Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 6 and 7

Let’s proceed with the past two days, which were full of events in the lower divisions. You have already seen Ura and Wakaichiro. Here are some others.

happy-terutsuyoshi
Four men are leading Juryo. This is one of them. (Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Midorifuji, his tsukebito for this basho)

Day 6

Tsukahara has won the Jonokuchi and the Jonidan yusho when he started out in Hatsu 2018 (Mae-zumo in 2017). But he got a little stuck in his next two basho. He is going for the Sandanme Yusho this time. In this bout he faces Seigo from Shikoroyama beya:

He also had a bout on day 7, and is currently 4-0.

Now we turn to the princes. First, the Duke of Tatsunami, Hoshoryu. Here facing Sasakiyama. At this point both are 2-0. Note that the torikumi committee regularly matches people with the same record – this helps separate the wheat from the chaff quickly and efficiently.

Sasakiyama returned after a long kyujo and went 6-1 in Jonidan and 7-0 in Sandanme (Jun-Yusho, with Kagamio winning the yusho).

Sasakiyama is not happy. But at least that kotenage left him in one piece.

The next is the Prince of Otake, scion of Taiho (and Takatoriki). He is already 1-1 at this point, and faces Sakigake with the same score.

Bad mistake there, and he finds himself facing outwards, and is respectfully led out. Serious setback, two losses in a row for a man with so many hopes pinned on him. If he doesn’t get a kachi-koshi, it’s back to Sandanme, as he is at the very bottom of Makushita.

I am not going to go through the entire Juryo, but I want you to watch two special bouts. The first is a mixed bout. Toyonoshima in Makushita is scheduled for a Juryo match. So he gets to wear an oicho-mage and throw some salt, which he hasn’t done for a while. It’s a bit unusual to be scheduled for the fourth time in six days, but hey, if he wants to be a sekitori, he has to be able to wrestle every day, right?

He is matched with Jokoryu – a former Sekiwake against a former komusubi. One striving to return to sekitori status, one just now having achieved that.

Since Toyonoshima is at Makushita #1, if he wins this bout, he is kachi-koshi and virtually ensures his return to Juryo for Kyushu.

With both falling about the same time, there is, of course a monoii. And a torinaoshi. Toyonoshima is full of fire. The second time around ends in a hearty uwatenage. Toyonoshima returns to Juryo.

toyonoshima-crying
After two years, Toyonoshima will finally be able to provide for his family

The next interesting day 6 bout is not quite as emotional, but still brilliant. Enho – who else – meets Tokushoryu.

Enho goes for the Hakuho slap-and-grab. The grab doesn’t quite work, but Enho is unfazed. He finds Tokushoryu’s mae-mitsu, and at the same time secures a hold on Tokushoryu’s mawashi knot. The kimarite is shitatenage. But if you look at the replays, you’ll see that enho actually throws him with both arms – he needs a lot of leverage on that hefty guy. With this, Enho is level again, 3-3. His game is much improved over his first Juryo visit.

Oh, and there was something very odd going on in the Day 6 Juryo dohyo-iri. Take a look:

Three wrestlers are missing from the dohyo-iri, and come running in just in time to delay Aminishiki, who looks rather outraged. Perhaps because one of the delinquents is his own ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined at a later date) – Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Tsurugisho and Daishoho. I’m pretty sure Aminishiki had a little talk with Terutsuyoshi after that.

The gyoji-announcer, however, smoothly adds the names of the three late joiners without pause.

Interestingly, despite being late for the dohyo-iri, Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (Midorifuji, in the top picture) seems to have retained all of his teeth. I guess there are ways of dealing with one’s own tardiness without spilling the blood of one’s subordinates.

(Yeah, I am referring to the Bakayoshitoshi incident).

Anyway, here is the day 6 full Juryo digest for your pleasure:

Day 7

Jonokuchi

How can we pass up a Hattorizakura bout? Here vs. Kogitora:

In the previous basho it seemed that Hattorizakura has made a step forward, and started working on his staying power. Alas, this basho none of that seems to have remained. His stablemaster promised him a new shikona should he make kachi-koshi. I guess he likes “Hattorizakura”.

Let’s look at another Jonokuchi bout for a change. Here is one of the new recruits for Naruto beya, Oju, vs. Toya. Oju’s first basho in Jonokuchi has been a disaster, but take a look at this bout:

Oju looks pretty drained after the bout, but still goes over to try and help his opponent up (which Toya refuses). So he is a nice guy. But besides that, it was a good bout, and he kept his stance lower than his opponent and used his opening. He is now 2-2.

Jonidan

Tsushida, who was the Jonokuchi yusho winner in Nagoya, suffered a setback on day 6. So probably no Jonidan yusho. But can he come back? Here he is faced with Sakabayashi. Again, the torikumi masters match wrestlers with the same score:

So maybe no yusho, but Tsushida is still going strong.

Now, on day 1 I said Satonofuji looked tired and spent, and speculated that he may retire soon. But in fact he is having a lovely basho. And, oh, feast your eyes on this bout vs. Chiyotaiko:

In my opinion, that tachiai should have been a matta. But it wasn’t called, and Satonofuji finds himself in an awkward position. But if you think that the 41-years-old Isegahama man just accidentally came up with a clever kimarite, think again. This Izori is his 15th. The man has 36 distinct kimarite under his belt.

Sandanme

I still follow Torakio, but the man is starting to have a really disastrous basho, despite not being seriously injured this time. Take a look at this match vs. Yokoe. Both 1-2 coming into this match:

A lot of effort, but the Musashigawa man manages to unbalance the Bulgarian and Torakio is 1-3, very close to a make-koshi, and it’s not nakabi, yet!

Makushita

At the bottom, the struggling Naya meets Shosei. Both 1-2 coming into the match. Shosei is a veteran and Makushita regular.

Naya recovers from his two losses and is now 2-2.

Now here is a familiar face we haven’t seen in a while. Yet another one trying to make a return to sekitori status, Chiyootori. Here he faces Koba from Kise beya, both 2-1 coming into this match.

Despite that huge brace on his leg, Chiyootori seems full of genki. Bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce until the tachiai, and a yorikiri soon after. Chiyootori is now 3-1, and at Makushita 25, still has a way to go before he can start throwing salt again.

Finally, here is Sokokurai, who wants the yusho very badly, facing Gokushindo, who wants it quite as much (and there are other people in Makushita aiming for it):

This kind of bout is the reason why they invented tsuppari. Guys, stop circling around and tring to find an opening that doesn’t exist. Show some initiative. Sokokurai is very careful, tries not to expose himself in any way. This could go on forever, but Sokokurai makes the first mistake and loses his chance of a yusho.

Juryo

 

  • Chiyonoumi is having a real hard time this basho. His tsuppari attack is effective at first, but still, Hakuyozan is bigger and not easily moved by mere thrusts, and it’s the Kokonoe man who finds himself outside.
  • Akua with his back to the wall. His bouts in the past few days are very fierce, even desparate. Tokushoryu is the winner and Akua is 2-5.
  • Mitoryu started the basho strong, but weakened a bit as the days passed. Azumaryu wants to find his way back up.
  • Jokoryu manages to turn Tobizaru around, but the monkey somehow gets back around and they both fall outside. There is a monoii, but the decision holds – Jokoryu “nokotteori” – he still has a leg inside.
  • Enho tries to get inside, doesn’t find a way, but Seiro – back from kyujo – can’t unbalance the little pixie. Eventually, Enho achieves a straight oshi-dashi. This is the first time he manages two consecutive wins in Juryo.
  • Gagamaru lifts Tsurugisho easily over the bales.
  • Takekaze slams into Shimanoumi, but that doesn’t seem to impress his opponent much. He is soon sent out.
  • Terutsuyoshi – half henka, gets inside Hidenoumi’s belly, and sends him out. 5-2 for the Isegahama pixie.
  • Wakatakakage suffers a serious weight disadvantage in his bout with Takagenji. That was one fierce oshidashi.
  • Kotoeko requires some time before he succeeds in forcing Chiyonoo out.
  • Nice battle between Yago and Daishoho, which goes back and forth between the two. Daishoho tries a hatakikomi, but is driven out before Yago finds himself on his knees.
  • Akiseyama once again switches mawashi color to stop his losing streak. Alas, this time it doesn’t work. Meisei somehow manages to keep in the black, while Akiseyama is 1-6.
  • Kyokushuho doesn’t leave any opening for Uncle Sumo’s wiles. Aminishiki flies to the fourth row before the fans finish their first “Aminishiki” shout. Two consecutive losses for the Isegahama veteran, and he is now 4-3.
  • Finally, once again, Arawashi grabs the mawashi and throws at the edge. Daiamami is down before Arawashi’s legs leave ground.

Juryo is crazy this basho. It seems the level is very very even. No one is 7-0. No one is even 6-1. And there are four men with 5-2:

  1. J4E Daiamami
  2. J8W Terutsuyoshi
  3. J11E Tokushoryu
  4. J13E Azumaryu

If Terutsuyoshi, the pixie with the sodium fixation, who only secured his kachi-koshi in the previos basho in the last day, is in the Yusho arasoi in this one, then as far as Juryo is concerned, we are in a Wacky Aki.

Bouts from the lower divisions – Days 3 and 4

Yesterday all my YouTube sources dried up all of a sudden, so I decided to collect the little material that I had from two days. This doesn’t matter much in the divisions below Juryo, as mostly the wrestlers have bouts on alternating days. But it does mean that I’ll have to concentrate on today’s Juryo rather than yesterday’s.

enho-hassotobi
Behold, a flying pixie

Day 3

What I have from day 3 are mostly Makushita bouts from the top of the division.

Here is the hottest thing in Isegahama, the back-flipping Tomisakae, vs. Wakamotoharu – that’s Wakatakakage’s slightly older brother (the oldest is Wakatakamoto).

After a matta, Tomisakae drives straight forward and quickly dispatches of the Arashio man. Note that he is then called over by the one of the shimpan and scolded for something. I’m not sure what that would be. Maybe that little jump of glee at the end?

Then we have Sokokurai, who means business. And in this case, it’s a very long business transaction:

Sokokurai has Tokushinho in a morozashi, but Tokushinho is bigger than Sokokurai and gets a soto-yotsu (both hands outside) grip. First he only gets the outer layer of Sokokurai’s mawashi, but then manages to get a hold of the lower layer with his right hand. Sokokurai releases one hand and tries a throw, but it doesn’t work. Tokushino starts forward, but Sokokurai rallies and reasserts his morozashi. Tokushinho, however, starts marching forward again, and Sokokurai is running out of stamina. But he is not the only one. Eventually a little shift and Tokushinho drops to the floor. It’s called a shitatenage, but it was more like an underarm release than an underarm throw.

Here is Tomokaze, facing another rather hot name, Irodori:

Irodori starts the attack, but then Tomokaze changes the direction and puts Iridori between himself and the closest line of bales, where he goes ahead and pushes him. Tomokaze is 2-0 at the moment.

Finally, we have Toyonoshima vs. Toyohibiki:

Those two go back a long way. Most of their past 14 meetings were in Makuuchi.

Toyohibiki goes for the attack, but Toyonoshima does a little dance around and reverses the fates. The ancient one is now 2-0.

Here is the Juryo digest for day three, for those who do not want to miss a single bout, but I am leaving it uncommented:

Day 4

We start the action in Day 4 with two Jonokuchi bouts. First, we cannot do without Hattorizakura.

Here he meets Takanoryu again. Takanoryu has only ever beaten two other rikishi. One of them twice before. Can you guess who that is?

Hattorizakura tries to stick it on the bales, but his heel goes lower and lower and eventually the shimpan signals to the gyoji that the bout is actually over.

Next up is a bout with a little more talent. It’s my favorite stick insect, the underfed Chiyotaiyo, vs. Hayasaka:

(Extra bout – Akatsuki vs. Kyonosato)

Chiyotaiyo seems to be very popular – gets a lot of calls from the spectators. He launches himself at Hayasaka, grabs an arm, and wins by tottari. My guess is that this time he is not staying in Jonokuchi. 2-0 for the Kokonoe string bean. Feed him, Chiyotaikai!

Up we go to Jonidan, where we have a bout between Tsushida – the Jonokuchi yusho winner from Nagoya, and an expected contender for the Jonidan yusho in Aki – facing the now famous Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito, and current yumi-tori performer.

34 years old Kasugaryu is certainly giving Tsushida a run for his money. Nice legwork, and it’s amazing how he manages to survive most of this bout on one foot. But eventually this causes him be turned around and Tsushida shows him the lovely view at the bottom of the dohyo.

Moving up to Sandanme, we have Torakio meeting Matsuda.

Now, this looks completely different than Torakio’s first bout. So I suppose that one should be attributed to ring rust? We’ll see over the coming 10 days. He patiently works his way to Matsuda’s mawashi, and then picks him and leads him to the edge. That really looked like mature sumo.

Now, we move up to Makushita. And we concentrate on its lower part this time. First, what is Naya up to? Here is his bout with Hitachigo:

He suffers a similar kind of setback to that suffered by Ura in his second bout. Now he has virtually lost his chance of a Yusho (well, there have been yusho which were won with 6-1 in Makushita, but it’s relatively rare). No yusho means no shortcuts up the banzuke. If Hoshoryu manages a 7-0, let alone a yusho, he will leave Taiho’s grandson way behind him.

Speaking of Hoshoryu, here is his bout vs. Sadanosato:

Hoshoryu’s style is usually going for the mawashi and attempting a throw – a typical style for Mongolians (Tamawashi a well-known exception). But in this particular bout he chooses to switch to tsuki-oshi. It’s not really forced on him by his opponent. This is a surprising flexibility from someone not yet 20.

OK, we now move up to Juryo, and here is your digest for the day:

Due to Seiro’s kyujo, a rikishi from Makushita is called up to do a Juryo torikumi. It’s the yo-yo, Kizenryu, facing Akua in his retina-damaging shimekomi. This turns out to be a protracted battle, in which both sides are doing their best to deny access to their mawashi. But Akua is again left winless, with nothing to show for his great effort. He is probably going back to Makushita yet again.

Now, if you have watched Kintamayama today, you will have seen that Enho’s bout with Gagamaru came after two very strange mattas. Enho explains:

“I was seriously scared. When we had the matta, my opponent’s face went boiling red. Well, his head was very low, so it was clear that I should go to the right. That was so strong on my mind that before I knew it I found myself flying. It’s the first time in my life I have flown”.

Personally, I was not too enthusiastic about that Hassotobi, having seen its sister being performed over and over again in the Jungyo by Enho’s stablemate, Ishiura. It’s not good sumo and I’m sure Hakuho is not going to proudly tweet about it. But the spectators at the Kokugikan loved it, and Enho made it to the kanto-seishin (the crowd fighting-spirit favorites list). What is he going to do when he gets to Makuuchi and has to face the likes of Chiyomaru, Chiyotairyu and Kaisei?

  • Azumaryu suffers his first loss with some serious pressure from Tokushoryu.
  • Chiyonoumi started his comeback after his first loss yesterday. Today he faced Jokoryu (who is the first one I see daring to wear a brown mawashi), and aims some massive thrusts at him. Go, go, Kochi-man.
  • Tobizaru is also on the mend from his disastrous first two days. He changed his shimekomi, by the way, to something that looks like banana-milk or Badam-milk color.
  • Mitoryu faces Shimanoumi. Some fierce nodowa and Shimanoumi is pushed away. Mitoryu continues to dominate with 4-0.
  • Terutsuyoshi, however, had excellent first two days, but has now followed them with two consecutive losses. This time he doesn’t manage to keep his grip as he did in the first day.
  • Wakatakakage suffers his first loss at the hands of the rebounding Tsurugisho.
  • Takekaze is doing the push-me-pull-you, and ends up luckily inside the ring.
  • The Hidenoumi-Takagenji bout seemed pretty simultaneous to me. I expected a torinaoshi, but it went to Hidenoumi. I’m not complaining, mind you.
  • The Kyokushuho-Meisei bout was fine, but I don’t really get how Meisei made it into the kanto-seishin list.
  • Yago made the same mistake twice in the same bout. In both cases he tried to pull and failed. He is much better moving forward. He loses too much ground when pulling.
  • Akiseyama secures a grip and tries to trip the tripper, Arawashi. He also tries to lift him and take him aside. Arawashi shows what he is made of – and keeps his balance perfectly. The way he uses his feet to change his center of gravity is superb.
  • Aminishiki’s bout was a very short version of “Crime and Punishment”. Daishoho saw his henka and raised him a hatakikomi.

That’s it for day 4. By now, day 5 action has already started in the lower divisions. Hope you enjoyed this collection!

Aki Day 1 – Bouts from the lower divisions

So, those of you who followed the live blog earlier may have noted that we started our coverage rather early on (Bruce earliest of all), and were describing bouts that – if all you have access to is NHK World – you did not see.

So I want to bring you a bit of the lower division action – at least some of the bouts that interested me personally.

Jonidan

We have old bow-wielder Satonofuji facing Fukuminato. Satonofuji is already 41 years old. This bout required a lot of patience on his part:

Truth be told, Satonofuji looks very tired. I have a suspicion that he is gambarizing through this basho only to be able to perform the yumi-tori ceremony at Harumafuji’s retirement event, at which point he will retire. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part. But we know that he is no longer even the backup performer – there is that new guy from Hakkaku beya who serves as Kasugaryu’s backup.

Sandanme

Only one bout interested me today at Sandanme – the one between Torakio, the Naruto Beya foreigner, and Takiguchi. The real action in Sandanme will start tomorrow as we will be joined by Ura and Wakaichiro. But here is the Bulgarian Star.

Unfortunately, that’s a black star. Torakio, though he is obviously the strongest man in Naruto, continues to be meh on the dohyo.

Makushita

Let’s look at the most recent promotees to the Makushita division:

Naya was faced with a very small Kototsubasa:

Got to hand it to the little guy. He gave the Dai-Yokozuna’s grandson a run for his money.

Naya’s other half, with a similar pedigree and friendly rivalry, is Hoshoryu, who was faced with Terao from Shikoroyama beya. Terao has Yokozuna proportions (191cm and 152kg), and Hoshoryu suddenly found himself in the “small rikishi” slot, despite his respectable 185 centimeters.

Well, Hoshoryu is not repeating his mistake of the previous basho. No ring-rust this time.

Chiyootori is aiming to return to sekitori status after a long recovery from injury. Currently at Makushita #25, he is faced with Nankairiki:

Well, what do you think? Is he on his way back? Of course, this basho is not enough. I think two basho are the minimum, and we all know that the top of Makushita is murder.

Now, I want you to watch the Tomisakae-Akinoyama match. I don’t have an individual video for this one, but the following Makushita digest video is time marked for his bout, and of course you can use it to watch the entire Makushita action.

Akinoyama weighs 209kg, and in the previous two matches between them, he has won. Tomisakae is known for his ability to do backflips. He is from Isegahama beya:

That’s some great survival sumo from the backflippin’ man with the sweet smile.

Another one who strives to go back to sekitori status is Sokokurai, a man who has a principle of not doing anything to his tsukebito which he wouldn’t like being done to himself. Which is why he deserves to be a sekitori again.

Of course, sumo is a meritocracy, and if you’re good, it doesn’t really matter how you treat your tsukebito. Which is a shame, really. But if he keeps up this careful, experience-laden sumo, he does have a standing chance, despite his age.

And speaking of making a comeback despite one’s age, at the very top of Makushita is a big man with a big vow made to a dying friend. Toyonoshima faced Kizenryu, the Makushita-Juryo yo-yo:

Respect!

Juryo

Our little pixie is back inside his reddish shimekomi. This time, he is sporting a brand-new Oicho-mage, which makes him suddenly look like a real sekitori. Enho is facing the Mongolian Azumaryu here…

… but the Mongolian proves to be a bit of a handful for him. It’s a good effort, but staying at Juryo is going to be very difficult for the lightest sekitori in the sumo world.

Moving on to our next pixie, here we hove one of the three remaining Isegahama sekitori. The giant-at-heart Terutsuyoshi. He faces Tsurugisho in this bout. In the previous tournament Tsurugisho employed a henka – against a guy who barely reaches to his shoulders.

A mic-dropping match for sure.

The next match was Wakatakakage vs. Chiyonoo. Although Wakatakakage can’t be called “short” with 181cm, he is still way too lean for a sekitori. Chiyonoo is not as hefty as some of his stablemates, but still holds about 30kg advantage over the Arashio man.

Wakatakakage’s head goes straight for Chiyonoo’s abdomen, and doesn’t leave it until its owner leaves the dohyo.

Next up, Takekaze, at 39 years of age, facing Hidenoumi, whose little brother Tobizaru took a flying lesson a little earlier. It’s hard for me to even recognize Hidenoumi without his blinding magenta shimekomi. For some reason he went for subdued aubergine-black. Or maybe the shimekomi’s pigment just burned itself out.

Yes, the man with the vibrant mawashi here is Takekaze. Round and round and round he goes. Where Hidenoumi will land, nobody knows.

Next came a bout between rather younger rikishi. I’m not a Takagenji fan, but he is rather good, and this bout is worth the watch:

Kotoeko is back from Makuuchi and is not happy about that. Takagenji is a guy who hates losing. He sticks to the tawara on this side. Kotoeko pushes him to the other side. He sticks to the tawara on that side. Tries a throw. Kotoeko doesn’t allow it. Eventually the Takanohana is left with no options.

And here, at the top of Juryo, is one veteran who is so old he needs a master tokoyama just to be able to simulate an oicho-mage with what remains of his hair. Someone who does not have a joint in his body that’s fit for use. And yet he uses them all. It’s none other than Uncle Sumo, who had to take in a rather surprising Makuuchi dropout – Arawashi – for his first opponent.

How did Arawashi end in Juryo anyway? Can’t wrap my head around that. Yes, I know the math is correct. But still, Arawashi in Juryo?

Anyway, seems like Aminishiki is thinking much the same:

I’m not really sure what’s going on there. It’s a henka… but Arawashi gets turned around together with Aminishiki. Quantum entanglement? Well, Arawashi definitely spins down, while Uncle spins up – at least until tomorrow.

And that wraps up this bulletin from the lower divisions. Tomorrow, of course, I’ll try to get my hands on Ura footage, if I have to beg, borrow, or steal it.

Day 9 In The Lower Divisions

Today was an interesting day in the lower divisions. Here are some stories (guided, I admit, mostly by what can be found by the way of videos, which is not much this basho):

Jonokuchi

First and foremost, it was Hattorizakura’s birthday today. He is now officially an adult by Japanese law. And he engaged in today’s bout like an adult:

This is the true meaning of gambarization. Too bad it didn’t work out. The rival, Houn, BTW, has only ever won against one person. Hattorizakura, of course.

Jonidan

Shunba, who is known to many of us as Terunofuji’s fatherly tsukebito, and who now serves as Takarafuji’s tsukebito, has lost some weight and seems to have gained some energy together with that. He is now kachi-koshi, and has a good chance of making it back to Sandanme next basho. Unfortunately, I found no shareable footage of this bout.

Sandanme

How are our three princes faring?

First, let’s look at Naya, Taiho’s grandson (and Takatoriki’s son, which is a fact the press likes to gloss over). Most of the bouts he engaged in looked one-sided, but today he met his high-school rival, Kototebakari.

Ah, apparently Naya stretches diligently. That didn’t look like a comfortable pose down at the edge of the dohyo. This loss probably denies him the Sandanme Yusho.

The second prince is, of course, Asashoryu’s nephew, Hoshoryu. He already dropped one bout on day 1. I’d say that was ring rust for sure, because he has been looking quite formidable since. Here he is against Tochikodai:

Kachi-koshi. The prince continues his ascent.

The third prince is the heir to the kingdom of Kotooshu, Torakio of Naruto beya. He has had a very strong basho so far – much better than his previous three. Unlike Naya and Hoshoryu, he still maintains the possibility for a yusho with this bout:

But wait, what was that at the end there? He seemed rather aggressive as he pulled his arm away Hokutoshu’s arm lock. Let’s look at this from a different angle (the following video has a glitch, but it’s time stamped to the replay of this bout which is fine):

Ahem. That’s not how a rikishi is supposed to behave. And his stable noticed.

Naruto beya’s tweet translates:

Good day, everybody. Here are the results for day 9:

Torakio wins, 5-0
Kawamura wins, 3-2

Some allowance may be made for the fact that Torakio has little dohyo experience. And yet his behaviour at the end of today’s match lacked respect towards his rival. He shall be strictly disciplined.

“When you win, don’t gloat. When you lose, don’t sulk”. “Start with a bow, end with a bow”. Fundamentals first.

In addition, it seems that Torakio once again ends a bout with some level of injury. Let’s hope that he learns manners and keeps up the good sumo.

Makushita

Tomisakae from Isegahama – known mostly for his agile backflips, his charming smile, and a shikona that stands out in a heya fulls of Terus and Fujis – has recorded five straight wins for the first time in his sumo careers. He seems to be bursting with genki:

If he does find himself with a surprising Makushita Yusho (which mathematically he is in the race for), he will find himself next basho in the Makushita purgatory – the zone separating heaven from hell. That will be a whole different story.

Enho is currently in that same purgatory, and his chances of making it back to sekitori heaven have improved with Murata dropping out of the basho after an injury. Of course, for this you have to have a kachi-koshi. And the schedulers were not merciful today, sending him to a Juryo bout against a rival 26 cm taller than him – Kizenryu, the purgatory yo-yo, who has spent no less than 9 basho in Juryo, but none consecutively.

Yo-yo or not, 26 cm, let alone the near 50kg weight difference, are something to be reckoned with. So let’s take a look at one of the best bouts of the day:

At first, Kizenryu denies Enho access to his mawashi. Enho takes a step back and then attacks again, this time finding his favorite mae-mitsu grip. Then he changes his grip to the back of Kizenryu’s mawashi. Kizenryu manages to get a grip on the pesky little mosquito’s mawashi. Enho tries a throw, realizes he doesn’t have the right hold, lets go of the mawashi with his right hand and grabs the leg. Within seconds – the end. Worth watching again from another angle:

This Ashitori got Enho first place in the kanto-seishin, the crowd favorite ranking, for the Juryo division – despite the fact that he is not in Juryo at all… yet!

Juryo

Alas, my personal Jurya favorites have all been losing today:

Aminishiki-Kotoyuki.

Aminishiki is doing well for his age and condition, and managed to tie Taiho’s record of career wins (8th place, 872 wins) yesterday, but not to pass him today. Still has 5 days in which to get 2 wins for a kachi-koshi.

Terutsuyoshi was trying for straightforward sumo against Chiyonoo, but it didn’t work out for him:

Another favorite of mine is Chiyonoumi, the newcomer to the Juryo division. He is not doing badly for a beginner, with 5 wins in 9 days, but today he didn’t get one of them:

Takanoiwa seems to be heading for the Juryo Yusho. He has made his kachi-koshi already, at a record speed for himself as a sekitori. That is, this is the first time in his sekitori career he has only one loss in 9 days.

Good survival skills, there! Whether or not he wins the Yusho, we are almost certain to see him back in Makuuchi next basho (well, unless he happens to be in the same place as a Yokozuna and a Karaoke remote control again).

Akiseyama, the local Aichi boy, has been suffering greatly in this basho. He was down to seven straight losses, when he decided to go back to wearing his old purple Mawashi.

In purpule mawashi – two wins.

Ones to Watch: Natsu 18 Midpoint

kokugikan

As we wrap up the first week of the May 2018 basho, let’s check in with some of our up-and-comers to see whether or not they’ve got good chances of moving up the banzuke after the tournament.

Before we start, a few items that might be of note to lower-division watchers:

Toyonoshima and Toyohibiki have both got off the mark to perfect records in upper-Makushita. Many sumo fans will be rooting for Toyonoshima to make it back to sekitori status, but that’s not the extent of his ambitions: despite turning 35 in a few weeks, he’s trying to come all the way back up to Makuuchi. Hiro Morita noted on today’s NHK broadcast that Toyonoshima made Kotoshogiku promise he wouldn’t retire until he made it back to makuuchi, so that the two could resume their long-standing rivalry!

Next, Chiyootori has come back into the dohyo down in Sandanme-land. The big man was heavily bandaged and looked awful on Day 3 when I saw him, but somehow won his other two matches and sits with a decent chance of a promotion back to the third tier. He gets called up to face Shikihide’s Baraki next, a smaller man making his debut at the Makushita level this time, a man whose chances of making the top divisions John Gunning poured cold water on in our Tachiai interview earlier this year. So, that might be a match to look out for on Day 8.

Now, onto the young guns:

Makushita

Ms1 Chiyonoumi (Kokonoe) – The 25 year old is a win away from clinching a debut in Juryo, as he sits 3-1 so far. His sole loss has come to a desperate Tsurugisho when called up to Juryo for a day to make up the numbers following Terunofuji’s kyujo. He’s not in action day 8 but it’s likely his next match will be against Ichiyamamoto thereafter. He’s knocked off a couple ex-Juryo guys already in Amakaze and Tochihiryu. I saw him unleash an unstoppable oshi-attack on day 3 against the latter to win by tsukidashi.

Ms5 Ichiyamamoto (Nishonoseki) – The pusher-thruster is the only other rikishi in the top 5 Makushita slots to post 3 wins thus far, so if he does in fact get drawn against Chiyonoumi, he’s got a bit more riding on it. 4 wins should be enough to get Chiyonoumi up whatever the outcome, but at this rank Ichiyamamoto may need as many as 6 wins depending what happens up in Juryo and above him throughout the second week. He too has knocked off two ex-sekitori in Jokoryu of Kise-beya and Kizenryu. When I saw him Day 3 against the latter, he was absolutely flawless against the more experienced rikishi, winning by oshitaoshi.

Ms6 Enho (Miyagino) – Mixed results so far for the “Next Generation” star, who finds himself 2-2. While he beat Akua, his losses came against Kizaki of Kise-beya and Murata – two guys who may well make it to Juryo before he gets back and the exactly the kinds of rikishi he needs to be beat to show he’s ready for the next level after his overpromotion last time. He too won’t be in action until at least Day 9.

Ms7 Murata (Takasago) – His second go in the Makushita joi is going a bit better than the first, as he’s adjusted to the higher level of opposition en route to a 3-1 start. His next match is likely to be against Wakamotoharu (the middle of the Arashio-beya brothers), so hopefully the big bopper brought his Onami code to the basho (… I’ll get my coat).

Ms13 Tomokaze (Oguruma) – As I said at the outset this is the first time Tomokaze’s been put up against strong opposition and it shows in his 1-2 record. He gets Makushita lifer Tsurubayashi of Kise-beya on Day 8 in what will likely be a bellwether this tournament for his current ability to compete at this part of the banzuke.

Ms13 Wakatakamoto (Arashio) – The elder Onami brother came into this tournament on fire (not literally), which was quickly doused by first match loss to Toyonoshima. There’s no shame in that, but he now finds himself at 2-2 and so will need a strong second week to keep up the progress.

Ms20 Midorifuji (Isegahama) – The small man from Kinki U has come out 1-2 to start the tournament, and Tokushinho of Kise-beya now stands in his way on Day 8. It used to be that your route to a yusho in makuuchi ran through Isegahama-beya, and while that’s no longer the case, you will have noticed by this point in the post it’s impossible to make progress in the Makushita division without a good record against Kise-beya.

Ms26 Ryuko (Onoe) – I said it was “all about the rebound” this time up, but the man has been pushed, shoved and crushed out en route to 1-3 start. Big second week on the cards.

Ms30 Nishikifuji (Isegahama) – One of the men doing the business to Ryuko is this man, who beat him on Day 7 by yoritaoshi. He’s 2-2 in his proper debut in this part of the banzuke after flu-enforced absence last time, so I’ll be looking for that 4th win so that he can resume his good progress. He’s another guy I caught in Day 3 action and despite his heavily strapped knees, he delivered a professional performance, moving forward against Asakoki and depositing him out via yorikiri with minimum fuss.

Ms36 Tanabe (Kise) – He’s looking to get it right in his second go at the division and looks to be off to a good start at 2-1. On day 3 I saw him take on Ichiki and my word, he absolutely tossed him out of the dohyo. He has immense strength. Also he’s still in zanbara in tournament number 7. His only loss came to the as yet perfect Kiribayama who blows hot and cold (currently very hot), and he’ll take on Aomihama on Day 8.

Ms50 Inoue (Kise) – He looked good on Day 3 against Wakanofuji but I must have been his lucky charm as he’s dropped his other two matches in his makushita debut. Lucky for him, I’ll be in attendance on Day 8 when he gets Kokonoe’s fabulously named Chiyonokatsu.

Ms52 Shoji (Musashigawa) & Musashikuni (Musashigawa) – I had the American Musashikuni just shading it among the two promoted stablemates, as he has more experience of the level. So far, both men sit with two losses, though Shoji also has two wins having competed a day more. Both will need a winning record to secure their place in the division, and Musashikuni gets his chance to keep the party going with a Day 8 match against 34 year old Katsunofuji. While I witnessed his loss on Day 3, I did feel that his commitment to always keep going forward was notable and a very good sign.

Sandanme

Sd40 Kizakiumi (Kise) – He steamrolled Jonidan opposition last time out in his debut as Sandanme tsukedashi and he has picked up where he left off, posting 4 from 4 as he looks to get out of the division as quickly as he got into it. It doesn’t look like he’ll get pulled too far up the banzuke by the schedulers in his next match, so we’d look for that to happen by his 6th or 7th match assuming he’s still in the yusho race.

Sd42 Tsukahara (Kasugano) – It won’t be a 3rd yusho from his 3 first tournaments for the Kasugano man, but there are other guys in his stable challenging for honors this time so we’ll give him a pass. He’s 2-1 thus far though and will partake in a battle of the extremes against 39 year old Gorikiyama on Day 8, who is taking in his 145th basho in an example of what makes sumo great.

Sd73 Torakio (Naruto) – The Bulgarian’s first attempt at the division was disrupted by injury and his second attempt has at least started rather better, as he’s at 2-1. He gets lightweight Hamadayama on Day 8, who could be a good candidate for the strong youngster to attempt to dominate.

Sd77 Kototebakari (Sadogatake) – He started with 3 wins but was dropped from the yusho race by Satoyama on Day 7, so the big man will have to be content with another big move up the banzuke if he can regain his form in week 2.

Sd89 Hayashi (Futagoyama – moves from Fujishima) – Mike Hayashi appears to be faring better against callow opponents in his first appearance at Sandanme as he’s beaten a 20 year old while dropping two to much more experienced counterparts. Somewhat more luckily for him, he gets 22 year old (but experienced) Ariake on Day 8.

Jonidan

Jd6 Yoshoyama (Tokitsukaze) – Not the best week for the much vaunted Mongolian as he sits 1-2 and on the verge of having his promotion campaign derailed. 3 wins from his last 4 should still do it, and the challenge begins anew against 23 year old Jonidan sumo addict Masutenryu on Day 8.

Jd11 Naya (Otake) – No problems here. The future superstar and postcard art subject has continued his bulldozing act through the fifth tier and looks to be on course for another yusho. His next opponent is oft-injured 21 year old Wakasenryu, and I can’t imagine Naya – an incredibly developed 18 year old war machine with a young history of winning and a perfect pedigree – is the kind of person that a young rikishi with fitness problems is going to want to be facing.

Jd14 Wakaichiro (Musashigawa) – We’ve been covering him all week on the site as usual, and he’s back on the winning track, taking a 2-1 record into the midpoint. He’ll get Naya’s 20 year old stablemate Shinyashiki on Sunday, so we’ll be looking to catch that match.

Jd42 Hoshoryu (Tatsunami) – Asashoryu’s Nephew™ is working hard for a rematch date with Naya as he’s also off to a perfect start, at 3-0. He gets youngster Izumigaya on Day 8 and if he can come through that and probably one more match, we’d expect to see the rivalry resume in the sixth match of the basho.

Jonokuchi

Jk16 Terasawa (Takasago) & Jk16 Kawamoto (Kasugano) – Out of all of the new debutants this tournament, it was always going to be tough to come up with the goods, but it looks like I’ve drawn a blank with the obvious choice of taking two college guys to take the division by storm. Terasawa’s already dropped two matches, and Kawamoto sits 2-1 and definitely out of the yusho running. That said, as many as 3 wins may still be enough to move up to Jonidan for the pair.

Jk25 Iwamori (Hakkaku) – The rikishi with zero sumo experience but more of a sumo frame than most, is off to a 1-2 start. We’ll be interested to see where this ends up, as it will still be fun to follow the career of a person who joined sumo after being teased at school for their big frame.

Finally, for fans of Hattorizakura, Herouth posted a great video on Twitter earlier of his latest defeat. Video comes from the “Sumo Samurai Hattorizakura” channel. He gave it an almighty go: