaoyama, he was 3-1 in Maezumo, and I think Kokonoe oyakata didn’t just pick him for the chanko and clean-up duties. He is up against Tanakayama, who is 183cm, 120kg, and was 3-0 in maezumo. Should be interesting.

Jonidan

Here is Shunba’s first match, up against Shikihide’s foreigner, Francis:

Sandanme

Sandanme is hot this basho. Well, everything in Nagoya is hot this basho, but Sandanme in particular. Here we have one we have been following for a while – Hoshoryu, Asashoryu’s nephew, who won the Jonidan yusho last basho. He faces Tagonofuji.

Well, there goes the Sandanme yusho.

Also in Sandanme, a bout between the two foreigners – Mongolian Yoshoyama from Tokitsukaze, and Bulgarian Torakio from Naruto. Both of them could be said to be somewhat underachieving. Torakio is the star of his heya, but has suffered injuries and setbacks and is only in Sandanme a year into his career. Yoshoyama was touted as very strong when he entered sumo. He is Tokitsukaze’s replacement for Tokitenku. So far he has been kachi-koshi, but not impressively so.

Torakio dispatches of him with a heave-ho. I guess young Mongolians suffer badly in extra hot Nagoya.

Makushita

Here are some bouts from the hot end of Makushita. First, Tomokaze-Wakatakamoto. Wakatakamoto aims to catch up to his little brother Wakatakakage up in Juryo. It’s going to be hard to do it like this:

Kiribayama-Ichiyamamoto:

Quick reversals in a slap fest.

Murata vs. Hakuyozan. Bouts at the top of Makushita are energetic, not no say frantic:

Juryo

Here is a digest of all Day 1 Juryo bouts (BTW, most of the videos in this post are from One and Only, now called “Sumo Channel”)

Homarefuji manages to reverse the charges at the edge. He is fighting for his life this basho, at the edge of a Makushita drop.

Tobizaru is trying everything he has, including an attempt at kicking, But Kizenryu just keeps him at bay and eventually grabs him and sends him flying like a… well… flying monkey.

Chiyonoumi in his first bout as a Sekitori. Land some heavy tsuppari at Wakatakakage, who joins his big brother on the black star list.

Mitoryu seems to be still a little bit on the injured side, and eventually resorts to the Ichinojo tactic – lean, then squeeze out.

Terutsuyoshi attempts a henka against Gagamaru, but executes it really sloppily and loses promptly.

Yago gets himself a birthday gift vs. Tokushoryu.

Azumaryu solid against Shimanoumi. Takes his time, wins in the end.

Adding to the list of Mongolians who can stand the heat – Kyokushuho who dispatches of Tsurugisho quickly. Seiro, on the other hand, has some trouble with Hidenoumi. The battle rages across the dohyo, but the man in the magenta mawashi gives way first.

Now, Aminishiki’s bout is worth watching from more than just that angle.

He goes straight for Daishoho’s mawashi. No henkas, no hatakikomis. Daishoho defends solidly, trying to prevent Aminishiki from making use of the handhold he has with his right hand. Aminishiki plants his head. Sets up his feet first one way and then the other, then applies all the strength he has with his right hand for a shitatedashinage. It is Aminishiki’s first Day 1 win this year.

Not sure about the Takanoiwa-Takanosho bout. Is Takanosho that good, or is Takanoiwa that rusty?

A battle of tsuppari ensues between Takagenji and Kotoyuki. Just as Kotoyuki is about to do his famous rolling stone impression, Takagenji’s heel touches outside of the tawara. No monoii needed.

Akiseyama doesn’t look like he is ready to face the challenge of Makunouchi just yet. Daiamami disposes of him rather quickly.

Makunouchi

Just a few comments here as Bruce covered this excellently.

Arawashi looks like he is heading down to Juryo. Of course, ring rust and everything. But he seems to be simply too weak.

Nishikigi continues his forward motion from last basho.

Takarafuji also seems to be nearing his expiration date. He lost this bout on lack of stamina.

Ichinojo must have been watching the Russia-Croatia game yesterday. Including overtime and penalty kicks. He came into the ring as if he hasn’t had much sleep and… that’s not the Ichinojo I want to see. It was painful to watch (unless you’re a Chiyonokuni fan, that is).

Now, I wonder how it is that whenever I watch Hakuho fight I see a totally different match than the other Tachiai members… Bruce described this match as “the dai-Yokozuna dismantling Tamawashi”. What I saw was the dai-yokozuna winning on plan C. First, he went for the harizashi. Yes, that forbidden harizashi – slap and grab. Only, he couldn’t really grab. Tamawashi blocked him quite effectively. OK, plan B. He starts a flying tsuppari attack, and manages to turn Tamawashi around. But unexpectedly, Tamawashi wheels back in an instant, and gets the surprised Yokozuna in a firm morozashi. OK, plan C, because nobody becomes a dai-yokozuna by being a one-trick pony, and certainly not Hakuho, who creates a diversion behind Tamawashi’s neck, and, quick as lightning, performs a makikae (change of grips from overarm to underarm). This usually results in losing ground, but Hakuho times this very well and by the time Tamawashi pushes him to the tawara he is already in his favorite migi-yotsu and in the middle of a sukuinage.

So a brilliant show of the walking sumo encyclopaedia that is Hakuho, but it was a close call and certainly not a good sign for the Yokozuna.

Tanabata Wishes

This post originates in quote-retweets I made of the relevant NSK tweets. Josh suggested I collate them into a post. So for the benefit of those who don’t follow my Twitter account, here is the collation:

tanabata

Tanabata is an ancient Japanese festival, celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month. Nowadays, it’s mostly celebrated on July 7th.

The main Tanabata custom is to write one’s wishes on a small piece of paper called “tanzaku”, hang the wishes from a bamboo – sometimes with other decorations – and then float the bamboo, wishes and all down a river or burn it around midnight or the next day.

This year Tanabata falls on Saturday, July 7th – the day before the Nagoya basho.

A couple of days ago, a rikishi-kai took place. “Rikishi-kai” is both the name of the meeting of sekitori taking place before each basho, and the body of sekitori itself. As a worker’s association, it’s pretty useless. But they have a fun meeting before each basho, sometimes raising money for charity, and sometimes just giving fans an opportunity to meet their idols and get photos.

Given the date Tanabata falls on, it’s no wonder that sekitori attending the rikishi-kai were handed tanzaku, and asked to write their wishes on them. Their wishes will be hung at the Dolphins Arena (the location of the basho) during Tanabata. Here is what they came up with:

Sokokurai: “I wish my injury to heal”. Ouch.

Yago (in an Oguruma yukata): “Promotion to Makuuchi”.

Seiro: “To aim for the top!!”. So, you wish to aim for the top or you wish to get to the top?

Hidenoumi: “Establish myself at Makuuchi”. No moro yo-yo for Mr. Magenta Mawashi, please.

Daishoho (in a Kakuryu yukata): “Promotion to Makuuchi”. Well, if a cute duck-face can get you there…

Takanosho: “Promotion to Makuuchi”. I hate to tell you this, but the gods can only arrange for a small number of promotions each basho. 😁

Takagenji and Shohozan kept their wishes a secret (they are showing the side with their names):

Daiamami (in a Fuji TV yukata? wow): “I want brand new kneecaps”. Ouch.

Up to Makuuchi, Hokutofuji wishes to advance to san-yaku:

Ishiura: “I want to make another child”. Heh, give your wife a little rest, will you? She just had a baby. Or is this just code for “I want to get some”?

Asanoyama (in the ever-popular Chiyoshoma yukata): “Double digit wins”

Nishikigi-mama: “Health above all”. Nishikigi for chairman of the board! Who’s with me?

Kyokutaisei (in a Hakuho yukata): “Have savings!!”. Let me guess, the guy is recently married. 😆

Chiyotairyu: “I need money”. Somebody please give the Kokonoe koen-kai a call. Help a poor rikishi, will ya?

Endo: “Get through the group stage”. Bruce claims this is about the Tachiai Sumo World Cup. I have a hunch he was talking about Team Japan in the FIFA World Cup. And he got his wish, though I wish those last 10 minutes would be erased from history.

(Yeah, yeah, derailed here).

Abi worrying what he should wish for. Yes, that’s his worried face.

Chiyonokuni (in the new designer Kokonoe yukata) wants to advance to sanyaku:

Shodai: “I want a watch”. I’m sure he’s not addressing the gods… You want Japanese make or Swiss make? I’ll bet many of his sashi-ire (gifts to rikishi… or prisoners…) in the coming weeks are going to be ticking.

Mitakeumi: “I want to become handsome”. Well, he is using the word “ikemen” which is a manly man kind of handsome. There has been an argument about this on Twitter, in which some of the ladies claim that he already has his wish, whereas I claim that despite his obvious sumo prowess and good nature, he looks like a carp in a mawashi.

Tochinoshin: “I want the yusho”. Well, duh!

Hakuho: “Win #1000”. He is referring to number of wins in Makuuchi – he wants to pass 1000. He won’t make it this basho, though, as he is still 17 or so short, and I’m sure he doesn’t want the gods to extend the basho to 17 days.

Finally, we end with the leader of the banzuke, the surprisingly genki yokozuna Kakuryu: “I wish not to be injured”. I’ll add my voice to that, Amen. Chuckle for coming up with a wish that requires no kanji (“kega” is written in hiragana or katakana more frequently than in kanji).

Haru Day 10 – Kinjite, Henka, and a Lone Yokozuna

What a marvellous day we had today at the EDION arena in Osaka.

ikioi-yutakayama
Ikioi grabbing Yutakayama’s oicho-mage

The first bout in Makuuchi featured a visitor from Juryo, Takekaze, who seems to be quite on the genki side and ready to come back to the top level. He was faced with Aoiyama, still part of the Yusho arasoi.

This time, no Henka, and Aoiyama pulled away from the tachiai to give himself space for his usual tsuppari attack, then pushed Takekaze forward – but one advantage the little bullfrog has over Aoiyama is that he is much lighter on his feet. Lateral movement, and the Bulgarian’s inertia did the rest. Aoiyama now out of the yusho race, but he will get his kachi-koshi, and probably double digits.

Asanoyama faced shocking pink Hidenoumi, but was not blinded by his mawashi. He got a safe hold on Hidenoumi’s mawashi, tried a yori in one direction, then a yori in the other direction, then just pulled the man down. Uwatedashinage, and Hidenoumi is make-koshi and heading back to Juryo.

Ishiura didn’t do the most flagrant henka on the dohyo today. It was only a half-henka. Myogiryu managed to turn around at the edge, but not quickly enough to avoid the push.

Kotoyuki must be spending a large fraction of his keiko time perfecting his rolling technique. Even when he doesn’t roll off the dohyo, he still manages to roll. And today the bowler was Sokokurai, with a very typical uwatenage. Kotoyuki still winless.

Daiamami, who has had a strong basho this far, surprises by doing a henka. Still not the most flagrant one of the day. And also rather ineffectual. Tochiozan easily recovers and returns the favor, and it’s Daiamami who is on the receiving end of the hatakikomi, and off the yusho race.

Ikioi seems as good as he has been this basho. Pushes here and there, and then slams Yutakayama to the ground. Yutakayama’s hand goes straight to his topknot before he even rises, and for a good reason. His hair got pulled. Was it a forbidden hair pull or a hand accidentally getting caught in the elaborate hairdo? A monoii is called. The shimpan confer and decide: he pulled.

It’s worth noting that the point here is not so much if the hand in the hair is what caused Yutakayama to fall, and it’s also not whether it was intentional or not. Japanese culture regards people’s intentions and feelings as something that can’t be judged easily from the outside, so it tends to concentrate on observable behavior. The point is, therefore, whether Ikioi was grabbing the hair or not. And the replays show him bending his fingers as they get caught in the hair. This makes it a grab. Hatakikomi experts like Aminishiki know to keep their fingers straight when this happens. If your fingers are straight, you’re pretty much safe.

Ikioi, therefore, loses by hansoku – a disqualification – for using a kinjite – a forbidden technique. This is very rare in the top divisions. Ikioi says he thought his hand was already free of the mage when he pulled down.

Chiyonokuni gives Nishikigi his standard treatment. Forward attack with fierce tsuppari, and then a sharp pull. Nishikigi, as he has been for quite a few basho, is struggling to string wins together.

Kagayaki beats Daishomaru by a straightforward yori-kiri. Kagayaki has really improved his sumo style, and I would have expected him to be more than 5-5 at this point. Daishomaru missed his kachi-koshi opportunity this time.

Daieisho tries to develop an oshi battle against Chiyoshoma, but Chiyoshoma catches his mawashi and it turns into a yotsu battle. Chiyoshoma goes back and forth trying to create one of his favorite throws. He is having a hard time of it this basho, though. Eventually he gives up and completes this by a simple, straightforward yori-kiri.

The two rikishi who won the kanto-sho together last basho, Ryuden and Abi, are now being sorted into two different levels. Ryuden, though he is a very nice rikishi, will stay at the low to middle ranks, while Abi is definitely going places. Abi did his standard routine. Long hands landing a barrage of tsuppari, long legs moving forward fast. Ryuden could not withstand that attack or try anything. Abi, if he improves his footwork, may get to sanyaku in a couple of basho.

Something very strange is happening to Yoshikaze. Are we seeing the initial signs of concussion-related issues? He looks pretty much alright in his match with Okinoumi, when suddenly his left foot develops a mind of its own and he crumbles to the ground. The kimarite is kainahineri, but it doesn’t really look like one, and the only reason he escaped being sent off with a tsukihiza (which is a hiwaza – a non-technique, a default) is that Okinoumi was, in fact, applying some force to his body.

Takakeisho continues his weak, supposedly injury-related, sumo vs. the struggling Hokutofuji. For a couple of basho, the tadpoles have been the great hope for the future, and now they are all crumbling together.

Takarafuji showed today what he is really worth, in a patient and strong match with Kotoshogiku. He even attempts to gaburi the gaburi-master at some point there, but eventually finishes with a cleanly executed throw. The Isegahama man is a clear demonstration of the hardship of the joi. In the first week he got pummeled by much superior rikishi, and then, with low confidence and accumulated bangs, lost a couple of matches he should have won if they were in the beginning of his schedule. Thus, a make-koshi for an otherwise excellent wrestler. All he can do is try to pad his slide down the banzuke with a few wins.

Arawashi, whose left knee bandage seems to grow larger every day, is no real match for Endo, who gets him quickly out of the circle. Off-dohyo issues may also be affecting the injured Eagle, as apparently his tsukebito, Hikarugenji, is involved in yet another violence scandal and is kyujo as of today.

And now we come to the highlight match of the day. 420kg on the dohyo, not counting the gyoji. On one side, the new kaiju, Ichinojo, flexing his muscles and looking for young horses to toss around. On the other side, Kaisei, with a perfect 9-0 record, eyeing the yusho. Tachiai. Boom! The meeting of bodies nearly causes the seismographs in the Kansai area to send the signal for all shinkansen to stop in their tracks. It’s lucky that the honbasho dohyo is not made of beer crates like the jungyo dohyo are.

Kaisei takes the initiative and manages to get Ichinojo to the bales, but the Kyomusubi rallies and step by step pushes back to the middle of the ring. Then he sets his alarm clock for the next day, finds a soft spot on Kaisei’s shoulder to rest his head and goes to sleep. Remember, there are no wolves in Japan. Ichinojo can allow himself to sleep deeply, while Kaisei’s eyes start to bulge. The next day, Ichinojo wakes up, pushes a bit, sees that Kaisei still has some stamina left, hits the snooze button, and sleeps some more. Then he wakes up, picks the spent Brazilian up, and heaves him across the tawara.

Kaisei is too heavy to stop dead, and drops down, but Ichinojo still has enough stamina to pull at the Tomozuna man, enough to make him land lightly on his feet with little impact. Well done, Kyomusubi. Ichinojo is kachi-koshi, and Kaisei receives his first loss.

(OK, OK, I’m sure my Japanese jokes are lost on the crowd here. I’m calling him Kyomusubi because Komusubi – 小結 – means “little knot”, but 巨結 – Kyomusubi – giant knot – seems somehow more appropriate).

ichinojo-kaisei
Ichinojo, feeling refreshed after a long nap

But would you believe that this battle of titans, with immediate implications for the yusho run, was honored with not a single envelope of kensho? None. Zero. Ichinojo got to take home only his pride and the fans’ adoration.

Tamawashi has settled into a “one day sunshine, the next day rain” pattern. Where is the strong Tamawashi of yesterday? Chiyotairyu pushes him off the dohyo before the gyoji completes his first “hakkioi”.

The bout between Mitakeumi and Shohozan turns out to be a very nice piece of sumo. Shohozan goes for a harizashi but doesn’t quite gets the “zashi” part (slap-and-grab, but where’s the grab?). Then a slapfest ensues. Another harite! And another! And a body clash! Then Shohozan attempts to pull and sidestep. Mitakeumi keeps his balance and manages to re-engage. But Shohozan has now achieved the “grab” he was looking for, with a right-hand-outside. Mitakeumi’s left hand goes outside Shohozan’s grip, and he attempts to grab at Shohozan with his right, but this only ends with Shohozan having a tight morozashi with both hands firmly on Mitakeumi’s left back mawashi. Mitakeumi tries to do something with the arm he has on Shohozan’s neck, but Shohozan’s mighty pythons are doing their job, and Mitakeumi finds himself rolling below the dohyo.

Takayasu makes short work of Shodai. Kachiage. A couple of Nodowa, and good-bye. Takayasu is kachi-koshi, safe from kadoban, and looks pretty much like he did in the previous basho.

And now we come to the most flagrant henka of the day. By, you guessed it, Ozeki Go-Away-Do. And I don’t want to hear any complaints about me using that nickname when he does this. Are you under 170cm, Ozeki? Perhaps you weigh less than 100kg? Are you injured? Coming back from a long, rust inducing kyujo? In kadoban? Facing a man ranked 10 levels above you? Bah. Chicken. His home crowd at Osaka didn’t like it, either. There was a babble of disapproval where there should have been applause for their hero. The Osaka crowd are sumo aficionados. They know what’s right and what’s not. Tochinoshin managed to circle around in time, but couldn’t rally fast enough. He is now out of the yusho race. But I certainly hope he can continue the Ozeki run. Goeido, on the other hand, gets about 20 envelopes of kensho for this display.

Kakuryu, after his display of tawara-waltz yesterday, probably decided it’s time to show some Yokozuna-worthy sumo. He starts with a harizashi (which some argue is not yokozuna sumo. Well, at least not when the Yokozuna is Hakuho). Then gets his typical migi-yotsu, firmly holding to Chiyomaru‘s mawashi with his right hand.

This was, in fact, only the second time he used that grip in this basho. That’s the injured hand, and most of his bouts have been about working around it. He attempts to use it for the yori, but it’s actually Chiyomaru who advances. The yokozuna changes his overarm grip – the left hand – placing it closer to the front of Chiyomaru’s mawashi, and then uses it cleanly and efficiently and Chiyomaru finds himself outside in no time. This has been the first time for Chiyomaru to appear on the musubi-no-ichiban, or engage with a Yokozuna at all. He said “It was an atmosphere which I have never experienced before”.

chiyomaru-kakuryu
Sniff, sniff. Love your aftershave, Maru.

Kakuryu achieves his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi”. It now remains to see if his faith is going to be different than in the previous basho, as he goes into the last third where he faces the strongest opponents. And the first challenge is Kyomusubi Ichinojo!

Yusho Arasoi

  • 10-0 – Y1E Kakuryu
  • 9-1 – M6E Kaisei
  • 8-2 – OE Takayasu, KE Ichinojo

Juryo

As I said, I’m combining my coverages today, and here is the Juryo summary.

homarefuji-takanoiwa
Takanoiwa can’t find his sea legs as yet

At the very bottom, Enho is edging closer to a make-koshi, and his chance of winning all of his next five bouts are vanishingly small, much like himself. He will need to spend some more time at Makushita and get those kilograms rolling.

 

 

Tobizaru pretty much sweeps the floor with him.

Terutsuyoshi is not fairing much better, and I believe he is heading back to Makushita yet again, despite being stronger than Enho. He complains of various injuries on the Isegahama website.

 

The rest of the Isegahama sekitori surprisingly all won today, while all of Takanohana’s lost. In fact, Takanoiwa lost to Homarefuji.

Homarefuji got him into an oshi battle, which is clearly not his specialty.

Terunofuji got to meet the much higher-ranked Kyokutaisei. And once again, showed a glimpse of the old Terunofuji:

Harizashi, yotsu, yori-kiri. The former Ozeki and Kyokutaisei both hit the even 5-5 mark.

For some reason, One And Only seems not to like Aminishiki, and never posts a video of his bouts. So here is a time-stamped (46m 18s) full Juryo video from Miselet:

I have a hunch Aminishiki is going to announce his retirement soon – after this basho, or maybe the next. He is having a real hard time, and I suppose he is getting tired of suffering pain day after day and seeing not much in return.

But for the time being, he manages to scrape another win and break his fall down Juryo somewhat. Tokushoryu tries a tottari, but Aminishiki uses the same elbow to push him away and out.

Mitoryu and Sadanoumi are the only two Juryo wrestlers to achieve kachi-koshi by day 10. Tsurugisho and Amakaze are, alas, make-koshi.

Finally, at Jonokuchi, here is the Hoshoryu of the day. Congratulations, first kachi koshi!

Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

Kakuryu-Hand

The mad-cap roller-coaster of Sumo that is our wonderful Hatsu basho took another wild and exciting turn on day 12. Unlike Kyushu, which was another relentless march of the dai-Yokozuna towards an inevitable victory, the sole remaining (weak) Yokozuna has made this basho exciting, unpredictable and frankly a whole lot of fun. Read no further if you don’t want to know what happened.

On day 11, Yokozuna Kakuryu lost to Tamawashi, making a tactical mistake that his opponent knew would come, and was eager to exploit. In that moment when Kakuryu, the sole undefeated rikishi lost, the yusho race opened wide, and a giant bear of a man stepped up. On day 12, that picture changes again.

So many good matches today. Many good bouts from all rikishi at all levels of the banzuke. The Hatsu basho continues to delight and impress.

Following Herouth’s approach, let’s start at the bottom of the list

Day 12 Matches

Hidenoumi defeats Ishiura – Visiting from Juryo, Ishiura gifts him with a shiny new kachi-koshi. From the tachiai, Ishiura attempts to hit and shift left, but Hidenoumi tracks him perfectly. Now Ishiura’s gambit is in trouble, as his back is to the tawara, and he’s very close to being out. Ishiura manages to break contact and attempt a slap, but Hidenoumi is completely dialed into Ishiura’s sumo, wraps him up, and delivers the yorikiri.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – Massive respect for Nishikigi, who refuses to give up and go away to Juryo again. The match starts with a big hit at the tachiai, and both men lock up with each going for a left hand inside grip. The crowd goes quiet as each leans in, working to wear the other down. When Kagayaki lifts and shifts to try to get his right hand inside, Nishikigi makes his move. Well executed sumo from both, but Nishikigi showed superior skill.

Kotoyuki defeats Asanoyama – It’s clear from the tachiai that Asanoyama wants to get a belt grip and negate Kotoyuki’s oshi attack. Asanoyama comes in low aiming for the belt, and Kotoyuki opens by pounding on Asanoyama’s face and neck. To his credit, Asanoyama stands up to the beating for a while, struggling to land a grip, but Kotoyuki knows this game, and keeps moving forward. Asanoyama changes tactics, and tries to pull, but his transition puts him off balance and Kotoyuki finishes him off. Oshidashi for the win.

Ryuden defeats Daishomaru – Ryuden kachi-koshi. This bout was quite one sided, with Ryuden landing a double inside grip straight out of the tachiai. Driving forward, Ryuden prevented Daishomaru from mounting any real defense. It’s been a long hard road for Ryuden, and this winning record from his first Makuuchi tournament must be a sweet victory indeed.

Daiamami defeats Terunofuji – Rather the Ghost of Terunofuji. The poor Kaiju has nothing left. I rarely feel sorry for anyone who competes in a warrior sport, but this is just brutal to watch.

Takekaze defeats Aminishiki – Really Isegahama? What on earth are you doing? You are already somewhat diminished by the Harumafuji scandal, and now you put on this show of pain and suffering for the fans?

Shohozan defeats Sokokurai – What an awesome match! It starts with a traditional Shohozan bull rush with arms flailing, and Sokokurai gives ground, but does not give up. As they circle, Sokokurai is trying like mad to wrap up one of Shohozan’s massive arms, and he gets a good hold on the left arm at the wrist. He parlays that into a left hand inside grip, and the two are dancing to set up a throw. Shohozan launches an uwatenage attempt first, but Sokokurai counters masterfully. As Sokokurai rotates to try his own throw, Shohozan moves forward strongly and Sokokurai collapses. Yoritaoshi. Shohozan is kachi-koshi.

Abi defeats Chiyomaru – Abi tries a slap down henka at the tachiai, but Chiyomaru is either expecting it, or his bulbous midsection kept him slow off the line. Either way the move fails and Chiyomaru attacks a now back-tracking Abi. But Abi is an unstoppable ball of energy, and launches his now familiar thrusting attack, most of which is landing on Chiyomaru’s neck and face. Chiyomaru rallies at one point, but Abi’s attack is too intense, and Chiyomaru steps out. Oshidashi, with Abi kachi-koshi in his first top division tournament.

Kaisei defeats Daieisho – The new plus size Kaisei seems to be nearly impossible to move. Even Daieisho’s normally solid pushing attack had no effect. The bulk of the match is Kaisei breathlessly chasing Daieisho around the dohyo until Daieisho steps out. Kaisei gets his 8th win.

Shodai defeats Chiyoshoma – What has happened to the soft, flabby and unimpressive Shodai? I think he’s on holiday somewhere in Okinawa. This is the other Shodai, the one who wants to be an Ozeki, has fairly good sumo and can win in spite of a somewhat high tachiai. His win over Chiyoshoma was straightforward, he kept moving forward while Chiyoshoma was trying to find a grip. Solid sumo again from Shodai.

Chiyonokuni defeats Arawashi – This match was lost at the tachiai, when Arawashi went to land a left hand outside grip and missed. Chiyonokuni opens with an oshi attack, and Arawashi does not really get a good second chance to lock things up on his terms. Arawashi keeps trying to work inside, but Chiyonokuni has his thrusting attack on full, and Arawashi can’t even establish a solid defensive footing. Chiyonokuni wins by tsukiotoshi as Arawashi does his gymnastics tumble once more.

Chiyotairyu defeats Takarafuji – Straightforward thrusting match. Takarafuji could not overcome Chiyotairyu’s massive bulk and strong upper body. Takarafuji still needs one win for kachi-koshi.

Hokutofuji defeats Ikioi – Ikioi is hurt, and not really able to execute Makuuchi grade sumo. From the tachiai Hokutofuji stood him up with a firm nodowa, and then slapped him down. Both men are make-koshi and will need to try again in Osaka.

Ichinojo defeats Yoshikaze – As predicted last night, this match was almost painful to watch. Yoshikaze seems to be only at 75% of his normal self, and Ichinojo’s massive size and strength mean that normal forces of sumo, much like space-time, are warped and distorted the closer you get to him. Yoshikaze comes in low at the tachiai, looking to get a grip at center-mass, but Ichinojo lands a brutal choke hold, and moves forward. There was absolutely nothing that Yoshikaze could do to stop it. Ichinojo goes kachi-koshi while Yoshikaze is now make-koshi, and probably has a headache. Ichinojo faces Tochinoshin on day 13. Hoo-boy!

Kotoshogiku defeats Takakeisho – Dare I whisper it? Kotoshogiku may come back from a dismal start to be in striking distance of kachi-koshi? Takakeisho is a bold young man of immense strength, and he decided to try to push against the Kyushu Bulldozer. Kotoshogiku masterfully shuts down Takakeisho’s wave action tsuppari, and it’s down to a contest of strength. While not quite able to get the hug-n-chug running, Kotoshogiku keeps moving forward, and avoids Takakeisho’s last minute attempt at a hineri at the edge. Takakeisho kept grabbing his mage after the match, I was curious if he was trying to signal something. Yeah, Kotoshogiku’s hand was on the back of his head, but I am not sure it’s a mage pull at all. Takakeisho now make-koshi.

Okinoumi defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi continues his meltdown, and it’s quite a disappointment to watch. As with prior matches, he tries to pull early on, but Okinoumi uses his backward motion to take control and win. After his failed pull, Mitakeumi cannot recover any forward momentum. Bad move, bad strategy, bad outcome for the Ozeki hopeful. Go back and try again.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – Tochinoshin prevails to stay at one loss, while Tamawashi is now make-koshi. From the tachiai Tamawashi lands a strong nodowa, but this seems to only power up the Georgain battle mech. With a strong shove, Tochinoshin breaks the neck grip and goes on the attack. Tamawashi puts everything he has into a couple of huge tsuppari, and nearly brings Tochinoshin down, but it also left him wide open. Tochinoshin surges forward and lands a double inside grip. We, of course, know how this ends with Tochinoshin’s massive yorikiri.

Takayasu defeats Goeido – Goeido, unable to exit debug mode, is once again stuck playing Tetris instead of Osumo. Takayasu is a half step ahead at the tachiai, and focuses on applying rapid pressure to Goeido’s shoulders. Goeido never has a chance to produce any offense, or set up any kind of defensive stance. Goeido now needs to pick up 2 wins to not go kadoban.. again.

Endo defeats Kakuryu – Yes, sumo fans. Big K dropped his match with Endo, leaving Tochinoshin as the sole leader of the yusho race at the end of day 12. As with day 11, his attempt to pull left him off balance, and Endo was ready for it. Endo moved strongly forward and made the Yokozuna pay. Endo picks up a kinboshi, and Kakuryu loses his share of the lead. The cushions fly in the Kokugikan.

That’s it for day 12. It’s a brawl right to the end now, with a decent chance that a rank-and-file rikishi could lift the Emperor’s Cup!

Kyushu Day 15 Preview

kakuryu-victory

One More Time!

The last day of sumo for 2016, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. The Kyushu basho has taken us on a wild and exciting ride, but now it’s time to bring this glorious and unpredictable tournament to an end.

As Andy mentioned, there are still a few more rikishi who are fighting for their winning record (kachi-koshi), and there are few “test matches” on Sunday’s card. The following men are on the bubble, and their matches will be the ones to watch.

  • Endo – He had some great successes during this basho, but he has been inconsistent. He would likely receive several special prizes if he can secure his winning record. On Sunday he takes on Tamawashi: Komusubi and soon to be Sekiwake. This will be no easy match.
  • Myogiryu – He has really been hit or miss, and he has been matched with Maegashira 16 Gagamaru for this final bout. A loss here would not demote him out of Makuuchi, so make-koshi is not a total loss this time for Myogiryu
  • Ichinojo – Ichinojo is clearly still healing up, but he has managed to almost achieve a winning record. His final match is against Takekaze, who I would guess can bottle up the big Mongolian and put him down if he wants to. Ichinojo needs to summon everything for one final push.

Other Notable Matches

Hidenoumi vs Kagayaki – As mentioned by Andy, Hidenoumi had to be wheeled out of the Fukuoka stadium on Saturday, and I would be surprised to see him back. There is nothing to be won by fighting the day after a concussion.

Ishiura vs Tochinoshin – Another test match for Ishiura. He had to re-match against Shodai, but did fairly well in his first bout. Tochinoshin dispatched Kisenosato on day 13, then lost to Gagamaru on day 14. Who can tell which version of Tochinoshin Ishiura will face.

Yoshikaze vs Aoiyama – After Aoiyama’s day 14 henka, I am going to be eager to see what Yoshikaze can apply to the giant man from Georgia.

Hakuho vs Goeido – It would be very useful for Goeido to finish with double digit wins. Hakuho would love to finish with a win, and possibly tie with Harumafuji should he lose to Kakuryu.

Kyushu Day 13 Results

harumafuji-goeido

Kakuryu Yusho Looking More Likely

As noted in prior news postings, the action on day 13 from Kyushu was big, the matches were outstanding, and the yusho race became a lot clearer. But for sumo fans wishing for a giant multi-way final day tournament to decide the ultimate winner, the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan had other plans.

Likewise in Juryo, we had Osunaarashi go Kyujo with a right knee injury, handing the Juryo-yusho to Seiro for all reasonable purposes. Keep in mind, dear reader, that the Kyushu basho this year is a wily and unpredictable operation, and we may yet see at least one more twist in the tale before it concludes on Sunday.

With Kisenosato, Goeido, Hakuho and Ishiura all losing on day 13, the leaderboard has narrowed considerably

Leaderboard

  • Leader: Kakuryu
  • Chasers: Harumafuji
  • Hunt Group: Kisenosato, Shodai, Ishiura

2 matches remain

Notable Matches

Arawashi defeats Ishiura – Bit of a slippi-toshi on this one. There have been reports of the Kyushu dohyo being especially slippery this basho. We have seen a large number of slips, and mechanical injuries due to uncontrolled descent of 150+ Kg men.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma was going for his kachi-koshi today, but Hidenoumi put on a great show of yotsu sumo and eventually forced Chiyoshoma out.

Takarafuji defeats Sokokurai – Takarafuji picks up his kachi-koshi in a fairly strange match. Sokokurai was expecting a henka, I am going to assume, and so was Takarafuji. So they grappled lightly, stood around for a bit, and came up with a new strategy. Takarafuji wins by yorikiri

Ichinojo defeats Shohozan – Quick bout that saw local favorite Shohozan quickly pushed out of the ring by Ichinojo. Ichinojo has been very inconsistent in Kyushu, but still has a chance at kachi-koshi

Shodai defeats Chiyootori – The Shodai train is not slowing down. He made very quick work of Chiyootori

Yoshikaze defeats Mitakeumi – Amazing move at the edge by Yoshikaze. It seems that once he secured his losing record, he remembered all of his really nice moves. Glad to see him educating the shin-Komusubi. The crowd, of course, ate it up – seems everyone loves Yoshikaze when his sumo is strong. Request for the Berserker – next time see if you can get more spiral on Mitakeumi (who is roughly football shaped), I would love to see if you can get him into the second tier of box seats.

Endo defeats Okinoumi – Great great match between these two, with this win, Endo has a solid chance of securing a winning record for Kyushu. Okinoumo – I want him to get healed / have surgeryury and come back strong for Hatsu in January. Great throw by Endo at the end of the match.

Tamawashi defeats Terunofuji – Excellent, but quick match by Tamawashi, who picks up his kachi-koshi from the injured Ozeki. This is the third time he has beaten an Ozeki this tournament.

Harumafuji defeats Goeido – Goeido once again facing a monoii? Yes, this guy has a curse on him. The Goyji awarded the match to Goeido, but the Shimpan decided to re-play the match. In the second bout, Harumafuji was clearly the winner via his patented mini-henka. This leaves Harumafuji the only clear challenger to to Kakuryu for the yusho.