Day 10 From Lower Divisions

No one on the Jonokuchi torikumi is leading for the yusho though there were a few hopefuls with an outside chance on one loss. I found a great video featuring the first four bouts of Day 10. This is a gem and shows why I stay the whole day when I get a chance to watch a tournament live. It moves fast, these four bouts take less than 10 minutes.

First up, Hattorizakura was set to battle Shishimaru to see who would pick up their first win. Shishimaru is a big guy and seems to toy with Hattorizakura, giving him a little hope by backing up to the edge. Quickly, and unceremoniously, Shishimaru pivots and throws the hapless Hattorizakura to the clay. Shishimaru picks up his first win and Hattorizakura picks up his fifth loss. All is right with the universe.

Next up we have Yada on the left versus Houn. This does not go the way I expected. Things start out with pushing, thrusting, favoring the larger Yada. He whiffs on a punch and Houn pounces, grabs the belt and takes control. He’s not strong enough to topple the kid 40 kilos heavier. Instead, he looks like a truck driver, steering his out-of-control rig around the dohyo and out. Houn gets his second win of the tournament, tying his best finish. Can he pick up a third? Yada is 1-4 in his debut tournament.

The third bout in this video features Tanaka on the left versus Toya. Tanaka is slight but has some serious moxie. The 68kg bulldozer drives Toya back and throws him in a heap off the dohyo. Lastly, Takamasaki on the left against Sawada. A solid tachiai but Sawada seemed unready for the fact that given the combined inertia of these two he’d end up going backwards, slipping to 2-3 while Takamasaki improves to 3-2.

I couldn’t find any Jonidan bouts so we move on to the sandanme bout of Ones to Watch regular Naya (right) against Shohoryu. Naya is a tall guy but still seems to be a bit too high after the initial tachiai and tsuppari. Shohoryu manages to get inside, drive Naya back a bit on the defensive. Then he uses that belt grip, and some flexibility, to get a great shitatenage under-arm throw.

Musashikuni began the Fukuoka tournament kyujo. He missed his first bout and came back in time for his second, which he lost. However, he has been on a tear since and picked up his third win on Day 10 against journeyman wrestler, Oazuma.

Oazuma has been in sumo for 12 years. He had a major setback in 2010 and fell back to Jonokuchi where he won the yusho. Since 2013, however, he’s been a makushita regular. In their bout, Musashikuni got a great drive off the line, pushing Oazuma straight back before he locked in with a solid belt grip with both hands and did his best Tochinoshin impression for a great yorikiri win. Musashikuni has a chance to pick up his kachi-koshi tomorrow against Obamaumi.


This Juryo digest video starts of with a great tachiai between Daiseido, visiting from Makushita with his kachi-koshi already, and Tomokaze who will want two more wins to stay in the professional ranks. Daiseido’s forceful charge sends Tomokaze back to the straw bales but the big guy is agile and manages to escape to the other side of the dohyo. After a few attempts at shoving Daiseido out prove futile, Tomokaze perceives his opponent over-committing, and slips to the side. Daiseido’s own momentum launches him, uncontrolled, across the dohyo and Tomokaze’s hatakikomi attempt turns into a twisting sukuinage as his right arm pulls up while the left drives down.

Is it just me, or did Mitoryu attempt a henka? Azamaryu recovers but falls to a hatakikomi. Gokushindo has learned to keep Enho away from his belt at all costs. This bout is a lot of leaning with short bursts of activity which probably wore on Gokushindo’s focus. After a long wait, Enho pounces. While spinning and trying to keep those hands away from his belt, Gokushindo loses his balance and his hand touches the clay. A tiny mistake but that’s all it takes.

Jungyo off day – some footage

We interrupt today’s scheduled programming to inform you that the rikishi had a bit of a rest today at Okayama, where they will resume their activities tomorrow.

Unfortunately, tomorrow I won’t be able to cover the events, with both work and a Euroleague basketball game to attend.

So I’ll try to give you a double helping on Wednesday. And in the meantime, here is some interesting footage that turned up from yesterday at Osaka:

The difference between butsukari and reverse butsukari

So, those who followed this program in the past few days should already know what a butsukari geiko is: Up-ranker exposes his chest. Down-ranker needs to throw himself at that chest and push the up-ranker all the way to the edge. Done? Good. Squat at the edge, and give the up-ranker a nice bow. Not done? Up-ranker will usually throw you to the ground. Occasionally, he’ll take you for a monkey-walk around the dohyo.

So here is Hakuho giving Takakeisho TLC from yesterday:

The ceremony usually ends with an “itten” (一転), where the low ranker symbolically knocks on the chest of the up-ranker, and gets thrown one last time. Here Hakuho seems to go for a “san-ten” (三転) – three final throws? Hmm…

A reverse butsukari (not an official name) is when an up-ranker wants to practice pushing. So he asks a low-ranker to do the honors. The rules are supposed to be the same. In the previous Jungyo, Kisenosato did one of those – I think it was with Kagayaki. Kisenosato is a conservative… so he kind of insisted on the itten: knocked on his opponent’s chest, and immediately threw himself to the ground. 🙂

(Those throws are not actually like the ones in an actual bout. The ukemi knows he is supposed to be thrown, and usually performs a korogari as soon as the up-ranker touches him. Kisenosato simply did one without his opponent laying more than one finger on him).

So usually a reverse butsukari looks quite different than the “normal” one, which is a show of authority. How different? Take a look at Harumafuji who was doing that  yesterday, (and three days in a row, apparently):

So… no actual rolls. And the squats don’t end with much of a bow.

Chikara-mizu jokes

So, if you only ever watch the Kintamayama shorts or the NHK highlights, you probably haven’t seen many chikara-mizu (power-water) ceremonies. Before each bout, one rikishi who has not been tainted with a loss takes a ladle of water from the yobidashi and hands it to the next rikishi who goes up to wrestle. That rikishi accepts it, rinses his mouth with it, and then  accepts a piece of paper which is usually used to cover the mouth while spitting the water down into a spittoon at the side of the dohyo.  The rikishi who hands the water is the one who won the last bout, and on the other side of the dohyo, where the previous wrestler lost, the rikishi of the next bout, one who has not fought yet, will do the honors. On the musubi-no-ichiban, the last bout of the day, the role will be left to the last winner on that side, who has to stay there for this purpose.

So, during honbasho, this is all done quite seriously (though I find the constant spitting kind of yucky, especially for the yobidashi who has to clean up the spittoon from time to time). But during the Jungyo, rikishi like to play around. One of the common jokes is to add some of the dohyo salt to the ladle. The yobidashi usually keep silent, though this is done right in front of their eyes.

But this is not the only possible prank.

Here are the bouts of the Juryo division from yesterday (yes! Aminishiki can win by yori-kiri!) for your enjoyment. And pay attention to Osunaarashi handing the chikara-mizu to Amakaze. Ahem.

It’s good to be the king!


When a Yokozuna makes an appearance, the other sekitori greet him with a bow. When it’s Hakuho, that includes Harumafuji as well. Hakuho returns a nod.

I watched a similar video the other day, in which Harumafuji arrived at the dohyo, and everybody was bowing to him, but he and Kakuryu just exchanged nods and a friendly pat. Hakuho has a special status. In fact, apparently Kakuryu, Harumafuji and Kisenosato, when they mention each other, use their respective shikona. But when they refer to Hakuho, it’s “Yokozuna”, whether he’s present or not. As in Kakuryu saying to Harumafuji “We need to wait for Kisenosato and the Yokozuna”. That kind of thing.

You’ll notice that the Yokozuna himself bows. That is directed at Tamanoi oyakata. When Takanohana is present, a bow will be directed at him as well.

Note another interesting form of expressing respect: mizu-tsuke. This is similar to the chikara-mizu explained above, only without the paper to hide the spits and without a yobidashi on hand. And look how many of those there are.

(Many short butsukaris in that video as well).

Takagenji Juryo Debut in May

To illustrate the importance of basic Japanese ability for sumo fans, I point my dear readers to the Japan Sumo Association’s website. The English site has two news items with today’s date: the Sumo Museum Calendar and the Dohyo Matsuri information for the May tournament. Fascinating stuff, but the Japanese site includes those and two more: a list of retirements from March and the list of wrestlers promoted to Juryo. Takagenji and Meisei will be promoted to Juryo. For those of us hoping to construct well-informed banzuke, that would be particularly important information, especially if there were makuuchi wrestlers listed among the retirements (there are not). The most senior retirement was Ryouounami in Makushita.

So, appropriately, today’s news headline addresses the Juryo debut of Takagenji. Again, from Nikkei:

大相撲夏場所、19歳貴源治が新十両 番付編成会議

Continue reading

Juryo Star Osunaarashi Withdraws From Kyushu


In an unexpected move, star Egyptian sumotori Osunaarashi withdrew from the Kyushu tournament at the start of day 13, handing his opponent, Seiro, a fusen win, and likely the Juryo championship. At this moment, the team at Tachiai don’t have any news on why Osunaarashi withdrew, but we will bring you all the news we discover.

Osunaarashi had been a favorite to compete for the Juryo champion, and a hopeful to return to the Makuuchi top division in the January basho. Given his winning record (9-4), he will receive a nice promotion, but will likely remain in Juryo for at least one more tournament.

We wish Osunaarashi the best of luck, and hope to see him in action again soon.

Update 25 Nov, 17:00 GMT

Thanks to co-blogger Andy, there is some detail now on what caused Osunaarashi to withdraw.  Seems there has been an injury sustained to his right knee, and he has been ordered to rest for at least 28 days in hopes of repairing it.  As we have seen with Kotoshogiku and Terunofuji, damage to a rikishi’s undercarriage is serious business.  Knee injuries are difficult to treat, and difficult to heal.  So much of sumo depends on transferring power to earth via a rikishi’s legs, health of the knee join is essential.  We are all hoping Osunaarashi can recover strongly, and join the Hatsu basho in January.

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 14

Marking Position for Water Break
Marking Position for Water Break

I’ve never seen a water break in the middle of a match. Today, Ichinojo and Terunofuji’s marathon bout was a long stalemate for most of the match. It was really interesting to see how at 4 minutes in, they stopped the match and then the gyoji marked each wrestler’s position and allowed the combatants to get some water. After the break, they started back where they left off but it wasn’t long before Ichinojo finally overpowered Terunofuji, dragging him over the straw bales.

In the yokozuna bouts, Kisenosato assured himself of jun yusho hy beating Kakuryu. He was very aggressive and just too powerful today for the yokozuna, who fell to 10-4. Harumafuji also fell to 10-4, as he had nothing to counter Hakuho. He basically held on for dear life as Hak dragged him around the ring, and forced him out. Tomorrow, Kisenosato takes on Harumafuji with a share of the jun yusho on the line while Hakuho faces Kakuryu with a chance at sealing this tournament with a dominant undefeated zensho yusho.

Endo picked up an impressive quick win against Kotoshogiku while Goeido gave himself a chance to save his ozeki ranking with a nice throw victory over Aoiyama. Oosunaarashi and Okinoumi both picked up their all-important 8th wins. Down in Juryo, Kitataiki has the yusho wrapped up while Gagamaru’s 10 wins will hopefully be enough to ensure both wrestlers make it back to makuuchi.