Aki Day 4 – Bouts from the lower divisions

We have a long list of interesting bouts today – famous former sekitori! Up-and-comers! Wakaichiro! It really was a fantastic day.

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Aki Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Push-me-pull-you, Hoshoryu

Today was a bit of a hectic day at the Kokugikan, with a serious typhoon hitting Tokyo, and all public transport being in disarray. The matches usually start at 8:40AM, but the scheduled was changed, and they only started at 9:10AM. And still, as many as 15 of the lower-division wrestlers showed up late, and their bouts had to be rescheduled at a later time. Some Jonokuchi matches took place in between Sandanme bouts. Curiously, of the 15 late comers, 11 won and 4 lost, lending a new meaning to the phrase “late bloomers”.

My report will proceed as usual, from lower division to upper, regardless of the time of the actual match.

Jonokuchi

Remember Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect Kokonoe recruited back in Nagoya 2018? He looked promising when he started, then seemed to have had a bad turn, going only 1-6 in Natsu, and being fully kyujo in Nagoya. This dropped him back to Jonokuchi. He is back this basho, lean and mean. And I do mean lean. He is on the left with Yamamoto, from Asahiyama beya, on the right:

The kimarite here is uchigake. You can see why I like this little guy, I hope he can keep away from injury and put on a kilo or so.

Jonidan

Yesterday we saw how green Hakuho’s latest recruit, Senho, was. How about the second latest, gigantic Toma? He is up to Jonidan 29 by now. On the left, he faces Takakurayama from Onoe beya.

He seems to move better than last basho, but still, he has many kilos to drop. Can he drop them on Enho?

(Actually, Enho said he no longer aims to gain weight, and Hakuho says he won’t make him. ‘His size is his weapon’).

Next we follow up on Roman from Tatsunami beya, one of the guys who, apparently, did a runner from that heya, and had their hair cut, and were then somehow convinced to return. His hair still hasn’t even gained even the minimal length to be called “zanbara”.

Roman is on the left. His opponent is Mori from Tamanoi beya.

Roman didn’t escape from the heya due to weak performance on the dohyo, it seems. That guy has good potential.

Sandanme

Baraki from Shikihide beya, the “heyagashira” (leading rikishi in his heya), was over an hour late for his match. Shikihide beya, like Tatsunami beya, is located in Ibaraki prefecture. They need to take several trains to reach the Kokugikan.

Eventually little Baraki made it, and faced Kotokino from sadogatako, who attacks from the left:

Yeah, he is one of those 11 winners.

Makushita

Today my selection includes mainly Mongolians. I’ll start with Kyokusoten, the under-achieving Mongolian from Nakagawa beya. It has to be said that he is at his highest rank ever at Ms19, and he is his heya’s head honcho (though Kasugaryu is probably more famous). And he is a nice guy. So here he is facing Tochimaru from Kasugano beya. The footage starts in the middle of the bout – Kyokusoten is on the right and facing us, and Tochimaru has his back to us.

Roga from Futagoyama beya is wearing chon-mage for the first time! here he is on the right, with Keitenkai on the left:

Keitenkai seems to have Roga’s number. Two matches, and the Onomatsu man won both. The previous one was also on day 1. Poor Roga. I hope he doesn’t get publicly shamed by his stablemaster again over this.

Next up, the slowly recovering former Ozeki, Terunofuji. He got some advice from Ajigawa oyakata – the former Aminishiki – about his sumo style. Ajigawa told him that if he catches the mawashi, he can trust to his sumo because he is strong there. But that he has to think about what to do if he can’t grab it, as his body is not going to move in the way he expects it to. Meaning, he can’t rely on improvisation.

So today we have Terunofuji on the left, vs. Higonojo from Kise beya on the right. Higonojo has some sekitori experience, but he only ever made it as far as Juryo.

Following the Tachiai it seems that Higonojo is gaining momentum, but the former Ozeki rallies, and sweeps him outside.

Up at the top we have the sharp Hoshoryu looking to bounce back up from the make-koshi that kept him away from Juryo last basho. His opponent is Akiseyama, who just dropped from Juryo. It’s a rather dangerous opponent. Hoshoryu is on the left, if any of you has a hard time telling him apart from Akiseyama.

Akiseyama goes for a standard tsuki-oshi tactic of thrusting a while and then trying a pull. Hoshoryu keeps on his feet and proves that he also has serious pulling capabilities.

Juryo

The first bout features Arawashi, a guest from Makushita (shudder), vs. Asagyokusei, the newcomer to Juryo.

Arawashi looks much better in a proper oicho-mage than he looked yesterday in a lame chon-mage. He also looks better sumo-wise. He wins by sukuinage. Juryo bouts are an important factor in promotion decisions at the end of the basho.

Next we have Irodori, the returnee, facing Kaisho, the other shin-Juryo. Irodori is on the left:

Don’t you just love last-second reversals?

Yesterday we saw a rather genki Ikioi take to the dohyo. Today the same Ikioi is facing Kizakiumi from Kise beya (left), and starts up as genki as yesterday.

Alas, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Ikioi’s feet just can’t keep up with him, and certainly not with the pirouetting Kizakiumi.

Finally, we have an all-Mongolian match, between Mitoryu (left) and Kiribayama (right). Kiribayama usually enjoys showing us sparks of Harumafujiness.

But not this time. Mitoryu’s armpits are every bit as hellish as Nishikigi’s. He simply crucifies his lithe countryman, in the same way he did to Enho a few basho back, and in this case, the cross carries the crucified – right outside the ring.

The kimarite is kimedashi. And in the same way that one shouldn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, one should also avoid a morozashi on Mitoryu.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Senshuraku

Do not irritate the kaiju

Here we are, at the end of what turned out to be a very interesting basho – and not just in the top division. Princes were dethroned (Hoshoryu and Naya make-koshi), new ones are in the making (one fresh nephew, and one Hakuho replica in maezumo). Let’s see what the last day brought us.

Jonokuchi

The big story in Jonokuchi was, of course, the three-way playoff between members of the same heya, Naruto beya. Marusho, Sakurai and Motobayashi did not allow themselves to be eliminated till the very end.

A three-way playoff (“tomoe ketteisen”) works like this – no matter at what division: two rikishi mount the dohyo, say A and B, and the third, rikishi C, awaits. Suppose A wins. B then descends the dohyo and waits, and C mounts it and takes on A. Should A win again, they yusho is his. if not, C stays on the dohyo, B joins him, and this continues until one of them wins two in a row.

So theoretically, this can go on until the cows come home. In practice, there is seldom symmetry of power, and the strongest one emerges pretty quickly.

Here is today’s three-way playoff. The yobidashi here also happens to be from Naruto beya – yobidashi kenta, who is nicknamed “Maeken” by his heya-mates. We start with Marusho on the right, Sakurai on the left, and Motobayashi waiting.

Well, Sakurai’s and Motobayashi’s university sumo experience tells. Marusho is merely a graduate of a good high-school sumo program. Sakurai wins the first bout, Motobayashi replaces Marusho and beats Sakurai, and then beats Marusho for the yusho. Motobayashi is a graduate of Kinki University, which produced many top-division wrestlers. In his school days he was considered Takakeisho’s rival, but he opted to continue his education when the future Ozeki left school for Takanohana beya.

Jonidan

Though the yusho has already been decided in Jonidan (Tokisakae), there were still rikishi who did not complete the seven matches. First, let’s take a look at long-legged Kitanowaka, the Hakkaku beya charmer, facing Tenei from Takadagawa beya. Both are 4-2, Kitanowaka is on the left.

Ah, we have ourselves a crane operator here. Kitanowaka finishes 5-2, and will get a decent bump up the ranks come Aki.

Next, we keep our watch out for Roman, the crew-cut man from Tatsunami beya. He is coming up against Isamufuji from Isegahama beya, and they are both 5-1. Roman is on the right:

This develops into a kind of dance in which both wrestlers try to keep their opponents from reaching the mawashi or any other hand hold. Eventually Roman catches an arm and pulls. He is now 6-1, and will get an even nicer bump up the ranks.

Finally, one we haven’t covered in these posts, but we all know and love. Well, at least, those of us who have been around before Isegahama beya lost its Yokozuna, and with him, its hold on the yumitori position.

I’m speaking of Satonofuji, of course. He is deeply make-koshi as he comes into this day, with 1-5, facing Shiraseyama from Kise beya with the same miserable result. One wonders why the 42 years old doesn’t call it quits yet. I’m guessing he has a couple of goals, yet. One is probably doing the yumi-tori shiki in Aminishiki’s retirement ceremony. The other may be that he is waiting to braid the last rope for his oyakata – the red one for his 60th birthday, to be used in the “kanreki dohyo-iri” performed by former yokozuna on that occasion.

Be that as it may, he has to go up the dohyo until then and do sumo, and here he is, facing us, while Shiraseyama is with his back to us.

It’s a bit of a slippiotoshi, one has to admit, but at least Satonofuji finishes senshuraku with a sweet taste.

Sandanme

In Sandanme we have yet another playoff, and it, too, is a playoff within the same heya – Asatenmai, the 38 years old from Takasago beya, faces Terasawa, the 24 years old who is just making his first steps in the sumo world. This is just a plain, single-bout playoff. Asatenmai on the right.

Hmm. I get a different atmosphere here than the amicable competition that ruled the Naruto three-way-playoff. Terasawa sends his ani-deshi (big-brother-heya-mate, similar to a sempai) off the dohyo and doesn’t even look back as he makes his way to his own starting point. Bad blood? Low-ranked rikishi operate in a seniority system, where the older ani-deshi boss them around.

In any case, Terasawa wins the Sandanme yusho.

Makushita

We start Makushita with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, having his last bout. His opponent is one we have also been following – Natsu basho’s Sandanme yusho winner, Shiraishi. I have not been happy about Shiraishi’s bouts, mostly because of his henka or half-henka in the first ones. And I’m even less happy about this one, although he makes it pretty clear he is not going for a henka today.

Seriously, what is this? I get that he has some injury in the shoulder and the arm. But what is this? He starts the bout two thirds of the way from the shikiri-sen to the tawara. He tries to keep himself so far away from Terunofuji that his own tsuppari almost doesn’t hit him. This looks more like that Laurel and Hardy Battle of the Century. Shiraishi should be thankful he belongs to Tamanoi beya rather than Futagoyama, or he would have his ass kicked all over Twitter.

Next we have ourselves an Onami – the eldest one, in fact, Wakatakamoto. He faces Tochimaru from Kasugano beya, and they are both comfortably kachi-koshi, 4-2, hoping to increase their fortunes and banzuke chances. Wakatakamoto is on the left:

Alas, the eldest Onami drops this one, and once again fails to catch up with his little brothers.

Going up the Makushita banzuke, we have Seiro facing Kototebakari. Both are kachi-koshi, 4-2, and Seiro get a salary next basho. Kototebakari, again, is trying to win an extra match to improve his own position next basho. Seiro is on the left, Kototebakari on the right.

Seiro makes short work of the Sadogatake man, who usually shows a bit more fighting spirit than that. I guess kachi-koshi will do that to you. Seiro is 5-2, Kototebakari 4-3.

Juryo

At the very bottom of Juryo, we have another Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, making a visit that may open the door for him to return to the salaried ranks. He is 5-1, and at Ms5w, 6-1 can certainly propel him into Juryo. However, he is facing Kotonowaka, who is 7-7, and needs this win to avoid dropping back into Makushita, disappointing his father, and bringing shame to the shikona he inherited from him.

Wakamotoharu on the right, Kotonowaka on the left:

We see glimpses here of the old Kotokamatani, in what looks like a typical top-Makushita brawl more than a Juryo match. Kotonowaka saves himself from demotion. He may not advance much, but he stays in the silk zone, and gets to keep his huuuuge oicho.

I shall finish this report, showing you that Ishiura can still do sumo that’s more easy on the eyes than his frequent henka. The foe is Mitoryu from Nishikido beya, and I think I don’t need to tell you which is which.

Round and round and round you go, Mitoryu. Ishiura will probably get back into Makuuchi, qualifying for Hakuho’s dohyo-iri again. The big question, of course, is whethe Hakuho himself will qualify for it come Aki.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 10

Chiyoarashi made Kototebakari work

First, I’d like to apologize in advance that there will be no lower division coverage for days 11 and 12, at least not by me, due to offline demands on my time. I’ll do my best to renew the reports on day 13.

Jonokuchi

Remember I told you there was another rikishi from Tatsunami beya beside Roman who got his hair shortened? Well, I have one of his bouts for you today. We are talking about Yukiamami, who is 3-1 at this stage of the basho. He is the one with the, well, very short hair. His opponent is Hamanoumi from Tokitsukaze beya.

He gets his kachi-koshi. And even this tweet notes his hairstyle with surprise. This man is on the dohyo since 2013 – there is no way he can be mistaken for a newbie.

One of the leading Narutos faltered yesterday, but still left us with two 5-0 leaders from that heya. Today Motobayashi was aiming to join those two, having 4-0, and facing Garyu from Futagoyama beya. Garyu is on the left, Motobayashi on the right.

That’s more Makushita sumo than Jonokuchi… So Motobayashi joins Marusho and Sakurai from his heya at the top of the Jonokuchi chart. The only way the yusho winner will not be from Naruto beya is if all three drop a bout, and the yusho playoff involves somebody else with 6-1 (or if all of them drop two and there is a 6-1 ahead of them).

Jonidan

Continuing our focus on the short haired Tatsunamis, Roman (on the right) is facing Raiga from Futagoyama beya (left). Both are 3-1.

Raiga is trying as hard as he can not to lose his shikona again (Futagoyama oyakata revoked his shikona a while back because he was not working hard enough, and only bestowed it on him again before this basho). But the one ending with a kachi-koshi is the clearly stronger Crew-Cut Roman.

Our next Jonidan match is between Kitanowaka, AKA Prince Charming, and Kotosusumu from Sadogatake beya. Kitanowaka on the left, Kotosususmu on the right, both 3-1 and trying for a kachi-koshi.

Kitanowaka suffers his second loss. It’s harder to control long legs (ask Abi). Kotosusumu is kachi-koshi.

Makushita

I have no footage of interest from Sandanme, and only the sad news that another Isegahama has gone kyujo (Sawanofuji). So moving on to Makushita. We have Roga facing Chiyodaigo. The Kokonoe man on the left, and Roga with the long zanbara on the right:

Chiyodaigo tries a hatakikomi on Roga, who remains perfectly stable – no mean feat for the slippery Nagoya dohyo. Roga wins by Oshidashi, but by the look of it, he seems to have paid for that with a tooth or a piece of tongue.

Next, we have the Tamanoi wonder, Shiraishi, here on the right, facing Shohoryu, who is not Hoshoryu. Shohoryu is a proud member of Kakuryu’s tsukebito team, also known as the best sumo school in Tokitsukaze ichimon. The sumo education is starting to show. They are both 3-1.

Shiraishi is a strong fella, but this opening gambit of his is getting old already, and it’s merely his second professional basho. Learn a proper tachiai, young man. In any case, he wins by hatakikomi (what else), and Shohoryu will have to go do some more training with his 10-0 yokozuna mentor. By the way, it appears Gokushindo is also back in the Kakuryu school, though they declared him permanently graduated that time he advanced to Juryo.

Next up, one of the popular foreigners in sumo, though he was never even close to being sekitori, is Masutoo, Chiganoura’s Hungarian. The shikona basically means “East Europe” (plus the “masu” which is one of the heya’s traditional kanji). At age 33, he seems to be fighting better than he has for a long time. He is 3-1, here on the left vs. Tochimaru from Kasugano beya:

Masutoo is kachi-koshi. If this extra strength has anything to do with him being assigned tsukebito to Takanofuji (fmr. Takayoshitoshi), then it’s the first good thing I’ll have to say about that Twin in quite a long time.

Finally, our highlight bout of the day is Kototebakari, facing Chiyoarashi. Once again, it’s a match for the kachi-koshi, as both are 3-1. Kototebakari is on the left.

Most of Kototebakari’s bout end pretty quickly, but Chiyoarashi made him work for it today. Work he did, winning by a yorikiri, and securing his kachi-koshi.

Tomorrow is a star-studded day, with Hoshoryu, the two Onamis, and – get this – the much anticipated Roga vs. Terunofuji re-match. So I have to apologize again for not being able to cover this, and I hope Andy will retweet the match – because it’s certain to flow up either of our Twitter streams – and you’ll be able to catch it here on the bar on the right side.