Nagoya 2023: Shonichi Highlights

The late-breaking, soul-crushing news last night was that newly promoted Ozeki, Kirishima, had to withdraw due to back pain. The length of his absence is not clear at this point but if he misses eight bouts or more, he will be kadoban after this first tournament. I often see the kadoban as a privilege rather than as a black mark or scarlet letter. It’s earned by Ozeki as they’re able to rest (or underperform) for one tournament without threat of demotion.

Some chatter last night indicated this back injury was rather long-standing one for Kirishima which flared up, or was re-aggravated, in the last few days. It may be smart, then, to leverage this new privilege and heal up fully. As a fan, eagerly anticipating the reign of a new, durable Ozeki, such idealism has been quickly dashed and hopes for this tournament dim substantially. Terunofuji surely bears the weight of attendance and performance on his own brittle knees but this could be a great opportunity for the three Sekiwake to shine.


Hakuoho defeated Aoiyama – Hakuoho started off a bit too early, so there was a matta. However, Hakuoho weathered Aoiyama’s tsuppari, maintained his balance as the Bulgarian tried to shove him down, and maintained his composure as it appeared Aoiyama tried to rip his face off at one point. Having endured enough of Aoiyama’s offense, Hakuoho grabbed at his belt and drove forward, dropping Aoiyama off the dohyo. Welcome to Makuuchi, big boy. Yorikiri.

Endo defeated Bushozan – Bushozan was terrified of Endo’s belt grip. Endo reached in with his right at the tachiai and Bushozan jumped back and batted Endo’s arm away. Endo chased and latched on with the left, and tugged Bushozan to the ground. Uwatedashinage.

Takarafuji defeated Ryuden – Takarafuji absorbed Ryuden’s charge, and then repeatedly shoved down until Ryuden collapsed in a heap underneath. Hatakikomi.

Shonannoumi defeated Daishoho – This bout was all about Shonannoumi’s patience and perseverance with his left ottsuke. He had a solid right hand inside grip and secure position near the bales. Daishoho wanted his own right hand inside grip but Shonannoumi held out with his left hand, denying Daishoho. After waiting, Daishoho surged to latch on but Shonannoumi drove forward, leveraging his advantage and drove Daishoho over the bales, oshidashi.

Gonoyama defeated Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho never mounted any offense as Gonoyama drove him backwards with powerful tsuppari, then locked in on the belt, briefly, before shoving him out over the edge. Oshidashi.

Chiyoshoma defeated Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho met Chiyoshoma but didn’t seem capable of advancing or bearing much weight on the left leg. It was just a matter of time, then, as Chiyoshoma steadily worked Tsurugisho back and out, over the bales. Straightforward yorikiri. This looks like it will be a long tournament for Tsurugisho.

Kotoeko defeated Myogiryu – Kotoeko was the aggressor in this bout with a strong right-hand grip inside, steadily pressing Myogiryu back as the pair circled the ring. He lifted Myogiryu as they approached the bales for a forceful yorikiri win.

Hokutofuji defeated Kinbozan – Kinbozan backed Hokutofuji to the bales with powerful tsuppari after the initial charge. At the bales, Hokutofuji resisted, forcing Kinbozan back. Hokutofuji then locked in with a strong right-hand grip and pulled Kinbozan forward while twisting to the left. Uwatedashinage

Nishikifuji defeated Takanosho – Nishikifuji met Takanosho with a “hit-and-shift” tachiai which seemed to catch Takanosho off balance. Takanosho never seemed stable as Nishikifuji Tsukiotoshi

Tamawashi defeated Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi pressed forward, trying to get a hold of Tamawashi’s mawashi. But Tamawashi pressed back with strong ottsuke from his left, engaged in Sadanoumi’s armpit, preventing Sadanoumi from getting that mawashi grip. He then shifted left while pulling Sadanoumi forward and Sadanoumi toppled forward. Tsukiotoshi.

Takayasu defeated Oho – Oho met Takayasu with powerful tsuppari but couldn’t drive forward before Takayasu locked on with a belt grip, his right over Oho’s left. Excellent technique from Takayasu prevented Oho from being able to secure a left hand grip. Takayasu pulled Oho forward with that right hand, uwatenage.

 Hokuseiho defeated Onosho – Dominant win from Hokuseiho. He stopped Onosho in his tracks, locked in with both hands on Onosho’s belt, right hand inside, long left arm over Onosho’s back, and drove straight forward. Onosho was trapped and helpless as he was ushered over the bales. Yorikiri.

Hiradoumi defeated Ura —  An over-eager Hiradoumi forced a matta. Ura’s ottsuke kept Hiradoumi from securing a belt grip but he couldn’t stop Hiradoumi’s momentum from forcing him back to the bales. As Ura bent back, hoping for some Matrix-like escape, Hiradoumi maintained the pressure and forced him to fall out on his butt. Oshitaoshi.

Meisei defeated Asanoyama – Powerful charge from Asanoyama nearly forced Meisei out. But Meisei was able to escape by shifting right at the bales. Asanoyama was in hot pursuit but as Meisei reached the opposite bales, he launched forward, driving Asanoyama to fall backwards. They call it abisetaoshi as Meisei launched forward with his full weight but it almost looked like Asanoyama’s left foot just slipped and he fell on his butt. This feels like an own goal on Asanoyama.


Kotonowaka defeated Midorifuji – Kotonowaka kept Midorifuji in front of him and steadily shoved him backwards, and out over the edge. Tsukitaoshi.

Wakamotoharu defeated Mitakeumi – Ozeki candidate #1 appeared to be in trouble at the tachiai as Mitakeumi had the advantage forcing Waka back. But Mitakeumi’s right hand ottsuke failed to keep Wakamotoharu’s left hand from securing and belt grip. Once Waka locked on, he was able to drive up and forward into Mitakeumi. This first stopped his forward motion and then drove him back and out over the bales. Yoritaoshi

Daieisho defeated Shodai – Ozeki candidate #2 looked fierce as his combination of forceful tsuppari and nodowa were too much for the former Ozeki. Oshidashi.

Nishikigi forfeit win over Kirishima

Hoshoryu defeated Tobizaru – Ozeki candidate #3, what the hell was that tachiai? Go back and do it again. Both guys just hesitantly stood up. I expected a matta. Then Hoshoryu chased Tobizaru around the ring before Tobizaru spun himself too far and fell backwards while Hoshoryu stumbled forward. Somehow that is an Oshidashi win for Hoshoryu? It looked more like an episode of Tom and Jerry than a sumo bout. Replays show Hoshoryu touching the clay with his left hand well before Tobizaru fell. Controversy if it weren’t just crap sumo. Tobizaru didn’t deserve a win with that — but still.

Terunofuji defeated Abi – Abi tried to do his brand of sumo but Terunofuji drove forward from the shoulder of Abi’s extended right arm. Somehow this prevented Abi from recoiling and lobbing more volleys of tsuppari. Thus disarmed, Abi was forced backwards and out. Abi relies on that machine-gun, rapid tsuppari. This was a blueprint for how to defeat Abi-zumo. Actually pretty neat. Oshidashi.

Nagoya 2022: Day 12 Highlights

These closing few days of the tournament present many challenges as yet another heya is forced to pull out due to Covid. This time Asakayama beya is forced to withdraw but makuuchi dodges a bullet and loses no more competitors. We’re already down to an abbreviated list of 18 bouts over the scheduled two hours, even with Kagayaki visiting from Juryo.

The yusho race has narrowed to Terunofuji and Ichinojo with two losses each while Tobizaru and Nishikigi joined Takakeisho and Nishikifuji in the chase group with three losses. With no further ado, lets get to the bouts.

The Bouts

Yutakayama versus Kagayaki: Kagayaki drove forward at the tachiai, leading with the crown of his forehead. A forearm to the throat may have been the spark Yutakayama needed to make his own charge. With Kagayaki’s feet sliding, Yutakayama pivoted left and shuffled to the middle of the ring. The pivot was important because re-positioning himself in this way meant he didn’t have to shove Kagayaki all the way across the dohyo, through the center, to get him to the tawara. Instead, the much shorter route turned the tables quickly, imperiling Kagayaki. Kagayaki tried to dance along the bales to get his position back but Yutakayama stuck with him and finally forced him over the bales, yorikiri. Both even their records at 6-6.

Onosho versus Chiyoshoma: Chiyoshoma didn’t henka and it cost him. The head-to-head only managed to stagger Oshoryu temporarily. While Chiyoshoma leaned in for a belt grip with his left hand, Onosho pressed both hands into Chiyoshoma’s core, Superman-style, and launched him clear from the into the head shimpan. Oshidashi. Onosho is 7-5 and Chiyoshoma is 5-7.

Daiamami versus Takarafuji: Daiamami’s make-koshi deepened today against the Takarabune. He tried to get that right hand in on Takarafuji’s belt but Takarafuji yanked it away. While Daiamami was still trying to get the fingers of his left hand onto his opponent’s belt, Takarafuji had already secured his preferred right hand grip and quickly drove Daiamami back and out. Daiamami is 2-8-2 and on the barge back to Juryo while Takarafuji steadies himself at 6-6.

Chiyomaru versus Midorifuji: Chiyomaru was just too much mass for Midorifuji today. Midorifuji tried shifting his belt grip but Chiyomaru corralled him at the edge and gently ushered him over the bales to pick up his fourth win. Midorifuji falls to 7-5.

Chiyotairyu versus Myogiryu: Chiyotairyu tried to pull Myogiryu down at the center of the ring but Myogiryu didn’t just maintain his balance, he squared up and charged back. Myogiryu’s tsuppari were forceful enough to force Chiyotairyu over the bales and earn his kachi-koshi. Myogiryu is at 8-4 with Chiyotairyu falling to 6-6.

Oho versus Meisei: Oho and Meisei launched themselves repeatedly into one another. Meisei had the dominant tachiai and better position to launch his charging attacks. Oho attempted a pulldown but missed and had to regroup quickly before Meisei could take advantage. Meisei saw the flaw in his plan and started to use more regular tsuppari but Oho had already steadied himself. Meisei attempted a half-hearted throw and failed. This allowed Oho claim to the center of the ring and better position to launch his own shoulder blasts but by this time he seemed sapped of strength and Meisei was quickly able to move forward, reclaim position at the center of the ring, and heave Oho from the ring with a final lunge. Oshidashi. Both are 7-5, eager to claim that kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Tochinoshin versus Nishikifuji: The veteran Tochinoshin executed a well-timed pull, thrusting Nishikifuji down and out of the ring. We often see guys fall on their face to this and end up with hatakikomi, but Nishikifuji’s effort to regain his balance saw his momentum carry him forward and clear from the ring for a tsukiotoshi, instead. Tochinoshin is 7-5 and Nishikifuji is falls out of the hunt group to 8-4.

Endo versus Shimanoumi: Endo followed through on his strong tachiai with solid tsuppari to force Shimanoumi to the edge. As Shimanoumi pushed back Endo seized the opportunity to seize Shimanoumi’s shimekomi. Endo drove forward again but Shimanoumi slipped away to Endo’s left. However, Endo quickly re-engaged and coupled with the pair’s momentum moving to the left side, pushed Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri. Endo picks up a third win while Shimanoumi falls to a dreadful 1-11.

Terutsuyoshi versus Sadanoumi: Terutsuyoshi tried to grasp Sadanoumi’s leg but failed. He then desperately tried to avoid getting pushed down and escaped to the right. Sadanoumi was in hot pursuit. He attempted, and failed, with a pull-down attack but drove forward. As Terutsuyoshi planted with his left foot to slide back, and catch the tawara with his right, Sadanoumi deftly kicked Terutsuyoshi’s plant foot. This forced Terutsuyoshi to lose his balance and fall backwards earning Sadanoumi a clever sotogake outside leg trip. Sadanoumi’s already make-koshi but gets a fourth win while Terutsuyoshi, at 5-7, needs to win out.

Tamawashi versus Tsurugisho: After a strong tachiai, Tsurugisho latched on to Tamawashi’s left arm. Tsurugisho tried a pull but Tamawashi kept his balance just enough to counter and force Tsurugisho backwards and off the dohyo. Gumbai Tamawashi. A quick mono-ii confirms that Tsurugishi was dead before Tamawashi’s hand went down. Oshidashi. Both wrestlers are 5-7.

Tobizaru versus Ichinojo: Ichinojo’s patience with Tobizaru today demonstrated, to me at least, his desire to win this tournament. He wasn’t going to make hasty mistakes and let it slip away today. After a firm tachiai, Tobizaru bounced three feet away from the boulder. Ichinojo is in the driver’s seat, hands at 10 and 2. (Like that? See what I did there? I crack myself up.) Tobizaru 8-4. Oshidashi.

Kiribayama versus Ura: Ura chose a hit-and-run technique, lunging in for an attack and then retreating, cycling back and around the dohyo. Each time Ura came in for an attack, Kiribayama laid into Ura and pursued with tsuppari. One final lunge and Kiribayama slapped down a charging Ura. Hatakikomi. Both men are 5-7 and must win their final 3 in order to claim kachi-koshi records.

Hoshoryu versus Hokutofuji: Hoshoryu weathered Hokutofuji’s forehead charges and tsuppari, trading attack for access to Hokutofuji’s belt. After an attack, Hokutofuji strayed too close and this allowed Hoshoryu to secure a belt grip. He pivoted and threw Hokutofuji out of the dohyo. Uwatenage. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5 while Hokutofuji falls to 6-6.

Wakamotoharu versus Abi: Abi henka! Wakamotoharu didn’t fall for it but as he turned to face Abi from his new position, he encountered a torrent of Abi’s thrusts. Tsukiotoshi. Abi improves to 6-6, Wakamotoharu falls to 5-7.

Wakatakakage versus Okinoumi: After a strong collision at the center, Wakatakakage was impervious to Okinoumi’s attempts to advance. His own steady pressure forced Okinoumi back and out, yorikiri. Wakatakakage improves to 7-5, Okinoumi is make-koshi and falls to 4-8.

Takakeisho versus Nishikigi: In another matchup which likely would not occur without all of the kyujo, Maegashira 8 Nishikigi gets to face Ozeki Takakeisho. Both men are kachi-koshi and one loss off the leaders coming into today’s bout. Takakeisho’s opening nodowa drove Nishikigi back to the bales. Nishikigi circled to his left and charged back at the Ozeki. But the Ozeki did not budge, sending Nishikigi back to the edge to try again. One final lunge at the Ozeki but Takakeisho again repelled the attack, and pushed Nishikigi out of the ring. Oshidashi. Takakeisho is 9-3 and Nishikigi falls to a comfortable 8-4.

Aoiyama versus Shodai: Shodai advanced through Aoiyama’s “tsuppari”, forced Aoiyama to retreat. It’s not clear to me whether Aoiyama pulled himself a bit too close to the edge or whether Shodai’s advance shoved him over, but the call is oshidashi. Shodai clears his kadoban and stands at 8-4. Aoiyama 5-7. Oshidashi.

Terunofuji versus Daieisho: Daieisho charged into the Yokozuna but could not make any head way. Terunofuji brought his right forearm up to re-enforce the shove landed with his left, dropping Daieisho from the dohyo’s surface. Terunofuji matches Ichinojo’s pace at 10-2. Daieisho falls to 6-6. Oshidashi.

Tochinoshin Kyujo

From AdjaraSport

Hat tip to the folks at GSB. One last check of twitter before I hit the sack and I see this bombshell at the top of my feed:

As Leonid’s pointed out in the comments, it’s not been official yet in that it’s not listed on the official Sumo Kyokai website under absent rikishi but I figure the NHK is an excellent source. Tochinoshin has been having a dreadful ozeki comeback, now 0-6 with the fusen loss.

The aggravated knee injury from last tournament has not recovered sufficiently for the man to pose any challenge to his competition. Though he was able to pick up the victory he needed to regain his rank, he will now be kadoban. The bout against Asanoyama from last night was a quick one and previous bouts demonstrated he really had little ability to change direction and may have been the deciding factor as he had been more competitive in some of the earlier bouts.

Thanks to our friends at AdjaraSport for a great interview video that I am still in the process of editing for time and context. It is a wide ranging conversation and at one point he does discuss his knee. We hope he rests and recovers soon.

A Biking Tour of Aichi

This NHK World video features a biking tour around Aichi prefecture. Nagoya is the largest city in Aichi prefecture, so it is very important to sumo fans as the home of the July Honbasho. As the video shows, Aichi is also important to the production of “Tai”, sea bream, that wonderful red fish we associate with yusho, promotion, and celebration. Anyway, if anyone out there is planning a trip to Nagoya to see the tournament, chances are you’ll be looking for other stuff to do off-hours or on days that you aren’t able to manage tickets, so this video may give a few ideas.

Bike Around Aichi

Another important feature of this video is its focus on “craft”, monozukuri 物作り…literally “making stuff.” The concept is central to Japanese industry and life. We’ve seen that with the recent video Herouth pointed out that showed (among other things) how sumo wrestlers’ combs are made. I’ve been particularly interested in it lately, playing around with making whisky. My favorite part is malting barley. The smell of germinating barley is nice. In this video, there’s a factory making hamanatto…in a woman’s house. It’s so awesome.

As I find things like this around sumo venues, I’ll try to bring them to your attention so you find things to enrich any trips you make to Japan. I’d like to help others avoid “Lost in Translation” syndrome, having experienced it myself when I first moved there.