The Japanese Sumo Association has announced that four Makushita wrestlers are being promoted to Juryo for July’s tournament. Kotokuzan from Arashio-beya (apparently NOT from Sadogatake-beya) will make his Juryo debut. Yago, Kaisho, and Abi return to the salaried ranks.
The headline here is that Abi, and his shiko?, will return to Sekitori status after serving a suspension for breaking Covid protocols with Fukushima (then Gokushindo). He has stormed back in the most rapid fashion, scoring 14 straight regulation victories, including a victory over Kaisho. While Abi was away, Ichiyamamoto returned and has established himself as a solid Juryo rikishi with a very successful Natsu. I am eager to see if the two of them go toe-to-toe at some point.
Abi’s redemption comes at an awkward time as current Ozeki Asanoyama is facing down a similar scandal, though the facts in his case are still being investigated and thus a punishment has yet to be determined.
Yago will be eager to finally find a permanent foothold in the division. He is talented but has struggled with injuries, seemingly yo-yoing between Juryo and Makushita. Kaisho reached Juryo briefly in 2019 for two tournaments before falling back into Makushita. For Kotokuzan, his promotion has been a long struggle. He has been in Makushita since the end of 2016, back when Terunofuji was an Ozeki the first time ’round. It will be interesting to see if he’s got a spark in his sumo that can keep him around for a while.
Day 2 in the lower divisions (except Juryo) complements day 1. The rikishi who did not fight on day 1 get to meet the closest ranked opponent possible. From Day 3, opponents will be chosen – in most cases – from the ones who have the same number of wins, thus creating a quick elimination for the yusho, and balancing the sides as much as possible.
No typhoon today, and at 8:40 the third day opened with some mae-zumo matches. Maezumo is very short this time around, as only one new recruit joined this basho (another recruit was checked out, but being Mongolian, and requiring a visa, he will only be able to do his maezumo next basho). The other two are returning rikishi. One is Okuniasahi, from Nakagawa beya, who has been kyujo for five basho. The other is Asahimaru from Tomozuna beya, who only did his original maezumo in Haru 2019, and was kyujo last basho. His hair has not even grown yet.
The formidable new guy has a shikona already, “Yutakanami”. He belongs to Tatsunami beya. He has some high school sumo experience, but he wasn’t recruited straight out of high school. He actually worked in the car industry for four months (“I love cars”) before quitting and switching to the one profession in Japan that does not allow him to drive a car under any circumstances.
Skipping the lowest division here. Now, if you are missing Terunofuji, since he only wrestles 7 days of the 15, why not try Fujinoteru, the off-brand replacement from Jonidan?
Fujinoteru belongs to Onoe beya. Here he attacks from the right, against Kirimaru from Michinoku beya (the heya with the foggy shikona tradition):
Well, although clearly Fujinoteru is not Terunofuji, he does get a win here against the somewhat elderly Kirimaru.
Next we have the other of the Tatsunami mystery crew-cut rikishi, Yukiamami. Here he is on the right, in his short-hair glory, facing Asadoji from Takasago beya:
This is his second win in two matches, and like Roman, his shorn heya-mate, he seems to have quite a good run since returning from the mystery kyujo.
Since we are missing Musashikuni, I thought I’ll give you Shoji, his heya-mate, instead. On the left, he faces Hibikiryu from Sakaigawa beya. Both are 1-0 coming into the match.
Alas, the Musashigawa man does not look too good. What’s with that Tachiai? This was zombie sumo. Tsukiotoshi, Hibikiryu wins.
The pearl of the day was the next bout, which was posted in video by everybody who is anybody. On the left we have Nakaishi, from Nishonoseki beya. On the right, yet another Musashigawa man, Kaishu. Feast your eyes:
This kimarite is called “mitokorozeme”. That means “Attack in three places”. He grabs one leg, trips the other, and pushes the chest with his head. Mainoumi was known for this rare one.
Roga, who suffered an initial loss, is here on the right, facing Kotoseigo (Sadogatake beya).
The Mongolian with the new chon-mage wins and balances his score to 1-1.
Another Mongolian we have already seen, Kyokusoten, faces Kotokuzan from Arashio beya. It’s not the same “Koto” as the Sadogatake “Kotos”. Kotokuzan nearly made it to Juryo a few basho ago, and his elderly stablemaster hoped he would become one by the time he retires (which is March 2020). But Kotokuzan somehow lost his edge, and dropped back to the Makushita ranks from which promotion is unlikely. So it’s Kyokusoten on the left, and Kotokuzan on the right.
Kyokusoten looks more Mongolian than usual… and indeed, the kimarite is uwatenage.
We now have Naya, who blew it on Day 1, trying to even back his score. However, he is facing Daiseido, from Kise beya, who is not to be taken lightly.
“I just can’t hit properly”, says prince Naya in an interview to the press. He has been touted as Yokozuna material, and I just can’t see it. I feel perhaps he made a mistake in joining his Grandfather’s former, declining heya.
Up we go to meet our Hungarian of the day. Well, our Hungarian of every day, since he is the only one around. Masutoo, on the left, faces Chiyootori on the right. This is a typical top Makushita match-up.
Chiyomaru informed us in an interview at Abema TV, that his little brother is quite genki and ready to return to silk mawashi status. I hope Masutoo rallies, though. It would be nice to see him enjoy some money and privileges before he retires.
Next up is Kototebakari, the man on a mission, facing yet another former sekitori from Kokonoe, Chiyonoo. Kototebakari is on the left, Chiyonoo, on the right:
The gunbai goes to Kototebakari, but a monoii is called, a consultation ensues, and the gunbai is reversed. Kototebakari apparently touched down first. I think perhaps Chiyonoo still had a toe inside at that point, but that makes it his win either way. Mr. Handscales is now 1-1, while Chiyonoo is 2-0.
Finally, we have Wakamotoharu, the middle Onami brother, facing Akua/Aqua from Tatsunami beya. These two are both eager to slip back into Juryo and the good life.
Wakamotoharu introduces Akua to some clay, and improves to 2-0.
I’ll spare you the hospital ward scene that was Seiro vs. Ikioi. Ikioi lost, but Seiro was also unable to bend his knee and had his butt up in the sky. It was a sorry bout.
Instead, I’ll direct your attention to Yago vs. Kiribayama. Yago, on the left, does a great defensive work here, while Kiribayama is throwing the kitchen sink at his legs.
Eventually Kiribayama realizes that Yago has a good lateral balance. So he moves sideways, and pulls. Uwatedashinage.
Today’s post merges our daily “Ones To Watch” with my erratic video coverage of the lower divisions. Enjoy!
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!
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.
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.
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!