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.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 7

Kiribayama vs. Akiseyama

We start with a look at the Naruto beya guys down at Jonokuchi. I have three of them today for you, all at 3-0 at the start of the day.

We have seen Marusho yesterday,. Here he is again on the left, facing Shimakaze from Oguruma beya on the right.

Blink and you have missed it. 4-0. Kachi koshi.

We have also met Motobayashi. Here on the left, facing Tomiyutaka from Tokitsukaze beya on the right:

Moving forward like a road roller, Motobayashi is also 4-0 and kachi-koshi.

The third one is Sakurai, attacking from the right this time, vs. Garyu from Futagoyama beya:

I’m guessing the huge brace on the man’s leg at such an early stage in his career is something he brought from home (he is 22 years old), but it’s clear he also brought some sumo skills with him. Again, 4-0 and a kachi-koshi.

In fact, these three and one non-Naruto make up the leading pack of Jonokuchi, with Mishima, their heya mate, having his fourth bout in a few hours, hoping to join them there. Mishima is, in fact, going to wrestle with a 2-1 opponent, as the division ran out of potential 3-0. These guys can’t be matched against each other until the yusho playoffs, so if they keep winning, there is a distinct possibility of a big, fat, four-way playoff between members of the same heya at Jonokuchi. I bet that will draw some press to a normally forgotten division in senshuraku. I’m guessing the torikumi guys will start matching them against Jonidan wrestlers at some point to try to cull that down a bit.

Jonidan

Continuing our watch of Crew-Cut-Roman, here is the trimmed Tatsunami man on the right, facing Kiyota from Dewanoumi beya on the left. Both 3-0:

This time Roman’s skills fell a little short – see what I did there? – and Kiyota is the one stepping away with a kachi-koshi. Kiyota is 15 years old, it’s merely his second ranked tournament. He was a meh 4-3 in the previous tournament, but he actually looks like an interesting wrestler.

Another one we have been following through Jonidan is Kitanowaka, Prince Charming from Hakkaku beya. Here on the left, he faces Tokisakae on the right:

Tokisakae gets the kachi koshi. Kitanowaka suffers his first loss, and will not take the Jonidan yusho. Tokisakae had him in a morozashi he really didn’t know how to solve.

Sandanme

My only contribution from Sandanme today is Tachiai’s favorite Texan, other than Bruce, of course. Wakaichiro on the left is going against Narumi from Onomatsu beya on the right. Both 2-1 before this match.

Alas, though Wakaichiro was in control of most of the match, Narumi turns the tables on him at the end, and the boy from Texas is now 2-2.

Makushita

Shiraishi, the henka man from Tamanoi beya, seems to have suffered some sort of shoulder injury since his last match. He is here on the left, facing Hatooka from Kise beya on the left. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he won the Jonokuchi yusho last Kyushu, followed immediately with the Jonidan yusho this Hatsu.

Hatooka is kachi-koshi, and that injury seems to have been exacerbated in this bout. Ouch. Shiraishi will have to fight for his kachi-koshi through increasing pain.

Next up, Midorifuji, the Isegahama deputy pixie, who is tsukebito to the head pixie Terutsuyoshi. He attacks from the right, and Daishoryu from Oitekaze attacks from the left. This, too, is a 3-0 bout.

Midori does the push-me-pull-you dance, and gets his kachi-koshi. In fact, Terutsuyoshi has three tsukebito – Midorifuji, Hikarifuji and Isamufuji – and all of them won their bouts today, which is a rare event, as it turns out. He said that he felt pressure when he got up to his own match: “Imagine how it would feel if I were to be the only one in the car heading back home who had a loss today?”. He saved himself that humiliation with that, ahem, henka today, and there was much rejoicing in the “Team Terutsuyoshi” car.

Next up, we have two of our objects of attention facing each other today. On the left, we have Akua from Tatsunami beya. On the right, Kototebakari from Sadogatake.

Although Kototebakari opens aggressively, Akua twists around in a way that renders his attack ineffective, and then starts chasing him around. Akua is the one with the kachi-koshi and a leg in the yusho race, and Kototebakari is out.

Juryo

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring you footage of this rare event: Ikioi winning his first match of the basho.

Yes, Ikioi is now 1-6, somehow scraping that win off of Kizakiumi, who may have been still celebrating his win against Hoshoryu of yesterday.

Finally, my new Juryo favorite, who keeps evoking memories of Harumafuji – Kiribayama, Michinoku beya’s Mongolian sekitori. Here on the right, he faces our friend Akiseyama:

This is a nice match, but Kiribayama is in fact 4-3. His hoshitori (win/loss standing, depicted as white and black stars respectively) looks like this:

◦•◦•◦•◦

There is a term for this kind of win-lose-win-lose hoshitori: “Nukenuke”.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 5

Heavy bandage on the dislocated finger

We start the day again with maezumo. I only have one bout though, and that at low quality. Our friend Hokutenkai (right) vs. Omura (left):

This match looks so much like his match from the previous day that I had to check to make sure the rival is, indeed, Omura rather than Kotoomura. He is now 3-0, so he is out of the maezumo rounds and ensured of having a good placement in Jonokuchi next basho.

Jonokuchi

And speaking of Jonokuchi, the king of Jonokuchi, Hattorizakura, met a guy named Numano, from Musashigawa beya. Numano is a pretty new guy, who had a heavy make-koshi in his first ranked tournament. One of his only two wins was, of course, against one, Hattorizakura. Numano on the left, Hattorizakura on the right:

The sad fact of life about Hattorizakura is that he may show sparks of real sumo one day, and then go back to being the same old Hattorizakura the next. And this was one of these “same old Hattorizakura” bouts. Numano gets his first win of the tournament.

Jonidan

Slowly-recovering former sekitori Homarefuji had two wins already coming into this bout, where he faces Kiryu from Miyagino beya (I think he is one of Enho’s tsukebito, not sure). Homarefuji on the left, Kiryu on the right:

Homarefuji is actually a pusher-thruster, and a chest-to-chest match, not to mention an uwatenage, is not exactly his specialty. But of course, nobody at Isegahama will reach sekitorihood without knowing how to perform a nage.

We are continuing to watch the shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya. We have already seen him win twice, and it seems like the hairdo is actually lucky for him. On the left we have Hokutoizumi from Hakkaku beya. On the right, Crew-Cut Roman:

The crew-cut works its magic, and now Roman is 3-0.

Sandanme

Our friend Narutaki is on a roll, with 2-0 in his previous bouts (His brother Kyonosato, however, is not as lucky, being defeated again and again in Jonokuchi. I guess his legs can’t really carry him anymore). Here on the left, he is engaging with Sadanosato from Sakaigawa beya.

This proves to be a difficult bout for Narutaki, despite his energy, and he starts to pull some point. It looks almost as if his rival had the best of him at the end, but of course, Sadanosato goes out first, and it’s Narutaki’s third win.

Next up, we have Shoji, the Musashigawa man, here on the left, facing Kaonishiki from Azumazeki on the right:

Shoji can’t get that first attack properly finished, and finds himself on the defense, and suffering his first loss.

So, how about Amakaze? Can he get the Sandanme yusho? On the left is Terasawa from Takasago beya, on the right, our friend from Oguruma beya.

Terasawa moves quickly and doesn’t let the bigger rikishi get any kind of real advantage, and then comes that little push at the end, and Amakaze’s yusho dream evaporates.

Makushita

Yesterday, we saw Onojo beat former Ozeki Terunofuji. Today, the same Onojo (left) faces the rising star, Shiraishi (right):

I’m starting to really dislike Shiraishi’s opening sidestep. It’s not exactly a henka, as he then immediately engages, but I suspect if he was faced with anybody with real experience he would have been punished with a serious hikiotoshi. Nevertheless, once he engages, he has some serious tools like that nodowa. Onojo not even close to winning this time.

And speaking of the former kaiju, Terunofuji (left) faced Karatsuumi (right). If the name is familiar to some of you, it’s because he won the Sandanme yusho in Haru, which bumped him to Makushita. Oddly, he lost 0-7 in Natsu, and is now back to Sandanme, and in this bout he is visiting Makushita.

Terunofuji wins this one, mostly by applying his bulk rather than his grip. He was aiming to get one with his right hand, but didn’t quite make it. The picture at the top shows him having a grip with his left, but I doubt he could put much power into it, because of that dislocated ring finger which “still doesn’t feel right”.

From one Isegahama man, we move to another, and we have Kaito from Asakayama on the left facing Midorifuji on the right. What kind of sumo does the new Isegahama pixie do have to offer us today?

His style really reminds me of Terutsuyoshi, though his mass is not quite there yet. Sukuinage, and Midorifuji is now 3-0.

Next on our list is Kototebakari, here on the left, facing Nogami, the Oguruma man. Both are 2-0 before the bout.

Kototebakari’s sumo is very efficient. He doesn’t waste energy. Tachiai, side step, send home.

And now, to the highlight match of the day, and frankly, one of Hoshoryu’s best performances. He is facing Churanoumi, again, a guy with sekitori experience, but not as much as Seiro. Churanoumi is on the left, Hoshoryu on the right:

Round and round, Hoshoryu manages to keep his balance in some dangerous situations, and tries kicks and trips, eventually winning this by kotenage. Lovely match.

Today, Hoshoryu has a Juryo visit, which means he will be wearing an official Oicho-mage for the first time. He already wore one in Jungyo, but he only did Juryo there as he was the “local boy”. This time he is a legitimate Makushita joi-jin. And his opponent of the day is none other than Kizakiumi, Churanoumi’s brother!

Juryo

I’m not bringing many Juryo bouts because frankly, there is much to be depressed about there, with favorites like Sokokurai and Ikioi faring rather badly, and others doing sumo that’s less than brilliant. But still, here is Ishiura vs. Chiyoshoma. And no, it’s not a double henka:

Ishiura tries what looks like a tasukizori, but Chiyoshoma isn’t biting.