Terunofuji Granted Japanese Citizenship

I miss the crowds (photo: NicolaAnn08)

The good news continues for Terunofuji. Yokozuna promotion last week, Japanese citizenship this week. This clears the way for him to become oyakata upon retirement. Isegahama-oyakata will is building an incredible legacy, with beloved disciples in Ajigawa-oyakata and some day, Terunofuji-oyakata. After watching the Kakuryu citizenship drama drag on, this must present a bit of a relief.

After some of the news stories and drama over the past week, this really presents a great surprise. While we hope his reign at Yokozuna is a long and successful one, today’s announcement means we can also look forward to his second career, molding the next generation of young Kaiju. He came through the storied sumo program at Tottori Johoku High School and might use that connection to usher more champions through that dohyo. But I do wonder if he will look to a certificate or other program at Waseda when his active career draws to a close. Either way, I’m eager to see him guide young deshi. This week, we saw Araiso-beya open and Hakuho is already leveraging his GOAT-status to bring in talent and wonder whether Terunofuji will start bringing his own class through Isegahama.

Sometimes events come around that make you look forward to the future, you know?

Nagoya Day 3 – Highlights

Our fears were justified. Word trickled in during the early bouts that Takakeisho would be absent due to a neck injury suffered during last night’s bout with Ichinojo. The injury itself wasn’t too scary, it seemed a rather normal tachiai at the start. But Takakeisho’s reaction, the “what just happened?” stare as he rode Ichinojo’s shoulder out of the ring and then collapsed in a heap, the sumo fan world hopes he will be okay. This injury is not one which will see him make a quick comeback in the second half of the tournament. He will be kadoban next tournament.

The other big story of the day is the return of Takayasu after missing the first two days due to a back injury suffered in practice last week. He is nominally on an ozeki run, but odds on that are just about 0 as he spotted the field a two-win headstart. He’s not mathematically out as 13-2 has been good enough for a yusho lately and would put him right on the 33-win yardstick/rule-of-thumb we fans use (but isn’t really a rule). At this point, he’s probably just thinking that he needs to perform. If he is to become Ozeki, he’s got a solid start to a run but may need another strong tournament after this one…but he still needs this to be a strong tournament. Otherwise, his hopes are likely dashed.

Highlights

Ichiyamamoto (2-1) defeated Yutakayama (2-1): Ichiyamamoto established his style sumo from the outset, blasting Yutakayama about the head and shoulders. Then going for the slapdown win. Hatakikomi.

Chiyonokuni (2-1) defeated Ishiura (0-3): High energy tsuppari from both rikishi. Ishiura cornered Chiyonokuni against the tawara but could not establish any force which would move Chiyonokuni back and out. Instead, Chiyonokuni continued blasting with tsuppari and slapped Ishiura down. Hatakikomi.

Tsurugisho (3-0) defeated Tokushoryu (2-1): Tsurugisho blasted Tokushoryu at the tachiai and did not relent.  Despite failing with the early slapdown attempt, Tokushoryu was overwhelmed, and quickly exited, stage right. Yorikiri.

Daiamami (1-2) defeated Chiyonoo (1-2): Daiamami turned things around and picked up his first win with a straight forward force out. Four bouts, four overpowered opponents. Chiyonoo offered token resistance as Daiamami established a grip with both hands on Chiyonoo’s belt and backed him out. Yorikiri.

Ura (2-1) defeated Chiyomaru (1-2): Chiyomaru went for the early slapdown. After the initial flourish, the two settled into a grapple. For Ura, this was a waiting game. Ura slapped Chiyomaru’s arm down and as Chiyomaru tried to recover, Ura pressed forward with his attack. With both arms around Chiyomaru’s girth, Ura used his low position to keep Chiyomaru high, and backed him out. Yorikiri.

Kagayaki (2-1) defeated Tochinoshin (0-3): As Kagayaki moved forward, Tochinoshin tried to force Kagayaki down. Kagayaki powered through and pushed Tochinoshin out easily. This start does not bode well for Tochinoshin. Oshidashi.

Kotonowaka (3-0) defeated Terutsuyoshi (1-2): Kotonowaka broke the pattern and forced Terutsuyoshi down at the tachiai for the quickest win so far. As Terutsuyoshi moved forward, Kotonowaka attacked his shoulders from above and shoved. Hikiotoshi.

Kaisei (1-2) defeated Shimanoumi (1-2): Shimanoumi launched out with a strong initial charge but Kaisei moved forward with his powerful upperbody attack. Shimanoumi’s weak slap did not slow Kaisei at all as he thrust Shimanoumi out. Tsukidashi.

Tamawashi (3-0) defeated Hidenoumi (1-2): Tamawashi forced Hidenoumi back to the edge with tsuppari and a strong nodowa. However, Hidenoumi resisted at the edge. As he rotated and cornered Tamawashi, Tamawashi’s tsuppari morphed into an armbreaker. Tamawashi pivoted with the pressure on Hidenoumi’s shoulder forcing him down and out. Kotenage.

Takarafuji (1-2) defeated Aoiyama (1-2): Aoiyama was the aggressor, battering Takarafuji and pushing forward. The V-twin seemed stuck in second gear, however. At the edge, Takarafuji twisted and threw Aoiyama down. Sukuinage.

Myogiryu (1-2) defeated Chiyoshoma (2-1): After a matta, we got a brawl from a pair of Tasmanian Devils, circling around the ring, battering each other with slaps. Chiyoshoma let up and pulled but Myogiryu bulled forward through the attempted slap down, sending both men crashing into the shimpan. Myogiryu was a bit slow to get up and could not really squat well to acknowledge his victory. Myogiryu got his first win but it may have come at great cost. Oshitaoshi.

Halftime break: Someone open a window! It’s a bit stuffy in here…and what’s that smell? Hopefully someone can clear the air there in Dolphins Arena. Time to head to the fridge for some coffee.

Kiribayama (2-1) defeated Onosho (1-2): We started out with a brawl and as Onosho chased Kiribayama around the ring, Kiribayama had enough and wrapped up Onosho. “I’m tired of this oshi-tsuki stuff.” A solid right-hand grip from Kiribayama on Onosho’s belt and he ushered Onosho back and over the edge. Yorikiri.

Okinoumi (2-1) defeated Hoshoryu (2-1): Okinoumi valiantly resisted the early throw and turned the tables with his own attack. Okinoumi attempted to crush Hoshoryu, bringing all of his weight and force down on his opponent. Hoshoryu would not go down easy. Concern for Hoshoryu’s knee as it seemed to buckle as Okinoumi rolled Hoshoryu over. Makiotoshi.

Kotoeko (2-1) defeated Chiyotairyu (1-2): INASU. Where’d he go? Chiyotairyu pressed forward but Kotoeko vanished in thin air, reappearing behind Chiyotairyu. Well, that’s how it would have appeared for Chiyotairyu. Kotoeko shifted beautifully as Chiyotairyu charged forward. Kotoeko dodged, got in behind, and then gently pushed Chiyotairyu out for the easy oshidashi.

Wakatakakage (1-2) defeated Tobizaru (1-2): Wakatakakage pushed Tobizaru back at the tachiai, getting Tobizaru to stand vertically. Then, Wakatakakage pulled down hard on Tobizaru’s shoulders, forcing him down. Hikiotoshi.

Mitakeumi (2-1) defeated Hokutofuji (2-1): Big man sumo here. Hokutofuji pressed forward, squeezing hard on Mitakeumi’s left arm with his right as he tried to prevent Mitakeumi from getting inside. When backed to the edge, Mitakeumi got inside, got the belt grip and launched forward. Yet again, the tawara offered enough resistance to stop the pair from going out and the two settled into a grapple. As Mitakeumi crab walked Hokutofuji to the edge, Hokutofuji tried a last-minute twisting throw but Mitakeumi powered through, forcing Hokutofuji out. Both were slow to get up, and I don’t think either saw which direction the gunbai pointed. Yorikiri.

Takayasu (1-0-2) defeated Ichinojo (2-1): Takayasu weathered the storm from Ichinojo. I don’t think Ichinojo has quite figured out the art of tsuppari. He can grab and throw but he’s not a brawler. He tried a kotenage but Takayasu escaped and pivoted. So as the pair travelled coast-to-coast, Ichinojo tired. Takayasu pressed forward and forced him out. Yorikiri.

Meisei (1-2) fusen win over Takakeisho (1-2): As Bruce feared, Takakeisho is done for the tournament with a scary neck injury suffered during his bout with Ichinojo. We hope hope this injury is not a longer term concern. The sumo world awaits news on the severity of the injury.

Terunofuji (3-0) defeated Takanosho (0-3): An exciting, evenly matched, back-and-forth bout. The match was really two bouts, a fast-paced brawl that ended in stalemate, and a patient waiting game that ended with a beautiful throw. The video below, though, only catches the ending. It picks up as both men needed to recover from the exertion from running around, so they gathered at the center, heads together, waiting. Terunofuji, with a flick, put an end to the suspense. Terunofuji took Takanosho by the hand and rolled him over. Kainahineri.

Endo (1-2) defeated Shodai (2-1): That was not Ozeki sumo. What was that? Endo hit with a solid shoulder at the tachiai. As Shodai came in high…and apparently wanted to get higher?!?! Shodai peeked up like he was going to go up and over Endo. But Endo had no time to wait for Shodai to figure out what he wanted to do, or to call his ACME sales rep, so he ducked to the side and the “Ozeki” stumbled forward. Endo then finished him off thrusting him down. Tsukiotoshi.

Hakuho (3-0) defeated Daieisho (0-3): Harite, then a shoulder blast at the tachiai. Hakuho caught Daieisho by the shoulder and spun him down. Geez, he’s a master technician. We can see that he’s walking a bit gingerly, he sure can’t put the weight of two men on that leg but this was no contest. Wham, bam, thank you bodyslam. Sukuinage.

The Once and Future Ozeki

The March 2021 Grand Sumo basho is almost upon us, and as it draws near I can’t help but think back to my first basho, the Osaka tournament of March 2017, and the men who made it great. An avid fight sports fan, I’d recently read an article on the Vice property Fightland.com entitled “Sumo: The Art of Six Second Fighting” and found the combination of ceremony, spectacle, and athleticism it described fascinating. I determined to give sumo a whirl and was immediately hooked. Every afternoon I would rush home from work to my single-bedroom apartment in Greensboro, NC, fire up the NHK Highlights (I’d yet to discover the various YouTube sumo giants such as Jason’s All-Sumo Channel and Kintamayama), and sit perched on the edge of my couch, eyes glued to my TV as the day’s top division matches unfolded. It was an incredible tournament from beginning to end, but though I watched every match, to me the many Maegashira bouts were nothing but preamble. New to the sport as I was, Makuuchi’s subplots were lost on me, but that does not mean the tournament wasn’t a memorable one; the opposite, it was the height of intrigue, and all my focus centered around the day’s final bouts and the two men who had taken center stage—Kisenosato and Terunofuji.

With these two men, sumo could not have asked for a better tandem. In the stoic Kisenosato, newly minted Yokozuna and national hero, rested all of Japan’s sumo aspirations, while his counterpart, Terunofuji, was perfectly cast to play his foil. A foreigner (gasp!), enormous and enormously powerful, the Mongolian Ozeki seemed less a man and more a force of nature, his every move upon the dohyo portraying strength and menace. Moreover, his own eventual Yokozuna promotion seemed an inevitability as he tore his way through lower-ranked adversaries. Not even a loss on Day 6 to then-Sekiwake Takayasu (Kisenosato’s teammate who was himself vying for his own promotion to Ozeki) could do anything to lessen the threat that was Terunofuji—he was the hunter, chasing relentlessly after the as-yet-spotless Kisenosato, and it seemed the consensus opinion of the broadcast team that should the Yokozuna slip, the yusho was Terunofuji’s for the taking. One could only hold back the tide for so long.

The inevitable finally happened on Day 13, and it went down with a bang. Wily, athletic Harumafuji, a distinguished Yokozuna in his own right (and Terunofuji’s senior stablemate), not only unseated Kisenosato from his fragile leadership position, he—inadvertently—injured his fellow Yokozuna, and grievously so. Meanwhile, Terunofuji had held serve following his lone Day 6 defeat, and he took full advantage of the opportunity his teammate had given him. When on Day 14 he defeated Sekiwake Kotoshogiku by henka (a move considered dishonorable in any context, but doubly so from a yusho contender, and triply so because this particular loss meant Kotoshogiku’s permanent demotion from Ozeki), Terunofuji made the leap not only to sole yusho leader, but full-blown villain. Kisenosato then went on to lose his Day 14 match against Yokozuna Kakuryu, thus completing the role reversal. Heading into the tournament’s final day, it was now the desperate and ailing Kisenosato chasing Terunofuji.

Luckily for the former, redemption came on that final day through a pair of brilliant matches that placed our hero and villain in direct competition for all the marbles. Kisenosato, torn pectoral and all, did the impossible. Then he did it again, beating the younger, stronger, hungrier Terunofuji twice in spectacular fashion and claiming his second Emperor’s Cup along the way. It was as wild and dramatic a finish as I’ve ever seen in any sport, and it happened in my very first basho.

These then, were the two men who were sumo in my early days. I’d barely been introduced to Hakuho before he pulled out (what’s all the hype about?), and the other two Yokozuna seemed mere spoilers in the grand conflict between Kisenosato and Terunofuji. Theirs was a rivalry for all time, one that would lift the sport to new heights.

The Fall

It was not to be. Following his injury, Kisenosato was never the same, and finally retired in January 2019 having completed only one of the eleven subsequent tournaments since his magical March run. Worse, Terunofuji seemed bound to the same tragic fate. After again placing runner-up in May 2017, a combination of knee injuries, kidney stones, and a diabetes diagnosis crippled the once proud Ozeki. From July 2017 to January 2018, Terunofuji was unable to complete a single tournament, and compiled a mere two wins in four basho. In short order he was stripped of his Ozeki rank and expelled from the top division, and after two frankly hard-to-watch campaigns in Juryo, he was cast from the salaried ranks altogether. One short year removed from the height of his powers, it seemed Terunofuji’s career was over. He vowed to fight on in the lower divisions, but it seemed almost a cruelty to hold out hope. The man’s body was broken. Why not retire with dignity, I wondered of him, thinking only for his health.

Terunofuji seemed to be finally thinking of it too. For four straight tournaments, he went kyujo from Day One, his focus on corralling his runaway injuries and illnesses. Occasionally he would post a video of himself bench pressing huge weights in his heya’s gym (personal social media accounts for rikishi were not yet outlawed), but otherwise he kept his head low. Sumo moved on. New stars rose and fell. Many of the old heroes, Kisenosato included, retired, and new contenders rose to vie for new titles.

And all the while, Terunofuji toiled, reforging what had been broken.

When his return was finally announced for March 2019, sumo circles reacted with equal parts excitement and anxiety. Watching his fall had brokered Terunofuji sympathy from many who had rooted against him at his peak, and absence had allowed the heart to grow fonder still. His was now a story of perseverance and fortitude in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Yet, none believed in him. I certainly didn’t. He was still young(ish), yes, but the lower divisions were littered with promising rikishi who’d been bitten one too many times by the injury bug. What hope did a man with two ruined knees have to climb all the way back up the ladder after having fallen nearly to its base? Those first few tournaments back, I watched through my fingers. A 7-0 start in Jonidan looked plenty promising, but a playoff loss to promising newcomer Roga quenched expectations. Knees or no knees, Terunofuji would always be skilled enough to beat the dregs of professional sumo, but his days as that force of nature were over.

Then the jun-yusho in Jonidan was followed by a 6-1 in Sandanme. Then a 6-1 in Makushita. Then another 6-1. In only four tournaments back, Terunofuji had rocketed up the unsalaried mountain and reached its pinnacle. He would be in the “Makushita joi” come November 2019, and within striking distance of regaining his salary. All he had to do was win.

And boy did he. A 7-0 yusho never looked so easy, and now back in the silk mawashi of a sekitori, Terunofuji refused to let off the gas. His first basho back in Juryo saw him rattle off 13 straight wins, locking up a second yusho in as many tournaments before coasting to the finish. One more winning record would do it—with a 10-5 in March 2020, he completed what had seemed like an impossible comeback. The one-time terror of the top division had returned, and woe betide any who might get in his way.

The Return to Makuuchi

Expectations were mixed, but overall the caution was an optimistic flavor when Terunofuji re-debuted at the very bottom of Makuuchi in July of last year, only half a rank from the division’s caboose. Questions like “How long will he last?” and “How high can he climb?” were all over social media. Fans were excited to see him back, but as a novelty, a feel-good story. It was generally agreed that the man was not—and never would be—what he once was, and a simple kachi-koshi would be achievement enough, worthy of celebration.

Big Teru had a different celebration in mind, however. Incredibly, impossibly (how often have I said impossible already?) Terunofuji won the Emperor’s Cup in his return basho to Makuuchi, and he did it looking every bit the titan of old. Immediately the hype train left the station, fueled in no small part by the man’s own words. He was here to do one thing, reclaim his rank, and his conviction was such that it felt almost an insult to doubt him. Who were we to say what he could do? He’d already done everything we said he couldn’t.

His next basho however—contested from the pole position of M1e—had the hype train pumping its breaks. A bare eight wins, followed by a precautionary kyujo, appeared to hint toward all our fears. This was a man running on fumes and willpower. How much could he ask of his battered body before it once again gave out on him?

That question remains, but recently it has seemed irrelevant to the present moment. In November, Komusubi Terunofuji nearly claimed his second yusho in three tournaments, only just falling short in a playoff versus a new rival, Ozeki Takakeisho. Then, with thirteen wins banked, Sekiwake Terunofuji waded through the bedlam of the January “Hatsu” basho to claim his second jun-yusho in a row and another 11 wins. What had started as a whisper has now become a shout. With 24 wins to his credit and a mere 9 more needed to seal the deal (though at least 10 will be expected of him and make his case undeniable), Terunofuji is officially on an Ozeki run, the second of his incredible career.

Whether he can complete the feat remains to be seen, but if he does, it will truly put the Mongolian mountain in rare company. Excluding the “ozeki-wake” cases such as Tochinoshin and Takakeisho who have immediately regained their lost Ozeki rank after a single ten-win effort at Sekiwake, only one other Ozeki in the modern era has ever dropped lower than Sekiwake and regained his former position (Kaiketsu, who was first promoted in 1975, demoted in 1976, fell as far as M6w, then repromoted to Ozeki in 1977). Most simply lapse into retirement before they drop out of the top division. Many, such as the recent ex-Ozeki Goeido, retire before the banzuke committee even gets the chance to demote them. For Terunofuji to do it after not only losing his rank but dropping to Division 5 would be nothing sort of unthinkable…

And yet here we are, on the precipice of it. Come March 14, 2021, four years exactly after I began watching this great sport, I will once again be at the edge of my seat, waiting for the day’s final bouts and wondering not who will win, but if anyone at all has the might to stop the once and future Ozeki.

Quiz! 2020 in sumo

Just like in recent years, 2020 has been quite an eventful year in sumo: surprise winners, stunning comebacks and the Covid pandemic all coloured this year. The dust might settle a bit next year, but still, how much do we remember about sumo highlights this year?

1. 2020 has been a year to forget for the yokozuna, who will both need to get at least ten wins in January. How many wins did they get combined in 2020?

a. 29

b. 33

c. 37

d. 41

2. In how many bouts did Hakuho actually participate in 2020 (during honbasho, of course; not counting fusen losses and torinaoshi)?

a. 25

b. 30

c. 35

d. 40

3. What about Kakuryu? How many times did he fight in 2020?

a. 15

b. 20

c. 25

d. 30

Both yokozuna will face a make or break situation in January 2021.

4. Let’s now focus to 2020’s ozeki. How many times did an ozeki finish with a losing record?

a. Three

b. Four

c. Five

d. Six

5. Going further down the banzuke, Mitakeumi had a (very) disappointing year 2020. How many make koshi did he get?

a. One

b. Two

c. Three

d. Four

Mitakeumi won a yusho in 2018 and 2019, but was less successful this year (Photo Courtesy Rob Donner)

6. Tokushoryu, on the other hand, obviously had a great year 2020, winning the first yusho, then keeping a place in makuuchi. Following his surprise win in January, how many more kachi koshi did he get?

a. None

b. One

c. Two

d. Three

7. Let’s have some fun with names: which one of these pairs of rikishi have shared the same division at some point (1/3)?

a. Hoshoryu – Shohoryu
b. Hoshoryu – Oshoryu
c. Oshoryu – Shohoryu
d. Kaisei – Kaisho

8. Same question: which pair of rikishi has fought together in the same division in 2020 (2/3)?

a. Daieisho – Daishoho

b. Terunofuji – Fujinoteru

c. Tomisakae – Tokisakae

d. All three pairs

9. This time, which pair of rikishi has NOT been together in the same division (3/3)?

a. Chiyonokuni – Chiyonoumi

b. Churanoumi – Chiyonoumi

c. Churanoumi – Chiyonokuni

d. None of the above – they have all shared the same division at some point.

10. Kotoshogiku’s body could not enable him to remain fully fit in 2020. He hasn’t been able, in either tournament, to get more than…

a. Six wins

b. Seven wins

c. Eight wins

d. Nine wins

11. How many newcomers have been welcomed in makuuchi?

a. Six

b. Seven

c. Eight

d. Nine

12. Who got five kachi koshi in makuuchi this year?

a. Nobody

b. Takakeisho

c. Takanosho

d. Takakeisho and Takanosho

13. How many bouts did Ura lose this year?

a. Four

b. Six

c. Eight

d. Ten

Ura produced a stunning comeback this year.

14. Hanakaze is still wrestling, being half a century old! But how many kachi koshi did he get this year?

a. Zero

b. One

c. Two

d. Three

15. Going right to the bottom of the banzuke, how many bouts did Hattorizakura win this year?

a. Zero

b. One

c. Two

d. Three

The answers:

1. 2020 has been a year to forget for the yokozuna, who will both need to get at least ten wins in January. How many wins did they get combined in 2020?

c. 37. 24 for Hakuho, and only 13 for Kakuryu. In my opinion, it comes as no surprise they are facing the risk of having to retire early next year.

2. In how many bouts did Hakuho actually participate in 2020 (during honbasho, of course; not counting fusen losses and torinaoshi)?

b. 30. Three bouts in January, fifteen in March and twelve in July.

3. What about Kakuryu? How many times did he fight in 2020?

b. 20. Four times in January, fifteen in March, and just one in July.

4. Let’s now focus to 2020’s ozeki. How many times did an ozeki finish with a losing record?

b. Four times, by four different sekitori: Asanoyama (1-2-12) and Shodai (3-2-10) in November; Takakeisho (7-8) in March, and let’s not forget Goeido (5-10), in January!

5. Going further down the banzuke, Mitakeumi had a (very) disappointing year 2020. How many make koshi did he get?

b. Two, in January and November. Mitakeumi will start 2021 approximately where he started in 2020: below the rank of sekiwake, no yusho and one more aborted ozeki run. Put it briefly, trademark Mitakeumi.

6. Tokushoryu, on the other hand, obviously had a great year 2020, winning the first yusho, then keeping a place in makuuchi. Following his surprise win in January, how many more kachi koshi did he get?

b. One time only, in November (8-7). He got payback right in March (4-11), but had decent efforts in July and September, barely missing kachi koshi (7-8).

7. Let’s have some fun with names: which one of these pairs of rikishi have shared the same division at some point?

c. Oshoryu – Shohoryu. Hoshoryu has reached juryo in November 2019, whereas Shohoryu is still in makushita. Kaisho got relegated from juryo in November 2019, while Kaisei returned to makuuchi in January 2020. So the only pair having shared the same division is Oshoryu – Shohoryu. Actually, they’re still together in makushita.

Bow twirler Shohoryu

8. Same question: which pair of rikishi has fought together in the same division in 2020 (2/3)?

c. Tomisakae – Tokisakae. Daishoho wasn’t higher than juryo 3, and actually finished the year in makushita. Terunofuji went so low down the banzuke that he chould say hi to Fujinoteru in jonidan, but actually started the year in juryo. Tomisakae and Tokisakae have seen each other in makushita.

9. This time, which pair of rikishi has NOT been together in the same division (3/3)?

d. None of the above – they have all shared the same division at some point. That one was tricky. Churanoumi and Chiyonoumi have been together in juryo thrice, in March, July and November. Churanoumi actually spent the whole year in juryo; therefore, he met Chiyonokuni during his sole basho in juryo, in September. Chiyonoumi sat in makushita in September, and has NOT met Chiyonokuni – but they BOTH were in makushita, in January 2020.

10. Kotoshogiku’s body could not enable him to remain fully fit in 2020. He hasn’t been able, in either tournament, to get more than…

c. Eight wins, in July.

11. How many newcomers have been welcomed in makuuchi?

a. Six: Kiribayama (January), Kotonowaka (March), Kotoshoho (July), Tobizaru, Hoshoryu (September) and Akua (November) have all been new to makuuchi – and will begin 2021 in sumo’s first division.

12. Who got five kachi koshi in makuuchi this year?

a. Nobody. If both mentioned rikishi had a fine 2020 year, both finished 7-8 earlier this year (Takanosho in January, Takakeisho in March).

13. How many bouts did Ura lose this year?

c. Eight. One bout in July, one in September, and six in November. He won back to back yusho in jonidan and sandanme

14. Hanakaze is still wrestling, being half a century old! But how many kachi koshi did he get this year?

b. One, a 4-3 record in March. He’ll be relegated to jonokuchi in January.

15. Going right to the bottom of the banzuke, how many bouts did Hattorizakura win this year?

Hattorizakura has not won a single bout since January 2019.

a. Zero. No big surprise here, unfortunately…