🌐 Location: Murayama, Yamagata
The Jungyo keeps moving up north, and we are deeply in Tohoku at this point.Continue reading
Here we are, at the end of what turned out to be a very interesting basho – and not just in the top division. Princes were dethroned (Hoshoryu and Naya make-koshi), new ones are in the making (one fresh nephew, and one Hakuho replica in maezumo). Let’s see what the last day brought us.
The big story in Jonokuchi was, of course, the three-way playoff between members of the same heya, Naruto beya. Marusho, Sakurai and Motobayashi did not allow themselves to be eliminated till the very end.
A three-way playoff (“tomoe ketteisen”) works like this – no matter at what division: two rikishi mount the dohyo, say A and B, and the third, rikishi C, awaits. Suppose A wins. B then descends the dohyo and waits, and C mounts it and takes on A. Should A win again, they yusho is his. if not, C stays on the dohyo, B joins him, and this continues until one of them wins two in a row.
So theoretically, this can go on until the cows come home. In practice, there is seldom symmetry of power, and the strongest one emerges pretty quickly.
Here is today’s three-way playoff. The yobidashi here also happens to be from Naruto beya – yobidashi kenta, who is nicknamed “Maeken” by his heya-mates. We start with Marusho on the right, Sakurai on the left, and Motobayashi waiting.
Well, Sakurai’s and Motobayashi’s university sumo experience tells. Marusho is merely a graduate of a good high-school sumo program. Sakurai wins the first bout, Motobayashi replaces Marusho and beats Sakurai, and then beats Marusho for the yusho. Motobayashi is a graduate of Kinki University, which produced many top-division wrestlers. In his school days he was considered Takakeisho’s rival, but he opted to continue his education when the future Ozeki left school for Takanohana beya.
Though the yusho has already been decided in Jonidan (Tokisakae), there were still rikishi who did not complete the seven matches. First, let’s take a look at long-legged Kitanowaka, the Hakkaku beya charmer, facing Tenei from Takadagawa beya. Both are 4-2, Kitanowaka is on the left.
Ah, we have ourselves a crane operator here. Kitanowaka finishes 5-2, and will get a decent bump up the ranks come Aki.
Next, we keep our watch out for Roman, the crew-cut man from Tatsunami beya. He is coming up against Isamufuji from Isegahama beya, and they are both 5-1. Roman is on the right:
This develops into a kind of dance in which both wrestlers try to keep their opponents from reaching the mawashi or any other hand hold. Eventually Roman catches an arm and pulls. He is now 6-1, and will get an even nicer bump up the ranks.
Finally, one we haven’t covered in these posts, but we all know and love. Well, at least, those of us who have been around before Isegahama beya lost its Yokozuna, and with him, its hold on the yumitori position.
I’m speaking of Satonofuji, of course. He is deeply make-koshi as he comes into this day, with 1-5, facing Shiraseyama from Kise beya with the same miserable result. One wonders why the 42 years old doesn’t call it quits yet. I’m guessing he has a couple of goals, yet. One is probably doing the yumi-tori shiki in Aminishiki’s retirement ceremony. The other may be that he is waiting to braid the last rope for his oyakata – the red one for his 60th birthday, to be used in the “kanreki dohyo-iri” performed by former yokozuna on that occasion.
Be that as it may, he has to go up the dohyo until then and do sumo, and here he is, facing us, while Shiraseyama is with his back to us.
It’s a bit of a slippiotoshi, one has to admit, but at least Satonofuji finishes senshuraku with a sweet taste.
In Sandanme we have yet another playoff, and it, too, is a playoff within the same heya – Asatenmai, the 38 years old from Takasago beya, faces Terasawa, the 24 years old who is just making his first steps in the sumo world. This is just a plain, single-bout playoff. Asatenmai on the right.
Hmm. I get a different atmosphere here than the amicable competition that ruled the Naruto three-way-playoff. Terasawa sends his ani-deshi (big-brother-heya-mate, similar to a sempai) off the dohyo and doesn’t even look back as he makes his way to his own starting point. Bad blood? Low-ranked rikishi operate in a seniority system, where the older ani-deshi boss them around.
In any case, Terasawa wins the Sandanme yusho.
We start Makushita with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, having his last bout. His opponent is one we have also been following – Natsu basho’s Sandanme yusho winner, Shiraishi. I have not been happy about Shiraishi’s bouts, mostly because of his henka or half-henka in the first ones. And I’m even less happy about this one, although he makes it pretty clear he is not going for a henka today.
Seriously, what is this? I get that he has some injury in the shoulder and the arm. But what is this? He starts the bout two thirds of the way from the shikiri-sen to the tawara. He tries to keep himself so far away from Terunofuji that his own tsuppari almost doesn’t hit him. This looks more like that Laurel and Hardy Battle of the Century. Shiraishi should be thankful he belongs to Tamanoi beya rather than Futagoyama, or he would have his ass kicked all over Twitter.
Next we have ourselves an Onami – the eldest one, in fact, Wakatakamoto. He faces Tochimaru from Kasugano beya, and they are both comfortably kachi-koshi, 4-2, hoping to increase their fortunes and banzuke chances. Wakatakamoto is on the left:
Alas, the eldest Onami drops this one, and once again fails to catch up with his little brothers.
Going up the Makushita banzuke, we have Seiro facing Kototebakari. Both are kachi-koshi, 4-2, and Seiro get a salary next basho. Kototebakari, again, is trying to win an extra match to improve his own position next basho. Seiro is on the left, Kototebakari on the right.
Seiro makes short work of the Sadogatake man, who usually shows a bit more fighting spirit than that. I guess kachi-koshi will do that to you. Seiro is 5-2, Kototebakari 4-3.
At the very bottom of Juryo, we have another Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, making a visit that may open the door for him to return to the salaried ranks. He is 5-1, and at Ms5w, 6-1 can certainly propel him into Juryo. However, he is facing Kotonowaka, who is 7-7, and needs this win to avoid dropping back into Makushita, disappointing his father, and bringing shame to the shikona he inherited from him.
Wakamotoharu on the right, Kotonowaka on the left:
We see glimpses here of the old Kotokamatani, in what looks like a typical top-Makushita brawl more than a Juryo match. Kotonowaka saves himself from demotion. He may not advance much, but he stays in the silk zone, and gets to keep his huuuuge oicho.
I shall finish this report, showing you that Ishiura can still do sumo that’s more easy on the eyes than his frequent henka. The foe is Mitoryu from Nishikido beya, and I think I don’t need to tell you which is which.
Round and round and round you go, Mitoryu. Ishiura will probably get back into Makuuchi, qualifying for Hakuho’s dohyo-iri again. The big question, of course, is whethe Hakuho himself will qualify for it come Aki.
We start the day again with maezumo. I only have one bout though, and that at low quality. Our friend Hokutenkai (right) vs. Omura (left):
This match looks so much like his match from the previous day that I had to check to make sure the rival is, indeed, Omura rather than Kotoomura. He is now 3-0, so he is out of the maezumo rounds and ensured of having a good placement in Jonokuchi next basho.
And speaking of Jonokuchi, the king of Jonokuchi, Hattorizakura, met a guy named Numano, from Musashigawa beya. Numano is a pretty new guy, who had a heavy make-koshi in his first ranked tournament. One of his only two wins was, of course, against one, Hattorizakura. Numano on the left, Hattorizakura on the right:
The sad fact of life about Hattorizakura is that he may show sparks of real sumo one day, and then go back to being the same old Hattorizakura the next. And this was one of these “same old Hattorizakura” bouts. Numano gets his first win of the tournament.
Slowly-recovering former sekitori Homarefuji had two wins already coming into this bout, where he faces Kiryu from Miyagino beya (I think he is one of Enho’s tsukebito, not sure). Homarefuji on the left, Kiryu on the right:
Homarefuji is actually a pusher-thruster, and a chest-to-chest match, not to mention an uwatenage, is not exactly his specialty. But of course, nobody at Isegahama will reach sekitorihood without knowing how to perform a nage.
We are continuing to watch the shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya. We have already seen him win twice, and it seems like the hairdo is actually lucky for him. On the left we have Hokutoizumi from Hakkaku beya. On the right, Crew-Cut Roman:
The crew-cut works its magic, and now Roman is 3-0.
Our friend Narutaki is on a roll, with 2-0 in his previous bouts (His brother Kyonosato, however, is not as lucky, being defeated again and again in Jonokuchi. I guess his legs can’t really carry him anymore). Here on the left, he is engaging with Sadanosato from Sakaigawa beya.
This proves to be a difficult bout for Narutaki, despite his energy, and he starts to pull some point. It looks almost as if his rival had the best of him at the end, but of course, Sadanosato goes out first, and it’s Narutaki’s third win.
Next up, we have Shoji, the Musashigawa man, here on the left, facing Kaonishiki from Azumazeki on the right:
Shoji can’t get that first attack properly finished, and finds himself on the defense, and suffering his first loss.
So, how about Amakaze? Can he get the Sandanme yusho? On the left is Terasawa from Takasago beya, on the right, our friend from Oguruma beya.
Terasawa moves quickly and doesn’t let the bigger rikishi get any kind of real advantage, and then comes that little push at the end, and Amakaze’s yusho dream evaporates.
Yesterday, we saw Onojo beat former Ozeki Terunofuji. Today, the same Onojo (left) faces the rising star, Shiraishi (right):
I’m starting to really dislike Shiraishi’s opening sidestep. It’s not exactly a henka, as he then immediately engages, but I suspect if he was faced with anybody with real experience he would have been punished with a serious hikiotoshi. Nevertheless, once he engages, he has some serious tools like that nodowa. Onojo not even close to winning this time.
And speaking of the former kaiju, Terunofuji (left) faced Karatsuumi (right). If the name is familiar to some of you, it’s because he won the Sandanme yusho in Haru, which bumped him to Makushita. Oddly, he lost 0-7 in Natsu, and is now back to Sandanme, and in this bout he is visiting Makushita.
Terunofuji wins this one, mostly by applying his bulk rather than his grip. He was aiming to get one with his right hand, but didn’t quite make it. The picture at the top shows him having a grip with his left, but I doubt he could put much power into it, because of that dislocated ring finger which “still doesn’t feel right”.
From one Isegahama man, we move to another, and we have Kaito from Asakayama on the left facing Midorifuji on the right. What kind of sumo does the new Isegahama pixie do have to offer us today?
His style really reminds me of Terutsuyoshi, though his mass is not quite there yet. Sukuinage, and Midorifuji is now 3-0.
Next on our list is Kototebakari, here on the left, facing Nogami, the Oguruma man. Both are 2-0 before the bout.
Kototebakari’s sumo is very efficient. He doesn’t waste energy. Tachiai, side step, send home.
And now, to the highlight match of the day, and frankly, one of Hoshoryu’s best performances. He is facing Churanoumi, again, a guy with sekitori experience, but not as much as Seiro. Churanoumi is on the left, Hoshoryu on the right:
Round and round, Hoshoryu manages to keep his balance in some dangerous situations, and tries kicks and trips, eventually winning this by kotenage. Lovely match.
Today, Hoshoryu has a Juryo visit, which means he will be wearing an official Oicho-mage for the first time. He already wore one in Jungyo, but he only did Juryo there as he was the “local boy”. This time he is a legitimate Makushita joi-jin. And his opponent of the day is none other than Kizakiumi, Churanoumi’s brother!
I’m not bringing many Juryo bouts because frankly, there is much to be depressed about there, with favorites like Sokokurai and Ikioi faring rather badly, and others doing sumo that’s less than brilliant. But still, here is Ishiura vs. Chiyoshoma. And no, it’s not a double henka:
Ishiura tries what looks like a tasukizori, but Chiyoshoma isn’t biting.