We are not big fans of turkey, too be honest. On our own for the holidays for the first time in a long time, the threat of spending hours preparing, and failing, at making a dry bird led us to an unconventional decision. So, this year we opted for a Thanksgiving dinner of chanko and sushi. Give me moist tsukune (chicken meatballs) over ham, turkey or venison, any day. Tuna temaki is just icing on the cake. Then, we also actually had cake in the form of baumkuchen.
I am certainly thankful for, among other things, a great tournament. It is unfortunate that Takakeisho could not follow up on his September yusho and charge forward with a strong title win in Kyushu. Instead, Kirishima, Atamifuji, Ichiyamamoto and Kotonowaka have been the stars of this show. Ozeki performance issues have certainly been quieted for now. And after a spell of short reigns, maybe Kirishima and Hoshoryu will lighten some of Takakeisho’s load. The continued successes of recent tournaments mean Kotonowaka (26) and Atamifuji (21) have designs on their own future promotions. After starting the year with much more uncertainty, it’s nice to have not only a steady current slate of Ozeki but some hopes for the future.
Kitanowaka (5-8) defeated Oshoma (4-9). A bit of a testy slapfest that ended when Oshoma lost his balance and fell forward. Hikiotoshi.
Tohakuryu (5-8) defeated Oho (6-7). Tohakuryu jettisoned his retreating sumo of late for aggressive, forward moving thrusts here against Oho. And what do you know, it worked! Tsukidashi.
Tomokaze (7-6) defeated Hiradoumi (8-5). Hiradoumi tried a slapdown but Tomokaze pressed forward and shoved Hiradoumi over the bales. Oshidashi.
Churanoumi (8-5) defeated Sadanoumi (6-7). Sadanoumi was the aggressor in this bout, nearly ending Churanoumi’s day with an early slapdown attempt. Sadanoumi kept pressing forward and forced his opponent to the edge…where Churanoumi twisted out of the way and threw Sadanoumi forward. Sukuinage.
Mitakeumi (8-5) defeated Tamawashi (8-5). Not much thrusting from Tamawashi today; Mitakeumi forced himself inside the range of Tamawashi’s guns and they settled, head-to-head with Tamawashi’s back to the bales. Mitakeumi gathered his strength and pressed forward, pushing Tamawashi over the edge. Oshidashi.
Roga (4-9) defeated Myogiryu (4-9). Myogiryu charged forward but Roga circled right in retreat, staying in bounds long enough to thrust Myogiryu out. Tsukiotoshi.
Endo (5-8) defeated Nishikifuji (4-9). Endo chased Nishikifuji around the ring for awhile before Nishikigi stepped out. Oshidashi.
Midorifuji (9-4) defeated Ichiyamamoto (9-4). Now, I’m sure we can all agree THAT’s a henka. We can all see the, “YOU BASTARD!” on Ichiyamamoto’s lips. Hikiotoshi.
Tsurugisho (8-5) defeated Nishikigi (6-7). Tsurugisho pulled to start but Nishikigi was wise to it. The two settled into a grapple. Nishikigi tried to make a charge but Tsurugisho pulled up hard and resisted, forcing the two back toward center. Nishikigi gathered up his strength for another charge and this time Tsurugisho couldn’t stop him…but instead he twisted and hefted Nishikigi over the bales with a great throw. Utchari.
Tobizaru (6-7) defeated Hokuseiho (6-7). Tobizaru quickly reached in and pulled Hokuseiho forward. He then circled behind and pushed him out. Okuridashi.
Atamifuji (11-2) defeated Takayasu (8-5). The Japanese word, Atama, means “head” and that is all that I can bring to mind as I watch Atamafuji drive his head into Takayasu, forcing a yotsu contest. Takayasu tried to shove that head back but each time, Atamafuji brought his head back to rest under Takayasu’s chin. Atamafuji then grabbed Takayasu by the shoulders to drive him down. Takayasu resisted the slapdown but the pressure forced his back to the bales and Atamifuji pressed forward, pushing him out. Excellent sumo from Atamifuji. Oshidashi.
Takarafuji (5-8) defeated Meisei (3-10). After the tachiai, the two combatants settled into a grapple at the center of the ring. Meisei pulled to the edge but Takarafuji pursued and pressed forward, eventually forcing Meisei over the edge. Yorikiri.
Kinbozan (8-5) defeated Shodai (5-8). Kinbozan drove forward, hard into Shodai. Just when you wanted New Shodai to resist and force Kinbozan back, Old Shodai scanned behind himself for a place to land and dropped into the crowd. Oshidashi.
Ura (6-7) defeated Onosho (3-10). Ura blasted Onosho backwards and off the ring. Oshidashi.
Gonoyama (7-6) defeated Hokutofuji (4-9). Hokutofuji tried to remove Gonoyama’s face with the right hand and ottsuke with the left. Gonoyama shifted and thrust Hokutofuji’s hand away. Hokutofuji pressed with such force that the momentum thrust himself down in the center of the ring. Tsukiotoshi.
Abi (6-7) defeated Shonannoumi (7-6). The staredown was about 100x longer than the bout as Abi caught Shonannoumi and yanked him down to the ground, almost instantly. Hikiotoshi.
Ryuden (9-4) defeated Kotonowaka (9-4). Ryuden thrust his head into Kotonowaka’s chest and pressed forward. Kotonowaka kept fumbling for a belt grip but it’s much easier when your head is down, like Ryuden’s. Ryuden just kept pressing forward and Kotonowaka could not counter effectively. Any hopes of Ozeki promotion will have to wait for March, or more likely, May. Yorikiri.
Asanoyama (2-4-7) defeated Wakamotoharu (4-9). Powerful tachiai. Asanoyama rotated his body, twisting Wakamotoharu over toward the edge. Wakamotoharu kept his footing along the bales so Asanoyama forced him out. Yorikiri.
Kirishima (11-2) defeated Daieisho (8-5). Standard Daieisho thrusting attack, parried to the side by Kirishima. Hatakikomi.
Takakeisho (9-4) defeated Hoshoryu (8-5). Hoshoryu drove into Takakeisho’s tsuppari a bit too far as Takakeisho switched modes and thrust him down. Tsukiotoshi.
We’re down to a two-man show. It took a while for the Kyokai to finally publish the torikumi (bout listing) for tomorrow. I had thought they might like to actually have all of the Ozeki fight each other, and during normal circumstances, that would probably be their preference.
- 2敗: Kirishima, Atamifuji
- 3敗: no one
Instead, Kirishima will fight Atamifuji tomorrow. This means that we are assured of an at-least 12-win yusho. We might have a playoff between these two if the winner of tomorrow’s bout stumbles on senshuraku. Kirishima will undoubtedly be paired up with one of his fellow Ozeki (likely Takakeisho) for the musubi-no-ichiban on senshuraku.
As I’d mentioned, Kotonowaka’s charge is now done. Ichiyamamoto’s role in this drama, sadly, fizzled in front of Midorifuji. But there is certainly a significant crop of new talent, simmering under the surface. And, whatever the outcome of this weekend, Atamifuji is leading their charge into 2024.