Kyushu 2019, Day 1, Bouts From The Lower Divisions

Kyushu basho is off to a great start, with some exciting sumo all around. Let’s tune in!

Jonokuchi

The day started with a match between Okunihisashi, from Nakagawa beya, who has been banzuke-gai for a while and returns this basho, and Tatsunami beya’s latest recruit, Yutakanami, here on the right:

Looks like Tatsunami oyakata got lucky with his pick this time. This boy goes on the “ones to watch” list.

We continue our watch Hakuho’s latest recruit, Senho, who had a meh basho in Aki, to see if the Dai-Yokozuna’s Midas touch is still effective. Senho, on the left, faces Shishimaru from Tagonoura beya.

While Senho’s tachiai is still naive, and his body language is still hesitant, he certainly learned how to yori-kiri like a pro.

At the top of Jonokuchi we meet Yamane, from Naruto beya. He is not quite in the same category as his formidable heya mates (Motobayashi, Sakurai, Marusho, and Mishima), but he is definitely the cutest. He meets Ogitora from Dewanoumi beya, on the right.

Too high, cutie-pie. It’s Ogitora who walks away with the white star.

Jonidan

The next division’s bouts start with Fujinoteru (the off-brand rikishi) from Onoe beya on the left, attempting to get his first white star from Shoryudo, a Shikihide beya opponent. Fujinoteru on the left.

That, my friends, was a sleek tsutaezori, and it’s only the 17th time it has been performed in Grand Sumo. You don’t need flashy back bends to perform that, apparently. It’s Fujinoteru’s win.

The next bout features the man best known for flashy back bends. That’s Ura. He is back, and he is here to conquer Jonidan. The first hurdle is Daishojo from Oitekaze beya, on the left.

Wham! This was a bout with one wrestler and one crash-test dummy. Sorry, Daishojo. Ura safely carries the white star back home.

Another one of my favorite watch list is Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect from Kokonoe beya. He is on the left, and Asahinishiki, from Asahiyama beya, is on the right.

Although Chiyotaiyo seems to have put on a half-kilo, maybe even a whole one, it is also apparent that he has leg issues. Too bad. I hope we’ll see better sumo from him in the coming days, because he certainly has some waza.

Last from Jonidan, our all time favorite bow twirler (emeritus), Satonofuji. On the right, the 42 years old faces Shunpo from Minezaki beya, less than half his age.

We can argue about this opening move. Is it a henka? Is it a half-henka? A HNH? A hit-and-shift? Whatever it is, Satonofuji is not here to get an easy slap-down. He grabs Shunpo and practices some heave-ho. Okuridashi.

Sandanme

Let’s start with Kaishu, from Musashigawa beya, whom we have been following for a while. Today he faced Miyabishin, from Futagoyama beya. Kaishu is on the left.

Kaishu makes up for his lack of weight with an extra helping of aggressiveness. He is all over Miyabishin in a jiffy, and ends up with a yori-kiri.

Now we move on to the first big gun from Naruto beya, Sakurai. His opponent today, on the right, is Oka, whom we formerly knew as Minatoryu, Ichinojo’s slightly cheeky tsukebito.

I was very surprised to learn that Sakurai lost on the first day. It’s certainly not something he is used to. We’ll see how he bounces back. Oka goes back to Minato beya with a white star in his belt.

We move from Naruto beya’s lead charmer to Hakkaku beya’s holder of the same position. Kitanowaka, a sujo favorite, stands opposite Kawabuchi from Shikoroyama beya. Kitanowaka is on the left.

And he is definitely not here just to be eyed by the ladies. Kawabuchi barely knows what hit him.

Finally, the top Naruto, Motobayashi. The man who wants to join the 21 club this basho. He also meets a Shikoroyama opponent, Seigo this time. Motobayashi is on the left.

If Motobayashi’s style reminds you of Takakeisho, you’re not alone. He considers himself a rival of the current Ozeki, who was in high school at the same time as he, and their score against each other is 2-2. Motobayashi chose to continue to university when Takakeisho opted to join the sumo world, but they have similar size, similar style, and similar ambition, and he hopes to catch up with his old rival.

Makushita

We start by introducing a youngster who should probably be on our “ones to watch” list. The reason? He made it to Makushita, being only 17 years old. That’s not at all common. Even Hakuho and Ama were 18 when they hit Makushita. Kisenosato did make it at 17. The boy had straight kachi-koshi since he enlisted. His name is Tanakayama, and he is from Sakaigawa beya. On the opposite side (the left) we have Fukuyama from Fujishima beya.

Unfortunately, this was a bad match to follow that grandiose introduction, as Tanakayama is defeated in his first bout. It is the second time it happens in his career, and he has a good chance of keeping up his kachi-koshi machine going.

Next, we continue our follow up of the “Chiyoshoma wannabe”, Shiraishi. The man from Tamanoi beya is on the right, facing Bushozan from Fujishima beya.

The reason I call him “Chiyoshoma wannabe” is that he is quickly gaining notoriety for a backward moving sumo style, despite considerable bodily strength. Bushozan is not letting himself get slapped down, though, and shows the young rascal the way out.

Do you want another rare kimarite? Say no more! Here are Kizenryu (Kise) and Ichiki (Tamanoi). This was quite a prolonged bout, with lots of twists and turns, so it has been split over two videos. It starts with Ichiki with his back to us, and the taller Kizenryu facing us.

The kimarite is harimanage. And here it is from a better angle:

Kizenryu’s expression is worth a chuckle.

We move to the upper part of Makushita, and start with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, who has been practicing with Makuuchi wrestlers before the basho, eyeing the Makushita yusho, which he’ll need if he wants to return to Juryo by Hatsu.

Terunofuji is on the right, and his opponent is Tsurubayashi from Kise beya.

Off the Tachiai, Terunofuji gets pushed all the way to the Tawara. He manages to circle and turn Tsurubayashi back, and catch him in a double “kime” (crucifixion by armpits).

But seriously, I’m getting very tired of those dame-oshi. As soon as the gyoji goes “shobu-ari”, let go. It’s dangerous, and it’s unsportsmanlike. And I’m a fan, dammit.

Next up is his heya-mate and former tsukebito, Tomisakae, the back-flipping rikishi. He meets Shonannoum (Takadagawa beya, left). But he looks almost more banged up than Terunofuji.

No back-flipping or acrobatics today. Shonannoumi takes this one decisively.

Next up, Chiyonoumi (Kokonoe), who dropped from Juryo, wants to get back there as soon as possible. Opposite him is Seiro (Shikoroyama), recuperating from Aseptic Meningitis, and hoping to also regain his place in Juryo. Seiro is on the right.

Chiyonoumi is on the attack from the get-go, and Seiro circles and circles but can’t get away. But unlike you-know-who, Chiyonoumi grabs hold of Seiro as soon as he’s out to prevent him from falling. Yay sportsmanship! Go go Bonito man!

The Makushita matches end with yet another Kokonoe man, Chiyootori, who needs a kachi-koshi to regain his long lost sekitori status. But his way is blocked by Asagyokusei (Takasago), who lost it just now and also wants back. Chiyootori, if you can’t recognize him, is on the right.

Although Chiyootori starts with great vigor, Asagyokusei traps him in his arms and finishes off with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyootori has plenty of time to pick those 4 wins elsewhere, though.

BTW, if you noticed, he is wearing a black tabi sock. When rikishi have wounds or injury in their feet, they are allowed to wear tabi socks to cover it. In Makushita and below, the tabi is black. Sekitori are allowed to wear white ones.

Juryo

Almost all of today’s matches in Juryo were fun. We have newcomers, like the rikishi formerly known as Kototebakari (memorize “Kotoshoho”), and the much celebrated Hoshoryu, and the returning Aqua and Wakamotoharu. We have Kotonowaka, who is the bees knees if he’s healthy (he was kyujo from the latter part of the Jungyo). And there are veterans who are gaining back some of their power, like Ikioi and Kaisei.

Luckily, I found a YouTube Channel that aspires to bring Juryo digests every day. I’m not sure if it will stay around long, as Abema TV tend to be very impatient with the use of their materials, but for the time being, enjoy:

Hoshoryu is off to a good start! Akiseyama is very sticky, but his legs are his weakness and Hoshoryu made good use of that with this uchigake. He even got a Twitter compliment from his uncle.

Kotoshoho continues in his usual aggressive style, and beats veteran Gagamaru by yorikiri.

Now, Akua (Aqua) vs. the hapless Wakamotoharu. He is not going to be out-performed by his younger heya-mate when it comes to leg techniques. That kakenage deserves a replay.

Toyonoshima, Ikioi, Kyokutaisei and Kaisei seem to be genki. Kotonowaka seems to have come back from that kyujo with vigor. Takagenji, on the other hand, is very sloppy in that bout with Kiribayama.

And with this we complete our day’s report, tomorrow is also full of great matches!

Aki Day 7 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Hoshoryu. Sometimes famous uncles are not a good thing.

Here we are again, nearing the half-way line, many rikishi have completed their fourth match in the lower divisions, and some of them even collected their kachi-koshi or make-koshi already.

Continue reading

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 13

Naruto oyakata, on duty today, with his 7-0 deshi Sakurai

We’re back on track! Today, although there were few “big names” on the torikumi list, there were many important matches. All the yusho deciders in Makushita or below were played today, resulting either in yusho winners, or in playoffs to take place on Senshuraku. We’ll go through these bouts, as well as some of our usual ones of interest.

Continue reading