Day 11 was chock-ablock with our “Ones to Watch” cohorts, and that leaves day 12 with a light schedule. On day 11, we had the yusho candidates facing each other, and the few remaining undefeated in our list all took their first loss. This included Naya losing to Takanofuji, who will face Chiyoarashi for the Makushita yusho. In Sandanme, Amakaze lost to Toyo University entrant Shiraishi, who will go on to contest for the yusho on day 13.
I also am happy to report that Wakaichiro picked up his 4th win and secure his kachi-koshi after a worrying 0-2 start. He battled back from a cold opening to a winning record, with one match left to decide how large his July promotion will be. For reasons I don’t understand, he always fights better in Tokyo.
For those following the return of former Ozeki Terunofuji, he also won decisively on day 11, improving to 5-1. Roga also won, securing his kachi-koshi in a very one-sided match against Aratora.
Day 12 Matches
Wakatakamoto vs Jokoryu – Both men hold a make-koshi (1-4), and for Jokoryu this derails any hope he might have of returning to the salaried ranks any time soon. Experience edge goes to Jokoryu, and I think I would give a health advantage to Wakatakamoto.
Midorifuji vs Chiyootori – The former Komusubi, Chiyootori, is one win away from a winning record, if he can get past Midorifuji. Chiyootori is not ranked high enough to make it back to Juryo this tournament, but he could possibly get to that position by Aki with some skill and some luck.
Akua vs Bushozan – Both men have their 4th win already, and now they are fighting for rank in the Makushita joi-jin for Nagoya. Bushozan is fighting just below his highest ever rank, where Akua seeks to return to Juryo soon.
Musashikuni vs Keitenkai – Musashikuni can still reach kachi-koshi, but he needs to win his 2 remaining matches. His oppoennt, Keitenkai, was injured on day 2 of Aki 2012, and spent the next year struggling to recover and re-ascend the banzuke.
Shoji vs Hikarugenji – Winner of this match is kachi-koshi. Their one prior match was taken by Osaka native Hikarugenji.
Kitanowaka vs Ryuga – This match is actually to determine where to rank both of these 4-1 rikishi for the Nagoya banzuke. I would expect both of them to make the cut for Jonidan, but where is the quesiton.
After a day of hiatus spent in their homes or heyas, the rikishi get back together for an event at Kawasaki. The locals have used that day to prepare the dohyo:
Interestingly, this video shows the venue with normal lighting, but for some reason, on the day itself, the lighting was changed such that most of the stadium was shrouded in darkness, with spotlights on the dohyo. Although perfectly normal for performances, this is a bit unusual for a Jungyo event, and it caused sideline photos to come out… not exactly pleasing:
On the other hand, photos taken on or around the dohyo tended to be artistic or dramatic, like this Abi shot, showing him preparing for Showdown:
Still, there was action both near and away from the dohyo. Shohozan was trying to do suri-ashi, and got a bit flustered by the presence of the NSK camera:
Enho was trying to help Onosho with his seiza.
But it seems like this drove Onosho to stop doing seiza and do something to the poor suddenly alarmed pixie. I’m not sure whatever follows is fit for the consumption of children.
Off to the side Nishikigi is doing Nishikigi things to a low-ranked rikishi.
I would feel a lot more sympathy for his victim, if that victim wasn’t Hikarugenji, Arawashi’s tsukebito, who has beaten up a younger rikishi in his heya last year, who left the world of sumo because of that. So go right ahead, yay Nishikigi!
Not far away from them, Ichinojo is practicing with Chiyoshoma (and yes, it’s the lighting again):
Quite brave of Chiyoshoma to attempt that.
Gagamaru was wrapping himself up:
Every sekitori has a taping kit. Some of them need quite a lot.
Kakuryu… is upgrading from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Alien:
Still a little low on the fangs, though.
At the dohyo, Toyonoshima and Goeido are enjoying each other’s company:
Tomokaze is preparing for a big day. He is the local boy here at Kawasaki. And this means lots of butsukari, and a special extra bout (we’ll get to that).
Endo is doing proper suri-ashi:
Ichinojo gets up on the dohyo:
Though he seems a bit puzzled as to what he is supposed to do on it. We’ll, he’ll remember eventually. Oh yes, Ichinojo and Takakeisho both resumed on-dohyo practice.
In fact, both Ichinojo and Yoshikaze are back on the torikumi as of today. On the other hand, Chiyonoumi is off the Torikumi. I don’t know what the nature of his injury is, though.
Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. Here are Mitoryu and Takanosho:
Kiribayama vs. Daiseido:
Nice leg muscles, Daiseido.
Okinoumi vs. Meisei:
Meisei and local-boy Tomokaze:
Kaisei and Asanoyama:
Practice over! The sekitori hit the baths, and only a lonely mawashi and lonelier leg brace remain at the venue to tell the tale:
But of course, they’ll be back. In fact, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And guess who is being bumped from behind?
Enho is getting groped and rubbed against so much in this Jungyo, I heard that JR East is preparing a specially designated “Enho Car” on applicable train lines, as part of its harassment prevention efforts.
Chiyomaru is using his belly to great effect, also to get attention from the ladies as he awaits his bout:
With the Juryo bouts in the background, a Yokozuna prepares for his rope-tying demonstration, just like yesterday. Today it’s Hakuho’s turn:
Note that a Yokozuna wears his kesho-mawashi differently than other rikishi – the top of the apron is tucked into the mawashi rather than covering the Yokozuna’s belly.
By the way, Hakuho was asked what he thought about the US President’s plan to come watch sumo on Senshuraku of the Natsu basho. He said “I’m grateful. It’s still not clear if it will happen or not, but I plan to do my best”.
Time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and Yago is using Ryuden as a sock-puppet:
Terutsuyoshi and Shohozan are practicing their nirami-ai. That is, the dreaded stare-down. And those two are really good at it. You’d think they are actually angry at each other:
Following the dohyo-iri, but before the regular Makuuchi matches, a very special match took place – one that you’re probably never going to see in honbasho.
Yoshikaze vs. Tomokaze.
The two are holding a gift of snacks from the city. Tomokaze was born is Kawasaki, as I mentioned. The reason that you are not going to see this in honbasho is that they are from the same heya (and very unlikely to be in a yusho playoff together). In fact, Tomokaze served as Yoshikaze’s tsukebito, and out of respect, continued to do so even when he became sekitori, only quitting once he reached Makuuchi.
So these two are very tight, in a mentor-apprentice kind of way. And they also swore they will do this bout completely “gachinko” (“honest”).
Time for the regular bouts. I do not have much in the way of video, but here is Hokutofuji who adopted Nishikigi and Shohozan’s idea of becoming a spectator:
With the lighting in the venue being what it is, you’d think somebody would take an artistic photo of Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw… ah… here it is:
Ryuden seems to enjoy his match with Shohozan, the other starer, quite a lot:
Also, it appears that Abi’s watch has made it to 5 minutes to 6!
But as for his bout itself… he must be the world’s worst yotsu wrestler. Get that ass down, Abi-long-legs!
Well, that’s Tomokaze he is engaging there. So maybe he knows he shouldn’t beat the local boy. Tomokaze wins this one, and marks his victory to all as he goes back to the dressing room:
Here is some news footage from this event, showing mostly Takakeisho – including his daily Tochinoshin bluff match.
As the sekitori all go home, we stop and admire Tsurugisho’s purse:
And while Ichinojo’s bag is rather plain, his weapon of choice is…
…a very stressed water bottle?
See you tomorrow, big boulder! And in our pin-up corner today, we have:
Day 2 seems to be when all of the big names get their first match in the divisions below Juryo, and it’s going to be a great night / day of sumo for the fans. Where day 1 only had a handful, day 2 features many eagerly anticipated matches, including fan favorite Ura. Let’s see who is up!
Akua vs Chiyonoo – Oh yeah! Akua wants back in Juryo to light up our screens with that day-glow mawashi, and he’s got to get through Chiyonoo to have any chance. When I talk about the Makushita “wall”, you can think of Chiyonoo as a big, sturdy brick. Himself a de-throned Juryo man, he wants back in the paid ranks. Battles like this are why the top 10 ranks of Makushita may be the most brutal in all of sumo.
Hoshoryu vs Kizakiumi – Taking to the dohyo just after Ura’s match the crowd won’t quiet down in the least. Hoshoryu is climbing steadily up to the Makushita “wall” to test his mettle. His opponent, Kizakiumi, has had a meteoric rise after entering professional sumo from the college ranks, and has already bounced off the wall during Aki.
Ura vs Takakento – Are you ready to hear the Kokugikan go nuts for a Makushita match? Ura is just a bit short of “the wall” group, but the competition is going to be brutal. A former Takanohan deshi, Takakento made the move with Takakeisho and Takagengi to Chiganoura. He has been in Makushita for the past 10 tournaments.
Musashikuni vs Kototsubasa – The Musashigawa scion takes his first match of the new year against Sadogatake’s Kototsubasa. Both men are near their top ever rank, both are on an upward trend. Both need wins to advance into the elite group just a bit father up the banzuke.
Wakatakamoto vs Ryuseio – Another of the Waka* brothers, his posting at Makushita 40 keeps him in thick competition of rikishi battling to challenge for the top 10 ranks. He faces 32 year old veteran and Sandanme veteran Ryuseio for his first bout.
Shoji vs Hikarugenji – Only in his 9th tournament, Musashigawa’s Shoji is battling his way through Sandanme in a bid to return to Makushita, and faces division mainstay Hikarugenji. Shoji is looking to reverse a series of make-koshi tournaments, including a disastrous 1-6 in Kyushu.
Kenho vs Sumanoumi – Big, friendly Kenho went 6-1 at Kyushu, one of his best tournaments in a while. Now he finds himself in lower Sandanme, and frankly we hope this gentle giant knocks a few competitors into next Sunday. His opponent, Sumanoumi, is a long serving Sandanme veteran.
With this many rising stars out on the same day in Makushita, it’s going to be one of the better days of lower division sumo in a while!
Yesterday, the NSK board convened. After a couple of meetings in which the newly elected board was set up and various toshiyori were assigned duties, it was finally time to deliberate the penalties of various trouble makers.
Takayoshitoshi and Takanohana
As you may recall, in the middle of the basho, shin-juryo Takayoshitoshi decided to beat up his tsukebito in front of many witnesses, and was pulled out of the basho as a result. His punishment for the deed is a suspension for one basho. He will not do the spring jungyo and will forfeit the Natsu basho. He is allowed to practice at his heya.
This of course implies a sharp drop in rank. Maybe even as far as sandanme.
The stablemaster of every trouble rikishi also has to bear punishment for his part in raising and guiding his deshi improperly. However, in Takanohana’s case, there was more – he has continued his games with the NSK and played hooky from the arena. He wasn’t around when the twin did the deed, and he should have.
There was a faction in the NSK – allegedly the Nishonoseki ichimon – which called for him to be suspended from all activities this time. This would have prevented him from actually guiding his deshi, and may have required fostering them temporarily to other heya in his ichimon. However, the Takanohana ichimon begged for a lighter sentence, and eventually the board decided on yet another demotion. He now has the lowest possible rank for a member of the NSK: toshiyori.
The Minezaki scandal
We haven’t mentioned this story in a post so I need to fill you in. A short time before the Takayoshitoshi story broke, it was announced that a rikishi from Minezaki beya has beaten up a junior on four separate occasions, some of them after the Harumafuji scandal. The junior rikishi retired as a result, but the story only came to the knowledge of the stablemaster from a letter sent by the former rikishi’s father. He promptly reported it to the NSK and they announced it publically after verifying it with the parties involved.
The names of the parties have not been revealed by the Japanese press, but only one rikishi retired from that heya recently: Kaigo. As for the assailant, a single rikishi from Minezaki beya pulled out of the tournament following the publication: Arawashi’s tsukebito, Hikarugenji. Connect the dots.
And his punishment was decided yesterday as well. He, too, will be suspended from one basho. Again, a drop in rank is implied. Hikarugenji was sandanme 25 in the Haru basho.
Minezaki oyakata was docked 10% of his salary for the next two months.
The Osunaarashi wrap-up
At the time of the announcement of the Osunaarashi scandal, his stablemaster served as a trustee. This means that he was not considered a member of the NSK and could not be punished (though through some regulation gymnastics, he could still keep his heya…)
However, in yesterday’s meeting he was docked 10% of his salary by his own request. At the same opportunity, he also declared that he will not be holding a danpatsu-shiki (ceremonial cutting of top-knot) for Osunaarashi. Indeed, the former rikishi is already shorn.
The punishments seem extremely light. Yet another demotion for Takanohana, after he clearly didn’t repent following the previous one and indeed said he does not accept nor understand it? It remains to be seen if the former dai-yokozuna will quit his attention-seeking behavior and start on a more constructive path.
As for the two violent rikishi, what message does that send to parents who send their kids to professional sumo? “Nothing has changed. Your kid may well be beaten up if a senior doesn’t like the way he makes the chanko. There is no incentive for the seniors to keep their hands in their obi.” After Hakkaku declared that stopping violence in sumo is the top item on his agenda, I would have expected a more severe punishment.
An old Jewish saying goes: “He who is kind to the cruel ends up being cruel to the kind”.