Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 16

🌐 Location: Oshu, Iwate

oshu-preparing-dohyo
Preparing the dohyo at Oshu

Today, as the Jungyo hit the Iwate prefecture, two major comebacks have been accomplished.

First, the Ozeki ranks have been completed, with the return of Mr. Georgia, Tochinoshin:

tochinoshin

Tochinoshin said his injured toe still hurts somewhat. He noted that he lost about 10kg since he went kyujo, and wishes to put a few of those back by banzuke day.

He didn’t get much practice other than basics at his heya, but made himself busy giving butsukari to low-rankers as well as Tobizaru and even Goeido. He did not participate in the torikumi as yet.

Goeido, by the way, was back in business. In addition to that butsukari with Tochinoshin, he was also on the torikumi. His ear is getting better, apparently.

The other comeback was the glacial sekiwake, Ichinojo:

ichinojo

He settled for off-dohyo workout, but was thrown into the torikumi anyway, as you’ll see in the video clips below. His injury was in the lower back – an existing injury that made a return as his weight jumped from 220 to 230 kg just before the Nagoya basho.

He did some physiotherapy back in his heya and it’s “mostly better” now, but he wants to get back down to 220kg. Nevertheless, he wants to have a Genghis Khan when the Jungyo hits Hokkaido, and he may not be able to resist the temptation.

A Genghis Khan, or Jengisukan in its Japanese rendition, is a Hokkaido specialty, the Japanese idea of what Mongolian food is supposed to be: Lamb grilled in metal helmets.

jingisukan

This thing is basically protein and veggies, much like Chanko, and is completely Japanese. I don’t think eating this will hurt Ichinojo much. He should just lay off the sweets and the white rice.

There are sever rikishi in the sumo world who hail from Iwate. No less than three of them are members of Isenoumi beya:

sazanami-nishikigi-tokio
Nishikigi, with Sazanami and Tokio

Sazanami hails not just from the prefecture in general, but from the city of Oshu itself, so he got a lot of attention, given that he is merely a Sandanme rikishi. And by “attention” I mean he was tortured pampered by a sekitori:

ryuden-sazanami
Ryuden doing the honors

Kotorikisen of Sadogatake beya and Wagurayama from Musashigawa beya also got a share of the local boy limelight, but really, the star of the day was Nishikigi. This means he also got to wallow in dirt – but unlike his low-rankd ototo-deshi (rikishi from the same heya who joined later), he got to use the chest of a Yokozuna:

Kisenosato, like Goeido, got himself busy on the dohyo for the first time in about a week. He didn’t look too bad. Here is Kisenosato vs. Sadanoumi:

And some bouts vs. Mitakeumi:

All in all, he had 11 matches with these two, 9 wins, 2 losses.

Another comeback – at least to the torikumi – was Takekaze. He was hanging around the Jungyo, but didn’t get a chance to wear his shimekomi. Here he is waiting expectantly for his first performance in a while:

But let’s see some sumo action. Though I have to apologize in advance: some of these are low quality, others filmed from a mile away.

Star of the day Nishikigi, vs. Takakeisho:

 

Next came Ikioi vs. Kaisei:

Shodai vs. Daishomaru:

Kagayaki vs. Shohozan:

Unfortunately, no video of Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi. But next is Takayasu vs. Ichinojo:

And the musubi, Kakuryu vs. Goeido:

That’s it. Kasugaryu got his bow back from Hokutoo, by the way.

Wait, no Enho? Don’t the sumo ladies in Iwate like Enho?

Sigh. You’ll have to settle for Tobizaru, then:

tobizaru

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 15

🌐 Location: Sendai, Miyagi

arena-inside

Today’s event… well, honestly, it’s not today’s event. It took place on the 12th. But anyway, day 15th event took place at Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Sendai has been one of the places hit most severely in the 2011 Tohoku disaster, and sever years later, it’s still seeking revival. Accordingly, two Yokozuna with their entourages reported in to perform a ceremonial dohyo-iri for the revival of Sendai:

If you’re wondering about the absence of Hakuho, just remember that in 2011 he did the rounds as lone Yokozuna to perform dohyo-iri all over Tohoku, including Sendai. The other Yokozuna get to be in the spotlight this time.

The event also included some solemn sumo jinku:

jinku-for-restoration-of-sendai
Tochigidake, Mutsukaze, Motokiyama

Back in the venue, Hakuho continued his off-dohyo workout routine. Though who knows what he was exercising here:

hakuho

If you think that looks silly, that’s one Hakuho record easily broken by Kakuryu, who seems to be really creative when it comes to looking silly:

kakuryu-silly-exercise

Other than that, most practice was sane. Takakeisho was doing butsukari with Daieisho:

takakeisho-butsukari-daieisho

And Takayasu was doing san-ban with Yutakayama:

takayasu-sanban-yutakayama

Goeido also had gave butsukari, but was still off the torikumi. Apparently, he has an ear infection. Takekaze, by the way, is back in the bouts.

Just before the Juryo torikumi, a drum exhibition took place:

Here is another duty performed by gyoji: the announcer in the venue is always a gyoji. In this case, Kimura Ryosuke:

ryosuke-chiyootori

Here accompanied by Chiyootori, who seems never to let go of that portable mini-fan.

It’s the announcer’s duty to explain what is going on on the dohyo – who is coming up for sanban or butsukari, what performance is about to take place and what it means. He gives the audience the kimarite at the end of each bout, reads out the names of kensho sponsors, and also gives general guidelines such as what to do in case of earthquake.

Dohyo-iri time is goof time. Chiyomaru decided to make sure all the photos taken by the sumo ladies were decent:

chiyomaru-self-censored
I wonder how he got those removed (cringe)

Tamawashi and Chiyomaru bullied poor Shodai so badly he ran away:

Tamawashi didn’t settle just with that. He also pestered Ikioi:

tamawashi-annoys-ikioi

…and bothered Kagayaki:

tamawashi-annoys-kagayaki

I guess somebody forgot his Ritalin today?

Alas, I do not have any torikumi videos. I can inform you that Aminishiki, who is very popular in Sendai, won his bout vs. Takanoiwa:

aminishiki
That’s a pretty determined face for a mere Jungyo bout

Apparently, Chiyomaru lost to Arawashi, while Mitakeumi beat Takayasu. And honestly, I don’t know who won, but Endo seems to be really enjoying his bouts:

endo-enjoys-himself-too-much

Now, in our Enho corner, I wanted to give you yet another solo dreamy prince photo. Or maybe one of him doing his shiko. But I have been informed that there are still a few people not trained enough to recognize Yago on the spot. So I give you Enho – accompanied by Yago:

enho-with-yago

Easily recognizable by having his center of gravity in his jaw.

And so as not to diminish Enho, here is a little clip from Instagram, which shows you why people love the little prince to bits. He recognizes the lady fan who is filming this from a previous occasion, and turns to greet her. She: “Hey, you remember me?”, He: “Yes, I remember”. She “Oh… thank you!!!” 😍

That guy waiting for Enho there is Kyokusoten, who has also fallen under the spell of the little pixie prince. Just today I saw a tweet in which he refers to him as “Uchi no Enho” (“My Enho”). 💕

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 12

🌐 Location: Ryugasaki, Ibaraki

dohyo-neat-and-ready
Even prefabricated, temporary dohyo are dedicated

On day 12, the Jungyo hit Ibaraki, the prefecture that proudly boasts a Yokozuna and an Ozeki. Almost every nobori in the venue had “Kisenosato” on it, with the occasional “Takayasu” and very few others. This was the first time a jungyo event takes place in the town of Ryugasaki.

Takayasu started his day practicing his tachiai with his tsukebito:

This may have done him good, because later, he went on-dohyo to re-do his practice bouts from yesterday. If you recall, yesterday he went 7 wins and 13 losses, especially facing Onosho.

Today,  the picture was completely different.

takayasu-onosho

He had sanban with Asanoyama and Tochiozan, three matches and three wins against each of them. And he had 10 bouts with Onosho, and won 8 of them. That’s what playing at your home court does!

The main course in the Ryugasaki event, however, was Yokozuna Kisenosato. If you think Japan in general is swept by Kisenosato fever, Ibaraki is like the Vatican of the Kisenosato religion. And Ryugasaki in particular served as the Yokozuna-to-be’s home until his middle school days. An old teacher recalls his days as a child sumo wrestler in this video from NHK.

The man in the white shirt near the end of the clip is none other than Kisenosato’s father. I can’t see any family resemblance at all. He even speaks a lot more clearly than his son (I always suspect that if it weren’t for the subtitles, even Japanese natives wouldn’t understand half of what Kisenosato is saying. But maybe that’s just my horrible listening comprehension skills…)

Kisenosato, of course, featured in the okonomi of the day, having his rope tied:

kisenosato-tsuna-shime

And you already saw his bout with Kakuryu in the above video. Kakuryu’s left foot is still hovering 2 cm above dohyo level. At this rate, Kisenosato is going to be the sole Yokozuna in Aki.

But there were other rikishi visiting Ryugasaki as well. For example, Takakeisho was doing some heavy lifting. This time, no tsukebito – just a modest sack of dohyo salt:

takakeisho-salt

By the way, Takanohana is on this Jungyo as a shimpan. In the previous Jungyo, as three of his sekitori were kyujo and tsukebito-beating Takayoshitoshi was suspended, he was taken off the Jungyo shimpan list and told to keep an eye on his deshi at home. But this time he was back in the Jungyo – and incidentally exactly the same sekitori and TYT (aka TJT) are in the Jungyo anyway.

The NSK’s and Takanohana’s strained relationship aside, while he is at the Jungyo, he seems to fill the time he is not in the black shimpan kimono with actual coaching to aforesaid deshi:

takanohana-teaching

In some other corner of the venue, Takekaze, who is still off the torikumi (as is Goeido), used Chiyomaru as a teppo pole. And like a good pole, Chiyomaru wouldn’t budge. Eventually Takekaze decides to move the immovable, no matter what:

I hope he doesn’t do the same to the teppo pole back in his heya, because that would mean serious damage… to the pole… 😜

Now, while we’re in goof mode, try to guess what Chiyomaru and Daieisho are doing here:

This is actually a Japanese game called “atchi-muite-hoi”. It’s based on rock-paper-scissors. First, the two participants do rock-paper-scissors. Whoever wins moves his finger up, down, left or right, and the loser moves his face up-down, left or right. If the finger and the face go in different directions, nobody wins and the game starts again from rock-paper-scissors. But if the finger and the face go the same direction, the finger owner wins and the face owner loses.

Apparently, there was a penalty for the loser in this particular game: loser gets a dekopin. A dekopin is a finger snap to the forehead – usually quite painful. Rikishi get lots of those on the day they get their first chon-mage arranged. But as you see, that’s not exclusive. And Chiyomaru-tan seems to be quite merciful with his ‘pin.

Here is a (slightly off-focus) video showing the sanyaku soroi-bumi, the following three bouts, and the yumitori-shiki. Actually, the video starts with Kagayaki stepping off the dohyo as the winner of a bout. His rival of the day was Shodai.

The yobidashi couldn’t be more off-key. He could open an off-key opera with Gagamaru.

Shohozan scares me.

And Takayasu with a tsuppari show that wouldn’t have shamed Terao in his day.

As for the yumi-tori, you can see that Kasugaryu is still with us, despite Hakuho’s departure. But as it turns out, he is not the lone performer in this Jungyo as I thought at first. A new yumi-tori performer from Hakkaku beya has been trained. More about him in tomorrow’s instalment. So the “Always two there are” rule is still being kept.

Here is another, less unfocused, look at that musubi bout:

At the end of the day, the dohyo looked a lot less neat than in the image at the top of this post:

dohyo-after

By the way, I wonder why they had the nobori dangling down like that instead of properly stretched on poles. This caused some funny effects. For example, this one seems to be saying “Kagayaki-zeki, the man” (男 輝関):

strange-nobori

In fact, it’s a nobori for Kotoyuki-zeki (琴勇輝). Got to love Kanji. (Credit for this find goes to Azechi, the sumo camera man, aka Sumotophone).

Finally, here is your Enho for today. Yes, for some reason Enho was still on the tour at Ryugasaki. It’s not clear why, as he was taken off the torikumi, so it’s probably not a question of local popularity.

enho
Don’t feel down, little prince. You’ll soon be on the Jungyo on your own merit.

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 11

🌐 Location: Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

takayasu
Welcome back, big bear

The Jungyo made its way back to Tokyo on day 11, and in the middle of a typhoon, took place at the Aoyama university campus in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Tokyo is a convenient places for rikishi to join or leave the Jungyo. Joining today was Ozeki Takayasu – just in time for the next event, which takes place in his home prefecture of Ibaraki.

But though it would have been understandable if he took it easy in Tokyo which served as a convenient convergence point, he decided all of a sudden to go up the dohyo and have san-ban with Asanoyama and Onosho. The results were less than spectacular – at least as far as the Ozeki was concerned:

The Ozeki’s shoulder is still not quite right?

Ah, finally, a win:

So, although he managed 4 wins and 1 loss to Asanoyama, he was completely smashed by Onosho, 3 wins and 12 losses.

In between, Nishikigi-mama and his assistant, Takanosho, wiped what little dirt Takayasu managed to put on Onosho.

Ryuden: “you missed a spot!” 🙂

So that was the man joining. But there were also men leaving. First, the whole Arashio gang which went to Suwa lake with Sokokurai disappeared. I thought they were joining to be there in time for Fukushima – especially the two elder Onamis – but no, they just made an appearance on that particular day. Special sponsor request, I guess. Perhaps specifically an Arashio beya sponsor.

But that’s a minor disappearance. The major one was, of course, Hakuho, who announce that he will go kyujo as of the next day. He did make an appearance as usual, and worked out lightly below the dohyo:

hakuho

But he informed the press that his knee was bothering him more than he let on at first. A few days ago he said that his knee was “feeling odd” but “there was no pain”, but today he qualified that to “I’m taking strong painkillers, so there is no pain”. Ouch.

He will be re-examined, and while he expressed his hope that he’ll be able to re-join the Jungyo at some point, he said there was a possibility he’ll need surgery or at least an arthroscopy. This may well mean he’ll be absent from Aki.

The Yokozuna is going to stay at Tokyo, but not with his full entourage. Kasugaryu will be needed to perform the yumi-tori, as there is no backup currently at the Jungyo (Satonofuji stayed home this time). And what will be the fate of our  daily Enho photos?

Hakuho is not the only worry – two notable participants were off the torikumi this day: Takekaze and Goeido. I believe they did participate in the keiko session, but can’t find evidence of any on-dohyo activity of these two.

But the show must go on! Yokozuna Kakuryu is still around, and probably slept at home, so he didn’t have time to get a decent shave in the morning:

unshaven-kakuryu

But later in the day he became pretty to celebrate his birthday – although that’s actually on the 10th. That’s probably because it’s easier to get those cakes in Tokyo:

kakuryu-early-birthday
Soccer cake to celebrate his unofficial soccer analyst position in the recent World Cup?

Aoiyama lent his chest to a lower ranked rikishi (I would guess his tsukebito). Interestingly, his usual bracing is not used for this exercise:

aoiyama-butsukari

Ryuden was using his tsukebito for weight training. Version one:

 

And version two:

The ever rounder Chiyomaru was doing some fansa right before his bout. His brother-come-tsukebito was fanning himself:

chiyomaru-chiyootori

Onosho continued to goof around just before the dohyo-iri, and got a bit of shoulder massage:

So here are some bouts for you:

Kagayaki vs. Ikioi:

Shodai not only serves as padding for the fall but also politely folds Ikioi’s sagari.

With Goeido off the bouts, Takayasu faced yusho winner Mitakeumi. The bout is part of the following news report:

Sigh. Mitakeumi should watch the Hakuho-Tochinoshin bout from Natsu to learn how to deal with tsuri-yori. That leg wriggling – not helpful!

The musubi:

And here is your Enho. I think this photo ranks pretty high on the heart throb Richter scale:

enho

So let’s hope he didn’t leave the Jungyo together with Hakuho…

PS: more synchronized workout by Enho and Tobizaru:

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 4

🌐 Location: Komatsu, Ishikawa

komatsu-dome

Today the Jungyo found itself in the Komatsu Dome, a semi-outdoors stadium, rather different than the usual local gymnasiums where the Jungyo takes place. It has a retractable roof and a bare-bones design, and is used to host baseball, soccer, and other turf-based sports. Well, tatty artificial turf, but still.

And there is no air-conditioning there. At all.

And it was 32ºC (~90ºF) today.

Did I mention it was hot?

There were electric fans and “tsurara” – blocks of ice, of which the rikishi made as much use as they could. For example, Kyokushuho thought this would be an ideal place for his rubber-band training:

kyokushuho-ice
Komatsu Hot

Takekaze, on the other hand, used the ice to cool off his aching elbow:

takekaze-ice

You can imagine that doing fansa under such conditions is not easy. But Kakuryu was very dutiful:

kakuryu-fansa
Where is Shinzan (the scary-looking bespectacled tsukebito) when we need him?

Despite the heat, some rikishi made good use of the facilities for some track-and-field:

Participants, from the left: Terutsuyoshi, Nishikigi, Shodai, officiated by Shohozan. And… Shodai could have won this, if he only had a… better… start…

The NSK’s PR department made an appearance in today’s event, for the first time bringing the NSK’s mascot, Hiyonoyama, to the Jungyo. They were there to promote ticket sales for the Aki basho, which start in a few days. They picked a nice way to do it – videos of “guess the rikishi”, followed by “come and support us in the basho, ticket sales start on August 4th”. I’m including a few of those here, you can see them all in the NSK’s twitter account if you want:

This mystery rikishi was captured in his undies. Doesn’t seem to bother him much, though.

And this one was actually captured coming out of the bath! And got photobombed, too.

“Make sure you come!” cries the intruder.

Apart from this, business was as usual. Onosho did some suri-ashi on the artificial turf:

onosho-suriashi

Goeido lended his chest to Tobizaru. The Ozeki seems to enjoy this immensely.

goeido-butsukari-tobizaru

Yutakayama and Asanoyama engaged in an energetic moshi-ai bout. A moshi-ai is a series of bouts, in which the winner decides who his next rival will be. This always involves several anxious rikishi hovering around and begging to be selected as soon as the current bout is over:

yutakayama-asanoyama-moshiai

The king of the moshi-ai in this Jungyo seems to be none other than Aoiyama:

asanoyama-aoiyama-moshiai
Aoiyama vs. Asanoyama

He has been doing serial moshi-ai (which means he was winning) for four days in a row now. Today it was just four, but on day 1 he had 5 bouts, on day 2 11, and on day 3 9 straight moshi-ai bouts. He is taping padding to his injured heels, and gambarizing in general, and it seems to be working.

Komatsu is in Ishikawa, and there are two and a half sekitori Ishikawa boasts as its own. These are Endo, Kagayaki, and Enho:

three-ishikawa-natives
Enho in a Taiho yukata, Endo in a Takanohana Yukata, and Kagayaki going for monochrome sakura.

169cm Enho right next to 193cm Kagayaki. It’s the story of his life, really:

enho-with-kagayaki-in-middle-school
Enho and Kagayaki, or rather Nakamura-kun and Tatsu-kun, in their middle school days.

Endo is, of course, the undeniable superstar of the three. He was everywhere. He gave butsukari:

endo-butsukari-daishoryu
The victim is Daishoryu (I think he is his tsukebito)

He also received some butsukari:

yutakayama-butsukari-endo
The chest is offered by Yutakayama

The okonomi acts of the day also involved the local boys. In addition to the usual Shokkiri (this time by the Kasugano pair, they seem to be alternating), Endo was used to demonstrate how an oicho-mage is tied:

endo-oicho

The other okonomi allowed Enho, who is not a sekitori, to also partake of the limelight. How? Well, put Hakuho on stage for a rope-tying demonstration:

hakuho-rope
Enho on the right, pulling with every ounce of his (considerable) strength

The three local boys were also in the news! So here are three torikumi packed into one news report:

Whoa, that’s some nice tsuri-yori from Enho there. Churanoumi gets a reminder why he is going back to Makushita while Enho back to Juryo.

That’s it for today. If I get my hands on the Musubi or any other bout I’ll add it here. Here is your daily Enho (as if you didn’t have enough…):

obEnho4
The kid is actually wearing an Kokonoe shirt… Oops…

PS – Since I found this on the net after the post was already published, but couldn’t just let it slip away: Here is the full opening drum roll:

Day 14 – Yusho, packed and delivered

We have ourselves a yusho winner. The first from Georgia. The first Maegashira to win the title since Kyokutenho in in Natsu 2012. The first Kasugano yusho winner in 46 years (Tochiazuma Tomoyori, Hatsu 1972 – also Maegashira at the time). No wonder the Kasugano support club wanted to see a fish and to see it now:

tochinoshin-with-fish
I lifted Mitakeumi, I almost lifted Ichinojo. What’s this puny fish to me?

Down at Jonokuchi, I’m glad to inform you that Yoshoyama managed to scrape his kachi-koshi today, facing the hapless Osumifuji.

Now I hope someone at Tokitsukaze – preferably not Shodai – will use the time until Haru to teach the kid how to do a tachiai properly. Osumifuji joins the droves of make-koshi rikishi from Isegahama.

yoshoyama
Yoshoyama. Now you’ll be able to pick him up in a lineup.

37 year old Hokutogo from Hakkaku beya says goodbye to the sumo world after 22 years. Never made it higher than Makushita 54.

His heya mates brought him flowers to the hana-michi.

In Makushita, Wakamotoharu lost his final bout and is make-koshi. No video at this time.

Up in Juryo, Meisei goes against Takagenji:

Takagenji still doesn’t have kachi-koshi. Both he and Meisei will need a win tomorrow. Takagenji will face the strong Hidenoumi who wants the Yusho.

On to the top division we go:

Sokokurai and Daiamami engage in a lengthy hidari-yotsu, with Sokokurai burying his head in Daiamami’s chest. Eventually Sokokurai tries a throw, but it doesn’t quite work and Daiamami uses it to yori-kiri him.

Kotoyuki and Daieisho go on a tsuppari battle, that ends up with Kotoyuki spread across the dohyo. Hikiotoshi. Kotoyuki’s last chance of a kachi-koshi is tomorrow.

Yutakayama pushes Daishomaru mightily to the edge. Daishomaru tries a side step. Yutakayama slams to the ground – but Daishomaru is also out. Gunbai says Yutakayama, a monoii is called – but Daishomaru’s foot was out first, and it is indeed Yutakayama’s win – and kachi-koshi.

Aminishiki tries to be as genki as he can and bumps into Nishikigi. Gives a harite and tries to get a mawashi grip. This doesn’t quite work, and Nishikigi drives him to the edge. Then hovers around with a worried face to see that he didn’t damage the old man. On the Isegahama web site, Aminishiki writes “Tomorrow is the last match, so I want to win”. Somehow it sounds to me that he means that it’s the ultimate last match. He may not want to go down to Juryo again.

And… Ishiura does a henka against Chiyomaru. Ishiura kachi-koshi. So we’ll see more of his henka in Haru. Sigh.

Ryuden takes on Kaisei and gets in a quick morozashi. Kaisei has the weight advantage and good mobility on his side, and he shifts and turns and gets one of Ryuden’s hands out. Then tries to pull an uwatenage, but he ends up on the floor first, and it’s declared Ryuden’s shitatenage. Ryuden hits the double digits on his debut – which is impressive because he was never a double digits man.

Chiyoshoma gets a fast hold on Asanoyama and they go on a raging battle, but Chiyoshoma loses his hold, and once Asanoyama has his grip, he pushes the Mongolian out with a defiant head nod. Chiyoshoma make-koshi, Asanoyama kachi-koshi again. It’s funny to hear people in the crowd cheering for him using his real name (Ishibashi).

The Ghost of Terunofuji vs. Ikioi. Move along. Nothing to see here. It’s a yoritaoshi despite Ikioi both hurting and trying to be gentle. Terunofuji says that he wants to win at least tomorrow’s bout. Fat chance.

Takekaze comes in strong at the tachiai and gets his left hand inside… but that’s about all he can manage. Okinoumi brushes him out as if he was a fly.

Kagayaki starts an oshi battle vs. Endo, but after a couple of clashes, falls pray to slippiotoshi, Endo swiftly moving aside to let him “split the dohyo” as the Japanese expression goes.

The camera has been following Tochinoshin through the previous two bouts. A few obligatory shots of Shohozan as well, but he is not the story here. When those two finally get at it, you can cut the tension with a knife. Shohozan starts a tsuppari barrage which Tochinoshin can only fend off. This goes on for some time, then Shohozan tries to sidestep. This nearly gets Tochinoshin, and the spectators let out a big “whoa”. But he quickly turns around, and when he does, he also gets a good grip on Shohozan, and from there it’s a couple of yori followed by a yori-kiri. The man from Georgia gets his first yusho. The crowd bursts into applause. It’s party time… but there are still bouts to go.

Yoshikaze and Chiyotairyu are apparently graduates of the same university. So they are sempai and kohai. But Chiyotairyu doesn’t give Yoshikaze any precedence, and quickly pulls at him for a hatakikomi. Yoshikaze looked for a moment like he was going for an outstanding performance prize, but that moment passed several bouts ago.

In yet another battle of opposite ends, Abi draws former Ozeki Kotoshogiku in a battle of the up-and-coming vs. the down-and-going. However, Kotoshogiku is not going anywhere without a fight. Abi tries to pull Kotoshogiku down quickly, but Kotoshogiku not falling for that. Abi then sticks his head in Kotoshogiku’s chest and grabs at his armpits. But a yori battle will favor the Chrisanthemum. Abi’s pelvis is about the height of Kotoshogiku’s chest, so Kotoshogiku refrains from pumping his hips, but he does know how to push, and yori-kiris Abi right out. In Yiddish we call this “rebe-gelt” – “tuition”, what you pay when you learn a lesson.

Chiyonokuni doesn’t give Hokutofuji even two seconds before slapping him down. Hatakikomi, and the Kokonoe man slowly reduces the damage of his make-koshi, while Hokutofuji is 4-10 and will drop way down the banzuke at Haru.

Now, I hate it when the torikumi guys pit two guys I like against each other, but oh well, I can always be happy for the winner. This time Takarafuji was trying to get his kachi-koshi from Ichinojo. And Ichinojo is not in the business of letting his rivals win this basho. If they want to, they have to work for it. Ichinojo unbelievably tries for a nodowa on his left and momentarily allows Takarafuji to get his hand in on his right. Nodowa? The boulder quickly realizes his mistake, abandons the nonexistent throat, and changes his grip on the right. Now it’s migi-yotsu, which favors Ichinojo. But there is no extended leaning battle this time, as Ichinojo grabs Takarafuji’s mawashi tightly and throws him outside for a shitatedashinage, no ifs, ands and buts.

Today it was the old Shodai vs. the old Takakeisho. Shodai stands up at the tachiai. Doesn’t get anything done. Takakeisho bumps him a couple of time. No kachi-koshi for Shodai as yet.

In the match of the Eagles, Arawashi with his bad knees gets a better tachiai. I would even call this one a matta. But Tamawashi regroups and goes into a tsuppari attack. Arawashi sidesteps, and Tamawashi flies over the edge. Arawashi still has a chance for a kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Goeido avoids kadoban and gets Mitakeumi all the way to the tawara in a blink of an eye. Correct bootup today, apparently.

Musubi no ichiban. Takayasu  drives hard and gets Kakuryu to the edge. But Kakuryu is looking better today, circles and regroups. Tries to get a grip on Takayasu, but Takayasu turns him around. The Yokozuna quickly turns right back and lunges at Takayasu. And then…. he… pulls… again…. Oshidashi, yet another loss for the Yokozuna. And Takayasu has the jun-yusho (though theoretically he can lose tomorrow and Ryuden or Kakuryu win).

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day14

So the yusho goes to Tochinoshin. Both the Georgian prime minister and president tweet their congratulations.

Tochinoshin's family in Georgia
Tochinoshin’s family watching his bout back in Georgia

The jun-yusho, with high probability, goes to Takayasu. My assumption is that he will do his best to win tomorrow, to make it a decent 12-3 jun-yusho, which may allow him to lay claim to a rope should he win the yusho in Haru. One of my twitter followers says that not having been in the yusho picture, this wouldn’t count for Takayasu, but I think that if he does happen to win Haru, given that he has the all-important Japanese birth certificate, the NSK and the YDC may avoid nitpicking.

What’s left tomorrow is to see if the Yokozuna can pull at least the win from Goeido. To see who gets the various sansho (Abi still has a shot, Ryuden certainly has, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ichinojo gets one). And then we will get to see Tochinoshin lifting cup after cup, and being driven around in the NSK’s spiffy new Mercedes-Benz.

 

Day 13 – It’s Georgia. Not the US state, the country.

The Makuuchi Chamipionship is all but determined, as Tochinoshin goes from chasing to being chased. But before we make ourselves familiar with the Caucasus and the Georgian cuisine, rich in walnuts and cheeses, we already have a champion today – in the Makushita division.

wakatakakage
Your shikona is Wakatakakage. Now repeat that 10 times at high speed.

The schedulers matched Wakatakakage (Ms #17) with the other yusho contender, Tochiseiryu (Ms #47). Both came into the bout with 6-0.

Tochiseiryu’s pre-bout looks similar to Tochiozan’s, doesn’t it? Anyway, W.T.K. dispatches of him easily, as the difference in rank would suggest, and wins a zensho-yusho. I believe his position is just below the Juryo promotion line, though, and in any case the upper Makushita have many kachi-koshi wrestlers waiting for one of the (probably 7) open Juryo positions.

One of those on line for those 7 positions is Prince Enho, who today had a battle for the kachi-koshi with Shonannoumi. Both coming into this match 3-3.

Ah… Enho… I guess with Hakuho’s royal feet being kyujo, Enho has to settle for taking lessons from Ishiura. Which is not something I’d recommend. What’s with the henka? Was that really necessary?

OK, I’ll try my hand at a bit of demotion-promotion speculation. Here is a summary of the situation of the bottom of Juryo:

#14E Akua Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#14W Kizenryu Make-koshi, only three wins so far.
#12E Yamaguchi Make-koshi, only two wins so far.
#12W Tochihiryu Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#11E Ura Full kyujo due to surgery.
#9W Toyohibiki Full kyujo due to injury.
#8W Osunaarashi 1 win. Kyujo due to scandal. Drop from Juryo certain, may face retirement.

The others in between are either kachi-koshi or minimal make-koshi. So these are seven potential slots, though I suppose Tochihiryu may still be saved.

The situation at the top of Makushita is:

#1E Yago kachi-koshi
#1W Terutsuyoshi kachi-koshi
#2W Shimanoumi kachi-koshi
#3W Tobizaru kachi-koshi
#4W Akiseyama kachi-koshi
#6E Enho kachi-koshi
#7E Takayoshitoshi kachi-koshi

So Takayoshitoshi is on the bubble, it seems, but he still has one bout to go, and if he wins it, he’ll have a better kachi-koshi than Enho and may pass him in on the promotion line.

Down in Sandanme, unfortunately, Torakio suffered an injury. I will not post his bout from yesterday as I don’t like to share videos of people rolling around in pain. He could not return to the dohyo for his bout after his loss, and he is now on the kyujo list. He will be make-koshi. Too bad to have an injury at such an early stage of his career, let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looked – shoulder and arm issue).

I’m not going to give you the Hattorizakura video this time – because the kid is back to his old way, walking backward just being looked at, which is a real shame. Anyway, he has now completed is usual set of 7 losses, and will have to wait until Haru to show us some progress again.

Tomorrow Yoshoyama-Osumifuji, both 3-3, vying for the kachi-koshi.

Up in Juryo, Kyokutaisei has ensured his kachi-koshi, and being Juryo #1, has ensured his promotion to Makuuchi. The papers make much of the fact that he is from Hokkaido, but I’m making much of the fact that he is from Tomozuna beya (Kaisei’s heya), and will therefore help the Isegahama ichimon a little bit in the coming power rankings. 🙂

kyokutaisei-kachi-koshi
Kyokutaisei vs. Takagenji

Mitoryu has also ensured his kachi-koshi and will continue wearing his kesho-mawashi for a second tournament.

If you’re interested in the Juryo bouts, there’s this channel where the owner seems to upload each of the lower division’s complete bouts a few hours after each day ends.

So… we go up to Makuuchi, and what do we see?

Sokokurai trying hard to stay at Makuuchi. Today he faced Yutakayama who is still looking for a kachi-koshi. He can’t get a mawashi hold on Yutakayama, but eventually sidesteps and gets a hikiotoshi.

Today Ishiura decided to go for plain, forward-moving sumo. Maybe because Daishomaru is not much taller than he is. And what do you know, it worked! He grabs Daishomaru’s mawashi with his left hand and shows him the way out, yori-kiri.

Kotoyuki gets an easy one against Daiamami. They call this a tsukitaoshi, but I’d say it was a tsukite (which is a hiwaza).

The ghost of Terunofuji meets Takekaze and gives the old man a little more padding against the Juryo drop. Terunofuji unable to do a proper tachiai, let alone keep from being pushed.

A… Asanoyama… where are you? Who is that scarecrow who mounts the dohyo in your place in the second week? Chiyomaru needed exactly half a second to pull Asanoyama to the ground. Is Asanoyama sitting too close to the Isegahama guys in the shitakubeya or what?

Shohozan makes short work of Daieisho, who seems to have lost his will to do sumo once he secured his kachi-koshi. Shohozan gets in a couple of harite, then wraps Daieisho’s body and flips him for a sukuinage.

Abi really looks like he is enjoying his work, even during the actual bout. He got Kaisei, who has a huge weight advantage on him. He starts as usual with a “morotezuki”, which means he thrusts with both hands. Then he sidesteps and nearly gets Kaisei off-balance. Kaisei stays on his feet but it’s enough for Abi to grab at his mawashi, turn him around and send him out by okuri-dashi. What weight advantage? The youngster is 9-4, and may actually get one of those sansho prizes he talked about.

Chiyonokuni seems to have improved once he got his make-koshi. He starts with his tsuppari attack before Nishikigi completes his tachiai, and then pulls for a tsukiotoshi.

Chiyoshoma gets in for a fine tachiai, but Kagayaki gets a grip on his belt, and they start dancing around the dohyo. Although Chiyoshoma manages to escape from that grip, that wild dance ends with him putting a foot outside the dohyo. Kagayaki secures his first kachi-koshi since Natsu.

The shimpan gave poor old Aminishiki a real scare. This match was nervous for both him and Ikioi (which one is more injured?), with two mattas to begin with. And then he threw a flying henka and somehow managed to get Ikioi down  before he ran out of dohyo. Not his usual precision, though. Anyway, Konosuke called it Aminishiki’s. The shimpan called a monoii. And as Kintamayama will tell you, a monoii on Konosuke’s shift is an exercise in futility. Finally the shimpan agree that Konosuke is right, and the head shimpan tries to explain the decision. But he seems to be in his cups – mutters and forgets what he wanted to say. He goes as far as saying that it was a “gunbai sashi-chigae” – which it certainly was not, before the crowd’s murmur wakes him up and he corrects himself and lets Aminishiki get his kensho. Poor Uncle.

Ryuden gets a better start than Takarafuji, but Takarafuji manages to get his left hand inside, which is his favorite grip. Ryuden circles and squirms and gets rid of that hand, while himself maintaining a hold on Takarafuji’s mawashi. A battle of grips ensues. Takarafuji gets Ryuden’s hand off his mawashi, but Ryuden still has a hold on his body. Ryuden tries to make a throw. Loses the mawashi grip he momentarily regained. Takarafuji manages to lock both Ryuden’s arm in front of his chest. But at this point Takarafuji runs out of stamina and eventually Ryuden yori-kiri’s him. I hope Takarafuji hasn’t contracted that Isegahama flu. Ryuden is an excellent wrestler, and I believe we’ll see him in sanyaku at some point. And yes, he has 9 wins, like Abi, and may also become a sansho winner.

Endo starts by pulling and sending a couple of slaps in Kotoshogiku‘s direction. Grabs at Kotoshogiku’s hand, then converts that into a right-hand-inside mawashi grip with Kotoshogiku between him and the tawara. Kotoshogiku dances and gains some ground. Grabs at Endo’s right hand and tries for a kotenage. Endo manages to retain his footing. Kotoshogiku still has his right hand, but he has his left on Kotoshogiku’s torso. He then pushes against the right hand – the one Kotoshogiku is still latched onto – for a yori-kiri. Excellent match, and Endo gets a kachi-koshi.

Ichinojo and Tochinoshin… what is a yusho-related bout doing here, so early in the day? Well, Ichinojo and Tochinoshin grab at each other’s mawashi right off the tachiai. It’s a migi-yotsu and both of them have firm mawashi grips on both sides. So who’s going to be stronger? For a moment it looks undecided, but Ichinojo loses his left hand grip, and Tochinoshin goes for the kill. Ichinojo sticks to the tawara – good boy! But Tochinoshin applies some sideways force and gets Ichinojo out. Titanic.

ichinojo-tochinoshin
Note to self: don’t try tsuri-dashi again on this guy

Hokutofuji comes in strong at Yoshikaze. The man in the green mawashi seems not to have completely recovered from yesterday’s Force-choke. Hokutofuji finally gets to show the sumo he became famous for. Oshidashi.

Chiyotairyu overwhelms Takakeisho who once again finds himself flying off the dohyo (and into Arawashi’s lap). Oshitaoshi.

Shodai once again comes straight off the tachiai into a morozashi. But Tamawashi gets himself released and answers with an expert tsuppari attack that sends Shodai outside, looking for his kachi-koshi elsewhere.

Arawashi, still suffering the effects of a Takakeisho bomb landing on him, has to suffer yet again as the Takayasu locomotive slams into him. Boom! Seismographs around Tokyo register a level 3 tremor while the Eagle flies into Goeido’s arms. Sitting on the East side of the dohyo today has been a serious health risk. Takayasu gets double digits for the first time since his Ozeki run.

Goeido gets a grip on Okinoumi‘s body and pushes forward, though it looks half-hearted. Gets his 7th win. Will try to get his kachi-koshi vs. Mitakeumi tomorrow.

And now, the musubi-no-ichiban. It’s a bit of an anti-climax as we already know that Tochinoshin maintained his lead. But let’s see…

Mitakeumi just lifts the Yokozuna’s upper part with his left hand and pushes forward. Kakuryu finds himself backpaddling again. And out again. And… the yusho flies away, probably never to return.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day13

The Yokozuna has his Yokozuna kachi-koshi, that’s true. But this crumble at money time is bound to raise murmurs among the YDC this Monday. One of the guys on Twitter wrote something along the lines of: “In the first few days, all my friends were saying Kakuryu stands up to pressure much better than Harumafuji. I had to nod. But now we can see the real difference, because Harumafuji’s nerves held up much better once the yusho was on the table”.

The Yokozuna still has a couple of days to improve his score. But the chances that Tochinoshin will drop two consecutive bouts are very slim. And who knows if it’s the Yokozuna who’ll be doing the playoff with him if that happens.

Yusho Arasoi:

Leader (12-1): M3 Tochinoshin

Chasers (10-3):

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Ozeki Takayasu

Tomorrow those two face each other, and oh boy, Takayasu looks much better at the moment.

So, start learning about Georgia, because it sure looks like the Emperor’s Cup is going there right now.

 

Day 11 – The Eagles Are Coming

the-eagles-are-coming
Tamawashi and Arawashi changing the plot

For those who are not familiar their shikona, Arawashi (荒鷲) is “Wild Eagle”, and Tamawashi (玉鷲) is “Bejewelled Eagle”. We’ll see what they wrought as we go along. But as usual, I’d like to start with some off-Makuuchi battles.

My previous posts have been dotted with bouts by Prince Enho and Terutsuyoshi My Main Man. And today you get two for the price of one, as these two faced each other in a battle for the kachi-koshi, both coming in 3-2.

And both get to pick on someone their own size for a change, in a match of homunculi.

This is sort of anticlimactic, I know. But it’s Terutsuyoshi’s first kakenage, and also a kachi-koshi and a likely re-promotion to Juryo. I’m afraid Enho’s chances look rather slim at the moment, with many higher-ranking Makushita having a kachi-koshi.

Another battle at the top of Makushita was between Ms#1 Yago, the former sekitori, and “One to watch” Ms #17 Wakatakakage, both of whom came into this match 5-0.

Nice reversal! The Arashio man is now 6-0, vying for the Makushita yusho with #47 Tochiseiryu. Yago will still likely be re-promoted to Juryo.

Up we go to Makuuchi.

In the first bout, we have Aoimama… er… Aoiyama on a visit from Juryo. Aoiyama actually looks strong, and Nishikigi can’t find an entry point, and out he goes.

Ryuden shows his strong sumo. Catches Daieisho in a morozashi after a booming tachiai, and stops his yusho hunt… or does he?

Asanoyama chooses not to go into a yotsu battle with Sokokurai (may well be a wise decision. The veteran is very experienced). Some tsuppari and Sokokurai out by oshi-dashi. Sokokurai needs to win out to get a kachi-koshi.

Kotoyuki opens with a henka – not the last one of the day – against the resurging Kagayaki. Then tries to grab Kagayaki’s belt. Pushes, pushes, but Kagayaki manages to grab his arm for a kotonage. Kotoyuki’s first loss to Kagayaki – and he hurts his knee on his fall, unable to go to the shitakubeya unassisted. Kintamayama informs us that he ended up in that wheelchair and was taken to a hospital. 🙁

Aminishiki didn’t hurt any limb today. But he just isn’t able to do his sumo. Daiamami, like Chiyoshoma yesterday, was very gentle about showing him out. Sigh. I have a feeling that the Ajigawa kabu is going to go back into active duty following this basho.

Ishiura deploys the second henka of the day, against the Ghost of Terunofuji. At least that meant that there was no further injury to any former kaiju knees. Terunofuji remarks that he has not gained back his dohyo sense. Perhaps the only good news I heard is that he lost those 10kg he recently gained. Good start there. It did look like he regained some neck.

terunofuji-ishiura
“Once I dropped out of Ozeki, it’s all the same to me how many ranks down I go”

The KaiseiYutakayama looked like a cartoon battle. You know the type: small man strikes large man with a barrage of blows without having any effect. Then big man returns with two mighty blows of his own, and small man ends up with little birds circling around his head. Well, Yutakayama stays on his feet as he is pushed out, but you catch the drift. Note how Kaisei always attempts to land a hand up to the rivals he pushes out.

Abi barely manages to land two harite on Tochiozan before the Kasugano man goes out. Abi looks dissatisfied. Tochiozan probably afraid for his injured shoulder. Abi one win away from kachi-koshi.

Chiyonokuni once again starts a bout with his energetic tsuppari. But Takekaze somehow manages to pivot and have Chiyonokuni between himself and the tawara. He then applies a strong nodowa and forces Chiyonokuni out. Welcome back, old man. Chiyonokuni now make-koshi.

Daishomaru in another little henka against Chiyoshoma. Hikiotoshi. Chiyoshoma not happy.

Ikioi tries to look genkier than he is vs. Shohozan, who seems to have an upper arm issue. The two go on a rapid slugfest, but eventually Shohozan locks Ikioi’s arms and leads him outside.

Chiyomaru is Kokonoe’s only ray of light this basho. Apparently nobody is shouting “Chiyomaru-tan” in the Kokugikan these days. Endo has what looks like a lower and better tachiai, but Chiyonokuni soon sidesteps and hands him a hatakikomi.

Now, one of the highlight bouts of the day begins. Tochinoshin wants to keep his single loss. Takarafuji wants to prevent the Georgian from closing in on him. These two are kenka-yotsu, meaning that Takarafuji prefers a hidari-yotsu (left-hand-inside), while Tochinoshin prefers a migi-yotsu (right-hand-inside). And they fend off each other’s sashi (slipping a hand inside) attempts. Tochinoshin succeeds in landing his grip for a second but Takarafuji draws back and tries again. Near the tawara, Takarafuji manages to get his sashi, but Tochinoshin is pressing his head down very powerfully at this point and eventually Takarafuji’s elbow touches down before Tochinoshin is forced out. The gyoji points to Tochinoshin. A monoii is called, and takes a really long time. But it’s Tochinoshin’s tsukiotoshi. Excellent match. Tochinoshin stays glued to the top.

takarafuji-tochinoshin

Kotoshogiku puts a stop to Chiyotairyu‘s winning streak. Doesn’t get a mawashi grip, but he does have the Kokonoe man in a strong high grip and then does the Kotoshogiku Lambada all the way to the edge.

Ichinojo seems to have a little problem with oshi wrestlers. This time he takes up Hokutofuji. But it really isn’t Hokutofuji’s basho. Yes, his knee is in wraps but he doesn’t seem to have a mobility problem. Ichinojo tries to find a grip as usual. Hokutofuji fends and defends. Tries to push at Ichinojo’s armpits to get him up and away, but this doesn’t work so well with the heavy Ichinojo, Hokutofuji slide a little back to try a stronger leaning angle – but Ichinojo just uses that to smack Hokutofuji to the floor. Hokutofuji on all fours again. The announcer calls it “Large Scale Sumo”.

The bout between Yoshikaze and Takakeisho turns out to be one of the more entertaining oshi battles. A rapid exchange of tsuppari, both bobbing their heads up and down, up and down as they engage and disengage. Yoshikaze tries a push, but he is already too stretched and Takakeisho easily fends him off. As they regroup, Takakeisho grabs hold of Yoshikaze’s arm and forces him to the edge where he adds a decisive nodowa. And Takakeisho ends up with a banged lip again.

Shodai somehow manages to surprise his rival again and again with his somehow amended tachiai. He gets below Mitakeumi. Not quite enough for his favorite morozashi, but enough to cause the sekiwake to draw back. Shodai then follows up and gets Mitakeumi out by oshidashi. Those double digits and ozeki run seem further and further away from Mitakeumi.

Takayasu wins almost effortlessly against Okinoumi. Hands the Shimane-man his make-koshi while gaining his own kachi-koshi. No kadoban to see here, move along.

And here lands out first Eagle, Arawashi, with his bandaged legs and a less-than-brilliant 5-5 balance, to face the other Ozeki, Goeido. Tachiai, Arawashi quickly gets a hold on Goeido’s mawashi with his left hand. Goeido retreats in a half circle, working hard to remove Arawashi’s hand from his mawashi and eventually holds on to Arawashi’s arm and gets his left arm inside, but at this point Arawashi changes direction, and that left arm becomes a liability. Arawashi holds on to it for a kotenage. Ozeki down, and hovering on the edge of kadoban again.

But if you thought that Eagle was surprising, just wait for the musubi-no-ichiban.

Kakuryu once again comes low off  the tachiai, but doesn’t find the quick mawashi grip he is hoping for. Tamawashi is an oshi man, and as the Yokozuna goes into a tsuppari exchange with him, he watches the Yokozuna’s feet. Kakuryu tries a pull down and draws back a little, and that’s all the Bejewelled Eagle needs. He pounces and the surprised Yokozuna lands his first kuro-boshi. Although Tamawashi is sanyaku, zabutons are flying in the kokugikan.

tamawashi-happy
Happy Eagle flying down the hana-michi

And suddenly, in a Tolkienesque plot-twist, what looked like a sure-bet yusho for the Yokozuna no longer looks anywhere near that. Remember he still has to work two Ozekis and a sekiwake, while Tochinoshin is only going to face Maegashira until the end of the basho. The yusho suddenly looks a lot closer to Georgia than it is to Mongolia.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day11

The Yokozuna can not afford even a single loss from now on if he wants that Yusho.

Yusho Arasoi

10-1:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • M3 Tochinoshin

8-3:

  • Ozeki Takayasu
  • M13 Daieisho

 

 

Day 10 – Sanyaku crumbling

As two thirds of the basho are behind us, things start to boil up… or crash down. Let’s start at the bottom. Enho gets matched with Wakamotoharu, who certainly doesn’t want to lose, in a bout that produces one of the most beautiful sumo photos I’ve seen in a while:

enho-wakamotoharu

Here is the One And Only version:

And here is the TV version (C/O Kimihiro Suzuki):

Wakamotoharu looks pretty frustrated at being the receiving end of this shitatehineri. Enho gets his third win and gets closer to a kachi-koshi. One And Only seems to expect him to be in Juryo next basho, but the top of Makushita is very, very hot at the moment.

And hey, Enho didn’t dive head first off the dohyo this time!

Another Tachiai favorite has returned to the dohyo today. This one after a flu-related short kyujo. Please welcome Shunba!

Shunba looks so genki he nearly bounces up the dohyo. Keep up the good work!

However, not all of my favorite fare as well. Torakio continues his downfall:

He seems to have hurt his elbow, and now something about his shoulder as well? Hmmm… not good.

 

So, let’s climb up to Makuuchi.

The first bout features a visitor from Juryo, Azumaryu, facing Ryuden. The two take their time synchronizing their breath for the tachiai. When it finally starts, although Azumaryu gets the inside grip, Ryuden gets an outside one on the same side, and pushes him out without much resistance.

Abi (who has the curious habit of arranging his butt strap right on camera when he goes to the salt corner) starts off as usual vs Yutakayama, with some fierce tsuppari. But Yutakayama somehow picks on Abi’s bandaged arm, and this seems to throw Peter Pan off course completely, and he finds himself down from the dohyo in short order.

yutakayama-abi

Takekaze finally manages to land a W, vs. Ishiura, with a quick push down – no henka. Hatakikomi.

takekaze-ishiura
Sumo, Ishiura, not artistic gymnastics

Sokokurai starts with a harite and an ottsuke vs. Nishikigi. He manages to secure a right-hand outside grip, while Nishikigi secures his own left hand on Sokokurai’s mawashi.  Nishikigi can’t get an outside grip on Sokokurai’s mawashi, and in the grip battle that ensues, eventually it’s Sokokurai who manages to hold both sides of Nishikigi’s mawashi, when suddenly Nishikigi turns the tables on him and gets him out by yori-kiri. Very nice match.

Kagayaki and Daiamami start their match, both pushing as hard as they can. Eventually, Daiamami throws Kagayaki to the ground, but a monoii is called: Daiamami had a foot out. You can see that Kagayaki noticed that immediately. Of course he said nothing and waited for the shimpan, who came to the right conclusion, and gave him the oshidashi.

Asanoyama seems dazed and confused. Daishomaru pushes him out almost with no resistance. Mental issues?

Daieisho starts with some strong nodowa at Tochiozan, but suddenly his arm gets stuck at an awkward angle. However, he quickly recovers from that error, and pushes Tochiozan outside before he can make anything of it. Daieisho now kachi-koshi.

Aminishiki looks well enough as he ascends the dohyo and performs his Shiko. Chiyoshoma opens with a harizashi (slap-and-grab), and Uncle looks in pain. I don’t believe it’s just the harite. He said that his “knee got in” at the Tachiai and he couldn’t put any power into it. As soon as Chiyoshoma has that grip he gently leads Aminishiki to the edge. Yori-kiri. Aminishiki is determined to continue until all four wheels drop off.

chiyoshoma-aminishiki

Chiyonokuni finally manages to scrape another win against Kotoyuki. His barrage of tsuppari quickly gets the larger man out. He really should be more than 3-7 at this point.

Kaisei has a huge weight advantage over Takarafuji. Takarafuji manages to secure his favorite grip, but Kaisei uses the Ichinojo tactic and just leans onto him. In an effort to get out of the stalemate, Takarafuji loses the grip and has to start over. He gets his hidari-yotsu again, this time without an underhand grip on Kaisei’s mawashi. But no matter, he uses that left hand inside to grab Kaisei’s arm for a sukuinage. Takarafuji is on a roll, and needs just one more win for a kachi-koshi.

Ikioi faces Chiyomaru, who pushes and then pulls and finishes the bout in the blink of an eye. According to the NHK announcer, Ikioi’s problem is not just his ankle injury, but also “lower back issues”, which I take to mean that his bulging disc is giving him trouble again. It’s really hard to do sumo with a bulging disc. Ikioi make-koshi.

Shohozan starts his bout with Endo with all guns blazing, and tries to catch Endo’s arm. Endo manages to break loose. Then there’s a barrage of tsuppari, which Endo somehow defends against and stays alive. Then Shohozan tries capturing an arm again, dragging Endo to the rim, but here Endo reverses the charges and leaves Shohozan outside for a yori-kiri.

It seems strange to see the match between Tochinoshin and Kotoshogiku this early in the day, given the level of Tochinoshin’s game lately. I have to remind myself that both are maegashira. Most sane rikishi would not want to get into a belt battle with Kotoshogiku. But we are talking about the Incredible Hulk here, and his strategy continues as usual: get one huge arm inside, one huge arm outside, get the belt, and drive. Kotoshogiku’s gaburi is no match to the Georgian Hulk.

Hokutofuji will want to forget this basho. In the final battle of the rank-and-filers, he faces Chiyotairyu, only a couple of days ago the welcome mat of the entire Makuuchi. One kachiage and a few tsuppari later, the gentleman from Hakkaku beya finds himself out by tsuki-dashi, and with a make-koshi.

Now we go up to the san-yaku matches, where rank-and-filers are wrecking havoc.

Ichinojo faces more of a problem with Takakeisho than he did with Onosho. Takakeisho has his attack-and-retreat style which prevents the boulder from getting a mawashi grip or any other kind of grip. So Ichinojo finds himself in an unfamiliar oshi territory, and for a while looks like he is trying to swat an annoying mosquito. As he tries to pull Takakeisho down, Takakeisho advances and nearly gets the mountain off balance, but Ichinojo is very careful about his center of (ultra) gravity this tournament. They go on, and Takakeisho tries a sidestep to usher the boulder out, but the side that he stepped to still includes Ichinojo’s arm. And that arm just takes Takakeisho along for the trip before its owner starts the journey himself. The result of all this mess is the Takanohana man lying in a heap at the bottom of the dohyo, only one loss away from a make-koshi.

The next bout is supposed to be Onosho-Yoshikaze. But the Komusubi is kyujo, and won’t be a komusubi next time. In fact, other than Mitakeumi, who will probably stay Sekiwake once again, it appears that there will be a purge in the lower sanyaku, and this time there will be a lot less of a logjam for the available slots. Two more wins for our boulder and he is Komusubi for sure. Though maybe for him they should change it from “komusubi” (小結 – small knot) to “omusubi” (大結 – big knot), or even “kyomusubi” (巨結 – “giant knot”). 🙂

Moving right along, Arawashi got to meet Mitakeumi who was trying to maintain his position in the hunt group. Arawashi seems to want to get Mitakeumi’s mawashi on the left side, but at the second attempt, his right arm is already folding around Mitakeumi’s left, for an arm-bar throw – tottari. Mitakeumi finds himself face down at the dohyo’s corner.

arawashi-mitakeumi

Shodai bounces back from the loss that frustrated him so much yesterday. Straight from the tachiai he gets a morozashi on Goeido and drives forward. He does lose one of those arms as Goeido tries to create some kind of a throw, but gets a good mawashi hold and forces the Ozeki out.

Takayasu, the other Ozeki, stares hard at Tamawashi as they get ready for the tachiai. Takayasu’s kachiage happens to hit Tamawashi’s face. A hard tsuppari exchange ensues, and eventually Takayasu pushes the sekiwake out of the ring. Tamawashi one loss away from a make-koshi.

And in the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu starts of with the low tachiai he has been sporting of late, and gaining many compliments for. No grip at first, but drives Okinoumi back. Then gets his hand on Okinoumi’s mawashi with his right hand, and that’s about the end of Okinoumi. Kakuryu just swings him out, as one of the comments said on one of the previous days, “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm”.

The Yokozuna finally secures his “Yokozuna kachi koshi”. Now he’ll be facing some harder opponents. Or are they? The sanyaku seems to be a mess. Nobody with a kachi-koshi yet, some nearing make-koshi.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day7

Yusho Arasoi

  • 10-0: Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • 9-1: M3 Tochinoshin
  • 8-2: M13 Daieisho

Day 9 – Ichinojo goes bowling, Tochinoshin dangling bait.

As usual, I shall start somewhat below Makuuchi.

For those who are not aware of it yet, Osunaarashi is kyujo as of today (day 9), due to a suspicion of rear-ending a car while driving without a valid license. This was bad enough to make the NHK World news yesterday.

But we are here to talk about sumo, not yet another scandal, so let’s start with my main man Terutsuyoshi, who made a visit to Juryo today to face Kizenryu.

The video doesn’t contain the explanation of the monoii, but if I understand the announcers correctly, the question was who initiated the throw. If it was Terutsuyoshi, then clearly Kizenryu touched first. But if it was Kizenryu, then Terutsuyoshi was shinitai.

The monoii ended with a torinaoshi. And the second bout didn’t look very different from the first, but this time it was pretty clear cut:

Too bad for my man from Isegahama, but win or lose – he entertains.

OK, let’s go on with the matches of the day in Makuuchi.

Abi starts with his usual tsuppari attack, which doesn’t seem to effective against Asanoyama, so Abi gives a strong pull and Asanoyama finds himself on the ground.

abi-with-kensho
Hey, look what I found tied to my sagari!

Ishiura starts off his bout with his hand straight on Daieisho‘s mawashi knot, and deftly undoes it. Wardrobe malfunction. The gyoji stops them, corrects, restarts the bout, and Ishiura, with one hand on the knot and one on the front, flips Daieisho into a shitatehineri. But wait, I have a sense of Deja vu:

That’s Kyushu 2017. Ishiura vs. Ryuden – both in Juryo at the time. Ishiura must have been one of those teenagers who practice undoing a bra with one hand.

Nishikigi really does nothing in the tachiai, and lets Takekaze slam into him. Doesn’t get any kind of a grip, and Takekaze pulls at him for a katasukashi – but doing that he flies outside, and the gunbai goes to Nishikigi. No monoii. I think both the gyoji and the shimpan took this to be Nishikigi’s attack. Takekaze now make-koshi.

Sokokurai  gets into a classic yotsu bout with Ryuden. Tries a shitatenage, Ryuden keeps on his feet. Tries the same on the other side of the ring. Still no results. Sokokurai puts some more force into it and manages a yoritaoshi – rolling together with his rival. Kintamayama says he hurt his back, let’s hope it’s fine by tomorrow. No need for more injuries.

Daiamami beats Chiyomaru in a slow motion oshi battle. Boom. Boom. Boom. Yawn.

Kagayaki, on the other hand, is very sharp and fast. He doesn’t let Shohozan get anywhere near his belt, and instead slaps him all the way out. Kagayaki back to the form he has shown in the first couple of days.

As long as Chiyonokuni can keep the bout on the tsuki-oshi side, he seems fine. But eventually Yutakayama decides he has had enough harite for one day, grabs the Kokonoe man and throws him out. Yoritaoshi. Chiyonokuni one loss away from a make-koshi.

Chiyoshoma‘s bout with Kotoyuki was over in the blink of an eye. No wiles, no throws, and Kotoyuki just pushing the slender Mongolian out.

Ikioi finally manages to attack and win – a couple of strong pushes and then a desparate lunge, and Daishomaru is out. But Ikioi seems to have caused himself further injury.

Takarafuji wins very decisively. Tochiozan gets a morozashi on him, but he applies his mighty arms in a “hasami” – basically a pincer hold – and doesn’t let Tochiozan do anything with that morozashi. Oshidashi for the only Isegahama man who seems to be in working order nowadays.

Kaisei first grabs a hold of Endo‘s arm. Endo manages to shake him off, but Kaisei maintains his balance and responds with another attack. This time Endo is driven to the edge. Desparately tries a leg trip, doesn’t work. Yorikiri for the Brasilian (who is not too enthusiastic about the snow currently enveloping Tokyo: “I loved it when I saw my first snow, but…”)

Chiyotairyu gets his second win in a row, and very quickly, too. Okinoumi touches down before you blink.

In the battle of the veterans, Kotoshogiku gets a pretty firm hold of Yoshikaze‘s left arm. They then fight over the hold on the other side. Kotoshogiku tries again and again to get his left hand inside. Yoshikaze catches on to his wrist. Eventually Kotoshogiku gets that sashi (hand inside) and finishes Yoshikaze off with a couple of gaburi. Classic Kotoshogiku.

Onosho tries, for some unfathomable reason, to grab at Ichinojo‘s belt. Probably realizes that a tsuppari attack against the boulder’s midriff is going to give him no results. But Ichinojo doesn’t really care what Onosho plans. That arm that went to his belly? He sticks his own hand to the armpit and rolls Onosho out like a bowling ball in a red mawashi. What can I say? “Ichinojo is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh Onosho to lie down below the dohyo” [Book of Mountainous Mongolians, Chapter 6, verse 3]

Hokutofuji and Takakeisho go on what is half way an oshi battle, and half way keeping each other at arm’s length. Again, typical tadpole sumo. Amazingly, both manage to stay on their feet and neither ends up in doggy position. Takakeisho manages to get Hokutofuji moving a bit to the right as he gets to the tawara, and uses that to get the man off balance and out of the ring.

And now, to the battle of the chasers. Both 7-1 coming into this bout, Tochinoshin and Mitakeumi both want to stay in the yusho race. They start off with Mitakeumi trying to prevent the Georgian from getting at his mawashi, but Tochinoshin gets the left hand outside pretty quickly. Now it’s a fight on the right hand. Mitakeumi gets his own right hand on Tochinoshin’s mawashi. But Tochinoshin does the same, gets a secure grip on both side. And at this point he just picks up Mitakeumi for a new world record in wedgies. Upsie-daisy… not out yet? Upsie-daisy… now you’re out.

tochinoshin-mitakeumi

The kimari-te is tsuri-dashi, “dangle-and-out”. I’m still waiting for the fish to bite. Tochinoshin the second man in Makuuchi to make a kachi-koshi, but I’m sure he’s not settling for that any more than Kakuryu is.

By the way, it’s not Mitakeumi’s first tsuri-wedgie. This used to be a Terunofuji specialty. Maybe Tochinoshin could have a talk with Terunofuji and explain about knees, healing and regaining strength.

So basically, Mitakeumi is out of the yusho race unless Kakuryu drops a couple of bouts (and Mitakeumi doesn’t).

Compared to that bout, the two Ozeki bouts that followed were meh.

Takayasu dispatches Shodai in an eye blink with a tsukiotoshi. Shodai looks pretty frustrated.

Goeido all over Tamawashi in his usual 2.0 steamroller style.

Finally, in the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu continues to dominate. Gets his left hand on Arawashi‘s mawashi, and while still seeking the right hand grip, pushes him to the tawara. Plain and simple yori-kiri, still unbeaten.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day7

Yusho Arasoi

Leader: Yokozuna Kakuryu

Chaser: M3 Tochinoshin

Hopefuls:

  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M13 Daieisho

Tomorrow Aminishiki is back on the dohyo. He says that his condition is “Good enough to be able to wrestle”. He is already make-koshi, and desparately needs wins to cushion his fall from reaching all the way to Juryo.

 

Day 8 – What an exciting “nakabi”!

The 8th day of a basho is called “nakabi” – 中日 – “middle day”. This exciting basho produced a no-less exciting nakabi, from bottom to top!

One nakabi tradition is the presentation of shin-deshi – new wrestlers who passed their maezumo this basho. So, leading the group is the young Naya, wearing his grandfather, Taiho’s, kesho-mawashi. Third, in the yellow kesho-mawashi, is Hoshoryu. No, he’s not wearing his uncle’s kesho-mawashi. That’s actually Akua’s spiffy new kesho-mawashi.

I believe this is the last we’ll see of these two for a while. Now they have to work hard to make promise reality.

Once again, I give you Hattorizakura. No, he still hasn’t managed to win, but the boy is showing real tenacity of late, and I’m sure that win is going to come:

This bout was nearly 2 minutes long!

Now, how long do you think Enho can hold on without breathing? His bout today was certainly an attempt to answer that question:

Talk about David and Goliath… By the way, that yobidashi who calls their names in the beginning sure has an impressive voice.

And what is happening with Torakio? Does he have the flu or what? His bout today was… somewhat disappointing:

Ouch.

Up we go to Makuuchi.

Abi decided to start the Makuuchi bouts with a flying henka. Attempts to pull Daiamami down, but it doesn’t work, so he works in some of his usual tsuki-oshi. Daiamami ends out flying outside for a tsuki-dashi. If you’re so strong, Abi, why do you have to henka?

Takekaze continues to slip slidin’ away. Yutakayama is lucky that the veteran is in such dire straits. He can’t seem to find his footing anymore. Too bad.

Sokokurai, on the other hand, finally shows some of the effects of experience. Keeps Ishiura‘s head away from his body. Ishiura tries to grab him by the arm. Doesn’t work. Holds Ishiura at arm’s length by his shoulders, but Ishiura manages to land his head in for his specialty torpedo… only Sokokurai grabs his mawashi from above, squats, and Ishiura finds himself on his knees.

Asanoyama manages to get a quick grip at Kagayaki. With Asanoyama being the yotsu man and Kagayaki the tsuki-oshi man, you’d think this favors Asanoyama. But Kagayaki is the one who lands a convincing uwatenage and Asanoyama finds himself on all fours and says bye-bye to the yusho race.

Now that we know that Daiamami pulls at his nose in his prebout, let’s introduce you to Ryuden‘s pre-bout routine: ragdoll on springs. He shakes and bounces. Kotoyuki starts this bout with an oshi attack, but bouncy-ball Ryuden bounces back from the tawara, gets a grip on Kotoyuki and yori-kiris him.

Daishomaru  makes short work of Nishikigi in the battle of the bottle-green mawashis, simply overpowering the Isenoumi man.

And in the bout of the wine-red mawashis, Daieisho puts an end to Chiyomaru‘s little series of wins. Comes at the eternally-round Kokonoe man from below and pushes him right out despite his tsuppari.

Takarafuji fights Shohozan for a grip – it’s really fascinating to see the battle of arms down there below their chests. The Isegahama heya-gashira (highest ranking deshi in a heya… yes… he is…) lands first a right-hand-outside, then his favorite left-hand-inside. From this point it’s all Takarafuji, in a battle of two very muscular men. We keep laughing at Takarafuji for having no neck, but the man certainly has shoulders and arms. Takarafuji: “I’m glad I broke out of my consecutive loss habit”.

Kaisei gets a firm grip on Ikioi‘s mawashi. Ikioi tries for a morozashi, but fails to get one before being pushed out. Apparently he has an ankle injury, which may serve as an explanation for his really bad form this basho.

Chiyonokuni tries every trick in the book against Okinoumi. First tsuppari, nodowa, then grabs on to Okinoumi’s arm. Tries a trip. Then finally he pulls at Okinoumi’s neck for a hatakikomi. The shimpan call a monoii, questioning whether Chiyonokuni may have pulled on Okinoumi’s mage. It looked like it from one angle – but no, the replay is very clear. Konosuke is right as usual, and Chiyonokuni got his white star fair and square.

Tochiozan doesn’t wait much time before landing Endo on the floor. Endo’s sumo is not stable.

Now, the next match was between Chiyoshoma and Arawashi. I have to say, though some pictures make them look very similar, I don’t really see why people will be confused between them. Anyway, Chiyoshoma on his fast attack, going for a hari-zashi (slap-and-grab) again,  then helps Arawashi out with his knee. Yori-kiri.

Tochinoshin got Yoshikaze today. Yoshikaze wisely not letting the Incredible Hulk anywhere near his Mawashi. So Tochinoshin just runs a tsuppari attack, which turns out to be effective and Yoshikaze finds himself out. Tochinoshin keeps himself in the chaser group.

tochinoshin-yoshikaze

Tochinoshin: “I just couldn’t grab the mawashi. So with my heart thumping I went for the tsuppari.”

Next we had two tadpoles meeting – Hokutofuji and Onosho. This was a push-me-pull-you bout which ended with Hokutofuji on his knees. Personally, I don’t like that sumo. Red mawashi comes on top. Hokutofuji not having the best basho of his life.

Mitakeumi, with 7-0, got intimate with the Mongolian boulder, Ichinojo, who quite quickly got a left hand outside. Mitakeumi works hard to deny Ichinojo the right hand inside on his mawashi, and tries to be patient. But patience doesn’t necessarily pay when you have 215kg leaning on you. Ichinojo can sleep riding a horse. He can also sleep leaning. Eventually Ichinojo wakes up, decides Mitakeumi is not so warm and fluffy that he should stay there much longer, and pushes the sekiwake to the edge. Mitakeumi drops to the chaser group.

mitakeumi-ichinojo

Tamawashi finally looks a little more like a sekiwake, pushing Kotoshogiku quickly away. I suspect the coconut clash there at the beginning might have had something to do with it. Tamawashi has had his skull rattled rather a lot this basho, I hope this doesn’t have long lasting effects.

Goeido goes into a nirami-ai (staredown) with Chiyotairyu right when they are supposed to be matching their breaths. This backfires, and Chiyotairyu gets his first on-dohyo win in this basho, giving the Ozeki the same de-ashi (forward-moving sumo) he usually gives his opponents when he boots up in the proper mode.

Takayasu is matched with another tadpole – Takakeisho – and decides to do some tadpole sumo. Push, pull, and now it’s Takakeisho on all fours. Did I mention that I don’t like this sumo? Anyway, the big bear wins. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, he opened up with a hari-zashi (slap-and-grab). Do you want to be a yokozuna, Takayasu?

Finally, the musubi-no-ichiban. Could the new Shodai dent the invincible Kakuryu’s dragon scales? The tachiai looks pretty convincing, and Shodai begins to advance, but by his second step Kakuryu has a secure overarm grip on his mawashi, and just pulls. Pulls so hard, in fact, that Shodai finds himself flat on his face, and Kakuryu is checking to see if his elbow is still connected.

kakuryu-shodai

Michinoku oyakata, who served as Abema TV’s commentator for today, is asked about Kakuryu’s performance following his kyujo issues and all. He says “His sumo is much better than it was before he went kyujo”. Kakuryu hasn’t had a 8-0 opening since he won his last yusho in Kyushu 2016.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day7

Our kakuryumeter remains the same, full to the top. The papers make much of the fact that Kakuryu secured his kachi-koshi, but we all know that this is not a Yokozuna kachi-koshi just yet, and Kakuryu himself says “I don’t care about that, there are 7 days to go”.

Yusho arasoi

8-0: Yokozuna Kakuryu.

7-1:

  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M13 Daieisho

But tomorrow this chaser list will be down to no more than two, with Mitakeumi facing Tochinoshin.

Day 7 – Pressure? What Pressure?

So, as usual, I’ll start with some lower division bouts. Remember Yago (nickname “Ago” – “chin”)? His visit to the sekitori ranks was not as successful as he would have hoped, and he dropped back to Makushita for this basho. However, in Makushita he feels right at home.

This bout marks his fourth straight win – a kachi koshi – and an almost sure return to Juryo, as he is ranked Ms1 at the moment. And he may well repeat the zensho-yusho he got in Makushita back in Nagoya 2017.

My main man, Terutsuyoshi, did not let his loss the other day put him down. Here he faces the same potato, er, rikishi, who defeated Enho yesterday:

Enho, watch and learn!

Terutsuyoshi is also ranked at Ms1, and will probably need just one more win to get himself back to Juryo. Next basho he is likely to meet Takanoiwa there. Wonder how that will turn out.

Toyonoshima attempted to return after he was kyujo on day 4. Unfortunately, Asabenkei is not a pushover, and Toyonoshima got his first Makekoshi in four basho.

OK, up to Makuuchi we go.

Ryuden shows why so much was expected of him. He evades Yutakayama‘s tsuppari attack, gets inside, takes hold of Yutakayama’s armpit, and applies power. Oshidashi, and Ryuden in has a positive balanace.

Abi starts with a tsuppari attack. Tries for a second to grab at Nishikigi‘s mawashi but it looks more like a distraction. It’s actually Nishikigi who is trying to get a grip and can’t. Eventually Nishikigi lunges desparately at Abi’s mawashi, at which point Abi grabs him for a quick sukuinage. So there is more to the young Peter Pan than just tsuppari.

It looks like Asanoyama woke up this morning and thought he was still in Fukuoka. Daieisho overwhelmed him and bang – there goes the zensho. Perhaps this will prevent Asanoyama from being scheduled against joi wrestlers.

Daiamami pulls at his nose no fewer than three times, and then proceeds to rain tsuppari at Takekaze. The veteran has no answer. He is two losses away from a make-koshi, and if he doesn’t start winning somehow, will join many familiar faces in Juryo next basho.

In the battle of the meh, Ishiura gets pushed to the tawara by Kagayaki, but manages to circle and defend. Then he seems to go too low and be in risk of losing his balance, but it is in fact Kagayaki who slips on the dohyo and ends up face down. Tsukiotoshi.

Chiyomaru doesn’t really have to work hard to beat Sokokurai. The man from Inner Mongolia tries a couple of times to get at the mawashi behind that huge belly, but doesn’t even get close. Easiest oshi-dashi in the world.

Kaisei makes short work of Daishomaru, gets him turned around and sends him off the dohyo. Tries to give him a helping hand up, but Daishomaru refuses it and goes up on his own.

Kotoyuki seems to get in control in the bout vs. Tochiozan, as oshi is his game, whereas Tochiozan usually prefers to get a morozashi on his opponents. However, once again Kotoyuki overreaches and find himself getting intimate with the spectators.

Chiyoshoma up to his old tricks. Two mattas. Then starts the bout with a harizashi. Gets several more harite in, but Shohozan is not impressed and pushes the lighter man out.

Chiyonokuni is having a miserable time in this basho. Only one win to his name at the moment, and Endo is not a good place to look for the second one. Chiyonokuni starts with his tsuppari barrage, Endo manages to get a half-grip on his mawashi, nearly loses balance but eventually gets the Kokonoe man out of the ring for an oshidashi.

Ikioi manages to get his left hand inside, but Okinoumi turns this against him as he wraps his arm around Ikioi’s for a kotenage. Okinoumi seems to be on his way back. Ikioi in deep trouble.

Takarafuji and Shodai fight for a grip for a few minutes. It’s Shodai who gets his morozashi, and quickly dispatches of the Isegahama man. This new Shodai is dangerous. Kakuryu better be careful.

Chiyotairyu is yet another Kokonoe man who is in trouble, with his only win a fusen. Kokonoe is only fairing better than Isegahama in that it doesn’t have as many injuries. Arawashi, with or without legs, manages to sidestep and roll the huge Chiyotairyu. Hatakikomi.

Onosho came fast and strong at Kotoshogiku, pushing the veteran all the way up to the tawara. Giku hung on by his tiptoes, moved around, grabbed hold of Onosho’s left arm and took him down for a kotenage. Still has some juice flowing, Kotoshogiku.

I don’t know what’s up with TamawashiHokutofuji could not ask for an easier rival. A henka, Tamawashi running into thin air, and Hokutofuji coming from behind and finishing the job. Okuridashi.

Yoshikaze was hoping he could continue in his giant-toppling routine today, but Mitakeumi had other plans. Yoshikaze tries to pull Mitakeumi down, fails, is driven to the edge, and then tries to launch an attack, when Mitakeumi simply pulls back and pulls him down. Mitakeumi keeps his perfect record.

Takayasu may have had a good record against Ichinojo, but the Mongolian boulder has brought some fighting spirit to this basho. He takes Takayasu’s kachiage with nonchalance and they both grapple, neither getting an overarm grip. Takayasu tries to change the grip, gets the grip he wants and tries to pull at ichinojo, but ichinojo has an underarm grip of his own, pulls at Takayasu’s mawashi and throws him outside as if he was a rag doll. That man is powerful, make no mistakes. Takayasu finds himself with two losses in a row, three in total, and depending on the strength of competition in the second week, a serious chance of kadoban.

Goeido, on the other hand, booted up in the correct version today. Two losses are enough, and despite a weak tachiai, he just grabs and overwhelms Takakeisho, leading him all the way out. Still an Ozeki.

And then, the musubi-no-ichiban, the one we have been waiting for. Truth be told, Tochinoshin had a miserable score against Kakuryu, 20-1 before today, with that one victory being somewhere in 2010, when Kakuryu was still sekiwake. Still, Tochinoshin looks great in this basho, as strong as a grizzly bear. And Kakuryu is only back from injury, and is smaller than the big Georgian.

kakuryu-tochinoshin
For the blink of an eye I could have sworn I saw Harumafuji there

But we have a Yokozuna here, and he wasn’t letting Tochinoshin anywhere near his mawashi. He speedily got a strong mawashi grip himself, and just drove forward, in a determined de-ashi that reminded me very much of Harumafuji. Tochinoshin looked pretty frustrated there at the end, but there you have it. A yokozuna is a yokozuna.

And this yokozuna is now 7-0.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day7

No point in keeping track of Hakuho and Kisenosato anymore, so we are down to a Kakuryumeter. So far, so good. Despite the pressure to perform, being the only yokozuna in attendance, and not being paid for this basho other than those mountains of kensho, Kakuryu shows amazing resilience to pressure.

Yusho arasoi:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi

Chasers:

  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M9 Shohozan
  • M13 Daieisho
  • M16 Asanoyama

The san-yaku is really doing miserably this basho. Tomorrow Kakuryu is going to meet the dangerous Shodai. I hope he realizes that Shodai no just stands up at the tachiai. Mitakeumi is facing an equally dangerous Ichinojo. And I’m going to be rooting for the boulder. Go go Mongolian geography!

Day 5 – New Hopes, Dashed Hopes

So let’s start at the very bottom.

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Naya and Hoshoryu – didn’t look like maezumo

There are mae-zumo bouts in every tournament. They usually pass almost unobserved, with only the sumo database to recall them from oblivion. But this tournament, we have two sublime scions who promise to make sumo interesting 10 years from now.

These are, of course, Taiho’s grandchild, Naya (who also happens to be Takatoriki’s son, but that fact is not paraded on TV and the press as much), and Hoshoryu, formerly known as Byambasuren, Asashoryu’s nephew.

And today, these two were matched against each other.

Hoshoryu is certainly channeling his uncle there when the gunbai points to his rival. Anyway, this looks a lot better than maezumo usually is.

Moving up a little bit, Torakio suffered his first loss today, after two wins.

The technique is not quite there yet.

And unfortunately, my main man Terutsuyoshi also suffered his first loss, in the battle of the former sekitori with Yago:

A valiant attempt at an ipponzeoi there at the end, but Yago had him from the get-go.

Let’s get up to Makuuchi, then. It was my day off today, so I was able to watch some live sumo for the first time. I caught the stream (Abema TV + VPN) right when Kakuryu was finishing his dohyo-iri. I must say I prefer the NHK broadcasts (which I got to watch recorded, never live). Too much stuff on the screen obscures the view, and the “female guests” that they promised only enhance the image of the “stupid broad who doesn’t understand sports and needs to be told basic things”. Bah.

But all this doesn’t make for bad sumo, right? So let’s go through the bouts:

Asanoyama got a Juryo rival today, Kyokutaisei, who was not really a match for the revamped Asanoyama. Yorikiri within the blink of an eye.

Ishiura was impressive in the first three days but now seems to be slumping back. We’ll have to see if he really improved when the sample size grows a bit. Ryuden did not let him do anything, really, and rebalanced his score a bit.

Daiamami, tells us Abema TV, has a pre-bout routine in which he pulls at his nose. Hmm… I prefer Arawashi’s salty mawashi. His bout with Yutakayama starts with some tsuppari, he follows with a nodowa. Yutakayama overcommits as he pushes him forward, but who got out first? Quite a long monoii ensues, and although Yutakayama was already flying out of control, Daiamami touched first, so Yutakayama gets the oshidashi win.

Nishikigi seemed to be in control of the bout, but Daieisho circled, causing Nishikigi to lose balance and winning by hatakikomi.

Abi and Kagayaki are of the same age. Abi just advanced from Juryo, and Kagayaki has more Makuuchi experience and looked strong in the beginning of the basho. He also has a slight height advantage over the Shikoroyama Peter Pan. But all of this list of advantages doesn’t do much for the buxom rikishi, as Abi moves quickly and pulls him down for a hikiotoshi.

Takekaze‘s game plan has been pulling down Daishomaru. Tried once, didn’t work, tried again. Tsukiotoshi and the old man’s first win this basho.

Sokokurai can’t seem to produce whatever magic he produced in Juryo. Kotoyuki pushes him out very easily for a tsukidashi.

Shohozan and Chiyomaru start with a tsuppari barrage, but Shohozan tries to get a mawashi grip. Chiyomaru evades and evades, but eventually Shohozan catches on and pushes him towards the edge. Chiyomaru only manages to stop himself when his toes are already outside. Hikiotoshi.

Now, the Aminishiki vs. Chiyonokuni battle did not look good. First, there’s Uncle Sumo’s sumo. I mean, it isn’t there. He can’t catch a grip on his rivals nape for one of the pull downs he likes, and he can’t get inside for a mawashi grip. But the worst part is that as Chiyonokuni rolls him to the exactly same corner when he ended up yesterday,  Uncle lands badly and hurts his right leg – the one with the snapped ligament and the brace. He had to go to the shitaku-beya leaning on someone’s shoulder. He will make a decision whether to go kyujo or not tomorrow morning.

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Aminishiki. Couldn’t get back on the dohyo for the bow.

Next to Kaisei, Chiyoshoma looks like a teen. However, after he finishes his Harumafuji-like shikiri, they both struggle for a mawashi grip. Chiyoshoma gets a secure shitate grip, and uses it for a shitatenage. Once Kaisei is on the floor, Chiyoshoma gives him a helping hand up. Now that’s the Chiyoshoma I want to see.

Tochiozan doesn’t manage to get any grip on Ikioi, and starts to back away as Ikioi pushes, but then manages to catch at Ikioi’s neck and pull him down for a hatakikomi.

In the battle of the “Ikemen” (manly men), Okinoumi just can’t repeat his success from the previous basho. Endo fights him for the grip, and they end up in a hidari-yotsu, but apparently Endo’s hold is stronger and he pushes relentlessly for the yori-kiri.

Takarafuji, however, is back in the land of white stars. Arawashi doesn’t seem to even pose a problem for him. A harite, a nodowa, and an oshi-dashi. This despite the TV team (Kasugano oyakata commentating) speaking at length about the type of yotsu each of them prefers.

Shodai gets a good grip on Ichinojo, and proves to him that even mountains can be moved. Losing to Shodai, Ichinojo? Ichinojo gets his favorite grip first, but Shodai manages to switch grips without penalty, gets him all the way to the edge, and then dances a bit on the tawara and lets Ichinojo’s momentum do the rest. The Yokozuna must be thinking “Is it that easy?”.

BTW, In the “fun facts” box on Abema TV, they wrote that Ichinojo can sleep on the back of a horse. The TV team – especially Kasugano oyakata – start to crack jokes about the poor horses in Mongolia and Ichinojo’s weight…

What was supposed to be the highlight of the evening, the tadpole battle, ended up with Takakeisho doing the splits within seconds, and Onosho with another easy win.

Mitakeumi and Tamawashi get into a pushing battle. But Mitakeumi is the stronger one of these two, and Tamawashi can do nothing but retreat until he’s out.

Although he lost to Hokutofuji twice already, in addition to one fusen, Takayasu is fearless as he comes to the dohyo today. Takayasu combines a mawashi grip with oshi, and expertly gets Hokutofuji out in an oshidashi. Keeps himself within one loss of the leader group.

Now, Tochinoshin‘s bout with Goeido is one for the history books. Kasugano oyakata at the commentator seat looked like a cat who swallowed a bowl of cream. At first, the two battled for a grip, each denying the other his hold and looking for his own opening. Tochinoshin managed to secure a firm grip, and started pushing Goeido relentlessly towards the tawara. Goeido didn’t go out without a fight, though, and tried a leg trip. Tochinoshin maintained perfect balance, and kept applying his unbelievable force. Goeido joins Takayasu in the “1 behind” group. Great match.

tochinoshin-goeido

Kakuryu keeps sailing from one bout to the next with poise and hinkaku… Chiyotairyu is really no match, as Kakuryu gets a grip on him right off the tachiai and lifts and pushes, lifts and pushes until the Sumo Elvis passes the bales. I was relieved to see that Kakuryu’s attempt at gaburi-yori yesterday vs. Ichinojo (didn’t work, he had to change tactics and move the mountain sideways to win) did not cause him to wake up this morning with his back wrecked again. Keep up the good work, Yokozuna!

And now, to the musubi-no-ichiban. The last bout of the day. Yokozuna Kisenosato vs. Yokozuna bane, Yoshikaze. And the man in the green mawashi was not giving the crippled Yokozuna an inch of slack. Yoshikaze tried a pulldown at first, then got into a morozashi, and dropped him unceremoniously off the dohyo. He went down to offer him a hand up, which Kisenosato rejected. Things are not looking good for the one-year-old Yokozuna.

yokozunameter-hatsu-2018-day5

So Hakuho is out for repairs, Kisenosato has a serious kinboshi leak, and only Kakuryu is in a state of “Need a Yokozuna? I’m right here!”.

Yusho Arasoi

The leader list is now down to four:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M16 Asanoyama

(Asanoyama? “Been there, done that, got the sansho”)

Hatsu Day 2 Highlights

Kisenosato Sigh of Relief

Top line result – Kisenosato won today. He won in a tough battle against a strong, healthy youngster in Hokutofuji. Meanwhile, Hakuho looks uncharacteristically tentative, Kakuryu dismantles Takakeisho’s wave action attack, Takayasu goes the distance with a persistent Kotoshogiku, and I worry there is something amiss in Yoshikaze-land.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Ryuden – A pair of loose mawashi leads to a rather challenging battle, where Daiamami was able to muscle Ryuden out at the edge.

Asanoyama defeats Nishikigi – I am starting to hope that Asanoyama has gotten his sumo back under control. Asanoyama was double-inside at the tachiai, and Nishikigi offered very little resistance.

Ishiura defeats Abi – Ishiura seems to have gotten his sumo together. He is looking focused, tight and he is using his size and strength to his advantage. Abi, in spite of his sunny disposition and outstanding shiko, is still looking for the recipe to get a Makuuchi win.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – This version of Kagayaki is quite different from the disorganized mess of the last three basho. It’s probably the case that Kagayaki is not yet ready to succeed at upper Maegashira level, but here at the bottom, he is doing great.

Aminishiki defeats Chiyomaru – Uncle Sumo locked up Chiyomaru and went chest to chest with the big man, and won! Not a great or glorious battle, but good to see Aminishiki going straight out into battle.

Kaisei defeats Chiyonokuni – Two false starts put both contestants in a hesitant mode, and Kaisei took control of the smaller but more aggressive Chiyonokuni. I am really concerned about Kaisei’s bulk. At that size, one bad fall and it’s all downhill.

Endo defeats Ikioi – In the battle of the Japanese virtues, it was Endo all the way. There was some question on who touched down first, but Endo prevailed. I am starting to be cautiously optimistic that Endo has put his health problems behind him.

Tochinoshin defeats Arawashi – It was not even close, and frankly it was startling to see how small Arawashi (who is not small in person) looked as Tochinoshin lifted him over the tawara. I am eager to see how Tochinoshin does when he starts facing the San’yaku in a few days.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Alright, that’s two weak days from Yoshikaze in a row. As a fan I am starting to worry that something is wrong with the berserker.

Goeido defeats Onosho – Goeido has started Hatsu strong, and he’s completely dialed in on the 2.0 software. The ankle repair appears to have been a complete success, and I think he’s fighting as well right now as I have seen in the past two years.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – For recent joiners of the sumo fan world, this was a classic Takayasu match. Enormous strength and almost inhuman endurance. It’s also a huge measure of respect for Kotoshogiku as he was able to match the Ozeki during that lengthy battle, and never gave up one inch without a fight. Classic match.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – That’s two days in a row where the boss has struggled. Yes, Ichinojo is the Obelix of sumo, but in prior engagements, Hakuho has been able to eliminate Ichinojo’s size as a factor. One can assume that the change up in his tachiai has significantly disrupted his sumo.

Kakuryu defeats Takakeisho – Amazing bout from Big K! I refer to Takakeisho’s big weapon as a “Wave Action Tsuppari”: he tends to do a double arm thrust 3 times then move. Kakuryu knows this, stops the first wave at the tachiai and moves inside with a shallow grip. Takakeisho moves to escape and Kakuryu does not let him re-set. Takakeisho’s out in the blink of an eye.

Kisenosato defeats Hokutofuji – And all of Japan breathes a sigh of relief. This was actually a very good match, and my compliments to Hokutofuji, who put up one hell of a fight. From the tachiai, Hokutofuji works hard to block Kisenosato’s left hand grip. He then makes the mistake of grabbing Kisenosato’s left forearm and pulling. This seems to really fire Kisenosato up, and he unleashes a hell of a storm on his opponent. After a few very strong blows, Kisenosato lands his deep left hand grip, at which point it’s all over. Great match, if a bit sloppy.

Hatsu Day 2 Preview

kisenosato-down

Day 1 got off to a very solid start, better than either of the last two basho, and I am cautiously enthusiastic about what we are in store for. With so many excellent matches on day 1, I encourage everyone to at least try out Kintamayama’s review on YouTube. While I love the NHK highlights show, and days when there are a large amount of quality bouts in a rather lengthy torikumi, it’s worth it to pick up the matches you missed.

I finally got to see the NHK highlight show at 2:30 Pacific today. Yes, I am in San Diego for a bit instead of the mighty bastion of Texas. Counter programming to it was a show on PBS about black holes, and super-massive black holes. I thought nothing of it…

But then here’s Murray Johnson remarking that Kaisei has packed on over 20 kg since November. Dear readers, that’s the size of a small Panda Bear, whose form Kaisei seems determined to emulate. It appears something similar has taken place within orbit of the gas giant Chiyomaru, who may have swallowed a nearby moon. Both of these two balloons will find their added mass a terrible strain on their bodies, and I fear for their longevity.

Say, you know what has me really delighted so far? Great matches at the bottom of Makuuchi! These guys are on fire. The Tadpoles had best consolidate their position in a hurry, as it seems there is yet another cohort advancing on their positions.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Ryuden vs Daiamami – Ryuden looked very poised on day 1, I am going to be watching to see if he can repeat that with his match against Daiamami, who holds a 5-2 career advantage of him.

Asanoyama vs Nishikigi – I am calling for Asanoyama to try to set up a throw early on. If Nishikigi can block the outside grip, he will probably have a chance to get inside and dismantle Asanoyama.

Abi vs Ishiura – An early match with a lot of interest. Both guys are on the lighter side of the scales, and both of them like to move around and mix it up. If Ishiura gets stuck, will he resort to his submarine attack that gets him in such trouble?

Yutakayama vs Daieisho – See, this time I spelled it correctly. Yutakayama has won both their prior matches. I expect a flurry of thrusting and a lot of mobility. Yutakayama seems to choke when he gets into Makuuchi, and I think everyone is hoping that this time he can settle down and show us some great sumo.

Kagayaki vs Daishomaru – When I said keep an eye on Kagayaki, people laughed. I get it, he has ridiculous man-boobs. He seems to have come to terms with it, and possibly uses it to distract his opponents. They say life in the heya can be lonely, and perhaps these poor guys find the display captivating. But hell no! Kagayaki takes his sumo with all of the earnest concentration you might expect from a rikishi who wants to be somebody. Like Kiesnosato, this guy is willing to train himself to death to get there. Never count that out.

Terunofuji vs Kotoyuki – Did you read Herouth’s discussion of Terunofuji? It’s toward the bottom of her typically awesome post. If you have not read it, go read it. It seems that in addition to Kaisei and Chiyomaru, Terunofuji may have spent time at the Gagamaru body sculpting clinic. If he can’t toss Kotoyuki around like a rotten bag of miso on day 2, it’s very dim indeed for our once mighty Kaiju. (shout out to Joshua who is in Tokyo… Lucky bastard)

Aminishiki vs Chiyomaru – Uncle Sumo vs the Gas Giant. Not good as Chiyomaru’s intense gravity well may crush Aminishiki’s space age metal support structure. Seriously, Aminishiki is in lower mid-Maegashira territory now. I hope he’s able to keep himself from getting injured.

Kaisei vs Chiyonokuni – Panda-kun vs Grumpy Badger. Chiyonokuni came out blazing day 1, but in typical fashion could not close the deal. He’s got strength, speed and energy, but for whatever reason he can’t seem to put together a consistent approach to get a win.

Ikioi vs Endo – Looking forward to this fight, as I am keeping my eye on Endo, who I would not be surprised to see hit 10 wins this tournament. A genki Endo may come as a bit of a shock to the tadpoles, as he brings a surgical precision and some depth of experience to the dohyo. I am looking for him to contain Ikioi’s superior strength and reach, and work inside and backwards.

Shodai vs Okinoumi – Shodai looked better on day 1 than he has in a while, and I am going to guess that for now Okinoumi is in good health. So this is probably a fairly good match, if Shodai does not blow the tachiai. Both of them will go for a mawashi grip from the start, and it will come down to strength and tactics.

Mitakeumi vs Chiyotairyu – Mitakeumi needs a 10 win basho to be taken seriously as an Ozeki contender. So it’s time for him to produce before he faces the upper San’yaku next week. Chiyotairyu is bigger, strong and looks a lot more like Elvis. So Mitakeumi is going to have to gamberize.

Yoshikaze vs Tamawashi – I am sure Yoshikaze is disappointed in day 1’s outcome. His shot at recovery is with the tough as nails Tamawashi on day 2. Tamawashi is back at Sekiwake after a stumble at Aki and Nagoya, and he wants his back in line for an Ozeki run.

Goeido vs Onosho – Battle of the manic over-committing rikishi, where both of them tend to charge forward with everything they have. Although I tend to be against the use of henka, this is the correct case where it’s of most use. Free tacos if they do simultaneous henka and orbit each other for the first few seconds.

Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – All the fans want Kotoshogiku to do the big back bend. We know its the source of his magic powers, and he needs every ounce of power against an especially genki looking Takayasu.

Hakuho vs Ichinojo – Hakuho looked a bit lost without his slap-n-grab power combo. Against Ichinojo he needs some clarity, as once that much Mongolian gets moving, he’s headed somewhere. I am expecting the Boss to try another tachiai variation, hopefully with improved effect.

Kakuryu vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s post match interview had me rolling. When asked about the sumo he used against Kisenosato, he more or less said, “I can’t really remember, I was just trying to win”. Damn straight! He was all over the map throwing everything including the kitchen sink at The Great Pumpkin, and he prevailed. Now of course comes Kakuryu, whose whole sumo approach is to let his opponent get rolling, then use their motion and attacks against them. I can’t wait to see how this one goes. This is the first time these two have fought.

Hokutofuji vs Kisenosato – The final match of the day, it it carries a lot of weight. Kisenosato needs wins on the board. But in their only prior match, Hokutofuji won convincingly. On day 1, Kisenosato let Takakeisho dictate the match. I am hoping to see him control the bout like his 2016 self would do with such calm and effortless power.