Welcome Justin (Hōchiyama)
Justin is a current resident of the DC area. Like Andy, I do my best to avoid visiting the downtown DC area. I “adopted” the rikishi Hōchiyama (active 2000-2016) in one of the early Sumo Forum’s games to “adopt a rikishi”, and was proud that he was the first of the original adoptees to make the top division. Now, I “adopt” him again as my writer’s shikona.
I first saw sumo in the summer of 1993 and fell in love. In 1994, I lived in Nerima-ku as a poor student, spending most of my time in a local izakaya and learning as much as I could. I got a black belt in Kōdōkan jūdō and learned shōgi. I cultivated my passion for sumo just as Takanohana made Yokozuna and enjoyed the Ake-Taka jidai and sumo boom. I have followed sumo since, and have become a “sumo otaku”.
Favorite sumo moments in my life are acting as gyōji for a young Ama and Hakuhō in the pool at Mandalay Bay during the Las Vegas kōen and climbing into the dōhyō at the DC Sumo and Sushi event! And pulling out a win against moto-Chiyonoshin, aka Enya in Sanctary!
Projected Makushita Promotions
Permit us to introduce the rikishi who are projected to join Makushita (Division 3) for the first time when the banzuke for the November tournament is released.
I anticipate that five rikishi will receive their first promotion to Makushita: Satorufuji, Haruyama, Asashinjō, Kenshin, and Gōnoumi.
Satorufuji (聖富士) is another Isegahama prodigy out of Hiryū High School (like stablemates Midorifuji, Atamifuji and Hayatefuji)1. Satorufuji is a 19 year old, 5’9”” (178cm)/ 351 lbs (160kg) wrestler out of Shizuoka prefecture. In his four tournaments on the banzuke, he has a career record of 23-5, with a Jonidan Yūshō in the Natsu 2023 bashō – where he defeated ex-college Ōshōryū in a playoff. His only losses are to prospects Asahakuryū (twice), Gōnoumi (see below), Tanji, and to the veteran Kitaharima. He has a variety of skills – winning by yorikiri almost 40% of the time and oshidashi about 25 perent of the time. He also has won by various throwing techniques and a few times by Katatsukashi (possibly an influence from his elder stablemate). He started sumo at Yaizu boy’s Sumo Klub and Kanehira Dojo when he was in second grade. In his second year of junior high, he was part of the team that won the National Junior High School Sumo Tournament, winning a team championship with Yoshii. In his third year of junior high, he won third place in the National Prefectural Junior High School Tournament. In the second hear of high school, he was on the team that won a national team championship and he also has won many various tournaments. He clearly has the size and skills to succeed in makushita and is still young enough to develop into another Isegahama-beya sekitori. His has won a divisional playoff bout and has not yet reached his peak. He will be an interesting prospect to watch develop in the near future.
Haruyama (春山) is one of Onoe-beya’s recruits from its pipeline at Nihon University. He was recruited to Onoe-beya along with his Nihon U teammate and last bashō’s Jonokuchi division winner Shiroma. He was also part of powerhouse Saitama Sakae High School’s sumo team prior to joining the university. He is a 23 year old, 5’11’’ (181cm)/310 lbs (141kg) wrestler out of Kagoshima Japan and fights under his own name. He has a career record of 19-2, including a jonokuchi championship in Natsu 2023. He has only lost to high school prospects (and kohai of his from Saitama Sakae) Wakaikari and Gōnoumi (see below). In his short career he is also showing he can use mixed techniques – Oshidashi (around 25%), yorikiri (around 25%), and some nage techniques. He blasted his way through jonokuchi (mostly oshidashi and tsukidashi) and has relied more on the belt as he rose through jonidan and sandanme in one tournament each. He has already done a lot of development at the high school and university level, and although he has not won any university titles, he finished in the top 16 in the All Japan Championships, and was in the top 16 in the National Student Championships, and achieved third place in the Kariya Tournament. He was team captain of the club at Nihon University. He is the cousin of Fujishima-beya’s Kainoshima. As he was not a top-tier university wrestler, he started in mae-zumo. He has potential to reach sekitori.
Asashinjō (朝心誠) arrives in makushita after seven years in sumo, having started in the Haru 2016 tournament. He fights out of Takasago-beya, is 25 years old and 5’7’’ (170cm)/256lbs (116kg). He hails from Aichi Japan (Nagoya), and is a product of Tokai Industrial College Atsuta high school. He was a jūdōka in high school and was in the top 16 in the over 100kg weight class at the Aichi Prefecture General Championships. At that time, his specialty was ippon-seoi throw, He has a career record of 154-143-11. He spent most of 2018-early 2022 bouncing between jonidan and sandanme and has only recently taken a big step forward, attaining four kachi-koshi in a row. He is undersized and light weight, and likely at the peak of his skills, achieving a 6-1 record in upper sandanme last tournament, only his second career 6-1 tournament. He may not achieve much longevity in makushita. He mainly wins by yorikiri and uwatenage (35% of wins). He works as one of the chankoban in Takasago-beya.
Kenshin (謙信) reaches makushita after eight years in the lower divisions, having started in the Hatsu 2015 tournament. He wrestles out of Sakaigawa-beya, is 27 years old, and is 5’7’’ (172cm)/285lbs (129kg). He hails from Niigata Japan and is a product of Takada Agricultural High School. In his sophomore year, he placed second in a national team competition. He has a 174-151-32 career record. He was given the name “Kenshin” by Sakaigawa Oyakata in honor of Kenshin Uesugi, a famous local general. He is a cousin of Sekinoto Oyakata (former Iwakiyama). He has been a solid sandanme wrestler since Aki 2017, spending all but one basho in the 4th division in the past six years – only dropping due to injury. He has flirted with a third division debut for the past two years, and finally makes it after a 5-2 record. He is mainly a pusher/thruster (63% of wins by oshidashi or tsukidashi) and is not against the slapdown (11 percent of wins). He likely is at the peak of his career and not likely to rise much further than the lower part of makushita.
We return to a discussion of a prospect with Gōnoumi (豪ノ湖). He comes out of former Gōeidō’s Takekuma-beya and will rise to makushita after only four tournaments on the banzuke and with a career record of 23-5. He hails from Shiga Prefecture, is 19 years old, and is 5’10’’ (178cm)/282lbs (128kg). He started Sumo with the Nagahama Sumo Club when he was in 6th grade. In his third year of junior high school, he won second place in the National Junior High School Sumo Tournament and second place in the team competition. He joined the Saitama Sakae High School sumo team, where he won the National Semba Yurikai Individual Championship and became a High School Yokozuna), as well as many other tournaments. He has rapidly moved up the banzuke. He has fought a lot of prospects, defeating Satorufuji and Kazeeidai, and losing to Wakaikari and a rematch with Satorufuji. He was in the run for the sandanme championship, going 6-0 and only losing to former top-division veteran Kitaharima by oshitaoshi on day 13. His shikona receives the “Gō” from his stablemaster, Gōeidō, and the umi (lake) from Lake Biwa in Shiga, as well as deference to the late-yokozuna Kitanoumi. He feels he is under a lot of pressure to perform up to the expectations of a former high-school Yokozuna. In July of his senior year, he and three other club members received a letter of appreciation from the Omiya-Nishi Police Station of the Saitama Prefectural Police for protecting an elementary school boy who gotten lost.
1 Hiryū High School has been assembling quality prospects and is turning itself into a top-tier high school club. Its non-Isegahama wrestlers include Tochikōdai, Fujinoyama, Tendōzan, Daiseizan, Nagata, Ryūtsukasa and Nagamura.