Natsu Day 1 Preview

Welcome back dear readers! It’s honbasho time, and the team behind Tachiai are very excited about the potential of this tournament. As we have seen in the past two years, any basho that has Kakuryu as the lone Yokozuna tends to be a battle royale, with a much wider field of competitors for the Emperor’s Cup, even into act 3. The scenario favors two rikishi in my mind – Takayasu and Tochinoshin.

Takayasu because he has been “just short of” yusho level sumo a few times. The big question is his back, which he has been struggling to keep in working order. There was a lot of commentary following the joint keiko sessions this week, and the comment at the YDC soken that Takayasu was not doing “his brand of sumo”. Sadly I have yet to see it in any detail, but I suspect we are seeing continuing evolution of Takayasu into a form that can compete closer to Yokozuna level.

Tochinoshin will come as a surprise to some readers. The fellow is on the outs now, having at least temporarily lost his Ozeki rank due to back to back make-koshi, brought on by a foot injury. Thanks to a commentator, we think of Tochinoshin as a “glass cannon”, with tremendous power as long as he is structurally intact. If Tochinoshin shows up healthy and in good working order, that enormous strength (he has the strength of a bear, that has the strength of two bears) can overcome practically anyone.

A reminder about how these basho start: Act one (the first 5 days) is all about getting people up to basho intensity, knocking off the ring rust, and starting to tune up the named ranks for the big fights later in acts 2 and 3. We may see some iffy sumo today, so don’t take it too seriously, and enjoy the next 15 days – it’s bound to be intense.

What We Are Watching Day 1

Chiyoshoma vs Toyonoshima – With Hakuho kyujo, there is a torikumi imbalance that will see a daily visitor from Juryo, unless and until someone else in Makuuchi decides to go kyujo as well. At Juryo 1 East, Toyonoshima could be back in the top division for the sweat-box in Nagoya if he can rack up 8 wins. Chiyoshoma will possibly be working on his henka.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – While both men were make-koshi in Osaka, both of them managed to remain in the top division because so many rikishi at the bottom of Makuuchi had such terrible records. Watch for the glorious Terutsuyoshi salt throw, and for Kotoeko to work to keep Terutsuyoshi to his own front quarter.

Tokushoryu vs Enho – Enho’s first ever match ranked as a Maegashira, and I hope everyone who has not had a chance to watch his sumo before gets a high energy, enjoyable match. That fellow is indomitable.

Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi – The bulbous Chiyomaru returns to the top division, and his first match is against fellow veteran Sadanoumi. Chiyomaru leads the series 8-3.

Shimanoumi vs Yago – After back-to-back Juryo yusho, Shimanoumi makes his Maegashira debut. In spite of his 6-9 record for Osaka, Yago is not out of his element in Makuuchi, and I expect him to find his pace this tournament, and become a mainstay of the top division.

Shohozan vs Tochiozan – A battle of the “ozan”, where the typically agile Tochiozan will attempt to out maneuver the street brawler Shohozan.

Kagayaki vs Onosho – It’s clear that Onosho is not quite back to his old fighting form which saw him kachi-koshi at Komusubi during Kyushu 2017. His 5-10 record in Osaka was a big setback for a rikishi that many see as an upgraded version of Takakeisho.

Nishikigi vs Tomokaze – A first time match between sumo’s underdog in Nishikigi, and young rising star Tomokaze. Many fans (myself included) were surprised that Nishikigi was able to survive for three tournaments in the joi-jin before a solid make-koshi pushed him back down to Maegashira 9.

Kaisei vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has manage to beat Kaisei only once in their 5 prior matches, but this may be a different day. Kaisei tends to exhibit a good amount of ring-rust at times, and if Asanoyama comes into the match sharp and ready, he may get the jump on the Brazilian.

Shodai vs Meisei – I give Shodai an over-sized portion of grief most tournaments. He seems to have all the pieces for top level sumo, but just cannot seem to bring them together consistently. He is up against a surging Meisei, who is fighting at his highest ever rank. Shodai won their only prior match.

Takarafuji vs Yoshikaze – Can Yoshikaze muster the energy to dominate his matches? For fans of the Berserker, it’s been tough to watch him fade a bit in the past year. Likewise Takarafuji seems to have lost a half step in his sumo. This match is sure to be encrusted with ring rust, so bring one of those green scratchy pads if you are showing up at the Kokugikan to watch.

Ryuden vs Myogiryu – In the midst of the blood bath at the bottom of the Makuuchi banzuke in Osaka, Ryuden managed to finish 10-5, and neatly identify himself as ready to return to higher rank. Today is a great test, as he has not beaten Myogiryu in either of their prior matches.

Okinoumi vs Abi – Are you ready for more Abi-zumo? I know I am! So what if he’s a bit one-dimensional, it’s always a good day when he is on the torikumi. He’s against Okinoumi, who is an excellent technical rikishi, and holds a 2-1 career lead over the man with the flailing arms…

Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – I was disappointed when Tamawashi finished Osaka 5-10, as he is a solid Sekiwake-class rikishi. But today he gets to put his brutal shove-piggy-shove attack against the bludgeoning meat mountain Aoiyama. Given the propensity for day 1 ring rust, this might not be the slug fest that one would want to see from these two.

Chiyotairyu vs Tochinoshin – I liken Chiyotairyu to taking a Brinks armored truck, and fitting a top-fuel dragster engine to it. There will be a lot of mass moving at extreme speed, but past that you may be in trouble. If Tochinoshin can survive the tachiai and following slap down move, he should be in good position to use the skycrane and rack his first win on the road to 10. (He has a convincing 6-2 record against Chiyotairyu, whose style of sumo plays right into Tochinoshin’s enormous hands –PinkMawashi)

Ichinojo vs Daieisho – Which Ichinojo is going show up? The cuddly Ichinojo, or the pony tosser? If we see even a hint of his Osaka style sumo, it’s going to be a tough basho for a lot of rikishi. Plus, it looks like Ichinojo put on some extra mass…

Takakeisho vs Endo – Welcome to the Ozeki ranks, Takakeisho! Its great to have some young blood up at this level, and I think you are going to do well. Up first is a distinct challenge in Endo, who brings a very intelligent, maneuver-centric sumo to the dohyo. If Takakeisho can get his offensive rhythm established, he should have this match.

Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – With a 11-4 finish at Osaka, Kotoshogiku looked a bit like his old, Ozeki class self. We get to see if he has been able to keep up the intensity with this day 1 match with Takayasu, who seems to be struggling a bit if pre-basho scouting reports are accurate.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s sumo has many aspects in common with Goeido’s, they both tend to blast out of the tachiai and stake everything on a big opening gambit. Goeido clearly knows how to shut down Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai”, so maybe Hokutofuji won’t go for the nodowa, and we will see something new.

Mitakeumi vs Kakuryu – Kakuryu has not been able to dominate Mitakeumi, and their career record is tied at 5-5., with Mitakeumi taking the last 2. There are remaining questions about Mitakeumi’s knee, and general overall health, while Kakuryu appears to be in excellent form. I am keenly interested in this match.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 14

Guess who’s back?

🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.

As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.

The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 7

🌐 Location: Tsu, Mie prefecture

The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.

There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 5

🌐 Location: Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture

Today was the second day in Hyogo prefecture – but right on the opposite side of it than Day 4’s event. Early morning, the dohyo is already consecrated from the day before.

And… what’s this parking right in front of the entrance to the venue?

Why, it’s Ryota Hama’s Chanko Nabe bus!

While in Tokyo or Osaka honbasho you rely either on the food supply inside the venue or the regular restaurants around it, events in small towns rely on mobile stalls. So as yobidashi Hiromasa calls the townspeople with his drum, a little matsuri is being set up around the venue.

And early-bird Hama got the most lucrative location, right at the entrance! Mmmm… chanko!

But not yet, the stalls are just being set up. First, it’s time to shake hands with some favorite rikishi. For example, Hyogo local Terutsuyoshi.

Ah, the contrast between the beautiful kimono of those ladies gathering around him, and his own ratty yukata…

Yokozuna in the house!

Low-ranking rikishi practice on the dohyo, while around it some sekitori are starting to stretch and exercise:

Very entertaining squats on the left side there.

On the sidelines, Sadanoumi practices his oshi:

Ando is doing suri-ashi:

And so does Aoiyama, though in a totally different style:

It’s time for the Juryo rikishi’s practice on the dohyo. We have Kyokushuho with Wakamotoharu, then Kyokushuho with Azumaryu:

And in the session’s closure, Takakeisho gives butsukari to Wakamotoharu:

Then Makuuchi gets into the picture. Aoiyama faces Meisei, then Okinoumi, then Asanoyama, then the latter takes over and faces Ryuden.

This is not the end of the road for Ryuden, who later gets Mitakeumi (for some reason this bout appears twice in this video). Then we can see Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin:

Practice time is over, and we can relax and enjoy Shokkiri. Here is the full performance.

Apparently, in this Jungyo, the gyoji is getting creative. When the two performers fall down together, he leaves the dohyo, and consults with some spectator – preferably a child: “I should call that dotai, right?”.

“Dotai” is when both rikishi touch ground at the same time. In a normal bout, the gyoji doesn’t call it – the gyoji always has to point the gunbai one side or the other – and this is settled with a monoii and a torinaoshi. In shokkiri, of course, the gyoji makes all the decisions himself. Or with the help of a child, as it turns out.

Next up is the Jinku performance. And once again I have the full version:

But hey, aren’t you hungry? It’s nearly noon and we haven’t tasted that chanko, yet!

Apparently they also serve Udon. But who cares? Chanko!

There is also a mobile Takoyaki stall if you’re tired of Chanko, as some rikishi are

Both lunch and Jinku over, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And Sokokurai is arguing some point with Gagamaru:

Skipping the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri, right before Makuuchi, Takakeisho, the local hero, receives a bale of rice as a gift – and apparently, a large amount of beef.

The area of Toyooka is known for its stork-friendly rice. Apparently, Japanese storks have been on the decline, and the city of Toyooka is making an effort to bring them back, by raising rice that coexists with the creatures that storks feed on to sustain themselves. So Takakeisho got a bale of stork-friendly rice. I don’t know how stork-friendly the beef is, though.

So let’s see some bouts! Here we have a series of bouts from Juryo:

  • Daiseido-Kiribayama
  • Kyokushuho-Azumaryu
  • Daishomaru-Tokushoryu
  • Daiamami-Chiyomaru
  • Shimanoumi-Kotoyuki

This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:

  • Ishiura-Yutakayama
  • Kotoeko-Toyonoshima
  • Tomokaze-Kagayaki
  • Shohozan-Yago
  • Sadanoumi-Terutsuyoshi
  • Aoiyama-Asanoyama
  • Chiyotairyu-Okinoumi
  • Kaisei-Nishikigi

Tochiozan vs. Endo:

Sanyaku-soroi-bumi, and Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi

Tamawashi’s killer nodowa does it again.

Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:

I think Tochinoshin forgot that he was supposed to let the local boy win.

Finally, Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.

I think I have yet to see Kakuryu win a bout this basho.

Finishing with our pin-up… How about Nishikigi for a change?

The arms are strong with this one

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 3

🌐 Location: Nara, Nara prefecture

The Jungyo continues through Nara prefecture, and I have to admit I’m disappointed that none of the photos and videos I collected for this report and the previous one contains any deer. 🦌☹️

So let’s get right inside the venue, and take a look at the rikishi practicing. Meisei is having a nice chat with onosho while taping his feet up.

Onosho himself is both taping and stretching.

Mitakeumi and Enho seem to be practicing or discussing moves or doing a mock fight, except…

…except, what is Enho doing rubbing his face against Mitakeumi like a cute little kitten? Is that some new kimarite we have never heard of before? “Kawaisugitaoshi” – “takedown by cute overload”?

Takanosho is doing… what? The tweet says he has been repeating this for 30 minutes!

Please don’t tell me that this is a yoga exercise like the one Daishoho did yesterday.

As Kakuryu arrives at the Dohyo, everybody stands in line to greet him. Terutsuyoshi, however, takes his sweet time chatting with the Yokozuna

Once left on his own, Kakuryu practices squats with a load. Very nice posture:

Midway he becomes conscious of being filmed. That yokozuna is too cute for his own good. You’re supposed to be stoic, and preferably scary, yokozuna!

Daiseido is doing butsukari, borrowing Tochinoshin’s furry chest:

Tokushoryu, who was born and raised in Nara city, got butsukari from a Yokozuna yesterday. So today he has to settle for… Gagamaru?

Poor Tokushoryu – doesn’t get the privilege of a Yokozuna or Ozeki pushing him around, and has to contend with Gagamaru’s weight.

By the way, although on the official web site Gagamaru is described as weighing 199kg, it’s a lie. He usually asks for his weight not to be published, but it did leak out last year and it was 212kg. Yep, he weighs more than Kaisei.

So here are some practice bouts: Tomokaze vs. Abi, Onosho vs. Nishikigi.

Yeah, once Nishikigi got his mawashi, Onosho was doomed.

Practice over, it’s time to hit the shower. Or, in Japan, the shower and then the bath. And this means going out of the venue and off to some sento or onsen. And that’s exactly when fans want attention, autographs or photos taken. Takakeisho obliges, but also poses and directs the photographer:


“The lighting is better from that angle”

Tamawashi is all in a hurry and will not respond to fan requests… except ones shorter than 100cm.

It’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri, and a very freezing Uncle Sumo makes his way to the venue.

Nice shoes. Match the fringe of the kesho-mawashi.

In fact, everybody is cold. Well, maybe not Tsurugisho:

Interesting Paisley design there, Enho. Must be a hand-me-down from Hakuho… shortened by about half a meter.

Once the Juryo dohyo-iri and torikumi are done, it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And listen to how Takakeisho is announced:

Makuuchi dohyo-iri usually ends with an Ozeki. “And last… shin-Ozeki, Takakeisho, comes from Hyogo, Chiganoura beya”.

Takakeisho said in an interview a couple of days ago that the Jungyo finally made him feel that he is an Ozeki for real. It’s not just the dohyo-iri. Look how he travels these days:

Yes. That’s a limousine. It’s good to be Ozeki.

That’s a mon-tsuki kimono he is wearing, so he is not just arriving from the hotel, though. He probably went on a shrine visit of some sort.

Time for the bouts! And what better time is there to goof around? We are back to our comedy duo from yesterday, Nishikigi and Shodai. This time, Shodai is the one fooling around with Nishikigi’s glasses while Nishikigi is busy signing autographs.

Nishikigi is off to face Onosho, and Shodai takes this opportunity to…

…smear some of the suki-abura from his head on Nishikigi’s glasses’ lenses. Nishikigi’s tsukebito, as you can see, is not going to refuse a sekitori.

When Nishikigi returned, by the way, he put on his glasses, and exclaimed the Japanese equivalent of WTF… then proceeded to wipe them on his tsukebito’s yukata. At that point, Shodai was already near the dohyo, so no way to take revenge… but karma prevails, and Shodai loses his bout with Daieisho. He returns all crestfallen and runs crying into mommy’s arms.

“Mommy” in this case being Tamawashi. “There, there, don’t cry, there’s a good boy”.

Now, this generous Twitter user (her nickname is “stomach ache” for some reason) who took most of the videos both of day 2 and day 3, took some bouts as well this time. We start with Yutakayama vs. Kotoeko. Inexplicably, three kensho flags are paraded for this bout.

As a result, this develops into one of the most gachinko (honest) matches in the Jungyo. Kotoeko gets the envelopes.

Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi

Whoa, whoa, what was that? Tamawashi grabs da mawashi? And wins?? This bout was very entertaining.

Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:


Tochinoshin lands his favorite grip and it’s all over for the shin-Ozeki, who must be tired from that limousine ride.

Finally, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.

Mmm. The Yokozuna is not in a great shape.

So here is the high-quality summary video from Nara TV:

Tokushoryu: “Nara is said to be the birthplace of Sumo, but as there seem to be many people yet who have no idea of it, I will work hard to change the perception”.

Tokushoryu was honored with a Makuuchi bout today (vs. Chiyoshoma, as you can see in that video).

Finally, we are in our pin-up corner. It was a hard choice today. Should I have gone with the standard, namely, Enho?

Still not participating in the matches, but that doesn’t stop him from spreading fairy dust all over the venue. But maybe I should have gone with Arawashi instead:

Cute crow’s-feet. Nice teeth. Definitely pin-up material.

But I want to introduce you instead to a rather anonymous guy from Nishikido beya, serving, apparently, as Mitoryu’s tsukebito. He’s 20 years old, and this must be his first or second Jungyo. His name is Toshonishiki.

Definitely not Takarafuji

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

Venue at Gojo. A scrolling display is set up to show news of the new era name

🌐 Location: Gojo, Nara prefecture

Today the Jungyo hit the first of two stops at Nara prefecture – in the small town named Gojo, population 35,000 or so.

Early morning, and the sekitori started arriving at the venue through the cold weather:

You can see Yoshikaze and Enho there, but they are still not participating in any bouts. Yokozuna and Ozeki, by the way, may sleep separately from the rest, and therefore also arrive separately:

So let’s go around the venue and see what kind of practice the sekitori are having. Sadanoumi is giving his tsukebito some light butsukari practice:

And Daishoho is… what is Daishoho doing, exactly?

Maybe we shouldn’t show this video to anybody under 18.

At the Dohyo, Goeido is doing push-ups. Sort of:

If you recall, practice sessions on the dohyo consist mostly of moshi-ai sessions (winner decides who to call next), interspersed with higher-ranking rikishi going on the dohyo and giving all those who practiced in the most recent session some butsukari. So here are Mitakeumi and Shodai in one of those butsukari intermissions:

After the low-ranking rikishi finish their practice, it’s time for the sekitori to take the dohyo. Again, moshi-ai sessions commence – and Takagenji takes his (evil) twin.

…and this is exactly why Takanofuji is going to be out of that white Mawashi come Natsu.

The sekitori moshi-ai sessions are also punctuated by butsukari sessions. Today’s star is Tokushoryu, a native of Nara prefecture. He therefore gets treated to some Yokozuna butsukari. Kakuryu does the honors:

And here is the moshi-ai session between Tochiozan and Okinoumi, then Tochiozan and Aoiyama, then Aoiyama and Kagayaki:

Eventually, noon arrived, and with it the message to the Japanese nation: the new era that starts May 1st will be called “Reiwa” (令和). The whole nation is very excited about it, and head gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke, sets out to write the auspicious characters on a couple of large signs.

Gyoji serve as clerks when they are off the dohyo and out of their shiny outfits and headgear. They practice calligraphy from the moment they enter the sumo world (which, like rikishi, can be as early as age 15). Gyoji are in charge of writing all those signs with rikishi names on them, writing the banzuke, and so on. And of course, the head gyoji is also the head calligrapher.

And so, the Yokozuna were able to pay their respects to the name of the new era:

Kakuryu, “Reiwa”, Hakuho

By the way, the sharp-eyed kanji readers among you may notice that the nobori behind Kakuryu still has “Kisenosato” on it.

The sign (I think actually a second sign) ended up being hung inside the venue in time for the Makuuchi bouts.

Back to sumo activity, it was time for dohyo-iri. And Nishikigi was pestering Shodai incessantly:

Can’t exactly fathom why the old ladies believe that Shodai screaming is “kawaii!”.

Nishikigi wouldn’t let go of Shodai even after dohyo-iri:

Nor just before the bouts:

Literally, not letting the man go:

So here is a summary video with some actual bouts:

That is, Ishiura getting a mighty wedgie from Toyonoshima, Tokushoryu showing Takagenji why he may not yet make it to Makuuchi this time, and Takakeisho repeating his senshuraku performance with Tochinoshin.

Finally, how about a pin-up boy? I give you… Endo!

What do you mean “how do you know this is really Endo”?

Haru Day 8 Highlights

The middle day of the basho brought a welcome change in tone, as some long-suffering upper Maegashira finally got relief from the san’yaku pounding that was their daily lives. In response, we saw some rikishi score their first wins of the basho, and begin their long trek towards a more respectable final tally.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu visits from Juryo, and Chiyoshoma abandons any hopes of forward motion and pulls him down.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Yutakayama – Terutsuyoshi gets his second win of the tournament, and gets Yutakayama moving faster than I have ever seen before. I would guess that Yutakayama is headed back to Juryo.

Kotoeko defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze seems to have the stronger opening, even batting Kotoeko’s head around a few times for good measure. But while Tomokaze was busy doing all of this, Kotoeko lands a solid grip and takes control. The much larger, stronger Tomokaze gets suprised when Kotoeko “Hulks out” and employs some Kotoshogiku style offense, driving Tomokaze from the ring. Kotoeko is having a really good basho, and if he can keep this form he may be destined for a posting up the banzuke.

Yoshikaze defeats Daishoho – Yoshikaze seems to have turned a corner now, and is once again mustering at least enough power to win matches. Daishoho, for no reason I can think of, decided he was going to try to pull Yoshikaze down. A veteran like Yoshikaze can read your weight shift before you can apply force, Daishoho. Yoshikaze advances strongly into the pull, and wins.

Ryuden defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima continues to struggle in his return to Makuuchi. I really like Ryuden’s tachiai today, and you can see he lands that right hand grip immediately, and turns Toyonoshima to the side. Toyonoshima is never able to square his body, and is left trying anything to establish any offensive sumo.

Shohozan defeats Ishiura – Ishiura has returned to a low, “submarine” tachiai, which can work. But it’s a very narrow range between an advantageous body position, and a venerable one that surrenders any offensive sumo. Today Ishiura was too low, and Shohozan capitalized on his mistake.

Kagayaki defeats Yago – Kagayaki seems to have overcome his ring-rust, and is back to solid fundamentals. Yago seemed to have no answer to Kagayaki’s relentless drive forward, and strong pressure center-mass.

Meisei defeats Ikioi – Go to the hospital, Ikioi, you are too injured for proper sumo.

Aoiyama defeats Sadanoumi – Aoiyama’s sumo is right in his “butter zone” now, and he is sort of unstoppable at this level of the banzuke. A win tomorrow will net him a kachi-koshi.

Okinoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Okinoumi’s technical library on display again today, as he masterfully shuts down Kotoshogiku’s offensive gambits, and shows his superior balance and footwork. Kotoshogiku did get his hug-n-chug running, but Okinoumi is an old hand at defending against it, and was able to shift the match back in his favor by holding ground against the Kyushu Bulldozer.

Asanoyama defeats Abi – Abi again opens with his typical thrusting attack, and Asanoyama counters by moving closer and grabbing Abi’s mawashi. You can literally see Abi go slack as Asanoyama goes through a series of hip swings that keep Abi dancing to Asanoyama’s tune. Abi, you have a lot of potential, sir – we hope you can diversify.

Takarafuji defeats Onosho – “Ice Man” Takarafuji absorbs Onosho’s powerful opening attack, and focuses on getting himself in position to counterattack. Onosho can be counted on to over-commit, and Takarafuji takes him apart the moment his balance is too far forward. For Onosho backers, remember he just needs 8 wins.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyotairyu – Oh yes! Nishikigi gets his first win, with smart tactics against a pulling Chiyotairyu. When the Kokonoe man goes for the pull down (easy to anticipate), Nishikigi shows superior balance and footwork, and drives the big man out.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu has nothing in this match, and Daieisho makes him pay for trying to pull him down.

Kaisei defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s kryptonite strikes again, and Kaisei racks up his first win of the basho. A combination of a lot of pent up sumo offense on Kaisei’s part, and that knee injury on Mitakeumi’s part made this fairly one sided, but its good to see Kaisei get a win at last.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – I almost think Takakeisho is getting stronger, more aggressive. I am eager to see his week 2 matches really test him out, with most of the top-rankers now looking to be in good form.

Takayasu defeats Shodai – Ok, now I am starting to feel sorry for Shodai. Somebody shoot me. He has a pride-obliterating 0-8 make-koshi on day 8. Again we see a more “grab” focused Tachiai from Takayasu, and points to Shodai for a solid escape as the Ozeki can’t secure his grip. This moment of “escape” is where Shodai really shines, but Takayasu maintains focus and wins with an oshidashi.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo picks up his first loss of the basho, as Tochinoshin affirms he can still lift Ichinojo. Tochinoshin sidestepped the tachiai, and landed his left hand “doom grip” at the start. From there it was obvious that he was going to use his “lift and shift”, and he took several swings at that gambit before it finally payed off.

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – When Goeido gets like this, you are in for a rough ride, no matter who you might be. Tamawashi has a strong start, which includes a slap to the face. But while Tamawashi is focusing on Goeido’s head, his hands have found their mark in a mae-mitsu grip, and it’s all over for Tamawashi. Goeido’s little flourish at the end, as if he has taken the trash to the curb, is a nice touch.

Hakuho defeats Tochiozan – I call Hakuho the “Michael Joran of Sumo” for good reason. Like Jordan, Hakuho will at times do things that defy explanation except to chalk it up to overflowing natural ability that is beyond anything a typical human could expect. Tochiozan had him boxed up, labeled and on the loading ramp. But somehow Hakuho used his poor body position (sideways, being pushed out) to form a leverage point and throw Tochiozan via kotenage. I had to watch this several times, Hakuho is probably the greatest rikishi of my lifetime.

Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji opened strong, with a lot of energy in his pushing attack, and it was great to see the Yokozuna’s opening pulling attack defeated by Hokutofuji. But its very tough to outmaneuver Kakuryu, and he is a master at taking whatever you throw at him and waiting for you to make even the smallest mistake.