Day 10 – Ones To Watch In The Lower Division

Today’s post merges our daily “Ones To Watch” with my erratic video coverage of the lower divisions. Enjoy!

Kasugaryu. Seems to have a weird pact with the Great Cat Of The Kokugikan

Jonidan

None of our “Ones to watch” or “Ones to be flattened by” featured today in Jonokuchi, so we skip right to Jonidan. Satonofuji, the legendary bow twirler, won his first day, but then suffered three consecutive losses. Can he still salvage a kachi-koshi? The road there goes through Kotomanabe (the “nabe” in that name is actually the same as in “chanko-nabe”, a pot!)

Two years older than Aminishiki, Satonofuji is still sumo-worthy.

Next we have Wakaichiro’s bout, which Andy captured for us. Wakaichiro faces Takataisho, who is known as the tsukebito who survived Takanoiwa.

Nice work! Our man from Texas may yet get that kachi-koshi!

Sandanme

The following footage is not recommended to the feint-of-heart. Kasugaryu, our current yumi-tori performer from the wonderful photo at the top, faces Tanakayama, and not only loses, but dislocates his knee.

The most bizarre scene follows, wherein Kasugaryu, with an expression that says more “not again!” than “ow!”, resets his own knee, then limps over to make his bow.

Ow.

When Bruce pointed out this strange occurrence this morning on my Twitter feed, I was sure by the end of the day we will see Satonofuji or Shohoryu covering for the bow man in the closing ceremony, but no:

What is this man made of? 😨

On we go to the less bizarre parts of Sandanme, and we have our “One To Watch”, Shoji from Musashigawa beya, facing Sumanoumi:

Nice survival at the edge there. Shoji is now 3-2 and closer to a kachi-koshi.

Finally, the main match of interest in Sandanme today has been that of former Ozeki Terunofuji vs. Fujitaisei of Fujishima beya.

Angry, or rather, exasperated yori-kiri it is. In the previous bout he said he made a mistake in thinking his opponent stepped outside when he didn’t. This time he made damn well sure.

Makushita

We start at the bottom, with the official American One To Watch, Musashikuni. He is facing Genkaiho from Otake beya (Same “ho” as in “Hakuho” and “Enho” – there are lots of these).

Genkaiho tries an arm lock there, but Musashikuni’s determination and better strength determine the result. Musashikuni maintains his chance of a kachi-koshi.

What’s up with Akua/Aqua then? He is facing Kaisho:

Aaaand… he is kachi-koshi within the blink of an eye, setting Kaisho gently on the floor by going backwards in a big arc.

Let’s take a peek at Isegahama’s back-flipping Tomisakae. He is faced with Ryusei, both are 3-1, and one of them will be kachi-koshi after this bout:

Alas, it is not our back-flipping hyperactive Tomisakae. Ryusei is kachi-koshi, and Tomisakae will have to look for his in the next bout.

Wakatakamoto faced Kizenryu today. At 1-3 he was with his back to the wall in his attempt to keep up with his little brothers (sorry, only partial footage here):

Although Wakatakamoto is the one who breaks the stalemate, Kizenryu is the one who takes advantage of his movement for a kotenage. The eldest Onami is make-koshi.

Our final match of the day is between Kototebakari and Kotokuzan. Note that Kotokuzan is not one of the Sadogatake Kotos (or he wouldn’t be facing Kototebakari) – it’s actually Kōtokuzan, from Arashio beya, who was hoping to become Sekitori before his oyakata retires.

This marks Kotokuzan’s third loss, and he needs to win out to avoid increasing his distance from the Heaven/Hell line at the top of Makushita. Kototebakari is now in a more comfortable position, though of course, at his level, he would have liked to be 5-0 rather than 3-2. Wouldn’t we all.

What are we expecting tomorrow?

In Jonidan, Wakaichiro returns to the dohyo to face Nakai. Hopefully, he can complete his kachi-koshi this day!

Amakaze is to face the sandanme-tsukedashi, Shiraishi, in what could be a very challenging match for both of them. Shiraishi is a strong up-and-comer, Amakaze has sekitori experience and newfound confidence. The winner stays in the yusho race, the loser… doesn’t.

Terunofuji ascends the dohyo again. Now that he has ensured his kachi-koshi, he will want to increase his winning margin to 5-1 against Asadaimon from Takazago beya.

Roga will want to achieve his kachi-koshi vs. Aratora from Isenoumi beya.

Naya is going to have a very fierce match tomorrow vs. Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi) who is very determined to regain his sekitori status and keep up with his “little” twin brother Takagenji. Both wrestlers are in the yusho race, and this is going to be deadly.

Hoshoryu is facing Fujiazuma, hoping not to give himself a make-koshi as a birthday present. Yes, Hoshoryu is 20 years old as of today, which in Japan is the age of majority. Many happy returns! Both wrestlers are 2-3 and this is going to be a killer bout.

Ichiyamamoto is going to face Kotokamatani. The winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and Ichiyamamoto will fiercely try to get his kachi-koshi now to be able to extend it enough to skip over the head of his rival on his way to sekitori-land.

Wakamotoharu gets to face Kizenryu, who gave his older brother his make-koshi today. The loser of this bout is make-koshi, and Wakamotoharu will want to avoid that like the plague, avenge his brother and regain his own sekitori status.

Nary a dull moment on day 11! Onwards and upwards!

Natsu Day 4 – Ones To Watch

After a fairly light schedule on day 3, we are back in the thick of things for day 4. Sadly Wakaichiro lost his second match after a shaky tachiai led to problems with balance and foot placement. He starts Natsu with 0-2, which I am sure is frustrating the daylights out of him. In Jonokuchi, Kitanowaka improved to 2-0 over Tokisakae. Watching Kitanowaka fight, you can see there is a great deal of potential in need of refinement. The good news is that the Hakkaku heya has a strong program, and he will have every chance to make the most out of his sumo years.

Ichiyamamoto dispatched Fujiazuma to improve to 1-1, Hoshoryu took Jokoryu apart with a yoritaoshi, and improved to 2-0 as well. In the battle of the “Ones to Watch”, Akua forced out Midorifuji to take the white start and join the 2-0 cohort, joined by Naya, who slapped down Koba. There is a lot of potential for the “Ones to Watch” to face each other even before they cross the kachi-koshi line, and the next few days may see so very exciting action in Makushita. Many of these young men may be the stars of the near future, and we could be witnessing the beginning of rivalries.

Day 4 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Nogami – Midorifuji defeated Nogami on day 2, and now he faces another of our cohort. Nogami is close to his highest ever rank, and I am sure he is going to be a chew-toy for all of the budding sumo monsters that are stomping around the top echelon of Makushita this basho.

Musashikuni vs Higonojo – Musashikuni still looks really rough, which is a huge disappointment of his fans. Higonojo is a 34 year old former Juryo man, who is fairly far down the banzuke after taking a 7-0 Makushita yusho at Osaka 2018. Good luck Mama!

Roga vs Yamaguchi – I know a number of fans have Roga fever, and there are good reasons why. But his first ever professional sumo loss came on day 2, and hopefully it has helped re-focus the young man on the match at hand. Today he faces on of my favorites in former Maegashira and Nihon University man, Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi’s rank has been falling since he went kyujo at Hatsu 2018, and it’s likely he is fighting hurt. Good luck Roga, you may be in for a rough ride.

Terunofuji vs Kasugaryu – Terunofuji looks less pasty, flabby and worried than he did in Osaka. He seems to have some of his ring sense back, and a good measure of his aggressive fighting spirit. Kasugaryu’s highest ever rank was near the bottom of Makushita, so this may be one-sided.

Shoji vs Tokimaru – A bright spot for Mushashigawa heya is that Shoji seems to be in good health and fighting well. He faces another young, hard charging rikishi in Tokimaru, who hails from Miyagino heya, where Hakuho practices.

Amakaze vs Daishoki – I should also mention that Amakaze continues to look solid. The Oitekaze heya returnee seems to be over his physical issues, and is fighting well. He’s on a shallower climb back up the banzuke than Terunofuji, but I am liking what I see thus far.

Hattorizakura vs Yamamoto – Hattorizakura did in fact state he was going to try to achieve kachi-koshi during the Reiwa era. These eras can last a few decades, so don’t try to set your calendar by Hattorizakura’s prediction.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 15

🌐 Location: Ota ward, Tokyo

Today we are still in Tokyo, in a part that’s mostly known for the Haneda Airport which is located there. Indeed, the official name for today’s event is “Haneda International Basho”.

An update on the sick list: Chiyonoumi is once again off the Torikumi, Yoshikaze is back on it.

We have already seen rikishi arrive early in the morning, eyes blurry, getting off busses, etc. But who are these two elegant gentlemen showing up at the venue? Are they lawyers? Doctors?

No, those are in fact these two gentlemen and co-workers from Kokoknoe beya:

Namely, yobidashi Shigeru, and Gyoji Kimura Konosuke. And Konosuke looks spiffy in his usual red kimono, and… what’s this, a tantō?

We are always told that only a tate-gyoji (that is, either Kimura Shonosuke or Shikimori Inosuke) wear a tanto – the short sword tucked into the left side of the belt. This is a symbolic expression of the gyoji’s commitment to perform seppuku if he misjudges a bout. So what is Konosuke doing wearing one? He is a mere san-yaku gyoji, there is not a hint of purple in his laces!

The answer to that is that while san-yaku gyoji do not wear tanto during bouts, they do wear it when they accompany a Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And it’s Konosuke’s turn today to accompany Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind. Back to the hand-shaking corner of the venue, where the Iwasaki brothers are showing us their muscles:

At one side of the venue, Abi is working out with Shodai. Well, kind of:

Why is everybody after me? I don’t look anything like Enho!

Shohozan is doing suri-ashi and manages to frighten the NSK’s SNS team:

Kotoeko is also working on his lower body:

Enho is also near one of the walls, having a quiet morning workout with Tobizaru:

But Enho has got to be the most popular wrestler in the top two divisions, because we shortly find him also serving as Mitakeumi’s teppo pole:

The little teppo pole turns all rebellious all of a sudden.

Perhaps the most impressive Enho practice pic of the day is this one:

Is it Ichinojo who dwarfs Enho, or Enho who giants Ichinojo?

The size difference between these two is enormous. Ichinojo is slightly bigger than two Enhos combined.

Next to the dohyo, Takayasu decides to give Onosho some personal tutoring.

I mean, close personal tutoring:

That is, very close, and very personal tutoring:

😳😳😳

OK, well, they actually were practicing sumo there. Suri-ashi, for example:

He was also teaching him his new move:

We will reveal to you in a day or two what the secret move is! But in the meantime, let’s look at some practice bouts: Ryuden-Aoiyama, Asanoyama-Hokutofuji. Followed by a short glimpse of Hakuho and Takayasu who are not doing any on-dohyo practice at the moment.

With practice over, the rikishi head for the showers, which happen to be on-location this time. This means a great line of fans waiting outside of the shower.

It’s… good to be the king?

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And this time Enho is on the East side (not that he participates in the torikumi or anything), which makes Chiyomaru on the West lonely. He has no one to bump into… except Daiamami:

By the way, this day is Chiyomaru’s birthday! This has to be the reason why the only bout I have is his bout with Kotoyuki:

Kotoyuki sends the birthday boy almost into the arms of the awaiting Makuuchi wrestlers down the hana-michi.

Chiyomaru hurries out to celebrate his birthday with some cake, which the reporters have promised him. And in his hurry, he doesn’t notice he has interrupted a significant moment:

“Hmm. I wonder why Kakuryu’s tsukebito is wearing an oicho-mage…”

That moment which he has interrupted is the moment in which Kasugaryu hands over his bow to Shohoryu, who is wearing an oicho-mage for the first time and is about to perform his first yumi-tori shiki.

But that let’s see what kind of birthday celebration Chiyomaru gets.

Ah, this kind:

Congratulations, round one! Now it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri and Yokozuna dohyo-iri.

But it’s hard to be a Yokozuna when everybody around you, including your tsukebito, tsuyuharai and tachi-mochi, exchange jokes and laugh out loud, and you are the only one who has to control his face:

A hint of a smile remains, though

Now all the Makuuchi wrestlers can get ready for their bouts. Like, for example, Nishikigi and Ryuden

Interesting way to pass the time. But not as interesting as Shodai’s way:

Poor Asakura.

The two clowns are everywhere. Ichinojo suddenly has a mind to get friendly with Shodai. Shodai is not in the mood to be crushed right before his bout:

Oy, hands off, get off of me!

Luckily for him, somebody calls out “Ichinojo zeki”. He immediately points out to Ichinojo that a fan of his has arrived:

Do your duty, man!

Ichinojo complies, and puts on his fansa face:

“I actually have a fan!”

We are not done with Nishikigi. He is still in the joi, so that means he waits for his bout a long time. And that means a lot of mischief. This time the victim is pretty Toshonishiki:

Again, recall that Nishikigi has the strongest armpits in Makuuchi. I wouldn’t want to trade places with poor Toshonishiki.

What does the expression on Onosho’s face mean? Is he admiring Abi’s shiko? Or is he preparing a salt-laden ladle? You be the judge.

Just to prove to you that Hakuho is not alone in being chased by the fans, here is Kakuryu on the way to his bout:

He certainly doesn’t need to find something to keep him busy during the wait.

Finally, as anticipated, let’s take a look at Shohoryu’s debut yumi-tori shiki:

Green, very green. He’ll need to learn how to wear a kesho-mawashi – his fundoshi is showing through. And he had a few mistakes here and there. But he is better than Kasugaryu at passing the bow behind his back.

And I leave off with the pin-up of the day – Asanoyama:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 8

Today’s report is going to be a little anticlimactic, compared to Day 7’s rich content. But let’s gambarize!

🌐 Location: Nishio, Aichi prefecture

Early morning, and groggy-eyed sekitori start arriving. Here we have Takarafuji in a drab kimono, a night-crumpled chon-mage, and eyes half-closed:

…which all stand in stark contrast with his spiffy fashionable orange Hermes bag.

Abi looks pretty surprised by half-asleep Enho.

My guess is it’s the first time he noticed Enho’s cauliflower ear.

The only one who seems to be a morning person is Kaisei:

“Hey, Aoiyama, pull my finger!”

So let’s get inside the venue. Kotoeko forces his knees together with rubber bands:

This seems to be quite an effort for him. In the hana-michi, Ishiura practices his tachiai:

What, no henka?

Hakuho practices his sonkyo:

Sonkyo is this crouching position which is performed during the shikiri (and also to accept the gunbai and possible kensho envelopes). It’s also quite useful to have a talk with someone sitting on the ground:

In this case a rather good-humored Kasugano oyakata. Hakuho also practices his shiko, as always:

And like a good Hitchhiker, he does it equipped with a towel. Which reminds me, here is Kakuryu again:

Silly though he may look, Kakuryu is very popular with the fans:

Kyokusoten, behind him, looks a bit taken aback by all the clamor.

Oyakata can be popular, too!

You have to admit Tomozuna oyakata looks quite nice in a mon-tsuki kimono.

There is a sekitori from Aichi prefecture – Akiseyama. Here he is practicing with Kyokutaisei:

But for some reason, he is not that popular in this event. This may be because there is a real home boy – one from the very city of Nishio: Kaisho, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s heya).

The thing is, Kaisho is not a sekitori. He is in Makushita. And the only reason he is wearing an oicho-mage in this picture is that the torikumi guys arranged a Juryo bout for him to please the spectators.

Being a member of Isegahama ichimon earns him the privilege of getting kawaigari from Aminishiki. The spectators really love this – Aminishiki seems to be popular all over Japan. And with their home boy, oh boy!

Even this little sliver of video is a good demonstration of Aminishiki’s showmanship.

Some Makuuchi practice bouts: Onosho vs. Kagayaki, Okinoumi vs. Ryuden:

And here are Kaisei vs. Mitakeumi, and Tochinoshin vs. Kaisei:

One gets the impression that winning 10 bouts might not be beyond Tochinoshin’s capabilities the next basho.

Practice over, and lower-ranked rikishi get their hair redone:

Imagine if these tokoyama could sing in harmony. They would be a real… wait for it… barbershop quartet! [crickets]

And here comes the big news of the day. Our big ice-cream man has joined the Jungyo, as his herniated disc improved. And he got teased quite a lot for cleverly joining it on his birthday, because that means he gets lots of free cake!

The cakes are from the reporters. And Ichinojo is a good boy. He blows away the candles, and then does it again just to please a cameraman who didn’t get a good shot the first take.

I suppose he was then given an instruction to eat his cake like a good hungry boulder:

Um… is he really going to eat it with the plastic collar still on? And the candles? But well, the reporters said “do it”, so…

Although he participated in the dohyo-iri this day, he did not participate in the bouts and apparently not in any keiko, either.

Here is the West Juryo dohyo-iri for you.

Note how much more popular Aminishiki and Enho are, compared to local-born Akiseyama.

Enho and Yoshikaze still don’t participate in any bouts.

Time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and someone asks Tamawashi to hold a baby. The baby is not very happy about this.

As the kid starts an air-raid siren going, Abi decides to match him note for note. Mwaaaaaa!

Takarafuji, if you note, is all like “I was hoping I’ll get a little peace and quiet from baby cries in the Jungyo. Sheesh…”

Hakuho is on his way to do his own dohyo-iri. He does that without that supporter on his arm – for aesthetic reasons, I guess. But this fan caught him feeling up his injured arm:

That torn muscle, it is not going away.

Finally, it’s time for the bouts… but I don’t have any bout footage, sorry. Instead, here is Aoiyama, who found a back room with basketball equipment:

And here is Takakeisho, who is way too happy about this ladle his giving to Tamawashi.

Could it possibly be… the shin-ozeki… is doing the salt trick? He must know that revenge will come – and rather swiftly, as they are doing their matches in the same order every day.

Here is the yumi-tori shiki from this day:

And for our pin-up corner, how about a rather puzzled Yoshoyama?