We leave Toyama prefecture, and move Northeast to Niigata prefecture. So yesterday our man was Asanoyama. Today, it’s Yutakayama’s turn in the limelight.
Gagamaru continues off the torikumi, and this day he is also joined by Shimanoumi, who was supposed to be on, but is replaced by Meisei. Our list of sekitori in working order is shrinking fast. But on to happier stories.
Welcome back to our feature where we dig into some of the action further down the banzuke; in the divisions below Juryo. It’s a combination of hard-charging young up-and-comers battling against fading stars and mainstay rikishi returning from injury. The action here is frequently hit or miss, but as we love to say about the upper Makushita, these rikishi are almost to the salaried ranks, and the battles here are sometimes more action packed than most of the televised matches for that day.
Day 1 action is light for our roster that we are watching, with most of the heavy action apparently slated for day 2. But lets go over who is on the dohyo to start the tournament in the sweat box that is Nagoya.
Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – After a single basho as a sekitori, Onami brother Wakamotoharu could do no better than a 3-4 make koshi in May, and finds himself at Makushita 5, well back in the pack and possibly out of range to bid for promotion in any real sense. He faces former Maegashira 4 Fujiazuma, who at 32 years is finding his body struggling to support his sumo.
Midorifuji vs Hokutokawa – Midorifuji is not on a meteoric rise up the banzuke, but it’s notable that he has racked up 4 consecutive kachi-koshi since Aki 2018. This approach has put him at Makushita 11, his highest ever rank. His opponent, Hokutokawa, sat out Osaka with injuries, but came roaring back, and is likewise fighting at his highest ever rank.
Wakatakamoto vs Inoue – Further down the torikumi, we find another Onami brother. Wakatakamoto is looking to bounce back after a 2-5 make koshi in May, and fight his way to the higher spots in the division. He faces 19 year old Inoue, who is at his highest ever rank, and has been kachi-koshi in the last 3 tournaments.
Shoji vs Genbumaru – Shoji is one good tournament away from breaking back into Makushita, and possibly bypassing Musashigawa’s flagging scion Musashikuni. Genbumaru, his opponent, is fighting near his highest ever rank.
Amakaze vs Kototora – Former Juryo mainstay Amakaze has produced 6-1 and 5-2 records since his return from a 8 month kyujo. He has also become a bit of an internet star for videos showing him enthusiastically eating all manner of goodies. I expect him to have little trouble with Kototora, as I think Amakaze is under-ranking right now.
Kitanowaka vs Ota – Kitanowaka was very impressive in his first basho, resulting in a 6-1 record and a solid move into Jonidan. He faces a long serving veteran in Ota, who has been ranked as high as Makushita. I expect Ota will faithfully undertake the tempering of young Kitanowaka, who is fresh from the wide open play-yard of Jonikuchi.
The basho is over, and this is our ultimate Natsu 2019 lower division report. The lower division schedule is a little lighter on senshuraku, and we have fewer bouts today.
In Jonokuchi, we wish the giant from Miyagino beya, Toma, farewell and success in losing some weight by the Nagoya basho. Here is his final bout with Yabugasaki. Both are 4-2, Toma is attacking from the left.
Toma extends his balance to 5-2, and we will see him somewhere around Jonidan 60-70-ish in Nagoya.
In Jonidan, we move forward in time to watch the yusho playoff (which takes place at the end of Juryo matches). Tochikamiyama on the left is facing Okinohama on the right, and he is more than a little nervous.
The TV announcer expected a monoii, but apparently, Okinohama was flying while Tochikamiyama still had two feet inside the ring. Tochikamiyama bravely fights the smile that floats to his face, as he wins the yusho.
Next up, in Sandanme, we have Tamakongo (left) facing Kotoozutsu on the right. Or rather, this footage starts when Tamakongo has his bout to us. Tamakongo, if you recall, is Tamawashi’s lone heya-mate. The two are 5-1:
He is now 6-1, and all the rikishi in Kataonami beya have had a wonderfully large kachi-koshi this basho, it turns out.
The more serious Sandanme contest is between Shiraishi and Hokutokawa. Again we move forward in time, as this is a yusho decider. Shiraishi is set to become Tamanoi beya’s next star. Shiraishi attacks from the right:
Shiraishi is completely unfazed by the large crowd gathered for prime time. The Sandanme yusho is his, reminding us of one Oyanagi, who achievede the same in his first basho – nowadays called Yutakayama. Definitely one to watch for Nagoya as well.
Going up to Makushita, we can’t do without the back-flipping Tomisakae from Isegahama beya. He is matched with Takemasa, and both are 4-2. Tomisakae is coming from the left…
…and going straight to the right. Trust Tomisakae, though, to convert a Kotoyuki-style roll into a lithe cartwheel.
Well, maybe not exactly lithe.
Another bout in the 4-2 bracket that was relegated to senshuraku is our friend Kototebakari, facing Ryusei. In this case the video angle is such that Ryusei is with his back to us and Kototebakari attacking from the opposite direction.
Kototebakari was in a bit of danger there for a second, but manages an almost Hakuho-like stop and change of direction, for the win.
Finally, Here is a cynical, yucky bout at the bottom of Juryo. Seiro (right) is 7-7 and needs his kachi koshi to survive in Juryo. Ryuko is 5-1, but at Ms4e, with four kachi-koshi rikishi ranked above him, he needs that Juryo spot to be vacated and his own score to improve, to pass the “hell/heaven” line. This is how he does it:
Kesho mawashi are usually donated by fans. And I know only one man who is a real fan of the Henka. Andy, care to donate a kesho mawashi to Ryuko?
With just a couple of days left, its time for our “Ones to Watch” to head to their final matches of Natsu. Many of the rikishi we are following managed to already score their 4th win, taking the pressure off for the final day. While none of them are in competition for divisional yusho, most of them have fought well this May, and will find themselves with new, more difficult challenges in Nagoya.
This will be a great day of lower division sumo, as most of the yusho will be decided today as the remaining 6-0 rikishi face off to find the best of each division. The action in Makushita the past 2 days has been extraordinary, in many cases exceeding what we have seen in Juryo and Makuuchi for nearly every match. The playoffs are a bit akward this time, as some of the divisions have 3 undefeated rikishi. In that case two of them meet head to head, and the third takes on a 5-1 rikishi, with a playoff on Sunday if needed to decide the yusho.
Makushita: Takanofuji (Ms2w) vs Chiyoarashi (Ms35e)
Sandanme: Shiraishi (Sd100TD) vs Hokutotsubasa (Sd22w) and Hokutokawa (Sd12w) vs Kirinoryu (Ms56e)
with a playoff on senshuraku if needed.
Jonidan: Tochikamiyama (Jd42w) vs Terasawa (Jd14w) and Ito (Jk20e) vs Okinohama (Jd78w)
Yes, a Jonokuchi undefeated against a Jonidan
Jonokuchi: Watanabe (Jk11e) vs Kawabuchi (Jk24e)
Indeed, this time the lower division yusho races are a complete and utter mess. Let the best man win!
Day 13 Matches
Wakamotoharu vs Shiba – Both rikishi already have a losing record tally for Natsu, this match is to see how far down the banzuke they will fall. This is especially bitter for Wakamotoharu, who needed a simple kachi-koshi to join his brother in Juryo.
Ichiyamamoto vs Akiseyama – In the mean time, Juryo promotion candidate Ichiyamamoto visits sumo’s 2nd highest division to try his skill against Akiseyama, who is in need of a couple more wins to secure his Juryo spot in July. So this could in effect be an “exchange bout” -lksumo.
Wakatakamoto vs Shonannoumi – It’s Onami brother madness, with all 3 of them on the dohyo today. Sadly, Wakatakamoto shares his brother’s make-koshi result for Natsu, and will find himself pushed down the banzuke in July. The only prior match with Shonannoumi was last year during Natsu, and Wakatakamoto prevailed.
Naya vs Bushozan – Naya is possibly going to join the Makushita joi for Nagoya, and this 5-1 bracket match will decide the magnitude of his promotion. No matter who wins this one, there will be a good chance of a Naya vs Bushozan rematch in 2 months time.
Terunofuji vs Daishozen – A Sandanme 5-1 match. The disappointment was evident on Terunofuji’s face when he stumbled to his only defeat on day 8 against Sd51w Daishosei. Today’s opponent, Daishozen, is tiny compared to Terunofuji. I am going to look for another stand-up tachiai, grab-and-toss kimarite today.
Shoji vs Koshinoryu – This 3-3 “Darwin Match” will see the winner get their kachi-koshi and the loser relegated to demotion with a make-koshi. This is their first ever match, and we will be hoping for some solid sumo from Shoji, who may soon have Wakaichiro chasing him.
Kitanowaka vs Chiyooume – While I am sure he is disappinted to not be fighting for the Jonokuchi yusho, Kitanowaka is blasting his way out of sumo’s lowest division no matter what. A win today would likely seal his rank into the lower quartile of Jonidan for the sweat-box that is Nagoya.
Hattorizakura vs Nangu – They found someone with an 0-6 recored for Hattorizakura to face! Poor Nangu has been kyujo since the start of the basho, but comes back for his final match: against sumo’s wagoto mainstay. Congrats Nangu on your impending win!