Hello Tachiai readers. Hohisashiburi! Today, not many of the big names of the lower divisions were in play – there’s going to be a big burst of them tomorrow – but still, I collected several bouts for you, including three loose themes:
Bruce’s “Ones To Watch”
Wrestlers of past glory trying to work their way back
Welcome to the end of act 1 – In the lower divisions, it has less of an effect than it does for sekitori, but we can already see how the lower division “Ones to Watch” are setting up for the remainder of the Natsu basho. In day 4 action, we had a large number of our cohort in action, with many of them in Sandanme. Amakaze, Terunofuji and Roga all won, while Musashikuni and Shoji lost, further lowering the overall Musashigawa heya’s record.
On to the matches!
Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – A 0-2 bracket match, both of these rikishi share the Makushita 1 rank, and as is typical for the bloody battlefield at the top of sumo’s 3rd division, there is carnage everywhere. For these two, it’s about survival now. Both of them need 4 wins to get their ticket stamped to Juryo, but that looks like a long, steep climb from here.
Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – It’s Ichiyamamoto’s turn to head to Juryo, this time to face the flying monkey; Tobizaru. Ichiyamamoto has tied his highest ever rank this basho, and with both Makushita 1’s in a tight spot, the Juryo promotion lanes my be a bit more open than usual. Time to step on the gas, guys.
Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – Two early favorites for the front of any promotion queue, the only two rikishi at the top of Makushita who are unbeaten face each other tonight for sole possession of the overtaking lane. Both are sharp, capable and healthy. Furthermore, both of them show considerable amount of planning in each match, and I think this could be a highlight bout of the day.
Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 1-1 bracket match, Midorifuji is still in great shape working towards 4 wins. He has faced Kototebakari once before, for a loss.
Terunofuji vs Komakiryu – For these two it’s 2-0 head to head on day 5, but it’s an odd match up to be certain. Komakiryu is a 34 year old veteran from Kise heya, and spent a good amount of time in Makushita before drifting back down to Sandanme. Terunofuji is still not even close to his real capabilities, but is improved from Osaka. Winner advances to the 3-0 bracket.
Wakaichiro vs Amamidake – For Wakaichiro fans, the numbers are grim. Currently at 0-2, both matches featured frustrating surprises that has left Wakaichiro without a win. The good news is that there is still a path to kachi-koshi, and Wakaichiro has recovered from this situation in the past.
Kitanowaka vs Yabugasaki – The young Jonokuchi sensation will face another newcomer who is a height and weight match for him. As always, its tough to rank new recruits straight from Maezumo, and we expect the Nagoya banzuke to have a better sort order. If anything, Kitanowaka may be under-ranked right now.
Unlike last year, this May’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council soken – an event held before the Natsu basho where rikishi work out in front of the YDC and are appraised thusly – was closed to the public. We had a friend in the media on hand, who furnished us with the media handout detailing the height and weight updates that were taken and published earlier in the week by the Sumo Association.
This is by no means incredibly “new news,” but I thought it would be fun to give a brief update on some easily digestible stats published from this document, in case anyone’s interested:
Tallest rikishi (Makuuchi): Kaisei, 195cm. Closely followed by Ichinojo and Kagayaki, both 193cm.
Tallest rikishi (Juryo): Ikioi immediately becomes the tallest in the division upon his demotion, at 194cm. Closely followed by Takagenji, Kyokushuho, Azumaryu, all 191cm.
Shortest rikishi (Makuuchi): Enho, 168cm. Terutsuyoshi is just taller at 169cm, followed by Ishiura at 174cm.
Shortest rikishi (Juryo): Toyonoshima, 169cm. After him it’s all the way up to Daishomaru at 174cm and Tobizaru at 175cm.
Heaviest rikishi (Makuuchi): It’s Ichinojo and it’s not even close. He’s up to 227kg, which is a gain of 1kg from the previous weigh-in. After him, the next closest is Kaisei, at 204kg. So, it’s fairly astonishing that there’s a 23 kg difference (a quarter of an Enho) between the heaviest and second heaviest rikishi in the top division.
Heaviest rikishi (Juryo): Mitoryu now clocks in at an even 200kg. This makes him 1kg heavier than the next heaviest Juryo rikishi, Gagamaru.
Lightest rikishi (Makuuchi): No surprise here, it’s Enho, at 99kg (and according to the NSK he’s actually lost a kilo). Again, he’s followed by Ishiura (115kg) and Terutsuyoshi (116kg), who were both even.
Lightest rikishi (Juryo): Wakatakakage (125kg), followed by Kiribayama (129kg) and Tobizaru (135kg).
Biggest weight gain (Makuuchi): Chiyomaru added an incredible 8 kilos, and is now at 193. Asanoyama (177kg) and Chiyotairyu (198kg) both added 7kg. So, it will be interesting to see how they’re all moving.
Biggest weight loss (Makuuchi): Stablemates Tochinoshin and Aoiyama both dropped 5 kilos, landing themselves at 170kg and 193kg respectively. Veteran “Big Guns” Shohozan also shed 5kg, to end up at a more trim 137kg.
Average Makuuchi stature: 183.4cm, 163.9kg. On the whole this is a decrease in 2.3kg from the previous weigh-in. This means the average top division rikishi would be of a similar build to Goeido (184cm, 160kg) or Shodai (184cm, 165kg).
Average Juryo stature: 183.4cm, 159.8kg. While Juryo rikishi are 4kg lighter than their top division counterparts on average, the group did increase by 2.7kg on average. Much of that can probably be explaining by swapping in Ikioi for Enho. The average Juryo rikishi would be of a similar build to Takanosho (183cm, 161kg).
While these kinds of numbers don’t necessarily tell us a whole lot in isolation, they can be helpful when it comes to understanding the performance of a rikishi relative to his previous tournament, as well as and understanding of his potential physicality compared to others in the division.
Edit: Our friends over at Inside Sport Japan have shared a shot of the full list (in Japanese):
Today we are still in Tokyo, in a part that’s mostly known for the Haneda Airport which is located there. Indeed, the official name for today’s event is “Haneda International Basho”.
An update on the sick list: Chiyonoumi is once again off the Torikumi, Yoshikaze is back on it.
We have already seen rikishi arrive early in the morning, eyes blurry, getting off busses, etc. But who are these two elegant gentlemen showing up at the venue? Are they lawyers? Doctors?
No, those are in fact these two gentlemen and co-workers from Kokoknoe beya:
Namely, yobidashi Shigeru, and Gyoji Kimura Konosuke. And Konosuke looks spiffy in his usual red kimono, and… what’s this, a tantō?
We are always told that only a tate-gyoji (that is, either Kimura Shonosuke or Shikimori Inosuke) wear a tanto – the short sword tucked into the left side of the belt. This is a symbolic expression of the gyoji’s commitment to perform seppuku if he misjudges a bout. So what is Konosuke doing wearing one? He is a mere san-yaku gyoji, there is not a hint of purple in his laces!
The answer to that is that while san-yaku gyoji do not wear tanto during bouts, they do wear it when they accompany a Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And it’s Konosuke’s turn today to accompany Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind. Back to the hand-shaking corner of the venue, where the Iwasaki brothers are showing us their muscles:
At one side of the venue, Abi is working out with Shodai. Well, kind of:
Shohozan is doing suri-ashi and manages to frighten the NSK’s SNS team:
Kotoeko is also working on his lower body:
Enho is also near one of the walls, having a quiet morning workout with Tobizaru:
But Enho has got to be the most popular wrestler in the top two divisions, because we shortly find him also serving as Mitakeumi’s teppo pole:
The little teppo pole turns all rebellious all of a sudden.
Perhaps the most impressive Enho practice pic of the day is this one:
The size difference between these two is enormous. Ichinojo is slightly bigger than two Enhos combined.
Next to the dohyo, Takayasu decides to give Onosho some personal tutoring.
I mean, close personal tutoring:
That is, very close, and very personal tutoring:
OK, well, they actually were practicing sumo there. Suri-ashi, for example:
He was also teaching him his new move:
We will reveal to you in a day or two what the secret move is! But in the meantime, let’s look at some practice bouts: Ryuden-Aoiyama, Asanoyama-Hokutofuji. Followed by a short glimpse of Hakuho and Takayasu who are not doing any on-dohyo practice at the moment.
With practice over, the rikishi head for the showers, which happen to be on-location this time. This means a great line of fans waiting outside of the shower.
Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And this time Enho is on the East side (not that he participates in the torikumi or anything), which makes Chiyomaru on the West lonely. He has no one to bump into… except Daiamami:
By the way, this day is Chiyomaru’s birthday! This has to be the reason why the only bout I have is his bout with Kotoyuki:
Kotoyuki sends the birthday boy almost into the arms of the awaiting Makuuchi wrestlers down the hana-michi.
Chiyomaru hurries out to celebrate his birthday with some cake, which the reporters have promised him. And in his hurry, he doesn’t notice he has interrupted a significant moment:
That moment which he has interrupted is the moment in which Kasugaryu hands over his bow to Shohoryu, who is wearing an oicho-mage for the first time and is about to perform his first yumi-tori shiki.
But that let’s see what kind of birthday celebration Chiyomaru gets.
Ah, this kind:
Congratulations, round one! Now it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri and Yokozuna dohyo-iri.
But it’s hard to be a Yokozuna when everybody around you, including your tsukebito, tsuyuharai and tachi-mochi, exchange jokes and laugh out loud, and you are the only one who has to control his face:
Now all the Makuuchi wrestlers can get ready for their bouts. Like, for example, Nishikigi and Ryuden
Interesting way to pass the time. But not as interesting as Shodai’s way:
The two clowns are everywhere. Ichinojo suddenly has a mind to get friendly with Shodai. Shodai is not in the mood to be crushed right before his bout:
Luckily for him, somebody calls out “Ichinojo zeki”. He immediately points out to Ichinojo that a fan of his has arrived:
Ichinojo complies, and puts on his fansa face:
We are not done with Nishikigi. He is still in the joi, so that means he waits for his bout a long time. And that means a lot of mischief. This time the victim is pretty Toshonishiki:
Again, recall that Nishikigi has the strongest armpits in Makuuchi. I wouldn’t want to trade places with poor Toshonishiki.
What does the expression on Onosho’s face mean? Is he admiring Abi’s shiko? Or is he preparing a salt-laden ladle? You be the judge.
Just to prove to you that Hakuho is not alone in being chased by the fans, here is Kakuryu on the way to his bout:
He certainly doesn’t need to find something to keep him busy during the wait.
Finally, as anticipated, let’s take a look at Shohoryu’s debut yumi-tori shiki:
Green, very green. He’ll need to learn how to wear a kesho-mawashi – his fundoshi is showing through. And he had a few mistakes here and there. But he is better than Kasugaryu at passing the bow behind his back.
And I leave off with the pin-up of the day – Asanoyama: