Aki Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Push-me-pull-you, Hoshoryu

Today was a bit of a hectic day at the Kokugikan, with a serious typhoon hitting Tokyo, and all public transport being in disarray. The matches usually start at 8:40AM, but the scheduled was changed, and they only started at 9:10AM. And still, as many as 15 of the lower-division wrestlers showed up late, and their bouts had to be rescheduled at a later time. Some Jonokuchi matches took place in between Sandanme bouts. Curiously, of the 15 late comers, 11 won and 4 lost, lending a new meaning to the phrase “late bloomers”.

My report will proceed as usual, from lower division to upper, regardless of the time of the actual match.

Jonokuchi

Remember Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect Kokonoe recruited back in Nagoya 2018? He looked promising when he started, then seemed to have had a bad turn, going only 1-6 in Natsu, and being fully kyujo in Nagoya. This dropped him back to Jonokuchi. He is back this basho, lean and mean. And I do mean lean. He is on the left with Yamamoto, from Asahiyama beya, on the right:

The kimarite here is uchigake. You can see why I like this little guy, I hope he can keep away from injury and put on a kilo or so.

Jonidan

Yesterday we saw how green Hakuho’s latest recruit, Senho, was. How about the second latest, gigantic Toma? He is up to Jonidan 29 by now. On the left, he faces Takakurayama from Onoe beya.

He seems to move better than last basho, but still, he has many kilos to drop. Can he drop them on Enho?

(Actually, Enho said he no longer aims to gain weight, and Hakuho says he won’t make him. ‘His size is his weapon’).

Next we follow up on Roman from Tatsunami beya, one of the guys who, apparently, did a runner from that heya, and had their hair cut, and were then somehow convinced to return. His hair still hasn’t even gained even the minimal length to be called “zanbara”.

Roman is on the left. His opponent is Mori from Tamanoi beya.

Roman didn’t escape from the heya due to weak performance on the dohyo, it seems. That guy has good potential.

Sandanme

Baraki from Shikihide beya, the “heyagashira” (leading rikishi in his heya), was over an hour late for his match. Shikihide beya, like Tatsunami beya, is located in Ibaraki prefecture. They need to take several trains to reach the Kokugikan.

Eventually little Baraki made it, and faced Kotokino from sadogatako, who attacks from the left:

Yeah, he is one of those 11 winners.

Makushita

Today my selection includes mainly Mongolians. I’ll start with Kyokusoten, the under-achieving Mongolian from Nakagawa beya. It has to be said that he is at his highest rank ever at Ms19, and he is his heya’s head honcho (though Kasugaryu is probably more famous). And he is a nice guy. So here he is facing Tochimaru from Kasugano beya. The footage starts in the middle of the bout – Kyokusoten is on the right and facing us, and Tochimaru has his back to us.

Roga from Futagoyama beya is wearing chon-mage for the first time! here he is on the right, with Keitenkai on the left:

Keitenkai seems to have Roga’s number. Two matches, and the Onomatsu man won both. The previous one was also on day 1. Poor Roga. I hope he doesn’t get publicly shamed by his stablemaster again over this.

Next up, the slowly recovering former Ozeki, Terunofuji. He got some advice from Ajigawa oyakata – the former Aminishiki – about his sumo style. Ajigawa told him that if he catches the mawashi, he can trust to his sumo because he is strong there. But that he has to think about what to do if he can’t grab it, as his body is not going to move in the way he expects it to. Meaning, he can’t rely on improvisation.

So today we have Terunofuji on the left, vs. Higonojo from Kise beya on the right. Higonojo has some sekitori experience, but he only ever made it as far as Juryo.

Following the Tachiai it seems that Higonojo is gaining momentum, but the former Ozeki rallies, and sweeps him outside.

Up at the top we have the sharp Hoshoryu looking to bounce back up from the make-koshi that kept him away from Juryo last basho. His opponent is Akiseyama, who just dropped from Juryo. It’s a rather dangerous opponent. Hoshoryu is on the left, if any of you has a hard time telling him apart from Akiseyama.

Akiseyama goes for a standard tsuki-oshi tactic of thrusting a while and then trying a pull. Hoshoryu keeps on his feet and proves that he also has serious pulling capabilities.

Juryo

The first bout features Arawashi, a guest from Makushita (shudder), vs. Asagyokusei, the newcomer to Juryo.

Arawashi looks much better in a proper oicho-mage than he looked yesterday in a lame chon-mage. He also looks better sumo-wise. He wins by sukuinage. Juryo bouts are an important factor in promotion decisions at the end of the basho.

Next we have Irodori, the returnee, facing Kaisho, the other shin-Juryo. Irodori is on the left:

Don’t you just love last-second reversals?

Yesterday we saw a rather genki Ikioi take to the dohyo. Today the same Ikioi is facing Kizakiumi from Kise beya (left), and starts up as genki as yesterday.

Alas, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Ikioi’s feet just can’t keep up with him, and certainly not with the pirouetting Kizakiumi.

Finally, we have an all-Mongolian match, between Mitoryu (left) and Kiribayama (right). Kiribayama usually enjoys showing us sparks of Harumafujiness.

But not this time. Mitoryu’s armpits are every bit as hellish as Nishikigi’s. He simply crucifies his lithe countryman, in the same way he did to Enho a few basho back, and in this case, the cross carries the crucified – right outside the ring.

The kimarite is kimedashi. And in the same way that one shouldn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, one should also avoid a morozashi on Mitoryu.

Aki Day 1 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Looking up, Chiyonokuni

Yay, Aki basho is finally here! Here are some of the bouts that took place in the lower divisions on day 1.

Jonokuchi

We can’t start a basho or start the day without the Knight of the Woeful Countenance, Hattorizakura, here attacking, ahem, from the right, while his tiny opponent, Chiyotsurugi, attacks from the left:

Wow, he actually resists for a long while for Hattorizakura. Chiyotsurugi must be thinking “I was told it would be easier!”.

If you noticed in the background, a tall young man coming in and not exactly knowing what to do with himself and where to sit, that’s Senho, Hakuho’s latest recruit. And boy, is he green. He didn’t know when to mount the dohyo, and Kaio, er, Asakayama oyakata, had to explain it to him.

His bout is up next. Here we see him on the left side, and his tiny opponent, Urutora from Shikihide beya, is not exactly the cream of Jonokuchi. But…

Urutora wins by ashitori. The first “Ho” of the day suffers the same fate as the last “Ho” of the day.

Jonidan

Hakkaku’s prince charming, Kitanowaka (left), faces Shimomura, from Sakaigawa beya.

Round and round and round he goes, where he lands, nobody knows. Uwatenage, Kitanowaka (“The youngster of the North”) wins.

Sandanme

We have several bouts from Sandanme. First and foremost, Wakaichiro, here on the left, facing Fujitaisei from Fujishima beya:

Wakaichiro barely stops to blink.

Next we have some former sekitori who are looking for their way back up. First, Homarefuji, who was one of the proud lineup at Isegahama back in the day, starting from the left, facing Kasugakuni from Nakagawa beya.

Kasugakuni is out of his league against the veteran.

Then we have Amakaze, from Oguruma beya. For once, he is facing a rival bigger than he is, Dewanojo, whom we met during Jungyo as Mitakeumi’s tsukebito. He is about the same weight as Ichinojo. Amakaze on the left, Dewanojo on the right.

He may be Ichinojo-sized, but he is not Ichinojo-skilled. Amakaze deals with the giant without problem.

Makushita

We start relatively low, with a face we haven’t seen on the dohyo in a long time: Chiyonokuni! On the left we have Ayanoumi from Yamahibiki beya.

Chiyonokuni’s mobility may not be Makuuchi-level, but it certainly suffices for Ayanoumi, who gets hatakikomied.

Shiraishi from Tamanoi beya, a strong man whom I didn’t quite like last basho, because he was doing too many henkas and really had an annoying match with Terunofuji, faces Okinofuji from Hakkaku beya (right):

This is more what I expect from an up-and-comer. That was proper windmill tsuppari.

Further up the Makushita chart, blue-blooded Naya, on the left, faces experienced Toyohibiki:

…and once again fails to deliver on all the hype that has been heaped upon him. Toyohibiki wins by tsukiotoshi.

Midorifuji (left) and Kototebakari (right) are right at the doorstep to heaven.

Kototebakari is a man on a mission. Isegahama’s deputy pixie can’t really do much here.

Finally, the last bout of Makushita, and who is this in a black cotton mawashi and a modest chon-mage? Oh dear, it’s Arawashi. How many of you failed to notice that Arawashi fell out of the salaried ranks? Here on the right, he faces Akua/Aqua from Tatsunami beya.

Whoa. This bout had a monoii, but it went gunbai-dori. That is, the decision was held, and it’s Akua’s win.

Juryo

Makushita rikishi Wakamotoharu had a bout in Juryo today, and got to wear an oicho-mage again briefly. He is on the left, with fresh Juryo promotee Kaisho on the right:

Wakamotoharu is determined not to miss out on the opportunity to return to Juryo his rank gives him. He wins by yoritaoshi.

In a bout between two single-kanji, four-syllabled rikishi, Irodori, who is on his second stint in Juryo, on the left, faces Ikioi, who is trying to stay in Juryo:

This is the genkiest I have seen Ikioi in a while. He wins by tsukidashi.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 14

First make-koshi for Hoshoryu

I have a short report for you today. You all know that Enho finally got his kachi-koshi today. Let’s take a look at some of Hakuho’s other uchi-deshi.

In Jonidan, the biggish Toma suffered his first loss on Day 11, so he dropped out of the yusho race there, and today, with a balance of 5-1, engaged with Yoshii from Nakagawa beya. Toma is on the left (he is really hard to miss), and Yoshii on the right:

Yoshii turns out to be far from a pushover, and even managed to throw the humongous Toma with an uwatenage. Not exactly your Mongolian “roll’er-over-in-the-clover”, but still. I’m really hoping Toma will start losing some of that extra poundage, and show something better than Orora-zumo. In any case, he is 5-2, kachi-koshi, and will keep moving up.

At Sandanme, we meet Hakuho’s oldest – and apparently most damaged – uchi-deshi, Yamaguchi. He comes into this match with 3-3, so the winner is kachi-koshi and the loser, make-koshi. On the left we have Tochimitsuru, from Kasugano beya.

Yamaguchi doesn’t offer much in the way of resistance, and is make-koshi. He will drop further down in Sandanme.

Makushita

Akua, our aquatic rikishi from Tatsunami beya meets Nishikifuji from Isegahama beya. Nishikifuji and Midorifuji are the biggest new hopes in Isegahama beya, a heya which two years ago sported six sekitori, including a Yokozuna and an Ozeki, and now only two of them remain.

Nishikifuji is ranked Ms8w, and he and Akua are both 5-1 as they stare at each other across the dohyo. Akua is on the left, Nishikifuji on the right:

Akua is very efficient this basho – a quick katasukashi in this case. He finishes it 6-1, while Nishikifuji will have to settle for 5-2 and will have a chance of ramming himself against the gateway to Heaven in Aki.

His heya mate, the tiny deputy pixie Midorifuji, is similarly 5-1 (though ranked a little lower, at Ms11w). He is facing our Hungarian friend, Masutoo, here on the left.

Mastoo is not letting Midorifuji try any pixie dust on him. The big Hungarian has his second 6-1 basho in a row, and will start smelling the heady perfume of silk mawashi across the barrier next basho. Midorifuji will settle for 5-2, and he, too, will be in that hot neighborhood.

The last Makushita bout (though not the last Makushita wrestler fighting) is between Tamaki and Hoshoryu. This is a life-or-death bout. The two are not just fighting for kachi-koshi vs. make-koshi, but also, at their rank, for a very probable ticket to Juryo, which only the winner can take. Hoshoryu is on the right, Tamaki on the left:

Hoshoryu’s hand touches the surface of the dohyo. The gyoji notices immediately and points his gunbai, but the two are not paying attention and keep fighting. But even if that finger did not touch the dohyo, Hoshoryu was completely out of balance for most of it, and would have lost anyway.

He suffers the first make-koshi of his career. The Japanese press tells us that he was still wearing his game face (he is really overdoing it in the staredowns, methinks) as he was walking down the hana-michi, but in the shitakubeya he broke out in tears, and the only thing he said to the reporters was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.

Kid’s 20 years old. This was his one chance to match his uncle’s speedy ascent from Jonokuchi to the sekitori ranks, and he blew it. He will get there, but it will probably take a couple of basho now that his make-koshi will send him a few ranks down. I’m sure it stings as hell.

Tamaki, on the other hand, enjoyed the limelight today, surrounded by press and media people.

Juryo

Kaisho, Ms4w from Asakayama beya was sent into Juryo today to fight Arawashi. Kaisho was 3-3 and needed a kachi-koshi. Arawashi was already make-koshi, 5-8, but needs to tread carefully. Kaisho is on the left, Arawashi is nursing an eye injury, on the right.

Despite Arawashi’s efforts, Kaisho manages to get a good grip and yorikiri the veteran. Arawashi is 5-9, and is edging towards the danger zone. Kaisho, on the other hand, is kachi-koshi, and may be considered for promotion if there are enough demoted Juryo members, and Wakamotoharu doesn’t improve from his five wins tomorrow.

So tomorrow is the big day, senshuraku, with some exciting playoffs, and some familiar names like Wakamotoharu and, of course, Terunofuji, who will be facing the very dangerous henka artist Shiraishi.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 6

Hoshoryu in his first official Oicho-mage

I wanted to start with a video of today’s maezumo. However, I have a personal policy against sharing videos that include serious injuries – ones that require the wrestler to be carried away by others – and unfortunately, today’s maezumo footage included one of those.

Senho, Hakuho’s new small forward uchi-deshi, apparently lost his bout yesterday, so unlike Hokutenkai, he had to do another bout. His opponent was Naruto beya’s humongous new deshi, Konno, and although Senho did not do anything spectacular or dangerous, Konno ended up landing badly on his knee and just stayed there unmoving. A sewanin and a yobidashi had to take him off the dohyo. I hope the reason for this is that he is not yet used to sudden pain, rather than a serious injury at such an early stage of his career, but if not, we may see him do maezumo again next basho or the one after it.

Jonokuchi

Speaking of Naruto beya, you may recall that Naruto had no less than six new deshi in the previous basho (I have to get a photo of the presentation of the new deshi. Kotooshu must have needed to go very deep into his collection of kesho-mawashi to dress up six of them). No less than four of them are in the Jonokuchi yusho race at this moment – which is going to give the torikumi committee a bit of a scheduling headache if they keep winning. Here are two of them. Start with Motobayashi, who is 23 years old. Here he is on the left, with his rival, Kotoyamato from Sadogatake, on the right:

No contest here. Next up is Marusho, who is merely 18, just graduated from high school. On the left, facing Koki from Minato beya.

He was listed as a tsuki-oshi man when he joined, but he went directly for the mawashi in this match.

Both men, as well as their heya mates, Mishima and Sakurai, are now 3-0. Three of them are scheduled against the remaining non-Naruto with 3-0, so there is good chance that Jonokuchi will run out of lossless rikishi who are not from Naruto beya pretty soon – in which case, they are going to be scheduled with lossless rikishi from Jonidan.

Jonidan

Speaking of Jonidan, here is Kitanowaka, the charmer from Hakkaku beya, attacking from the right, matched with Kirizakura from Michinoku beya on the left:

Again, quick dispatch, much to the delight of the young Maiko in the background. By the way, I think Kitanowaka has legs as long as Abi’s. I wonder what uses he will make of them as he advances into the more complicated levels.

Now, the next bout is interesting, and I’m sure you’ll want to rerun it several times. On the left, we have Hakuho’s giant uchi-deshi, Toma. On the right, Wakahiroto from Chiganoura beya, who is, himself, not exactly a pixie. Since Toma currently mostly wins by using the Orora tactic (“be big”), this bout turns out not to be that straightforward for him.

I would have sworn that it was Wakahiroto’s win, but there wasn’t even a monoii. And looking at the video several times, it appears, indeed, that – unless Toma’s left heel is touching the Janome, which we can’t see – he has one foot firmly on the tawara, while Wakahiroto’s feet both detach themselves from the dohyo’s surface. So it’s indeed Toma’s win. By the way, they call it a yoritaoshi as Toma turns to leave, but it was later corrected to an utchari. The one thing to remember, both from this bout and from Onosho’s bout: it’s not about who touches first, it’s about who died first.

Sandanme

Unfortunately, I could not find any footage of Musashikuni today, so all I can do is report to you that the American lost his match with Oginosho. But thankfully, Wakaichiro is very popular, and so, here he is attacking from the right, while Hamadayama from Shibatayama beya is attacking from the left:

Straightforward, good deashi, thrusts from both sides, oshidashi, and Wakaichiro is 2-1.

Makushita

The two elder Onami brothers had bouts today. Let’s start with big brother Wakatakamoto (right), who faces Masutoo (left), Chiganoura’s Hungarian wrestler. Both are 2-0 coming into this game.

Not that this was brilliant sumo, but Masutoo has much confidence lately, which I suppose comes from the enlargement of the heya and some quality practice rivals. His career seems to have taken a change for the better, with 6-1 in the previous basho, and now 3-0.

Next up, we have two Mongolians – Yoshoyama, with whom you should already be familiar from my previous posts, is on the left, and Roga, the wolf from Futagoyama beya, on the right:

Engage, get his grip right, and twist your opponent down. The kimarite is shitatehineri. Roga is now 2-1, while Yoshoyama drops to 1-2.

Next up, Prince Naya, who was much talked of before this basho – getting stronger, coming into his own, etc. Naya is on the right, and Tsukahara on the left, and both are 1-1 as they face each other.

Ah, lack of experience. Naya starts aggressively and commits himself fully, but that opens him to exactly the side step that Tsukahara expertly performs, and the prince goes down to hatakikomi. To the press, he said “My keiko was not sufficient”. I seriously believe being at Otake beya hinders him. Otake oyakata is not Taiho.

Our next Onami brother is middle brother Wakamotoharu, here on the left, setting out against Kaisho from Asakayama beya on the right. Both are 1-1.

Nice yotsu match there. The two lock in, but when Kaisho attempts a makikae (change from an arm out to an arm in), Wakamotoharu makes his move. A makikae is always a risk for losing realestate, and Kaisho lost all of his land. Wakamotoharu himself lands almost in the box seats, but he lands there with 2-1, now even with his big brother.

Juryo

Because of Aminishiki’s kyujo, an extra wrestler is needed in Juryo every day, borrowed from Makushita. When that happens, the wrestler from Makushita gets to wear an oicho-mage for that bout, and today was Hoshoryu’s first appearance in an official oicho-mage. There was much swooning all over the su-jo scene. Hoshoryu, on the left, was to face Kizakiumi, on the right, whose brother, Churanoumi, he defeated yesterday.

Kizakiumi, however, proves to be Hoshoryu’s kryptonite. This didn’t even develop into a real bout, and the young Mongolian found himself unceremoniously dumped over the edge of the dohyo.

Lucky for Hoshoryu, who is now 2-2, with the exception of Seiro, those above him in Makushita seem to be doing worse, especially Daiseido, who is already 0-3, which means that a simple kachi-koshi may well carry him to Juryo in Aki. However, what he will do once he is there is a different question, as both his fights with “real sekitori” ended in him crumpled at the side of the dohyo.

By the way, for the time being there will be no more visits from Makushita to Juryo, as Tochinoshin’s kyujo evens out the number of sekitori. That is, there will be a visit from Juryo to Makuuchi, and an even number of sekitori will remain in Juryo.

In other news, on a scale of 1-10, how predictable would you rate the following match?