With just a handful of hours to go, here is the latest from Nagoya
The dohyo was consecrated this morning in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. Offerings to the deities were sealed in the center of the platform, in a ceremony that completes preparation for the Nagoya basho.
As hoped, some injured rikishi that we follow have decided to play it safe, and not compete in Nagoya. This includes Ura and Terunofuji. Ura is being rightfully cautious in returning to action, as the surgery to repair his knee takes about 9 months to heal. He had also gained a large amount of weight that would put additional strain on his knee. With him sitting out Nagoya, he will drop to mid or lower Sandanme for Aki. The chances of a Wakaichiro – Ura match are still remote, but growing.
Terunofuji underwent surgery a few weeks ago for his knee problems, and is likely still a physical wreck. We think it will be many months before we see him return. He may even have to re-start sumo from the bottom division, which would be both a complete shame for Terunofuji, and a terrifying ordeal for the young men he would be tasked to defeat to regain any sort of rank.
Wakaichro is in action early in day 1, with a rematch against Sadogatake heya’s Kotosato. Their prior match, on day 10 of Natsu, went to Kotosato. This offers the rikishi from Humble, Texas a chance to even the score. The two of them are roughly the same height and weight, and it should be a great match.
Finally, thanks to Herouth for pointing it out, the opening match of the entire basho is none other than Hattorizakura vs. Wakaoyama. For sumo fans who don’t know, Hattorizakura is a scrawny kid who just can’t seem to win, but keeps training. The sumo word is on pins and needles at the thought that Hattorizakura might actually win the first bout tonight. If so, all of the hard core sumo nerds will celebrate.
What a marvellous day we had today at the EDION arena in Osaka.
The first bout in Makuuchi featured a visitor from Juryo, Takekaze, who seems to be quite on the genki side and ready to come back to the top level. He was faced with Aoiyama, still part of the Yusho arasoi.
This time, no Henka, and Aoiyama pulled away from the tachiai to give himself space for his usual tsuppari attack, then pushed Takekaze forward – but one advantage the little bullfrog has over Aoiyama is that he is much lighter on his feet. Lateral movement, and the Bulgarian’s inertia did the rest. Aoiyama now out of the yusho race, but he will get his kachi-koshi, and probably double digits.
Asanoyama faced shocking pink Hidenoumi, but was not blinded by his mawashi. He got a safe hold on Hidenoumi’s mawashi, tried a yori in one direction, then a yori in the other direction, then just pulled the man down. Uwatedashinage, and Hidenoumi is make-koshi and heading back to Juryo.
Ishiura didn’t do the most flagrant henka on the dohyo today. It was only a half-henka. Myogiryu managed to turn around at the edge, but not quickly enough to avoid the push.
Kotoyuki must be spending a large fraction of his keiko time perfecting his rolling technique. Even when he doesn’t roll off the dohyo, he still manages to roll. And today the bowler was Sokokurai, with a very typical uwatenage. Kotoyuki still winless.
Daiamami, who has had a strong basho this far, surprises by doing a henka. Still not the most flagrant one of the day. And also rather ineffectual. Tochiozan easily recovers and returns the favor, and it’s Daiamami who is on the receiving end of the hatakikomi, and off the yusho race.
Ikioi seems as good as he has been this basho. Pushes here and there, and then slams Yutakayama to the ground. Yutakayama’s hand goes straight to his topknot before he even rises, and for a good reason. His hair got pulled. Was it a forbidden hair pull or a hand accidentally getting caught in the elaborate hairdo? A monoii is called. The shimpan confer and decide: he pulled.
It’s worth noting that the point here is not so much if the hand in the hair is what caused Yutakayama to fall, and it’s also not whether it was intentional or not. Japanese culture regards people’s intentions and feelings as something that can’t be judged easily from the outside, so it tends to concentrate on observable behavior. The point is, therefore, whether Ikioi was grabbing the hair or not. And the replays show him bending his fingers as they get caught in the hair. This makes it a grab. Hatakikomi experts like Aminishiki know to keep their fingers straight when this happens. If your fingers are straight, you’re pretty much safe.
Ikioi, therefore, loses by hansoku – a disqualification – for using a kinjite – a forbidden technique. This is very rare in the top divisions. Ikioi says he thought his hand was already free of the mage when he pulled down.
Chiyonokuni gives Nishikigi his standard treatment. Forward attack with fierce tsuppari, and then a sharp pull. Nishikigi, as he has been for quite a few basho, is struggling to string wins together.
Kagayaki beats Daishomaru by a straightforward yori-kiri. Kagayaki has really improved his sumo style, and I would have expected him to be more than 5-5 at this point. Daishomaru missed his kachi-koshi opportunity this time.
Daieisho tries to develop an oshi battle against Chiyoshoma, but Chiyoshoma catches his mawashi and it turns into a yotsu battle. Chiyoshoma goes back and forth trying to create one of his favorite throws. He is having a hard time of it this basho, though. Eventually he gives up and completes this by a simple, straightforward yori-kiri.
The two rikishi who won the kanto-sho together last basho, Ryuden and Abi, are now being sorted into two different levels. Ryuden, though he is a very nice rikishi, will stay at the low to middle ranks, while Abi is definitely going places. Abi did his standard routine. Long hands landing a barrage of tsuppari, long legs moving forward fast. Ryuden could not withstand that attack or try anything. Abi, if he improves his footwork, may get to sanyaku in a couple of basho.
Something very strange is happening to Yoshikaze. Are we seeing the initial signs of concussion-related issues? He looks pretty much alright in his match with Okinoumi, when suddenly his left foot develops a mind of its own and he crumbles to the ground. The kimarite is kainahineri, but it doesn’t really look like one, and the only reason he escaped being sent off with a tsukihiza (which is a hiwaza – a non-technique, a default) is that Okinoumi was, in fact, applying some force to his body.
Takakeisho continues his weak, supposedly injury-related, sumo vs. the struggling Hokutofuji. For a couple of basho, the tadpoles have been the great hope for the future, and now they are all crumbling together.
Takarafuji showed today what he is really worth, in a patient and strong match with Kotoshogiku. He even attempts to gaburi the gaburi-master at some point there, but eventually finishes with a cleanly executed throw. The Isegahama man is a clear demonstration of the hardship of the joi. In the first week he got pummeled by much superior rikishi, and then, with low confidence and accumulated bangs, lost a couple of matches he should have won if they were in the beginning of his schedule. Thus, a make-koshi for an otherwise excellent wrestler. All he can do is try to pad his slide down the banzuke with a few wins.
Arawashi, whose left knee bandage seems to grow larger every day, is no real match for Endo, who gets him quickly out of the circle. Off-dohyo issues may also be affecting the injured Eagle, as apparently his tsukebito, Hikarugenji, is involved in yet another violence scandal and is kyujo as of today.
And now we come to the highlight match of the day. 420kg on the dohyo, not counting the gyoji. On one side, the new kaiju, Ichinojo, flexing his muscles and looking for young horses to toss around. On the other side, Kaisei, with a perfect 9-0 record, eyeing the yusho. Tachiai. Boom! The meeting of bodies nearly causes the seismographs in the Kansai area to send the signal for all shinkansen to stop in their tracks. It’s lucky that the honbasho dohyo is not made of beer crates like the jungyo dohyo are.
Kaisei takes the initiative and manages to get Ichinojo to the bales, but the Kyomusubi rallies and step by step pushes back to the middle of the ring. Then he sets his alarm clock for the next day, finds a soft spot on Kaisei’s shoulder to rest his head and goes to sleep. Remember, there are no wolves in Japan. Ichinojo can allow himself to sleep deeply, while Kaisei’s eyes start to bulge. The next day, Ichinojo wakes up, pushes a bit, sees that Kaisei still has some stamina left, hits the snooze button, and sleeps some more. Then he wakes up, picks the spent Brazilian up, and heaves him across the tawara.
Kaisei is too heavy to stop dead, and drops down, but Ichinojo still has enough stamina to pull at the Tomozuna man, enough to make him land lightly on his feet with little impact. Well done, Kyomusubi. Ichinojo is kachi-koshi, and Kaisei receives his first loss.
(OK, OK, I’m sure my Japanese jokes are lost on the crowd here. I’m calling him Kyomusubi because Komusubi – 小結 – means “little knot”, but 巨結 – Kyomusubi – giant knot – seems somehow more appropriate).
But would you believe that this battle of titans, with immediate implications for the yusho run, was honored with not a single envelope of kensho? None. Zero. Ichinojo got to take home only his pride and the fans’ adoration.
Tamawashi has settled into a “one day sunshine, the next day rain” pattern. Where is the strong Tamawashi of yesterday? Chiyotairyu pushes him off the dohyo before the gyoji completes his first “hakkioi”.
The bout between Mitakeumi and Shohozan turns out to be a very nice piece of sumo. Shohozan goes for a harizashi but doesn’t quite gets the “zashi” part (slap-and-grab, but where’s the grab?). Then a slapfest ensues. Another harite! And another! And a body clash! Then Shohozan attempts to pull and sidestep. Mitakeumi keeps his balance and manages to re-engage. But Shohozan has now achieved the “grab” he was looking for, with a right-hand-outside. Mitakeumi’s left hand goes outside Shohozan’s grip, and he attempts to grab at Shohozan with his right, but this only ends with Shohozan having a tight morozashi with both hands firmly on Mitakeumi’s left back mawashi. Mitakeumi tries to do something with the arm he has on Shohozan’s neck, but Shohozan’s mighty pythons are doing their job, and Mitakeumi finds himself rolling below the dohyo.
Takayasu makes short work of Shodai. Kachiage. A couple of Nodowa, and good-bye. Takayasu is kachi-koshi, safe from kadoban, and looks pretty much like he did in the previous basho.
And now we come to the most flagrant henka of the day. By, you guessed it, Ozeki Go-Away-Do. And I don’t want to hear any complaints about me using that nickname when he does this. Are you under 170cm, Ozeki? Perhaps you weigh less than 100kg? Are you injured? Coming back from a long, rust inducing kyujo? In kadoban? Facing a man ranked 10 levels above you? Bah. Chicken. His home crowd at Osaka didn’t like it, either. There was a babble of disapproval where there should have been applause for their hero. The Osaka crowd are sumo aficionados. They know what’s right and what’s not. Tochinoshin managed to circle around in time, but couldn’t rally fast enough. He is now out of the yusho race. But I certainly hope he can continue the Ozeki run. Goeido, on the other hand, gets about 20 envelopes of kensho for this display.
Kakuryu, after his display of tawara-waltz yesterday, probably decided it’s time to show some Yokozuna-worthy sumo. He starts with a harizashi (which some argue is not yokozuna sumo. Well, at least not when the Yokozuna is Hakuho). Then gets his typical migi-yotsu, firmly holding to Chiyomaru‘s mawashi with his right hand.
This was, in fact, only the second time he used that grip in this basho. That’s the injured hand, and most of his bouts have been about working around it. He attempts to use it for the yori, but it’s actually Chiyomaru who advances. The yokozuna changes his overarm grip – the left hand – placing it closer to the front of Chiyomaru’s mawashi, and then uses it cleanly and efficiently and Chiyomaru finds himself outside in no time. This has been the first time for Chiyomaru to appear on the musubi-no-ichiban, or engage with a Yokozuna at all. He said “It was an atmosphere which I have never experienced before”.
Kakuryu achieves his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi”. It now remains to see if his faith is going to be different than in the previous basho, as he goes into the last third where he faces the strongest opponents. And the first challenge is Kyomusubi Ichinojo!
10-0 – Y1E Kakuryu
9-1 – M6E Kaisei
8-2 – OE Takayasu, KE Ichinojo
As I said, I’m combining my coverages today, and here is the Juryo summary.
At the very bottom, Enho is edging closer to a make-koshi, and his chance of winning all of his next five bouts are vanishingly small, much like himself. He will need to spend some more time at Makushita and get those kilograms rolling.
Tobizaru pretty much sweeps the floor with him.
Terutsuyoshi is not fairing much better, and I believe he is heading back to Makushita yet again, despite being stronger than Enho. He complains of various injuries on the Isegahama website.
The rest of the Isegahama sekitori surprisingly all won today, while all of Takanohana’s lost. In fact, Takanoiwa lost to Homarefuji.
Homarefuji got him into an oshi battle, which is clearly not his specialty.
Terunofuji got to meet the much higher-ranked Kyokutaisei. And once again, showed a glimpse of the old Terunofuji:
Harizashi, yotsu, yori-kiri. The former Ozeki and Kyokutaisei both hit the even 5-5 mark.
For some reason, One And Only seems not to like Aminishiki, and never posts a video of his bouts. So here is a time-stamped (46m 18s) full Juryo video from Miselet:
I have a hunch Aminishiki is going to announce his retirement soon – after this basho, or maybe the next. He is having a real hard time, and I suppose he is getting tired of suffering pain day after day and seeing not much in return.
But for the time being, he manages to scrape another win and break his fall down Juryo somewhat. Tokushoryu tries a tottari, but Aminishiki uses the same elbow to push him away and out.
Mitoryu and Sadanoumi are the only two Juryo wrestlers to achieve kachi-koshi by day 10. Tsurugisho and Amakaze are, alas, make-koshi.
Finally, at Jonokuchi, here is the Hoshoryu of the day. Congratulations, first kachi koshi!
Today has also been an exciting day in the divisions below Makuuchi. In particular, many rikishi at Makushita and below have achieved kachi-koshi today, with strong 4-0 records. But let’s start at Juryo.
In the bottom battles, Hefty Smurf Terutsuyoshi got a rival from Makushita – Asabenkei – and should have been able to improve to 4-3, but fell victim to a slippiotoshi he was very unhappy about.
Takayoshitoshi was subjected to a nodowa treatment that seems to have limited his oxygen supply and stopped his win streak.
Enho got to face Yago. And as usual, this was an entertaining battle:
Enho goes for his usual maemitsu hold, and you can see how he keeps improving his underarm grip (technically, this is a hidari-yotsu but with his head buried in Yago’s armpit, it doesn’t look like it), inching towards Yago’s back. Then he performs a shitatenage. Here is the front side (from SumoSoul’s Twitter):
So Enho secures another win, and he’ll keep on providing us with entertaining sumo, but his chances of staying at Juryo are still very slim.
Mitoryu removes the blob-in-a-mawashi, Akiseyama, from the Juryo yusho run – at least for the time being:
It’s always fun to see one of the pixies beating someone 15cm taller, so here is Tobizaru vs. Takagenji for you:
Yes, also a shitatenage. Come to think of it, this was not a good day for the Takanohana beya gang. Takakeisho, Takanoiwa and both twins got a black star today.
Terunofuji got Tsurugisho today. Why was he happy with his sumo (on the Isegahama web site: “I’ll strive to keep fighting like I did today and get a kachi-koshi”)?
I swear, for a moment there I thought I saw Terunofuji! Oh wait.
I can’t find any video of Aminishiki’s bout at the moment, but he won by his typical hatakikomi. If a video surfaces, I’ll embed it.
Finally, Takekaze continues his journey back to Makuuchi, and Sadanoumi loses for the second time:
Quite powerful sumo from the veteran.
Let’s head down to Makushita.
The torikumi guys are starting to separate wheat from chaff, and matched Chiyonoumi against Hakuyozan, both lossless before today.
A fierce tsuki-oshi battle, that ended up, sadly, with Chiyonoumi landing on a lady in the third row. Hakuyozan secures his kachi-koshi.
They did the same thing with Murata and Wakamotoharu (one of the Onami (“waka”) brothers, if you recall):
Murata very dominant, and kachi-koshi.
Wakatakakage and Akua were both 2-1 coming into the following bout.
Ah. Wakatakakage, do you really need that henka?
Down at Jonidan, once again zensho rikishi were pitted against each other. And finally I get an individual video of Yoshoyama. Thank you, One And Only.
Finally, we get to see some of the strength Yoshoyama was purported to have. Watanabe tries to make this an oshi battle, but most Mongolian rikishi don’t really go for that (Tamawashi is a notable exception) and Yoshoyama quickly secures a hidari yotsu and dances Watanabe to the edge. Yoshoyama is kachi-koshi.
Torakio has also been matched against another lossless wrestler, Nishiyama, but received his first kuroboshi and has yet to secure his kachi-koshi.
This was a lovely bout for such a low division, and Torakio looks just about to win it when Nishiyama converts it to a perfect utchari.
And finally, Jonokuchi, and the famous grandchild Naya goes against Kotomiyakura, once again, in a bout of lossless rikishi. Guess who won.
I think Naya is starting to be frustrated at the lack of challenge. Wait, grandkid. Once you get to Makushita you’ll get to enjoy some real challenges.
Another similar bout between two lossless rikishi was the one between Shinfuji and Kayatoiwa, the Jonokuchi #1.
Of course I was rooting for the Isegahama man, but… what was that? Clear lack of experience, I’d say. Too bad. Kayatoiwa is a Sandanme regular who was kyujo for two consecutive basho and found himself back in Jonokuchi, and he has no intention of staying there. Kachi-koshi and a certain return to Jonidan.
First and up-front, the normal Tachiai banzuke podcast has been delayed due to yours-truly being away on business. We will work to have it ready for your viewing and listening pleasure on Friday.
With the publication of the Haru banzuke, Hakuho has set a new record by appearing for 64 consecutive tournaments as a Yokozuna. The man continues to rack up records, and although age is starting to nip at his heels, he refuses to slow down.
Mitakeumi holds on for a fifth consecutive tournament at the Sekiwake slot. Sadly he has yet to summon the mojo to start an Ozeki campaign, but fans are impressed that he is proving quite resilient at this rank. He is joined by Hatsu yusho winner Tochinoshin. The big Georgian has been out of the Sekiwake slot since July of 2016, and returns in glorious fashion. Fans are eager to see if he can run his score to double digits once again.
As lksumo posted, his banzuke forecast was once again amazingly good, but what surprised me was just how far down former Ozeki Terunofuji dropped. Now down at Juryo 5 (which he shares with Gagamaru), his fans cringe and wonder if his damaged body can even hold this rank. We all want our kaiju back. Fortunately for Takekaze, his drop was only to Juryo 1, and with a winning record he will be back in the top division by May. The road for Uncle Sumo (Aminishiki) is almost the same, but with his damaged knees, the task is much harder.
Abi and Ryuden seem to be carrying the banner for the “Freshmen” (as I have taken to calling them). Ranked in mid-Maegashira, they are going to have their hands full with a number of veterans who had a terrible tournament in January. If Yoshikaze is over whatever illness plagued him at Hatsu, we are likely to see a lot of great, madcap sumo in the middle tier this time.
Of course I have my eye on the giant at Komusubi 1 East, our favorite boulder, Ichinojo. He was last in the San’yaku at Nagoya 2015, and has not been able to maintain consistant good sumo since. This could be a huge turning point for the Mongolian giant, and everyone is eager to see if he continues his excellent performance from Kyushu and Hatsu. It’s been an even longer drought for Chiyotairyu, who was last Komusubi in September of 2014.
Much further down, Tachiai congratulates Texas sumotori Wakaichiro on his return to Sandanme. After an outstanding performance at Hatsu, the man from Nagasaki finds himself Sandanme 89 East. We can be certain that his coaches at Musashigawa have been tuning him up for his second run at this rank.
A great tournament starts two weeks from today, and Tachiai’s wall-to-wall coverage starts now!
Today marks the return of Terunofuji. Why? I have no idea. That guy is horribly injured, suffering from diabetes, and already make-koshi. But I suppose he is trying to save some rank in the coming demotion to Juryo.
Day 11 seems to be the day the scheduling team decided to toss the banzuke and match some of the fresh faces at the bottom of the ranking sheet with some in the middle. Sort of a “trial by fire” phase for many of them, and it has led to some really interesting matches. I must admit, I am following the Maegashira 17-13 match more closely than the Maegashira 12-7 matches. It just seems that the crop at the bottom of the banzuke this time has all the fire, energy and crazy “danger be damned” sumo that the sport needs.
Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – Man-Mountain Aoiyama comes up to Makuuchi for the day, and faces off against Nishikigi. Both men are at 5-5 and need to win 3 of the next 5 matches to maintain rank, so there is a lot on the line. During his tenure in Makuuchi, Aoiyama was at times a powerful force of sumo. Some of it was an aversion by the other rikishi to land a hold in his upper torso region, and some of it was he is huge and fairly strong. But Nishikigi has bested him 3 of the 4 times they have fought.
Ryuden vs Daieisho – Daieisho is already kachi-koshi and the only rikishi besides Tochinoshin who as any chance of catching Kakuryu, should the surviving Yokozuna falter. His opponent is Ryuden, who is doing fairly well in his long-anticipated debut in Makuuchi. Daieisho’s winning streak may put him in line for a significant boost in rank for March.
Sokokurai vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama was red hot to start Hatsu, and now he can’t beg a win from anyone. Sokokurai took the Juryo yusho in Kyushu and has really struggled this basho. I do like the fact that Asanoyama shows up each day with what seems to be the same positive attitude.
Kotoyuki vs Kagayaki – Kotoyuki is another rikishi who is struggling for wins in the second half of the basho. He opened strong and now is 5-5. Kagayaki, whose man-boobs are nothing compared to Aoiyama, may find that can pick up pointers from the Bulgarian. Either way, I am guessing it’s going to be Kotoyuki trying to shove Kagayaki, with Kagayaki working to get a mawashi grip and toss the little brick-shaped rikishi off the dohyo.
Daiamami vs Aminishiki – I pray to Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan that any available Kami protect Aminishiki’s knee. I am still wincing from day 10, and I don’t want to see Uncle Sumo exit the sport forever riding that giant wheelchair.
Terunofuji vs Ishiura – Better make it two wheelchairs at the ready because the Ghost of Terunofuji is returning to the dohyo day 11. He exited the basho earlier citing complications from diabetes. But even that is not going to help his fragile undercarriage. What madness has possessed Isegahama?
Yutakayama vs Kaisei – Kaisei really stacked on the weight over the holidays, and following his day 10 match he looked like he was going to pass out. I suspect that if Yutakayama slaps him in just the right location, it will set up a standing wave across his various fat pockets that could damage or fracture the dohyo. Interestingly enough, Kaisei has never won against Yutakayama.
Tochiozan vs Abi – Both of the Maegashira 8s fight the Maegashira 14s. Sure, why not? So we get Abi going against Tochiozan. This is their first meeting, and I am going to expect Abi to open with double arm thrusts, and Tochiozan to grab him under the arms and send him sailing.
Chiyomaru vs Endo – This should be an easy pickup for Endo, who is not looking nearly as genki as he was at the start of the basho. Chiyomaru has only taken one match from Endo, and that was back in 2013.
Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin, will someone please stop him from eating more spinach? Maybe that someone can be humble but capable Takarafuji. They have evenly split their 14 career matches, with Takarafuji dominating the last 7 of those. But this basho Tochinoshin is in firm contact with his spirit animal, a hydraulic car crushing machine.
Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – Hokutofuji loves to win. For a long stretch of years, he never failed to rack up a kachi-koshi. Now here he is with the sting of a losing record. He faces our favorite boulder, who somehow has revived himself from his years-long sumo slumber and is happy to rumble around the dohyo crushing everything. You boys play safe now!
Takakeisho vs Yoshikaze – Scratch and dent bin match. I have no idea what has happened to Yoshikaze. But I would be willing to bet a can of Ebisu and a trip to Yoshinoya that he’s suffering from something along the lines of the flu. He just seems to have no energy right now, and that’s not possible under normal circumstances. Takakeisho has sadly found that most of the rikishi have figured out that when he starts his double arm “Wave Action Tsuppari” that you can lay a nodawa right in there and he stops it.
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Mitakeumi! Get it together man, you are a total mess right now! You lose to Shodai and I am going to give you a new nickname. You may not get another decent chance to start an Ozeki run for a while, so don’t squander this one. Hey, Shodai. You win this one and I may have to start believing in you again.
Okinoumi vs Takayasu – Takayasu by a mile. Okinoumi is a shadow of his former self.
Goeido vs Arawashi – Should be an easy Goeido win, but what the hell? This guy seems to be booted up in some kind of lame diagnostic mode that only plays Tetris. Goeido!, LEFT, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, DOWN, DOWN clears the level.
Kakuryu vs Tamawashi – Kakuryu, short of an injury, is looking likely to seal up his next yusho, and I am delighted that he is fighting well, looking strong and dominating. Tamawashi was eager to leave his mark in Sekiwake territory again, but he seems to be injured and not fighting well.
Day 1 got off to a very solid start, better than either of the last two basho, and I am cautiously enthusiastic about what we are in store for. With so many excellent matches on day 1, I encourage everyone to at least try out Kintamayama’s review on YouTube. While I love the NHK highlights show, and days when there are a large amount of quality bouts in a rather lengthy torikumi, it’s worth it to pick up the matches you missed.
I finally got to see the NHK highlight show at 2:30 Pacific today. Yes, I am in San Diego for a bit instead of the mighty bastion of Texas. Counter programming to it was a show on PBS about black holes, and super-massive black holes. I thought nothing of it…
But then here’s Murray Johnson remarking that Kaisei has packed on over 20 kg since November. Dear readers, that’s the size of a small Panda Bear, whose form Kaisei seems determined to emulate. It appears something similar has taken place within orbit of the gas giant Chiyomaru, who may have swallowed a nearby moon. Both of these two balloons will find their added mass a terrible strain on their bodies, and I fear for their longevity.
Say, you know what has me really delighted so far? Great matches at the bottom of Makuuchi! These guys are on fire. The Tadpoles had best consolidate their position in a hurry, as it seems there is yet another cohort advancing on their positions.
What We Are Watching Day 2
Ryuden vs Daiamami – Ryuden looked very poised on day 1, I am going to be watching to see if he can repeat that with his match against Daiamami, who holds a 5-2 career advantage of him.
Asanoyama vs Nishikigi – I am calling for Asanoyama to try to set up a throw early on. If Nishikigi can block the outside grip, he will probably have a chance to get inside and dismantle Asanoyama.
Abi vs Ishiura – An early match with a lot of interest. Both guys are on the lighter side of the scales, and both of them like to move around and mix it up. If Ishiura gets stuck, will he resort to his submarine attack that gets him in such trouble?
Yutakayama vs Daieisho – See, this time I spelled it correctly. Yutakayama has won both their prior matches. I expect a flurry of thrusting and a lot of mobility. Yutakayama seems to choke when he gets into Makuuchi, and I think everyone is hoping that this time he can settle down and show us some great sumo.
Kagayaki vs Daishomaru – When I said keep an eye on Kagayaki, people laughed. I get it, he has ridiculous man-boobs. He seems to have come to terms with it, and possibly uses it to distract his opponents. They say life in the heya can be lonely, and perhaps these poor guys find the display captivating. But hell no! Kagayaki takes his sumo with all of the earnest concentration you might expect from a rikishi who wants to be somebody. Like Kiesnosato, this guy is willing to train himself to death to get there. Never count that out.
Terunofuji vs Kotoyuki – Did you read Herouth’s discussion of Terunofuji? It’s toward the bottom of her typically awesome post. If you have not read it, go read it. It seems that in addition to Kaisei and Chiyomaru, Terunofuji may have spent time at the Gagamaru body sculpting clinic. If he can’t toss Kotoyuki around like a rotten bag of miso on day 2, it’s very dim indeed for our once mighty Kaiju. (shout out to Joshua who is in Tokyo… Lucky bastard)
Aminishiki vs Chiyomaru – Uncle Sumo vs the Gas Giant. Not good as Chiyomaru’s intense gravity well may crush Aminishiki’s space age metal support structure. Seriously, Aminishiki is in lower mid-Maegashira territory now. I hope he’s able to keep himself from getting injured.
Kaisei vs Chiyonokuni – Panda-kun vs Grumpy Badger. Chiyonokuni came out blazing day 1, but in typical fashion could not close the deal. He’s got strength, speed and energy, but for whatever reason he can’t seem to put together a consistent approach to get a win.
Ikioi vs Endo – Looking forward to this fight, as I am keeping my eye on Endo, who I would not be surprised to see hit 10 wins this tournament. A genki Endo may come as a bit of a shock to the tadpoles, as he brings a surgical precision and some depth of experience to the dohyo. I am looking for him to contain Ikioi’s superior strength and reach, and work inside and backwards.
Shodai vs Okinoumi – Shodai looked better on day 1 than he has in a while, and I am going to guess that for now Okinoumi is in good health. So this is probably a fairly good match, if Shodai does not blow the tachiai. Both of them will go for a mawashi grip from the start, and it will come down to strength and tactics.
Mitakeumi vs Chiyotairyu – Mitakeumi needs a 10 win basho to be taken seriously as an Ozeki contender. So it’s time for him to produce before he faces the upper San’yaku next week. Chiyotairyu is bigger, strong and looks a lot more like Elvis. So Mitakeumi is going to have to gamberize.
Yoshikaze vs Tamawashi – I am sure Yoshikaze is disappointed in day 1’s outcome. His shot at recovery is with the tough as nails Tamawashi on day 2. Tamawashi is back at Sekiwake after a stumble at Aki and Nagoya, and he wants his back in line for an Ozeki run.
Goeido vs Onosho – Battle of the manic over-committing rikishi, where both of them tend to charge forward with everything they have. Although I tend to be against the use of henka, this is the correct case where it’s of most use. Free tacos if they do simultaneous henka and orbit each other for the first few seconds.
Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – All the fans want Kotoshogiku to do the big back bend. We know its the source of his magic powers, and he needs every ounce of power against an especially genki looking Takayasu.
Hakuho vs Ichinojo – Hakuho looked a bit lost without his slap-n-grab power combo. Against Ichinojo he needs some clarity, as once that much Mongolian gets moving, he’s headed somewhere. I am expecting the Boss to try another tachiai variation, hopefully with improved effect.
Kakuryu vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s post match interview had me rolling. When asked about the sumo he used against Kisenosato, he more or less said, “I can’t really remember, I was just trying to win”. Damn straight! He was all over the map throwing everything including the kitchen sink at The Great Pumpkin, and he prevailed. Now of course comes Kakuryu, whose whole sumo approach is to let his opponent get rolling, then use their motion and attacks against them. I can’t wait to see how this one goes. This is the first time these two have fought.
Hokutofuji vs Kisenosato – The final match of the day, it it carries a lot of weight. Kisenosato needs wins on the board. But in their only prior match, Hokutofuji won convincingly. On day 1, Kisenosato let Takakeisho dictate the match. I am hoping to see him control the bout like his 2016 self would do with such calm and effortless power.
Top headline of the day: Kisenosato drops his match against Takakeisho. There are two things to learn from this: First and foremost, Takakeisho is gunning hard for Sekiwake and above. I slight him for his oshi-only approach, but he is making it work for him. He looked strong, fast and relentless today against the struggling Kisenosato. The second thing of note is that Kisenosato looked much better than I had feared. He moved well, he attacked with strength, and kept moving forward. Fans who fear the Great Pumpkin being on the ropes should keep in mind he has not really had matches in a while, and will be rusty for a few days. If he walks out with 10 wins, he’s good.
Asanoyama defeats Daiamami – Decent throw that took some time to set up. Moving much better than he was in Kyushu. The happy rikishi has a long path ahead of him, and to reach his potential, he must stay healthy.
Ryuden defeats Nishikigi – Ryuden looked strong in his first Makuuchi bout, easily dominating Nishikigi. Ryuden kept his eblows tight, and prevented Nishikigi from establishing a grip, while Ryuden set up for a well executed throw to end the match.
Ishiura defeats Yutakayama – A flurry of activity in which Ishiura was everywhere at once and overwhelmed Yutakayama. He was able to get his head against Yutakayama’s chest a couple of times, which helped him keep the larger rikishi’s center of gravity high.
Daieisho defeats Abi – Massive oshi fest as Abi took the initiative and was landing tsuppari with purpose. But he over committed, got too far forward and Daieisho brought him forward and down.
Kagayaki defeats Takekaze – Kagayaki was very high at the tachiai, but managed to get Takekaze off balance and moving backwards. His excellent sumo instincts took over and he kept moving strongly forward. Good, solid win.
Kotoyuki defeats Aminishiki – Not quite the battle I was looking for, it was over in a blink of an eye as Aminishiki slipped trying to find his footing. Kotoyuki recognized this quickly, and finished what gravity had started.
Chiyomaru defeats Terunofuji – In spite of Chiyomaru’s enormous belly, Terunofuji was able to land a mawashi grip. But without abilty to transmit power through his legs, he was unable to halt Chiyomaru’s counter attack.
Chiyoshoma defeats Ikioi – Massive tachiai, with Ikioi taking the early initiative, but Chiyoshoma pulled out a win at the edge thanks to excellent ring sense and a great deal of balance.
Endo defeats Takarafuji – Keep your eyes on Endo! He wants back in the upper ranks, and he seems to finally have his body in order. This fight saw both rikishi try to establish an offense only to be countered quite effectively, but Endo kept working forward. Fantastic effort from both.
Arawashi defeats Okinoumi – In spite of Okinoumi showing some solid sumo moves, he let Arawashi land a deep left hand grip right away, and from there Arawashi kept working Okinoumi towards being thrown. 800th bout for Arawashi.
Tochinoshin defeats Shodai – Shodai, for once, had a solid tachiai, but he immediately went chest to chest with Tochinoshin, which had to delight the big Georgian. In spite of Shodai’s right hand mawashi grip, Tochinoshin out-matched him in strength and power.
Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Mitakeumi has a very sloppy start, he was high and immediately off balance. Kotoshogiku was able to set up a solid defense, and as Mitakeumi was struggling (more than he should) to finish him, Kotoshogiku apparently stepped out. The match was stopped by the shimpan.
Takayasu defeats Yoshikaze – Takayasu still working that forearm blast into the tachiai, but it seems to leave him high and forward. Yoshikaze could not exploit it, and was moving backwards in a hurry. Both men re-engaged, and kept the battle running, with Yoshikaze pushing to land a mawashi grip. Takayasu prevailed and Yoshikaze took a slow motion roll to the clay. Hopefully he was ok.
Goeido defeats Ichinojo – As predicted, Goeido came in fast and low, but Inchinojo’s mass and forward momentum was too much for Goeido to simply power out. Goeido 2.0 is all about keeping up the pressure, and he did eventually get Ichinojo to step out, but Goeido was on the verge of falling down as it happened.
Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – This was classic Kakuryu, letting his opponent open the offense, then making him pay. I am thankful that Kakuryu was able to open strong today.
Takakeisho defeats Kisenosato – Wow, what a battle! Twice, Kisenosato let Takakeisho set up his “wave action tsuppari”, with devastating effect. But twice the Yokozuna was able to escape. The match ended when Takakeisho grabbed a hold of Kisenosato’s right arm and twisted, bringing the Yokozuna down. Kisenosato looks worried, but it may take a few bouts for him to hit his stride.
Hakuho defeats Onosho – The boss made short work of Onosho, who once again over-committed and was too far forward.
august (in ref. to the emperor or the gods); imperial; divine
august (in ref. to the emperor or the gods); imperial; divine
august (in ref. to the emperor or the gods); imperial; divine
It’s finally here, sumo fans! Day one is upon us, and the Tachiai crew are eager for action. Everyone keep in mind, the first 3 days of any basho include quite a bit of rikishi in the top division trying to get themselves into tournament mode so we may see some rusty moves, some strange outcomes, and some favorites looking a little off-tempo. Interestingly enough, even though there is a good crop of new faces in Makuuchi, day one does not include any first-time match-ups. Maybe that will mean some careful strategy straight off the line.
With Makuuchi going down to Maegashira 17e, we are going to see a lot more action at the lower end of the torikumi, and as such it’s going to be tough for the NHK crew to decide how to fit it all into 20 minutes. Several of the shin-Makuuchi rikishi have a decent fan base already, and there may be a lot of good content to pare down to each day’s 20-minute show. For the hardcore, find Kintamayama’s channel on Youtube and enjoy the whole thing!
What We Are Watching Day 1
Daiamami vs Asanoyama – Let’s start it off right! After having a disappointing basho in Kyushu, Asanoyama the happy rikishi faces off against Daiamami in the first Makuuchi match of 2018. These two tend to grab a hold of each other’s mawashi, so maybe we will get a yotsu-zumo contest right off the bat. Career record 3-2 in Daiamami’s favor.
Ryuden vs Nishikigi – Hopefully the NHK guys will include some of the crowd reaction to Ryuden stepping onto the Dohyo. The fans really like this guy, and they are not afraid to show it. Even better is that these two have a tendency to try to throw each other, and that is seldom dull. Career record 2-1 in Nishikigi’s favor.
Ishiura vs Yutakayama – From sumo’s scratch and dent bin comes this battle of rikishi we wish were doing better. Ishiura started Makuuchi strong last year, and then everyone figured out his “one weird trick”, and he faded. Yukatayama seems to have confidence or focus problems as soon as he’s listed on the Makuuchi side of the banzuke. Both of them have the potential for explosive sumo, so there is hope. These two have split their prior 2 matches.
Abi vs Daieisho – Can Abi give Asanoyama a run for his money as the “Happy Rikishi”? Sumo fans finally get to see. With any luck, we will get to see Abi bring some magic shiko to the hatsu dohyo. Their only prior meeting was back in 2015 when Abi was fighting under Horikiri, and was in Makushita.
Kotoyuki vs Aminishiki – Uncle Sumo vs The Penguin! Aminishiki (Uncle Sumo) started strong in Kyushu, but I think his knees suffered terribly over the course of 15 days of top division matches. Now ranked Maegashira 10, he has a difficult path to climb. Kotoyuki seems to be an all-or-nothing proposition, and typically ends the match in the second row of zabuton. Career record 4-2 in Aminishiki’s favor.
Terunofuji vs Chiyomaru – Former Ozeki Terunofuji will face down surprisingly-super-sized Chiyomaru, who is still operating in sumo-Elvis mode. Due to a lack of knees, the yobidashi will likely pre-position the over-sized wheelchair on the east side hanamichi.
Takarafuji vs Endo – Heads up sumo fans, Endo is possibly the big sleeper this basho. He has been nothing special for more than a year and then sought surgery to repair some of his most serious problems. After dropping down to the bottom of Makuuchi, he has turned in two excellent tournaments. Takarafuji is a steady rikishi, who can be expected to calmly employ a fairly defensive bout strategy. This could be an excellent match. Career record of 6-2 favors Takarafuji.
Okinoumi vs Arawashi – Okinoumi’s sumo is very much a function of his chronic injury. When he has it under control, he is a solid upper Maegashira. When it’s bothering him, he is in trouble. With Okinoumi, it’s always hit or miss, and day one against Arawashi should show us how Okinoumi is doing. Watch for Arawashi to leave a small amount of salt on top of his mawashi.
Shodai vs Tochinoshin – The Tachiai team give Shodai a hard time because he tends to lose matches on the first step. His tachiai is usually a half step slow, and fairly high. Everyone knows this now, and they use it to dismantle him. Today he may compound his mistake by giving Tochinoshin a mawashi hold. Simply put, Tochinoshin has the strength of a bear that has the strength of two bears. Career record of 4-2 favors Tochinoshin, unless he has just woken from his hibernation, in which case Tochinoshin eats Shodai and Shikimori Inosuke while the NHK cameras pan away.
Mitakeumi vs Kotoshogiku – The San’yaku battle fleet is especially charged up and ready for action this tournament. Though he managed to land a kachi-koshi for every 2017 tournament, Mitakeumi can rightfully be cited for loitering. Hey, double digits Mitakeumi! Kotoshogiku is no pushover, so I guess Mitakeumi stays mobile to avoid the hug-n-chug from the Kyushu Bulldozer.
Yoshikaze vs Takayasu – Yoshikaze wants back in San’yaku. And everyone should note this guy can really dish it out. Takayasu is finally back to practicing with Kisenosato, so I am expecting him to revert to his former excellent sumo that focuses on strength and endurance. I am hoping NOT to see a forearm blast at the tachiai (hat tip to Murray Johnson of NHK).
Goeido vs Ichinojo – Wow! What a match. Goeido 2.0 is a speed demon who will have you backward and out before you can blink. Ichinojo is a large object suspected to be laid down over centuries during the Carboniferous era. Look for Goeido to launch low and inside hoping to catch Ichinojo not quite out of his tachiai crouch, and slap the big boulder down. The 6-5 career record slightly favors the mighty Ichinojo.
Kakuryu vs Hokutofuji – Can we take this to 11? Yes, yes we can! Hokutofuji’s careful offense vs Kakuryu’s reactive sumo. Can Big K keep Hokutofuji off his belt long enough for Kaio Jr to make his first and only mistake? My money is on the Yokozuna to keep Hokutofuji from going chest to chest and throw in a lateral move or two. Probably one for slow-motion replays.
Takakeisho vs Kisenosato – Please Japan, remember to breathe during this showdown. The schedulers give Kisenosato no easy start. Takakeisho is going to go hard left and attack without quarter. I am looking for Kisenosato to try to land a right-hand grip, not his favorite, and use that to try and remove Takakeisho’s “wave action” tsuppari from the match. These two have split their only 2 matches.
Hakuho vs Onosho – By thunder, Onosho, wear that red mawashi or stay home. This one will be all Hakuho, but I really think Onosho will make him work for it if he does not over-commit out of the tachiai. Of course “the Boss” knows this and will possibly give ground on the first step to draw Onosho forward.
Today was the second day at Ginowan, but the last day of the Jungyo. Today’s newsreel centers on bouts, bouts, bouts!
Before we sit back to enjoy our sumo, it should be mentioned that Kakuryu’s health took a turn for the worse in the past couple of days, as he developed an inflammation in his left foot (or leg – the word in Japanese is the same). He says that once everybody returns to Tokyo, he’ll be able to get care for it, but nevertheless, this is a source for worry. Remember, Kakuryu has to participate in Hatsu, and have a good showing. Having been kyujo from Aki with a problem in his right foot, in the preparations for Kyushu he got his lower back in trouble again, and was kyujo from Kyushu as well. He is running out of body parts to spare.
He did participate in today’s tournament, and did a dohyo iri-with a baby, but Hakuho was the one doing the tsuna-shime ceremony today.
Those who followed the Jungyo reports diligently will notice that Enho has been promoted from “thread bearer” to “rope puller #5”, an important position that comes with white gloves!
OK, so let’s finish this Jungyo with a bit of sumo. As in the previous 3 days, the top 16 Makuuchi (which is basically Ichinojo and up on the Kyushu banzuke, deducting Harumafuji, Kisenosato and Chiyonokuni) competed in elimination format. Below that, the torikumi went the usual way.
The Makuuchi bouts started with Aminishiki vs. Yutakayama. Yutakayama won – and the audience let out a sigh. Poor Yutakayama! It’s not his fault that Aminishiki is the most popular rikishi in Japan!
No visuals from that torikumi, I’m sorry to say, but here is the Maru bout, Chiyomaru vs. Daishomaru:
No repeat of Nagoya basho… And also no video of the Terunofuji-Goeido bout. But Terunofuji won. Terunofuji actually able to beat both Hokutofuji and Goeido is great news. Please don’t let him find a new way to ruin his knees in January.
While day 3 may have been a bit bland and pulpy, day 4 recovered with a zesty blob of wasabi served up fresh and feisty. Almost every match was a real battle, with both rikishi giving it their all with vigor and stamina. Great day to catch the full torikumi via Kintamayama’s YouTube channel!
It’s clear that a handful of rikishi will be in position to challenge for the cup, and it’s really an exciting and surprising mix.
Clearly the favorite today would be Hakhuho. The Boss looks to be in solid form, and he has thus far dismantled all challengers. With Harumafuji out of the basho, he only needs to worry about Goeido and Takayasu.
Oh? The Ozeki corps? They are in fact dominating as well. Both are undefeated, and both look to be able to stay that way for the next few days until they get into week 2. Goeido is in top form, in fact he is in similar spirit to his Aki 2016 performance. Strong, fast, unstoppable. Takayasu is more tenuous, he has come close to defeat a couple of times, but managed to pull it out.
Then, if you can believe it, Ichinojo! Yes it’s only week one, but its so wonderful to see Ichinojo back to a bit of his old self. For recent sumo fans, this guy used to be the next kaiju.
Rounding out the undefeated list, it’s none other than Uncle Sumo! How wonderful is that? Aminishiki, all the way down at Maegashira 13, is undefeated. Thus far he has not had to really work too hard, as everyone who has faced him has handed him a win. Of course this is because Aminishiki is very experienced, highly skilled, and like all great athletes, makes it look easy.
On the down side is Kisenosato. His failure to dispatch Takakeisho underscores the fact that he is only partially recovered. Note in his match today how he protects his left side. This is especially acute as Kisenosato is left hand / foot dominant.
Ryuden defeats Kotoyuki – Up from Juryo for the day, crowd favorite Ryuden shows us why the folks who get to watch Juryo matches love him. The match with Kotoyuki was fast paced, frantic and unpredictable. If NHK shows this match today, don’t miss it – he’s likely to be in Makuuchi soon.
Aminishiki defeats Myogiryu – Some false start nonsense before the tachiai, and frankly Aminishiki did not quite land his right hand, but once they launched, Uncle Sumo used the same push-then-pull tactic that has won the last three.
Kagayaki defeats Daiamami – Excellent effort from both men, Daiamami got turned around in the post-tachiai struggle for grip, and Kagayaki was quick to force him out. Kagayaki can really bring some excellent sumo when he is on his game.
Okinoumi defeats Kaisei – I am starting to hope that dear Okinoumi has found a way to manage his chronic injury. His sumo, while not Nagoya 2016 level, is looking better.
Ikioi defeats Endo – This was not a long or elegant match, but these two went at it with gusto. The ending was a bit more of a collapse than a throw, but excellent effort all around.
Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Something must be in the chikara-mizu today, everyone was really putting in massive effort, these two included. Daieisho took control at the tachiai, applying a series of nodowa, and keeping Asanoyama high and off balance. Daieisho in the end overpowered Asanoyama at the tawara for the win.
Chiyomaru defeats Shodai – I get the feeling Shodai decided he was getting too soft, and decided it was time to do sumo again. Though he lost he really put his back into it today, giving Chiyomaru a heck of a fight, including a valiant and successful last stand at the tawara. But Chiyomaru had this one dialed in, and turned Shodai’s pressure at the edge into an opportunity to pull him down.
Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji – Another excellent strength sumo match up, and Takarafuji should be commended for keeping it close. Its clear that Tochinoshin is trying to keep pressure off of his damaged right knee, so he needs to bank every win he can get. In this match he seems to be fighting nearly one-legged.
Ichinojo defeats Arawashi – Massive effort from Arawashi, who nearly had this section of the Eshima bridge out a couple of times. But each time, Ichinojo would rally and block his kimarite. As Arawashi was setting up his third attempt to end the match, he stepped out just as he was cocking a throw, giving the match to Ichinojo.
Kotoshogiku defeats Terunofuji – It’s just getting depressing to watch Terunofuji lose every day. He’s hurt, he can’t do sumo, and there is no way he is getting his Ozeki hanko back any time soon. We do get to see Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug for the first time this basho. The old bulldozer can still bring it down.
Yoshikaze defeats Onosho – As predicted, the Berserker had a lot of pent up frustrations that he brought to the match, and deposited on Onosho’s face. Both of them were batting each other like tabbies jacked up on weapons-grade catnip, but the tadpole was no match for the master.
Mitakeumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Messy, messy match, from the matta at the front end to the rubbery collapse into a heap at the edge that concluded it. It’s clear that Mitakeumi is only about 80%, but that tadpole shape is a tough one for Chiyonokuni.
Goeido defeats Tamawashi – This habitual matta garbage from Tamawashi is probably going to receive some attention from the Kyokai, because it’s getting really old. Of course he is trying to throw Goeido off his tachiai timing, because we all know that Goeido is going to rip into you before you can even stand up. But the matta flurry did not have that effect, and Goeido won rather convincingly.
Takayasu defeats Shohozan – Shohozan decides to let Takayasu do what he does better than anyone: lock up an opponent and use his inhuman endurance to wear them down. I am sure that just after they went chest to chest, Shohozan was sorry he did it. The burly Ozeki can and probably does maintain that position against the teppo pole overnight, while sleeping. After Shohozan got tired of holding up 400 pounds of Ibaraki beef, it was easy enough to put him out of the ring.
Takakeisho defeats Kisenosato – Back to worry over Kisenosato, he was favoring his left side, and Takakeisho took full advantage of it. If this is just “I have not done honbasho sumo for 6 months” he will snap in soon enough, but if he’s still injured, it’s time to go kyujo.
Hakuho defeats Chiyotairyu – That was two giant handfuls of struggling rikishi that Hakuho bested today. For a few seconds, Hakuho seemed to be struggling to decide how best to contain Chiyotairyu, but once he got inside of Chiyotairyu’s grip, it was time to put the rikishi out. Hakuho is looking unstoppable… again.
In spite of the huge distraction that is the Harumafuji story, the basho continues. Finally going into day 4, we can get a feel for how some of the top men are likely to fare physically for the remainder of the basho.
Hakuho – Looking very genki indeed! There had been some worries heading into the basho, but it’s clear he is in good enough condition to run everyone he has faced thus far ragged. Barring an injury, he’s going to be contending for his 40th yusho.
Kisenosato – There were quite a few worries that Kisenosato was not going to be able to produce much in the way of offense. After his day 3 match, its clear he has some strength back on his left side.
Takayasu – What thigh muscle tear? This guy is as strong and sharp as ever.
Terunofuji – He can’t muster any lower body force, he is too weak to actually compete at this level. His mental state may be somewhat impacted as well due to the drama in his stable.
Mitakeumi – That toe is really bothering him. I am going to guess he will struggle.
Kotoshogiku – He seems healthy, but he has yet to win a match.
Ichinojo – His persistent back problems are not bothering him thus far, and he’s winning matches.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Kotoyuki vs. Ryuden – Crowd favorite Ryuden is up in Makuuchi for the day, and he goes against Kotoyuki who just recently returned to the top division. Interestingly enough, this is the first time these two have faced each other on the dohyo.
Myogiryu vs. Aminishiki – Aminishiki is really doing very well in Kyushu. In prior basho he has been very day-by-day on his performance, but thus far he has been smooth, precise and completely in control of each match. Myogiryu has a 10-6 career advantage over “Uncle Sumo”, so maybe he can disrupt Aminishiki’s string of wins.
Daiamami vs. Kagayaki – First match between these two, and it would be easy to give an edge to Kagayaki. But Daiamami is a young rikishi who had a solid career in college sumo, and is looking to pave the road to a higher spot in the banzuke.
Kaisei vs. Okinoumi – I am going to cautiously say that maybe Okinoumi has a handle on his medical problems for now, and that we may see something closer to his performance during that barn-burner opening week of Nagoya 2016. Facing off against Kaisei today, who brings in a 2 win career advantage over the man from Shimane-ken in Western Japan.
Endo vs. Ikioi – Classic match of fan favorites, Ikioi has been flagging as late, while Endo is on an upward path after recovering from surgery. Ikioi has a 6-2 career advantage statistically, but I would give the advantage to Endo for this match.
Takarafuji vs. Tochinoshin – Both men have been under-performing this far, and both have a lot of potential for great sumo. I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s knee is back on the endangered species list, as we have not seen him unleash his enormous strength thus far in Kyushu.
Arawashi vs. Ichinojo – This one promises to be fun. Both come in to day 4 with 3-0 records. Arawashi has been running a high-speed mobile combat approach, where Ichinojo has reverted to his “Angry Bridge Abutment” mode. It’s speed and agility against size and brute strength. Where this one goes is anyone’s guess.
Hokutofuji vs. Tochiozan – Hokutofuji has delivered some solid sumo in the first 3 days, and I expect he is going to do his utmost to contain the flagging Tochiozan, who is fighting well below his potential. They have only fought twice, with each man taking a win.
Terunofuji vs. Kotoshogiku – Terunofuji has nothing left. Without his legs he cannot transmit power to ground, which is what sumo is all about. I give Kotoshogiku a significant advantage in this match.
Onosho vs. Yoshikaze – Interesting fact, Yoshikaze has yet to win a match from Onosho. I am sure this bothers him quite a bit, and I am hoping Yoshikaze expresses his frustration on day 4 – in the form of tsuppari applied to Onosho’s head.
Mitakeumi vs. Chiyonokuni – What could be another highlight match, we have a somewhat injured and less stable Mitakeumi against a Chiyonokuni who really seems to be running at full throttle every match. Mitakeumi showed some decent strength against Kotoshogiku on day 3, so expect plenty of action.
Goeido vs. Tamawashi – Goeido seems to be solidly booted up in 2.0 mode so far, and it’s a wonderful thing to see. I expect he is going to throw massive, no safety offense at Tamawashi. Tamawashi wants back in San’yaku, and he has a nice win over Kisenosato thus far. This could be another great match if Tamawashi can survive the tachiai.
Shohozan vs. Takayasu – Home town boy Shohozan is a tough customer, and he’s going to have his hands full with Takayasu, who has been delivering power sumo daily so far. But Takayasu’s day 3 match was rough, unbalanced and almost went to Onosho. Look for the Ozeki to try and lock up Shohozan rather than the run-and-gun approach he let Onosho dictate on day 3.
Kisenosato vs. Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s day 3 match against Hakuho had a couple of surprises that went by at a blistering speed. My favorite was where he set up a throw against the Yokozuna, and almost made it stick. Kisenosato is at least one gear lower than he normally fights, so Takakeisho may find more leverage on day 4. Their only prior match went to the Yokozuna.
Chiyotairyu vs. Hakuho – Chiyotairyu gave Kisenosato a good run on day 3, but Hakuho is in no need of confidence boosters. I would expect a quick match with Hakuho the winner. It should be noted that Hakuho has not lost in their prior encounters (6).
The schedulers have given sumo fans many wonderful gifts for Tuesday, and we are eager to enjoy them. It seems that it was decided that day three would be twins day, and so most rikishi are facing their “twin”. We have two giant men of girth, two youngsters who could push a Volkswagen up a hill without breaking a sweat, a pair of brawlers… Well, you get the idea!
The open questions we have going into day three include: 1. Is Harumafuji going to be able to gamberize and stick in the rotation? 2. How hurt is Aoiyama? 3. How hurt is the perpetually injured Kotoyuki? 4. What is it going to take to get Terunofuji to admit he’s injured and should not be playing kaiju today?
What We Are Watching Day Three
Kotoyuki vs. Myogiryu – Kotoyuki seemed to have injured his ankle on day two, but this guy is almost always hurt in some way. I hope that it was only light damage and he will be fit and ready for battle. He holds an 8-2 career lead over Myogiryu, but this will come down to injuries.
Nishikigi vs. Aminishiki – The only prior time these two faced off was in Juryo, and Nishikigi was the winner. For the first two days Aminishiki has looked very smooth and in control, and Nishikigi is not really showing us amazing sumo yet. So I would give a slight advantage to Uncle Sumo for this one.
Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama – These two are practically the same rikishi, that’s what makes this match so delightful! The primary difference is that Kagayaki gains weight in unfortunate locations, and Asanoyama is such a happy guy he may just laugh about it.
Kaisei vs. Aoiyama – Two rotund giants in a battle of the “Too Big To Flail”. Seriously though, probably a forfeit win for Kaisei as I hear Aoiyama really cranked up his ankle on day two.
Endo vs. Shodai – Ah Shodai, I am going to assume that Endo is going to make you pay for your high and slow tachiai. Endo seems to be bouncing back hard now, and if he can keep himself free of injuries, may be capable of rejoining the joi soon. For Endo fans that would be a welcome return. For Shodai, once he fixes his tachiai he’s going to make his next move higher.
Ichinojo vs. Hokutofuji – Both of these guys are showing some great sumo so far. I do love that they are going to put them head to head and see what happens. Hokutofuji has been quite fast and low so far, but against Ichinojo, it may not matter. Imagine being locked in hand to hand combat with a bridge abutment. Such a situation is going to require unusual tactics.
Shohozan vs. Chiyonokuni – Two sluggers going toe to toe. Chiyonokuni needs to start winning some, but home town boy Shohozan is starting off on a hot streak. My prediction for this fight is fast and painful, with more than one fierce blow to the face.
Mitakeumi vs. Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku has had a crappy first set of matches, and he has eaten a good amount of clay in front of his home town fans. Now he faces an injured Mitakeumi, and I am guessing we are going to see some pelvic thrusts of extraordinary magnitude.
Terunofuji vs. Yoshikaze – Terunofuji has no knees left. I fear a replay of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Much as we love both Terunofuji and Yoshikaze, this bout is going to be unpleasant to watch.
Onosho vs. Takayasu – Oh what wonders! A first time match between a powerful, brutal Ozeki and a potent up-start. I think the advantage here is Takayasu, but I am eager to see what tactics Onosho employs.
Goeido vs. Tochiozan – I am looking for more Geoido 2.0 here, and I would think that Tochiozan is at least considering a henka.
Takakeisho vs. Hakuho – A rematch we have all been waiting for. What kind of lessons will the Boss hand out to upstart Takakeisho today? Or can the angriest of tadpoles take back some dignity from the rikishi who schooled him in Nagoya?
Harumafuji vs. Tamawashi – A big test match for Harumafuji, if he loses again today it’s clear he is too banged up to compete. I know for a fact that Harumafuji would rather this not be the case, so we may finally see him unleash some of his more defensive tricks. But Tamawashi does indeed know how to win against Harumafuji, so both men will fight hard.
Kisenosato vs. Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is now super-sized for your entertainment, and he gets to test a still-questionable Kisenosato. Today should be the day we can tell if Kisenosato is going to be able to go the distance, or if he is still too hurt to practice Yokozuna level sumo.
The Makuuchi corps put a very sloppy day one behind them, and delivered some excellent sumo action on day two. There were several fine battles of strength and will, and fans will marvels at Aminishiki’s skill and minimalistic approach to victory. Also of note, Endo fans are going to love today’s match – it seems like he may be past whatever trouble he had with his earlier injuries.
Two top men from Isegahama have us worried. Terunofuji clearly has no strength in his legs, and is more or less done for until his knees can heal up. As much as we all adore a giant McDonald’s-fries-eating kaiju in our sumo, it’s clear there is little chance he can defend his Ozeki bid. Just as troubling is the sumo of Yokozuna Harumafuji, who is clearly not up to speed yet. Our concern is that the Aki basho, which he slogged through in spite of whatever injury plagued him, was too much. Now we worry he is paying the price for his endurance.
Nishikigi defeats Ishiura – It’s natural to ask, “What happened to Ishiura?” A year ago he burst onto the dohyo and took everyone by surprise. Today he lost to Nishikigi. Not to slam Nishikigi, but Ishiura is a shadow of himself a year ago. Nishikigi got him moving and chased him off the dohyo.
Myogiryu defeats Daiamami – These two went at it for a good while, locked on each other’s mawashi, with Myogiryu eventually getting Daiamami upright and pushing him out.
Aminishiki defeats Kagayaki – Uncle Sumo made quick work of Kagayaki, meeting him at the tachiai, then moving back and pulling him down. Aminishiki once again made it look smooth and easy. It’s really neat to watch this much experience on the dohyo, as Aminishiki has been doing this for so long, one marvels at just how efficient the guy is.
Okinoumi defeats Aoiyama – I cheered this one, as Okinoumi has been struggling for a few tournaments. He actually had control of this match early, and danced Aoiyama around before pushing him backwards across the bales. It seems that Aoiyama injured his ankle in the match, sadly.
Ikioi defeats Asanoyama – The real Ikioi showed up today and decided to do some sumo, and it was great to watch. He took control from the start. He attempted a throw, but could not get it done. It didn’t matter, though, as he kept moving forward and Asanoyama could not mount a defense.
Endo defeats Kaisei – May have been the highlight match of the day, these two engaged in a vigorous mawashi battle that raged back and forth. Endo took the match with a shitatehineri, for those of you collecting kimarite. I really like the more genki version of Kaisei.
Shodai defeats Chiyoshoma – Still high at the tachiai, but today Shodai looked strong, confident and swiftly drove Chiyoshoma back and out. Can this version of Shodai please stick around? He’s the one we all like.
Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Relieved to see a solid, strong win from the big Georgian. He continues to struggle with his bad knee, but today he showed his remarkable strength. He wrapped up Daishomaru and marched him out quickly.
Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Another protracted mawashi battle, which Ichinojo was all too happy to take to closure. Ichinojo seems to have picked up where he left off at Aki, and is showing some pretty solid sumo. I am looking forward to some of his matches against the San’yaku.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Second day in a row Hokutofuji gets a half step ahead of his opponent and just drives him back and out. Whatever Mitakeumi did to his foot seems to really be bothering him, as he can’t seem to apply much power to his attacks.
Shohozan defeats Terunofuji – Its clear that Terunofuji has absolutely no traction now, his knee is not strong enough for him to really do much sumo, and this tournament is going to be a daily visit from Mr. Pain for him. Shohozan seems to have almost took pity on him. Unless something changes, I am worried he won’t be able to win any matches this basho.
Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze continues to be very streaky, and like Aki, he is starting off cold. Chiyotairyu took control of the match early and kept up the pressure. Yoshikaze more or less collapsed under his punishing attacks.
Goeido defeats Kotoshogiku – Some readers were upset with the Tachiai team during Aki because early coverage of Goeido was negative. As we explained at the time, it’s because he is capable of what we have seen the past two days. Strong, fast, low, aggressive and basically unstoppable.
Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – My pre-basho worries about Takayasu have more or less been quieted now. He looked solid against Tochiozan, and seems to be healthy enough to secure his 8.
Takakeisho defeats Harumafuji – Dear Harumafuji does not look good right now. I know he had a cold start at Aki as well, but it’s a tough basho for him, losing to two tadpoles in the first two days. Takakeisho did seem to overpower the Yokozuna, putting Harumafuji on defense (and a shaky one at that) right away.
Kisenosato defeats Onosho – Kisenosato picks one up as Onosho loses traction at the tachiai and drops. I am sure the recovering Yokozuna will take the win.
Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – Hakuho lands his left hand belt grip on Tamawashi that spins him around, and then pushes him out from behind. While I was hoping for some sort of “Flying Lesson”, this outcome is less hazardous for Tamawashi. The Boss is looking strong once more, and everyone else will need to get past him for the yusho.
Ishiura: “The last time I was on a Jungyo in the Tottory prefecture, I was in the Juryo division. I’m happy to be here now as a Makuuchi wrestler. I felt invigorated here today, and I repaid by doing good sumo”.
As you can see in this video, there are some serious wanpaku wrestlers (child wrestlers – these were all primary or secondary school children, so no more than 15 years old!) in Tottori. I think it actually wasn’t fair to counter by tsuppari to the face, because that’s forbidden in wanpaku sumo (only allowed to professionals).
Ishiura wasn’t taking any risks wrestling with those kids himself, and left the hard work to a sekiwake, opting to play the gyoji:
But he did win his bout with Takekaze today by Okuridashi.
Edit: A video with some bouts materialized! Ishiura cleared of henka charges!
This also allows us to keep up the tally: Hakuho 7 : Kisenosato 4!
Edit2: A full video of the Kisenosato/Hakuho bout, full version including chikara-mizu and full shikiri, plus yumitori at the end:
The chikara-mizu also tells us that Kakuryu has beaten Goeido (and that Terunofuji also won, but we knew that from the previous video).
Ishiura-Takekaze including tachiai (different angle):
So why did I open with Terunofuji? While the official channels celebrated Ishiura, most tweets I found were more around the theme of “Terunofuji is back! And he’s genki!”. “It was great to see Teru again!” and so on.
The Tottori crowd considers Terunofuji to be a local, as he started his career in the famous sumo program of the Tottori Johoku high school, headed by none other than Ishiura’s father. It was Ishiura senior who noticed the young kaiju’s unbelievable strength, and advised him “If your opponents get a grip on your mawashi, bear-hug them”.
Terunofuji was in a bright mood, and practiced with Shodai and Daieisho. Here you can see him in a reverse butsukari:
And here, in what seems to be a rather painful (for Daieisho) uwatenage. Notice the rapt attention on the faces of Takarafuji and Onosho:
His bout of the day is also included in the second video above, as is Takanoiwa’s, who was also in the same school (Ichinojo, too, but he is currently off the Jungyo).
To compensate for the complete lack of bout information (in the first version of this post), here are some Jungyo interviews (these are from the beginning of the Jungyo, but surfaced on Twitter only today):
Q: Do you feel pride for being the only Japanese-born Yokozuna?
A: Being a Yokozuna, one usually has both self-awareness and self-confidence to wrestle steadfastly and produce results.
Q: You won the All-Japan Rikishi Championship tournament on October 2nd. What is your response?
A: It was only hana-zumo, but I am happy I produced a good result. I want to steadily develop a winning habit.
Q: You had to go kyujo in the middle of the Nagoya basho, and did not participate in the Aki basho at all. What are your feeling as you head towards the Kyushu basho?
A: I want to take the challenge of the honbasho by working on tuning my condition and my rhythm, and increasing my power during the Jungyo.
(I think he’s the only Yokozuna ever to have his interview accompanied by a picture with a towel on his head. To compare, Kisenosato’s picture was one with his oicho-mage)
Q: You were the only Yokozuna to ascend the dohyo in the Aki basho. Did you feel any pressure?
A: I concentrated on doing my bouts one at a time. During the playoff bout I felt nothing but fighting spirit.
Q: Tell us about about your readiness for the Kyushu basho
A: There is still some time before the basho, and my wish is to work slowly and diligently, listening to my body, towards the basho.
Q: Do you enjoy anything about the Jungyo?
A: It’s a good opportunity to raise the knowledge of sumo among the fans. I would like everybody to enjoy the atmosphere of the Jungyo where, unlike honbasho, you can take pictures and get in contact with the wrestlers.
Q: The Aki basho was your 10th straight kachi-koshi. What were your feelings as you faced it?
A: As always, I faced is as a challenger. I think that may have brought me the special prize.
Q: Aren’t you under pressure to improve your kachi-koshi record in the kyushu basho?
A: I intend to face the challenge with all my heart, not giving up regardless of the results.
Q: After having undergone surgery in July in your left ankle, you ended up with a double-figure winning record in the Aki basho. How did you control your feelings?
A: I did not recover completely before the basho. I am glad that I could relax well enough to be able to wrestle without worsening my condition.
Q: Are you aware of the common opinion that you have a beautiful shiko?
A: I don’t try to perform it in an especially pretty way. My shiko now is the same as I was taught when I was a boy.
Q: Your little brother is also an active rikishi. What kind of an influence does that have on you?
A: I want to be better than my little brother, so I regard him as a rival.
Q: Do you feel the weight of the “Chiyo” in your shikona?
A: I was very happy when I was given my shikona. I finally felt that I was truly a member of the Kokonoe beya, and this motivated me.
Q: How do you feel about having the Jungyo in Chiba, where your heya is located?
A: I feel stimulated by the support of the local people.
Q: Many people don’t know how to pronounce your shikona. What do you feel about that name?
A: I feel I was given a good name. I’ll gambarize to make more people remember my name.
He came early to the morning practice, and found himself the only member of the joi present. So he got right up on the dohyo and did 14 bouts (opponents unspecified), of which he won 11 and lost 3. You could see him establish a left-hand upper grip right off the tachiai, and powerfully pushing his opponent all in one go. “Not good enough yet. I want to increase the number of bouts.” he said. When asked if he has any concerns regarding his body he replied with a smile “Yes, I have many of those”.
The Isenoumi wrestler, who was absent from the jungyo due to back pains, revealed that he was diagnosed following the Aki basho with a bulging disc, causing him pains whenever he leaned forward. He was advised not to have surgery, but instead to strengthen the muscles in the affected area, and lose some weight to take some of the load off it. He is on a diet following that advice.
Today he was not doing any on-dohyo exercise, except kiddie sumo, accompanied by cheers from the local crowd, as he is himself from the Osaka Prefecture.
He practiced yesterday in Kishiwada, but did not participate in the torikumi, instead heading back to Tokyo. “It’s a hernia, but it’s a preexisting condition. The affected area has probably been overloaded”, said Tamanoi Oyakata, deputy head of the Jungyo department. “It’s not severe.”
The dai-yokozuna once again dedicated over five minutes to the youngster (shouldn’t he have deducted their Nagoya bout?), and sent him rolling on the ground time and time again.
The Takanohana wrestler was, of course, grateful for the privilege. “It’s not something he would have done for someone he thinks nothing of.”
Following his disastrous Nagoya basho, Takakeisho says he has learned his lesson: “I became depressed after the initial setbacks, and that made it hard for me to even out my score later on. I need to give 100%, grasp at the challenge, and stir things up without thinking too deeply”. Originating from the nearby Hyogo prefecture, Takakeisho vowed that by the next Osaka honbasho, he will be in sanyaku.