Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 8 (Oct 10)

🌐 Location: Kofu, Yamanashi
🚫 Scandal level: 0

nobori

It’s Ryuden day! Take a look at these nobori. There is one “Kisenosato”, and all the rest are a colorful array of “Ryuden”.

Why?

Because Ryuden comes from Kofu, Yamanashi. A rikishi from the same prefecture is enough reason to celebrate. But one from the same town? And a Makuuchi wrestler at that? Let the Ryuden-fest begin!

To ease you in, let’s start with some other people in the hand-shake phase. Here is Nishikigi, who doesn’t want Teraoumi to get any of the spotlight:

nishikigi-hides-teraoumi

Teraoumi maintains his cool, and reminds Nishikigi that he is two months his sempai!

teraoumi-hides-nishikigi

(Yeah, that conversation actually took place)

Abi was goofing around. When does Abi not goof around? First he got Nishikigi’s glasses:

abi-with-nishikigi-glasses

Then he said they give him a headache. Then he got Teraoumi’s glasses:

abi-with-teraoumi-glasses

…and said he can’t see anything. And then he asked Shodai for his secret drink:

But gagged upon smelling it. Shodai told him to take a mouthful. Abi declared it tastes like sewage. Which brings up the question: how does Abi know what sewage tastes like?

In short, Abi and Nishikigi were being pests:

(But hey, at least no nipples got crushed).

Shodai, still with that drink in hand, was stopped inside the main hall for a photo. Now, if you look at Twitter photos of sekitori with fans, you may notice that they are almost never selfies. That’s another job of one’s loyal tsukebito, in this case, Asakura:

Kototsurugi, who apparently travels with the Jungyo, got Ryuden to sign one of his likenesses:

kototsurugi-gets-ryuden-autograph

Now, let’s get closer to the dohyo. And get a couple of lessons in etiquette. First, here is Yokozuna Kakuryu. First, he bows to the oyakata. Only then he stands and start accepting bows from the other sekitori:

But of course, then comes the anti-etiquette part. Tamawashi just sticks around and starts having a conversation with Terutsuyoshi, and everybody else needs to go around him to greet the Yokozuna. How rude!

Here is Endo going to greet Yokozuna Kisenosato. Then he notices someone else and bows to him, too. Who is it?

It’s Jokoryu, his university sempai.

And note also Onosho going to hand a ladle to Kisenosato. Alas, Kisenosato rejects the offering, as he is busy dancing.

On the dohyo, Ryuden gave butsukari to Shobushi. Shobushi is also a local Yamanashi boy:

So the spectators got two locals for the price of one! Other sessions on the dohyo:

Kotoeko vs. Gokushindo in moshi-ai:

Aminishiki vs. Yago:

Takarafuji vs. Kagayaki. Oops.

Meisei vs. Onosho:

Climaxing at Tochinoshin vs. Ryuden:

But of course, for a local boy, you can’t do without a lengthy kawaigari (butsukari) from a Yokozuna. Kakuryu doing the honors:

Note that part when Kakuryu signals to the spectators to applaud.

This session over, Ryuden looked like this:

Keiko over, everybody wants to shower. Actually, it’s Japan. Not just shower – ofuro (bath). And for a bath you need to go to a sento or an onsen. There is a shuttle service:

The sekitori get out of their training mawashi. Here is Goeido’s, hanging out to dry:

goeido-mawashi

Quick reminder: mawashi are never washed.

The fans love capturing Yokozuna as they come back from the bath. Here is your Kakuryu:

It’s a real hinkaku challenge, this thing. Here is Kisenosato, who is famous for coming back from the bath with his hair in a bun, which looks like a one-eared Mickey-Mouse:

In the meantime, the show goes on inside the building. The local boy, Shobushi, performs the Shokkiri, and is then called in for an interview with a local TV station:

shobushi-interviewed-after-shokkiri

There is also a drum demonstration, performed by Yobidashi Shigeo, of Kokonoe beya:

yobidashi-shigeo

Note the cool T-shirt, featuring Chiyonofuji brushing his teeth. Yeah, Shigeo has been with Kokonoe for quite a while.

Here is (a part of) the performance itself:

Time for dohyo-iri. And… you guessed it. Tamawashi is at it again:

tamawashi-abuses-shodai

Shodai gets a free dental examination. Only, the only rikishi who has an actual dentistry license is Tochinoshin. Definitely not Tamawashi.

Then the sekitori’s bouts start. Guess which one I have for you?

There’s a glimpse of Meisei-Chiyoshoma in there, but you only get to see Endo vs. Ryuden there. Endo is a good actor. He has never ever beaten a local boy, though, ain’t than funny?

This was actually Endo’s second bout of the day, as he was also pulled in to replace Daishomaru, who had some sudden health issue. Daishomaru joined two other absentees from the torikumi – Shohozan and Hakuho. Yes, this is the day Hakuho practically started his kyujo, although he still did the fansa. He did not participate in keiko nor do a dohyo-iri, according to eye witnesses. Here he is on his way back home (or rather, to the next location) at the end of the day:

hakuho-barely-walking
Not the happiest expression on Hakuho’s face

And so, everybody went home. But Ryuden was still accompanied by a TV crew till the last possible moment:

ryuden-interviewed-on-way-home

Sorry, no Tobizaru nor Enho for you today. I hope your big helping of Ryuden softens the blow.

 

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 5 (Oct 7)

🌐 Location: Chiba, Chiba
🚫 Scandal level: 0

venue

First, let’s all stop and bow as the king enters the building:

At Chiba, the Jungyo trail comes closer to Tokyo again. This was the opportunity for a few changes in kyujo status. I’m sad to tell you that Ikioi has left the Jungyo.

But the happier news is the return of this guy:

enho
Danger, measurements of Cute in Chiba are approaching critical level

The man most happy about this news seems to have been his fellow pixie, Terutsuyoshi:

Awwww… then, ewwww.

Anyway, it was really hard to peel Terutsuyoshi off Enho’s skin that entire day. Someone with an evil sense of humor decided to pit them against each other in the torikumi of the day. Terutsuyoshi won. And yes, he continued to hover around Enho even after they showered.

But we are still on the subject of kyujo. Tsurugisho continued off the torikumi (though still staying with the Jungyo), and Abi is also not in the wrestling list – although he did participate in the fan service:

abi-autographing

Aminishiki – not kyujo – was also giving autographs, though he looks very tired.

aminishiki-fansa

Inside the main hall, Shohozan was utilizing TRX to maintain his pythons:

Some moshi-ai sessions:

Yago-Wakatakakage, with Daishoho and Chiyonoumi:

Kaisei-Endo, with Asanoyama and Kagayaki:

Mitakeumi-Tochinoshin, with Shodai and Hokutofuji

Nice to see Mitakeumi practice. He also did some basics earlier on:

There was a series of quick butsukari on the dohyo:

While on the dohyo, Tochinoshin was offering his chest in butsukari to Takanosho (the high rankers love torturing the newcomers), some bored low-rankers engaged in arm wrestling. Well, kind of:

Here is part of the sumo jinku of the day:

This was followed by the Shokkiri (and yes, apparently they are alternating between the same two pairs of performers as in the previous Jungyo). Then came the Juryo dohyo-iri. With all the absences, this looked positively sad:

Many cheers for Aminishiki – who waves. It’s the Jungyo, after all.

Then there was taiko demonstration (only part is shown):

This was followed by the Juryo torikumi. Today, Nakazono was allowed to rest a bit, and Chiyoarashi joined the Juryo bouts instead, sporting an oicho for the first time in a long while (he last had an official one in 2013!):

chiyoarashi

This is, of course, because he is a local Chiba boy.

Daishoho tried to pull the old salt-in-the-ladle trick on Daiamami.

Crickets.

Nice display of self-control by Daiamami.

Here is Aminishiki vs. Meisei. Watch Meisei’s shiko, by the way. He doesn’t have Abi’s long legs but his shiko is top notch.

A lot of support for Uncle Sumo, but he still gets off the dohyo frustrated.

On the way to the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, Tamawashi continues to make Mitakeumi’s life hard:

tamawashi-badgering-mitakeumi

Here’s Daieisho vs. Nishikigi:

For some reason, this is the only Makuuchi torikumi I found.

The only thing I have from any of the top-level wrestlers is this picture of Hakuho, flirting with the Yobidashi, as he always does just before the kore-yori-san-yaku:

hakuho-flirting-with-yobidashi

I would comment about the size proportions between the Yokozuna and the average Japanese man. Only, with Ichinojo in the background, Hakuho kind of loses the “huge” effect.

Finally, here is Tobizaru. Though maybe now I should revert back to “daily Enho”.

tobizaru

 

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Days 2 and 3

I did not post an individual report about day 2, because frankly, there wasn’t much to write – even on the NSK Twitter account there were very few tweets about it. So here it is, bundled together with day 3.

🌐 Location: Ota, Gunma
🚫 Scandal level: -1 (yawn)

If you’re here for the goofy pictures, here is one by the surprisingly popular Arikawa, who is one of Kisenosato’s tsukebito, and despite his hair, is only 29 years old. Here he is accompanied by a rather demonic-looking Ryuden:

Maybe Ryuden was still upset by his earlier moshi-ai bout with Chiyonokuni, which looked like this:

For those of you who are new here: moshi-ai is a form of practice in which the winner gets to choose his next rival. This means that at the end of each bout there is a melee of rikishi vying for the winner’s attention.

There aren’t many rikishi hailing from Gunma prefecture. The most famous one is Satonofuji, but he no longer participates in the Jungyo. However, Yobidashi Shiro, the san-yaku yobidashi, is from Gunma, and therefore got to do the drum presentation today:

That’s more or less all I have from Ota. Here is a Tobizaru for you:

Almost as charming with toddlers as Harumafuji used to be

OK, now brace yourselves, because day 3, unlike day 2, was well covered. This may be because they packed a full house – they even had the “Thank you for the full house” flags hanging.

🌐 Location: Ashikaga, Tochigi
🚫 Scandal level: 0

There are two very popular rikishi from Tochigi prefecture: the Taka twins. However, due to Takagenji and Takanoiwa being kyujo they were absent (Takayoshitoshi is Takanoiwa’s tsukebito, so if Takanoiwa is not there, he is not there). Maybe the reason Kisenosato chose to give butsukari to Takanosho is that he is somewhat related… he is their new heya mate now.

By the way, of the three Yokozuna, two seem to be practicing on the dohyo at the moment. Hakuho, as usual, starts the Jungyo doing the basics at the foot of the dohyo. The two others seem to settle for doing butsukari at the moment.

Somebody brought in balance disks, and rikishi were given a challenge: do shiko on the balance disks.

Ryuden finds this a bit challenging
Nishikigi follows instructions successfully
Shohozan tries to ignore the laughter
Chiyonokuni executes well… only… his foot was out – like in the basho!

So, if you run into anybody who thinks that sumo is two big flabby potatoes in diapers flapping at each other until one falls over – hand him a pair of balance disks and tell him to try that.

Shohozan seems to have brought his invisible golf club to the Jungyo:

Takakeisho seems to have received less attention than he got in Tokyo, which allowed him to relax and enjoy the jungyo. Like, for example, pestering Daieisho:

Also, for some reason, it seems he has never heard of wax or laser. Instead, he has his tsukebito pull his back hair, one hair at a time. 😨

Yeah, I’m serious. He actually returned the favor there, and they looked like a couple of apes socializing by picking nits off each other. Guys, please remember that you’re on camera out there in the Jungyo, always.

Here is Abi doing some san-ban. First, with Onosho:

Then, with Takanosho:

Notice something?

Abi is going for the mawashi. Again, and again. Other rikishi practicing:

Hokutofuji vs. Kagayaki
Kaisei vs. Ryuden

As the day progresses, the torikumi begin. Again, because of the shortage in Juryo wrestlers, Nakazono, Gokushindo and Tomokaze wear oicho (well, Tomokaze doesn’t – his hair is not long enough, yet) and wrestle in Juryo. Somehow, Gokushindo seems to be way too happy about this:

That smile is suspicious…
Aha. The rim is loaded with salt.

So, Gokushindo takes the opportunity of his first appearance in a Juryo bout in Jungyo to play the oldest trick in the book – giving the waiting wrestler a ladle full of salt. You see, there is no chikara-mizu in Makushita and below. That ceremony is reserved for sekitori bouts.

Actually, he was taking a risk there, because his bout was the one following Nakazono, so if Nakazono won, he could easily have returned the favor with some interest. I guess he trusted Azumaryu (Nakazono’s opponent) to take care of that problem.

I don’t have torikumi from Juryo, but I do have this photo:

Meisei vs. Aminishiki

The report is that Aminishiki fought hard at the edge, but as you can see, Meisei is the one still on the dohyo at the end. And seems very pleased about it.

In Makuuchi, I want you to take a look at the musubi-no-ichiban. First, take a look at Hakuho’s final salt throw. He always does that in Jungyo. In honbasho he settles for a modest throw befitting a Yokozuna. But in Jungyo, he goes all Terutsuyoshi, much to the pleasure of the crowd.

But then, watch the bout itself. It’s… surprising.

Whoa, what was that? Kakuryu is all “Oops… Sorry, Yokozuna, are you alright?”, and Hakuho bangs the dohyo with his fist in embarrassment. I mean, a respectable loss by yori-kiri or oshi-dashi is not uncommon, especially not in Jungyo, where the wins seem to be distributed evenly between Yokozuna (well, Kisenosato didn’t get the memo, but that’s him). But a sukuinage? Or any other kind of throw?

OK, finally, here is a digest of the day’s events. Some Yokozuna dohyo-iri. Some Shokkiri. Ryuden vs. Takanosho, Kisenosato vs. Goeido, and a glimpse of that odd musubi-no-ichiban:

But of course, I won’t say goodbye without a final Tobizaru:

Aki 2018, Day 15. That’s all, folks!

It is my sad duty to break these news to you, but it must be done: the basho is over. All yusho have been decided. All kachi-koshi and make-koshi have been achieved. And now we are in for a month and a half of… well, mostly Jungyo.

So what did we have today?

ÅiëÂëäñoèHèÍèäêÁèHäyÅjÅùóDèüÉpÉåÅ[ÉhÇ…èoî≠Ç∑ÇÈîíñQ
Hakuho and his flag-bearer and uchi-deshi, Enho
Well, the first Makuuchi bout is between Chiyomaru and Aminishiki, but it turns out that Chiyomaru has a bone fracture in his foot, and is kyujo on senshuraku. He will probably end up in Juryo for this. Aminishiki must be frustrated – you go to Makuuchi, you win – but you don’t get any kensho for fusensho! Aminishiki with a minimal make-koshi, though, 7-8, and although he won’t advance, he will also not drop much.

Takanoiwa achieves a left hand outside on the tachiai vs Okinoumi. He is not happy with that and manages a makikae. Another fumble, a pull, and he wins by uwatedashinage, achieving double digits on his return to Makuuchi. Will he get a sansho?

Er, no. And neither will any of the hard working rikishi who strive for 10 wins today. Earlier the NSK announces that no rikishi have been found worthy of any special prizes today – not the technique prize, not the outstanding performance prize, and – weirdest of all – no fighting spirit prize. So, the basho we thought was wonderful, the NSK considered so lackluster that for the first time since the institution of special prizes, none have been awarded.

Aoiyama meets Kotoyuki. Both are make-koshi, but both are seeking to keep themselves 7-8 rather than 6-9. Kotoyuki starts with a bit of not-too-enthusiastic tsuppari, but Aoiyama soon catches him, gives him a nice pat on the nape of his nake, and sends him to his favorite place – waddling between the spectators in the front rows.

Ryuden manages a proper tachiai, and gets his left arm inside, despite Daishomaru‘s ottsuke. Although still fumbling on the right side, he manages an easy yori-kiri, and gets his 10th win. Again, no sansho, and all the rikishi with 10 wins will have to settle for the additional ¥10,000 in their bi-monthly bonus.

Hokutofuji starts with his usual right-arm forward and rhythmic thrusts, but Yoshikaze achieves a left hand inside almost instantly and yori-kiris him to oblivion. Yoshikaze, as expected for a man of his experience finding himself so low down the banzuke, has been cutting swaths through his opponents and will be back in a saner and more challenging position next basho.

Nishikigi gets a left hand inside and a grip on Kotoshogiku‘s mawashi right off the tachiai. He ottsuke’s the former Ozeki’s left arm with his own right, and then decides to go for the grip, which he achieves. The two lock powerfully, and though Nishikigi loses his initial left hand grip, he never lets go of that right. It gets into a leaning war. Nishikigi gets the left hand mawashi grip again. Eventually he pulls up a little, and pushes Kotoshogiku all the way out. Did we just watch Nishikigi beat Kotoshogiku by a powerful yori-ikiri? Yes we did! Nishikigi also in double digits this basho, to the sound of millions of jaws dropping in amazement. Kotoshogiku, despite a good showing this basho, is make-koshi.

Takarafuji yet again fails to achieve his favorite position, but somehow prevails over Sadanoumi with some ottsuke, a pull and a thrust. He is not happy, but he finishes the basho with a win, and minimizes his make-koshi to 7-8. My sources tell me that the Tachiai delegation at the Kokugikan has been cheering for the Isegahama man.

(The towels say “keppare Takarafuji”)

Tochiozan achieves a quick morozashi on Chiyoshoma on the tachiai, and after a few hugs manages to aim and shoot at the head shimpan. Shitatehineri, and Tochiozan is kachi-koshi.

Shohozan attempts a harizashi on Takanosho, but fails the “sashi” part. Takanosho gets the advantage with some tsuppari that gets Shohozan to the edge, but then Shohozan decides to arm those guns, and Takanosho soon finds himself at the opposite edge, and over it. Shohozan keeps his make-koshi at a minimal 7-8. Takanosho luckily clinched his kachi-koshi already.

Not much to say about the Onosho vs. Ishiura bout, which started with yet another matta 🙄. Ishiura tries to go low, Onosho catches his neck, and Ishiura, rather than persevering like his ototo-deshi (rikish from the same heya who joined later), frees his head, finds himself without any position or grip, and is soon driven out. Bot wrestlers are now 4-11, and if Ishiura doesn’t start watching Enho and learning, today’s Yokozuna dohyo-iri was his last.

The bout between Kagayaki and Daieisho is a bout of desparation, as both parties are 7-7 entering it. Daieisho is shorter, and makes use of that to attack the tall Kagayaki at just the right angle, from below. Kagayaki has no answer to Daieisho’s fierce rain of tsuppari and is soon out. On his way down the hana michi he looks like he is on the verge of tears. Daieisho is 8-7, Kagayaki 7-8.

Another matta precedes the Yutakayama match vs. Chiyonokuni. Chiyonokuni starts with his enthusiastic thrust attack, from below, from above, and Yutakayama can barely defend. One of Yutakayama’s defensive left hand moves catches the back of Chiyonokuni’s head as Yutakayama spins around, and the Kokonoe man is surprised to find himself flat on his face on the edge. Yutakayama manages to keep his toes inside in this spin, and gets a win to sweeten a rather bitter basho.

Kaisei latches on to the left side of Shodai‘s mawashi a half-second after the tachiai, and soon follows with his right hand. Although it’s a bit of an odd soto-yotsu (both hands outside, but rather on the front Shodai’s mawashi rather than the back), it’s enough for him to easily walk Shodai out. Kaisei is kachi-koshi, 8-7, and Tamawashi’s komusubi position is virtually in his pocket.

Chiyotairyu slams into Ikioi and immediately steps to the left. Ikioi not fulled, stays with him and catches one of his arms in what seems to be a preparation for a kotenage. However, after some wriggling, Chiyotairyu manages to shake that arm lock off, and shake Ikioi off the dohyo. Ikioi lands on his injured foot, further aggravating his injured ankle. I hope Ikioi will absent himself from the Jungyo, which starts October 3rd – he and the rest of the maimed rikishi that have been heaping up this basho.

Today was Asanoyama‘s last chance of a kachi-koshi, after four consecutive losses following his seventh win. He did his best to neutralize Takakeisho‘s barrage of tsuppari, keeping him at an arm’s length. The bout developed into a long stalemate, when Asanoyama decided to try to slip a hand in for a grip. Takakeisho didn’t let that pass – Asanoyama’s “sashi” lasted for two milliseconds before the Takakeisho windmill had him over the bales. Five straight losses and make-koshi for Asanoyama.

For some reason, Tamawashi decided that the basho starts today, and finally made an appearance at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. Too bad it’s the last day, old Eagle. His thrust attack against Endo was powerful and effective, but only got him his 4th win. As for Endo, let’s hope he rallies the same way that Yoshikaze has this basho. Otherwise, what who will the ladies of the Kokugikan swoon over?

Ichinojo is 7-7 coming into this bout with Myogiryu. Myogiryu is going to find himself in the joi next basho, having already secured his kachi-koshi. And he has a 6-2 record against the boulder. But Ichinojo has had six consecutive kachi-koshi. And he seems to like being sekiwake. Tachiai, boom. Ichinojo has both hands folded in his lap on the tachiai, then releases them and catches Myogiryu’s arm. Myogiryu starts pushing. Ichinojo pulls, and lets Myogiryu drop just before stepping over the bales himself. Not exactly powerful sumo, but much to the disbelief of anybody reading this blog only 5 days ago, Ichinojo gets yet another kachi-koshi, seventh in a row, and keeps his rank.

At this point you don’t need Leonid’s massive banzuke-fu to figure out the sanyaku for next basho: It’s much the same as this one, with Hakuho and Takakeisho moving East and Kaisei replacing Tamawashi.

Abi starts with his usual morotezuki and tsuppari, nothing to write home about. Mitakeumi matches him thrust for thrust. Round and round and round they go, until Abi loses patience and foolishly tries to reach Mitakeumi’s mawashi. Mitakeumi finds a handy Abi cranium to push down. The End. Mitakeumi improves to 9-6, and the argument about his Ozeki chances in 2018 will continue to rage until he goes and messes Kyushu the same way he messed Aki. Abi is 6-9 and can rest assured that he won’t need to face any sanyaku next time around.

The top three bouts, for the first time in two years, feature only Yokozuna and Ozeki. Watch the sanyaku soroi-bumi in Kintamayama’s reel – it’s a good one.

Tochinoshin, after having relieved himself of the awful pressure of the Kadoban, makes short work of Takayasu. He starts with a kachiage, neutralizes Takayasu’s left arm and keeps himself away from the right, and then pushes with all his double-bear power. Takayasu drops, Tochinoshin 9-6.

Goeido slams into Kisenosato, attempts to start a gaburi attack. Kisenosato is a bit too heavy for this stuff. Goeido pulls slightly, and rolls the Yokozuna easily. Kisenosato must be glad he got his 10th yesterday. He finishes 10-5. Goeido has the jun-yusho with 12-3.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho has his zensho to defend. Kakuryu – his Yokozuna dignity. Clash, no harite, and Hakuho gets the left-hand mawashi grip. The two enter into a classical yotsu lock hold. Hakuho tries to lift Kakuryu several times, but he is no Tochinoshin. Besides, he only has “ichimai” on the right hand side. The third attack sees Kakuryu lose his mawashi grip, and then he suddenly goes limp and just leaves the dohyo. That’s a bit sad for a Yokozuna, but at least it’s a good way to escape an injury-risking dame-oshi. Hakuho maintains his zensho yusho. ¥200,000 are added to his bi-monthly bonus, which is already the largest in history. I’m guessing Kakuryu is going to be grilled by the YDC tomorrow, having lost all his Yokozuna and Ozeki bouts.

yokozunameter-2018-aki-day-15
The Yokozuna on the left came back from a lengthy injury. The one on the right won two yusho this year. Go figure.

It’s been a pleasurable basho, and now the long wait begins for the last Kyushu basho of the Heisei era.

 

Day 14 – and the winner is…

hakuho-yusho-41

Yokozuna Hakuho, in a year of injuries, in which he previously completed just one basho, is back, and is breaking records. Today he won his 41st yusho. It was also his 1000th Makuuchi win, with Kaio trailing far behind with 879. Also, this is the 13th consecutive year in which he wins at least one yusho – breaking Taiho’s record of 12. In the shitaku-beya he said “I am leaving the children who will be entering Grand Sumo in the future a big challenge to aim for”. I doubt if the child who will break those records is going to be born any time soon – perhaps if sports medicine advances far enough, and the world of sumo changes its mindset well enough, to extend an average rikishi’s viable career as a sekitori into his forties. Then, maybe, maybe.

But the Yokozuna’s yusho was just the cap on yet another good day of sumo, so let’s dive right in.

Arawashi visited Makuuchi today, to see if he should be exchanged for Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki denies him any access to his mawashi, and in the tsuppari match that ensues, Arawashi’s foot slips to the janome (the ring of fine sand surrounding the tawara). This has been happening a lot this basho. Bales slippery or buried a tad too deeply? Only the Yobidashi and the gods of the dohyo know. Arawashi needs to win his bout tomorrow to still secure his kachi-koshi and return to Makuuchi – especially now that Aminishiki is make-koshi and will not advance (Aminishiki has been the victim of two consecutive henkas by men almost half his age, believe it or not).

Chiyoshoma, who has secured his kachi-koshi for the first time since the Haru basho (the only Kokonoe sekitori to do so so far), got a mawashi grip on Okinoumi right from the get-go. However, it was Okinoumi who executed a lovely uwatenage, usually Chiyoshoma’s expertise, rolling the Kokonoe man to the edge of the dohyo. Okinoumi is kachi-koshi.

Ryuden aims to get a morozashi on Sadanoumi. He achieves a left hand inside with a good grip, while Sadanoumi latches on with his right hand outside. The two fight over the hold with the other hand, Ryuden trying to lock his armpit, and Sadanoumi getting a “nozoki” (his left hand peeks through). Then Sadanoumi suddenly reverses direction, and uses the good hold he has on Ryuden with his right to pull the man in the black mawashi over to the edge and force him out with a yori-kiri. Both fly to the front rows. Sadanoumi checks with Ryuden that he is alright, Ryuden nods. Sadanoumi is kachi-koshi, and Ryuden may yet get to double digits, but not today.

Takanosho and Daieisho both use their arms to pad their impact. From there, it takes Takanosho half a second to drop Daieisho to ground. Oshitaoshi.

Hokutofuji seems to be Takanoiwa‘s Kryptonite. Takanoiwa has not beaten him in any of their bouts. It seems Takanoiwa is always aiming for a right “sashi” (hand insertion), and Hokutofuji always succeeds in sealing that side off. And this time, too, he gets rid of the posky right hand and proceeds to destroy Takanoiwa’s game plan. Oshidashi, Hokutofuji wins, both are 9-5, may get double digits tomorrow.

Ishiura tries to get a mae-mitsu grip on Daishomaru, but realizes that he has achieved a morozashi (both hands inside), and simply proceeds to yori-kiri the Oitekaze man. Where was this Ishiura for the length of this basho?

Aoiyama, who only two days ago pommeled Ishiura in anger for trying a henka, decided to go that way himself, and sidestepped Takarafuji mightily. Does Aoiyama really need to henka the fading Isegahama heyagashira? Takarafuji is now make-koshi and in sore need of rest and recuperation.

Nishikigi continues to surprise. With a large bruise on his right elbow he faces Shohozan, whom he has never beaten before. Shohozan starts with a harite, and while the two fumble with their arms on one side, Shohozan manages to insert his left hand inside through Nishikigi’s ottsuke on the other. But Nishikigi cooly converts that ottsuke into a kotenage – remember, that’s his injured elbow – and Shohozan finds himself below the dohyo. Nishikigi is yet another rikishi who may secure double digits tomorrow. Shohozan, on the other hand, is make-koshi.

Chiyomaru starts his bout with Tochiozan with a morotezuki – thrust with both hands – and then pulls and tries to slam the veteran Kasugano rikishi to the ground. Tochiozan survives, wraps his arms around the Eternally Round One, and sends him rolling with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyomaru is now officially make-koshi and in danger of demotion to Juryo. Tochiozan will have to wait until tomorrow for his kachi (or make) koshi.

Kotoshogiku doesn’t leave much to write about. He slams into Kagayaki, lifting him up, and then drives him out Goeido-style before Kagayaki can think of any response. Kotoshogiku wins, and both parties are now 7-7 and wait for senshuraku to decide their fates.

Asanoyama tries to land a yotsu hold on Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze pulls and drops the young man to the ground. Experience, experience… Yoshikaze and his magical rash are in double digits. Asanoyama has to wait for tomorrow to try for a kachi-koshi.

Endo‘s present to Yutakayama for his birthday is a quick and merciless tsukidashi. Yutakayama is 2-10-2, Endo 3-11. Both are not going to be anywhere near the joi the next basho, and I hope they’ll both find some time to heal (whatever it is that is ailing Endo).

This is followed by yet another match-of-the-hapless, in which Ikioi manages to win yet another one of those kensho envelopes pledged for him by his fiancee’s sponsor. A barrage of tsuppari finds Onosho spread on the dohyo by hatakikomi. Onosho doesn’t look injured, but like Yoshikaze in the previous basho and Endo in this one, something seems to be plaguing him. Both parties are now 3-11.

Chiyotairyu somehow fools himself into believing that going chest-to-chest with Kaisei is going to benefit him. Although he has a morozashi, he doesn’t use it to secure a hold – probably because he doesn’t have the reach, with both Kaisei’s bulk and his own increasing the circumference he needs to cover. Kaisei, on the other hand, secures a good grip in a soto-yotsu, much like Tochinoshin had a few days ago, and calmly walks Chiyotairyu to the edge. Chiyotairyu increases his losing score to 4-10. Kaisei is now 7-7, and if he wins on senshuraku, may find himself in sanyaku again.

That sanyaku spot is going to be vacated by Tamawashi, who faced Chiyonokuni. They start a tsuki-oshi exchange, but Chiyonokuni manages to land a couple of thrusts that set Tamawashi spinning like a top. Tamawashi is not really with us. Next basho he is probably safely away from any Yokozuna and Ozeki.

Takakeisho pulls Myogiryu down in a typical hikiotoshi. Takakeisho is kachi-koshi, and will stay in sanyaku. Depending on Ferdinand the Bull he may even advance to Sekiwake – but we’ll get to Ichinojo in a minute.

So Ferdinand, I mean, Ichinojo, slams into Shodai and the impact drives the maegashira almost to the edge. The two frantically attempt to land a grip and defend against being gripped, when Ichinojo realizes that he has gained enough ground to safely pull. Hatakikomi, and as is usual with Ichinojo, this means Shodai is spread on the dohyo like Philadelphia cheese, and Ichinojo is hovering over him with a slightly worried “Did I do that?” face. Shodai manages to stand up. It’s Ichinojo’s win, and somehow, unbelievably, Ichinojo once again finds himself with a possibility of a kachi-koshi on senshuraku. If he does that, he maintains his Sekiwake position, and his winning streak at 7 consecutive kachi koshi. If he doesn’t – well, he’ll be komusubi, and Takakeisho Sekiwake. Shodai, by the way, is make-koshi.

Tochinoshin finds a way through Abi‘s tsuppari, and catches on Peter Pan’s mawashi. The latter squirms and bends. I’m pretty sure he actually touched the dohyo with the top part of his foot at some point there – but it’s a moot point, as Tochinoshin performs the shitatenage, and finally gets that precious 8th win that he needed so dearly. Tochinoshin maintains his Ozeki rank, and avoids repeating Musoyama’s quick relegation to Ozekiwake following one kyujo as shin-ozeki and one kadoban in 2000 (Musoyama went on to win 10 bouts and regained his Ozeki rank at the time). Everybody in Georgia lets out a sigh of relief – we still have three Ozeki going into Kyushu. Abi, by the way, is now make-koshi.

The next bout features the suffering Mitakeumi against the near-perfect Takayasu. Takayasu’s usual slam is properly met by the sekiwake. Takayasu tries to slide his left hand through, and Mitakeumi uses a ferocious ottsuke while both of them are also defending on the other side, keeping their mawashi away from each other’s arms. Takayasu does manage to overcome Mitakeumi’s ottsuke and gets to Mitakeumi’s Mawashi. At the same time Mitakeumi pierces his right side. But Mitakeumi converts his ottsuke into a strong lock on Takayasu’s arm, and drags him down the dohyo. Both of them fall. The gyoji points to Mitakeumi.

The result of the monoii deliberation: both are out, “dotai”, but since Mitakeumi was clearly the attacking side, it’s his win.

So Mitakeumi gets the win, secures his kachi-koshi, and maintains his Sekiwake status. Takayasu, however, goes 11-3, and loses his place in the Yusho race.

Then follows the Yokozuna bout of the day. Kakuryu starts with a good forward-moving attack, and Kisenosato defends with all the tools that he has – mainly his lower body. At some point Kakuryu runs out of energy, and a leaning session ensues, as both try to find an opening. But then Kakuryu makes what seems to me like a rookie mistake – he reacts to the gyoji’s call of “oi-hakioi”, trying to do something prematurely. This leaves him open, and Kisenosato, one-armed Yokozuna though he is, seems to be very sharp this basho. Sharp enough to envelope Kakuryu and get him to the nearest edge. Kakuryu loses for the fourth day in a row. Amazingly, the Yokozuna who looked like he was going to take the Yusho only five days ago, winning decisively and brilliantly, is suddenly neck to neck with the Yokozuna we all predicted will have a hard time getting an F-ing kachi-koshi. Hats off for Kisenosato. He achieves his yokozuna kachi-koshi of 10 wins.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho is zensho, but had some very precarious bouts in this basho. Goeido, other than his first day bout, has been magnificent this basho. Who is going to prevail? The bout is preceded by yet another set of matta. Both the fault of Hakuho, who seems to be very tense. Upon the second one, I was sure we are going to see the Yokozuna being swept away by a raging Ozeki.

Er, nope. Nopity-nope-nope. Hakuho goes straight forward, grabs Goeido’s mawashi with his left hand, and within a couple of seconds the Ozeki is in a heap on the nearest shimpan. Hakuho is feeling magnanimous enough to help Goeido back up the dohyo. The dai-yokozuna gets his 41st yusho, his 1000th Makuuchi win, his 1094th win overall, his 13th year in a row winning a yusho, and who knows how many more records, with just one typical uwatenage.

All that is left is to see whether Kakuryu will manage to spoil his zensho.

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Kakuryu and Kisenosato tied. Unbelievable.