Jungyo Newsreel – Day 10

🌐 Location: Hachioji, Tokyo

The Jungyo completes its Kansai and Tokai leg, and heads back home to Tokyo. Well, Tokyo is a big city, and Hachioji is further from the Tokyo city center than Yokohama. And while it was merely a cold day in central Tokyo, at Hachioji, it was snowing.

Snowing so much that one of the fans coming to watch the sumo filmed this as they reached the nearby Otsuki station:

Near the venue the snow was not as heavy, but still, we had a freezing Yokozuna:

Why is he going barefoot in such weather?

We also had a freezing oyakata, who was looking enthusiastic about it for two seconds:

And if these two hardy Mongolians freeze…

So, let’s go inside the warm arena, and say our hellos to the Iwasaki brothers at their handshake stations:

Tobizaru & Hidenoumi. Family matters

Smiles are contagious today, and we have this big, wide one from Aminishiki. They are becoming rarer!

In fact, it’s a bit scary…

What’s our big beloved boulder doing today? Well, first, he stretches by the wall, accompanied by his loyal Oka:

Then, he goes over to the side of the dohyo to do some squats:

And finally, he finds a practice buddy – Mitoryu:

Nice synchronization!

Hokutofuji stomps his shiko by the wall. And I do mean stomps:

All evil spirits in Hachioji ground pack up and go to the nearest UN office to apply for refugee status.

Abi practices his yotsu-zumo with Nishikigi:

Nishikigi is not easily moved, certainly not with this weak technique. Somebody please give Abi the basics. Maybe he should go back to the Kakuryu academy.

Toyonoshima works on his arm muscles with weights:

Hakuho arrives at the dohyo. Is greeted as usual. Somebody from his ichimon giving him a respectful ladle? You bet!

Despite being questioned by the Compliance Committee two days before, and that not-too-good-looking arm, Hakuho seems to be in a good mood.

According to this tweet, Tamawashi professes his love to Kotoyuki:

Whereupon Kotoyuki sends him to hell. The poor jilted sekiwake tries to evoke guilt. Kotoyuki unmoved.

You! You dumped me!

Kakuryu diligently does his shiko. This time manages to not smile bashfully doing it.

OK, some practice bouts: Hokutofuji vs. Okinoumi, Tomokaze vs. Meisei:

I wonder who won that last one.

Next, Mitakeumi vs. Asanoyama, then Mitakeumi vs. Ryuden:

Ryuden, I believe, was underranked at M11, and it will be interesting to see him in the upper part of Makuuchi in Natsu.

Practice over, and as Kakuryu leaves he is enveloped by fans asking for autographs:

While he is doing his fansa duty diligently and seriously, Hakuho is doing the same, but in a much lighter atmosphere:

Now, the story behind this picture is as follows:

Tsukebito (I think that’s Umizaru): “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it marked the Yokozuna’s Yukata!”
Hakuho: “I think if we washed it it would be fine”.

Everybody around chuckling. Tsukebito thinks for a while.

Tsukebito: “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it poked the Yokozuna in the eye!”.
Hakuho: 😆
Tsukebito: “Now, wouldn’t it?”
Hakuho: “I don’t think it’s going to poke me in the eye.”

Everybody around bursts out laughing.

And that’s what they call “Fansa kami-sama” (Fan interaction god). I’m positive nobody who ever went to one of those Jungyo event and interacted with the Yokozuna would be sending the NSK angry letters about the propriety of clapping during yusho speeches.

It’s time for the Juryo bouts. But Wakamotoharu’s oicho-mage is lopsided. Akiseyama offers help:

Akiseyama may be the ugly duckling of the rikishi corps, but he is a good guy.

As Juryo bouts near their end, Kakuryu awaits his cue to demonstrate rope tying:

Nice kesho-mawashi. Too bad it’s always hidden. It’s relatively rare to see a Yokozuna in kesho-mawashi and no rope.

And it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Most rikishi are busy goofing around. Even usually-serious Hokutofuji finds a target for a goof:

Amidst all the lively hustle and bustle, sits a lonely Ozeki:

I guess this is why Goeido rarely makes an appearance in these reports. He usually keeps to himself, away from the clicking phone cameras.

Let’s take a look at the dohyo-iri. First, the East:

Of course, Mitakeumi “accidentally” bumps into Kaisei.

And did you spot Terutsuyoshi standing on tiptoes to match Ishiura’s height? 😏

On to the West:

The Shodai-Nishikigi duo keeps at it. Shodai: “Stop waving”. Nishikigi: “Why not”. Starts waving again. Shodai stops him. You get dohyo-iri and Shokkiri for the price of one.

And as the time comes for the bouts, the same Nishikigi, but this time with Shohozan, sit themselves among the spectators:

I guess they don’t want to miss Kagayaki’s match.

As for the matches themselves, I have Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:

Wait, haven’t we seen this bout before? This is so obviously yaocho, you can’t be surprised at Tochinoshin’s face as he returns to his seat (the winner and loser in the penultimate bouts don’t leave the dohyo until the musubi is done):

Even Tagonoura oyakata knows this was as genuine as a three-dollar bill.

We also have Kakuryu vs. Goeido:

Once again, Goeido wins. I think he is 9-1 by now.

A summary video:

The video mentions that Takakeisho has yet to do any on-dohyo practice. His “opponent” Tochinoshin, on the other hand, though I didn’t get a photo or video of it, did 11 practice bouts and won all. “I just do my usual – whatever I can at any given moment”.

As the bouts end, the rikishi pack up and leave – but not on their busses this time. It’s Tokyo, and they are going home – by train, of course.

Tamawashi with friends, and some lucky fans at the Hachioji station

Our pin-up boy today is Enho, because this photo was not to be overlooked:

Totally photobombed by Kotoyuki!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 8

Today’s report is going to be a little anticlimactic, compared to Day 7’s rich content. But let’s gambarize!

🌐 Location: Nishio, Aichi prefecture

Early morning, and groggy-eyed sekitori start arriving. Here we have Takarafuji in a drab kimono, a night-crumpled chon-mage, and eyes half-closed:

…which all stand in stark contrast with his spiffy fashionable orange Hermes bag.

Abi looks pretty surprised by half-asleep Enho.

My guess is it’s the first time he noticed Enho’s cauliflower ear.

The only one who seems to be a morning person is Kaisei:

“Hey, Aoiyama, pull my finger!”

So let’s get inside the venue. Kotoeko forces his knees together with rubber bands:

This seems to be quite an effort for him. In the hana-michi, Ishiura practices his tachiai:

What, no henka?

Hakuho practices his sonkyo:

Sonkyo is this crouching position which is performed during the shikiri (and also to accept the gunbai and possible kensho envelopes). It’s also quite useful to have a talk with someone sitting on the ground:

In this case a rather good-humored Kasugano oyakata. Hakuho also practices his shiko, as always:

And like a good Hitchhiker, he does it equipped with a towel. Which reminds me, here is Kakuryu again:

Silly though he may look, Kakuryu is very popular with the fans:

Kyokusoten, behind him, looks a bit taken aback by all the clamor.

Oyakata can be popular, too!

You have to admit Tomozuna oyakata looks quite nice in a mon-tsuki kimono.

There is a sekitori from Aichi prefecture – Akiseyama. Here he is practicing with Kyokutaisei:

But for some reason, he is not that popular in this event. This may be because there is a real home boy – one from the very city of Nishio: Kaisho, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s heya).

The thing is, Kaisho is not a sekitori. He is in Makushita. And the only reason he is wearing an oicho-mage in this picture is that the torikumi guys arranged a Juryo bout for him to please the spectators.

Being a member of Isegahama ichimon earns him the privilege of getting kawaigari from Aminishiki. The spectators really love this – Aminishiki seems to be popular all over Japan. And with their home boy, oh boy!

Even this little sliver of video is a good demonstration of Aminishiki’s showmanship.

Some Makuuchi practice bouts: Onosho vs. Kagayaki, Okinoumi vs. Ryuden:

And here are Kaisei vs. Mitakeumi, and Tochinoshin vs. Kaisei:

One gets the impression that winning 10 bouts might not be beyond Tochinoshin’s capabilities the next basho.

Practice over, and lower-ranked rikishi get their hair redone:

Imagine if these tokoyama could sing in harmony. They would be a real… wait for it… barbershop quartet! [crickets]

And here comes the big news of the day. Our big ice-cream man has joined the Jungyo, as his herniated disc improved. And he got teased quite a lot for cleverly joining it on his birthday, because that means he gets lots of free cake!

The cakes are from the reporters. And Ichinojo is a good boy. He blows away the candles, and then does it again just to please a cameraman who didn’t get a good shot the first take.

I suppose he was then given an instruction to eat his cake like a good hungry boulder:

Um… is he really going to eat it with the plastic collar still on? And the candles? But well, the reporters said “do it”, so…

Although he participated in the dohyo-iri this day, he did not participate in the bouts and apparently not in any keiko, either.

Here is the West Juryo dohyo-iri for you.

Note how much more popular Aminishiki and Enho are, compared to local-born Akiseyama.

Enho and Yoshikaze still don’t participate in any bouts.

Time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and someone asks Tamawashi to hold a baby. The baby is not very happy about this.

As the kid starts an air-raid siren going, Abi decides to match him note for note. Mwaaaaaa!

Takarafuji, if you note, is all like “I was hoping I’ll get a little peace and quiet from baby cries in the Jungyo. Sheesh…”

Hakuho is on his way to do his own dohyo-iri. He does that without that supporter on his arm – for aesthetic reasons, I guess. But this fan caught him feeling up his injured arm:

That torn muscle, it is not going away.

Finally, it’s time for the bouts… but I don’t have any bout footage, sorry. Instead, here is Aoiyama, who found a back room with basketball equipment:

And here is Takakeisho, who is way too happy about this ladle his giving to Tamawashi.

Could it possibly be… the shin-ozeki… is doing the salt trick? He must know that revenge will come – and rather swiftly, as they are doing their matches in the same order every day.

Here is the yumi-tori shiki from this day:

And for our pin-up corner, how about a rather puzzled Yoshoyama?

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 23 (Oct 27)

early-morning
Early morning in Hiroshima

🌐 Location: Hiroshima, Hiroshima
🚫 Scandal level: 0

It’s the second day at Hiroshima prefecture, but this time we are at a huge stadium in Hiroshima city itself.

The sekitori arrive by bus, and seem rather sleepy:

For some reason, Enho arrives by taxi:

Going inside, first I would like to set your mind at ease. Remember Minatoryu’s bruised throat yesterday, after Ichinojo practiced his nodowa on him? Well, here he is the day after:

minatoryu-is-fine

No permanent damage, it seems. He smiles because the lady who took this photo is the same one who took the ones yesterday, and she specifically asked him if he was alright after yesterday’s tough practice. “I’m alright!” he beamed.

Let’s stroll around the arena to see what the rikishi are doing.

Asanoyama is stretching.

asanoyama-stretching

Not bad. Not Chiyonokuni or Abi level, but not bad.

Yutakayama uses Wakatakakage as a Teppo pole:

yutakayama-teppo-wakatakakage

Wakatakakage looks like he is resigned to suffering.

Takekaze is… posing for cute photos? Is this actually Takekaze?

cute-takekaze
Ribbit!

Here is Ichinojo doing (ouch!) Seiza again. He also does some fan service, but he doesn’t seem to be too concentrated on that. What is he looking at?

ichinojo-seiza

Apparently, he has been staring constantly at Wakatakakage, who was doing shiko next to him:

wakatakakage-shiko

Ah. That makes sense. I’d be ogling him too if I were there.

Chiyonokuni is having a bout with a mini-rikishi, complete with a plastic chon-mage:

chiyonokuni-mini-rikishi-1
Shikiri

chiyonokuni-mini-rikishi-2
Attack!

I think this is technically a matta.

Tochinoshin is practicing with Mitakeumi:

This seems to be a lot fiercer than their official bout the other day…

Tochinoshin also engages with Shodai:

Shodai circles and circles, but doesn’t seem to have any offensive plan.

What are the oyakata doing, you may ask?

Well, Futagoyama oyakata (ex Miyabiyama) seems to enjoy doing the duties of a yobidashi:

futagoyama-yobidashi

But Tomozuna oyakata just demonstrates what the Japanese word “kakkoii” means:

tomozuna-kakkoii

Tomozuna (ex Kyokutenho, of course) has complained on Twitter that he gained five kilos during the Jungyo. What is he talking about?

Here is a Jonidan bout for you: Takataisho (Takakeisho’s tsukebito) vs. Kotomanabe (probably Kotoshogiku’s):

Nice throw there. And a very energetic bout overall.

Time for Juryo bouts. And of course, time for the oldest prank in the book. Salt in the ladle. By the way, the other day somebody tried to pull that on Kagayaki. Kagayaki cooly took the ladle and emptied it directly into the spittoon. If they are breaking rules because it’s Jungyo, so can he. I guess that’s why you don’t see Kagayaki in any of the goofy pictures. He is just not the type to mess with.

But I wonder why nobody else realizes they don’t actually have to drink the stuff:

oldest-trick-1

Bravo, Gagamaru. Very original. And Wakatakakage… don’t put this photo on your resumé.

oldest-trick-2

Seriously, Enho, this trick is getting old. Even if you pull it on a newcomer like Gokushindo.

Not much material in the bouts today. We can only guess who is winning this one:

daiamami-takekaze
Put me down! Put me down! I have a fear of heights!

That’s Daiamami vs. Takekaze, by the way.

The only sekitori bout I have for you today is Takakeisho vs. Ichinojo:

Ichinojo shows up energetic. I guess all that Wakatakakage-gazing paid off.

The rikishi leave for the next destination, but Shohozan keeps up the fan service even when already on the bus:

shohozan-fansa-bus

And finally, your Tobizaru of the day, this time in full regalia:

tobizaru

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 22 (Oct 26)

venue

🌐 Location: Kure, Hiroshima
🚫 Scandal level: 0

Let’s walk along the sidelines and pick up some rikishi photos. We have Endo practicing his very fine shiko:

endo-shiko

I don’t know who gave him that lash mark across the chest, apparently it’s not just a smear of blood, as it is there the next day as well.

Speaking of marks of injury, Ichinojo practices with his tsukebito, Minatoryu. And what he practices is his fearsome Nodowa:

ichinojo-minatoryu-nodowa

He then moves on to teppo, but take a look at Minatoryu’s throat:

ichinojo-minatoryu-teppo

Wow, that really was a killer nodowa… being Ichinojo’s tsukebito is a bit of a health risk.

Somehow, I don’t think Tochiozan would have chosen this photo as his OKCupid profile pic:

what-me-worry
What, me worry?

Impressive array of bandaging on that left leg.

Tomozuna oyakata takes a selfie with Takakeisho:

takakeisho-selfie-tomozuna

I think Tomozuna oyakata is one of the coolest oyakata around.

Here is one side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. From the NSK official account. And as usual, the dohyo-iri just can’t pass without some antics:

Kaisei is posing for the camera. Tamawashi – who else – messes with his mawashi knot.

Here is a fine shiko match between Chiyonokuni and Abi:

 

abi-chiyonokuni-side-a
Side A

abi-chiyonokuni-side-b
Side B

Konosuke seems to be enjoying the view.

Here is a summary video of the day, including:

  • A variety of keiko – bouts and butsukari
  • Jinku
  • Quite a bit of shokkiri
  • Juryo dohyo-iri
  • Drumming demonstration
  • Jokoryu-Chiyoarashi
  • Gagamaru-Tobizaru
  • Yokozuna rope tying demo (Kakuryu)
  • Meisei-Yago
  • Makuuchi dohyo-iri (and continuation of the Tamawashi and Kaisei saga)
  • Yokozuna dohyo-iri
  • Yoshikaze-Chiyoshoma
  • Okinoumi-Sadanoumi
  • Aoiyama-Hokutofuji
  • Abi-Chiyonokuni
  • Shodai-Endo
  • Takakeisho-Kaisei
  • San-yaku soroi-bumi
  • Tochinoshin-Mitakeumi
  • Takayasu-Goeido
  • Kakuryu-Kisenosato

No Tobizaru, Enho or Wakatakakage today, so your pin-up boy of the day is…

ichinojo-pinup

Ichinojo!

 

Heya Power Rankings: Natsu-Nagoya 18

Kakuryu Yusho Parade
The ranking is strong with this ichimon

Yes, it’s that time again, the time when we tabulate all the points and rank the top heya based on their respective sekitori rank and performance in the previous basho. Last time out, Izutsu-beya grabbed the top spot off the back of a long awaited yusho win for Yokozuna Kakuryu. How do the top stables fare this time compared to last time? Onward:

Heya Power Rankings: Natsu-Nagoya 2018

And now that we’ve added a couple more new (but non-sekitori-bearing) stables to the chart, let’s have a look at this in our Top 20 format:

  1. (+-) Izutsu. 95 points (even)
  2. (+4) Kasugano. 90 points (+40)
  3. (-1) Tagonoura. 50 points (-40)
  4. (+4) Miyagino. 50 points (+14)
  5. (-2) Oitekaze. 48 points (-17)
  6. (+1) Kokonoe. 47 points (-1)
  7. (-3) Sakaigawa. 45 points (-15)
  8. (-3) Tomozuna. 32 points (-23)
  9. (+2) Tokitsukaze. 25 points (+5)
  10. (+3) Minato. 25 points (+5)
  11. (+8) Isenoumi. 25 points (+10)
  12. (+8) Nishonoseki. 25 points (+10)
  13. (**) Sadogatake. 25 points (+11)
  14. (-5) Takadagawa. 22 points (+1)
  15. (+2) Oguruma. 22 points (+6)
  16. (**) Takanohana. 21 points (+8)
  17. (-7) Dewanoumi. 20 points (even)
  18. (**) Onomatsu. 20 points (+20)
  19. (-5) Isegahama. 18 points (-1)
  20. (-8) Kise. 15 points (-5)

(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, higher position in the previous chart breaks the tie. Shikoroyama and Kataonami also scored 15 points but were lower placed than Kise on the previous chart)

Movers & Losers

We’ll group both sets of upward and downward bound heya together this time. It’s an interesting chart to put into context this month because the absence of so many rikishi at the top of the banzuke meant that several rikishi from heya usually found further down the listing put up better results, grabbed kachi-koshi they otherwise might not have (see: Kotoshogiku, Shohozan, etc), and added more points to their stable’s tally.

So, this creates a situation where a heya like Takadagawa can actually score one more point than last time (via addition of Hakuyozan to Juryo) but slide 5 places overall. Similarly, Dewanoumi put up an equivalent score to last time (our model gives Mitakeumi the same amount of points for a kachi-koshi at Komusubi as a make-koshi at Sekiwake), yet slid 7 places overall. The more cynical among us might say there were 16 more impressive storylines than Mitakeumi eking out his winning record from a position where he looked like he’d throw it away again.

Izutsu-beya holds the top spot with no change in the tally owing to Kakuryu’s repeat yusho, while Kasugano-beya reclaims the second spot after Tochinoshin’s sansho-laden jun-yusho. His promotion means he’ll add more points to the heya’s tally next time as an ozeki, but the overall points tally will be dependent on yusho challenges going forward as he’ll be unable to repeat his special prize wins.

Beyond those two stables there weren’t many remarkable performances among the groups: Kokonoe actually took a step backwards in terms of points in spite of Chiyonokuni’s remarkable sansho-winning exploits, as the four other sekitori in his heya all put up make-koshi en-route to a miserable 23-37 combined record.

In terms of what’s next, the stables to watch with potential to bound up the listings in Nagoya are going to be Tagonoura (who will be forced into action next time with the return of kadoban Takayasu and a potential last stand for Kisenosato) and Kise. Kise-beya receives two promotees from Makushita (Kizenryu and Churanoumi-née-Kizaki) and will have fully 1/4 of Juryo with no fewer than seven rikishi in the division next time out. And potentially making way on the chart could finally and sadly be Isegahama-beya which slips to the penultimate spot this time: perma-injured Aminishiki has been relegated to Juryo, and Homarefuji and Terutsuyoshi will be hovering ominously in danger zone to the Makushita demotion to which former Ozeki Terunofuji has now been condemned.

Heya Power Rankings: Haru-Natsu 18

 

Kakuryu-Happy
Winning feels good, and feeling good is cool.

It’s not an April Fools joke: the Heya Power rankings are in (earlier than usual)! We love charts over here at Tachiai, and during the Haru basho, it was cool to note some of other contributors prognosticating in the comments what bearing the various results might have on the newest ranking sheet. I’d reiterate that this post is mostly for our own interest and fun, to see which stables are impacting the top end of the banzuke, rather than anything being paid attention by people within the sport itself. Our own Bruce put his bets on a nice jump in the standings for Oitekaze-beya. Was he right? Well let’s get into the bar chart and the “Billboard” style Top 20 ranking format:

HeyaPowerRankings_2018_04.png

Bruce was indeed right, because Bruce is a good sumo pundit. Let’s look at the Top 20 chart in slightly more verbose terms:

  1. (+6) Izutsu. 95 points (+50)
  2. (-1) Tagonoura. 90 points (-5)
  3. (+2) Oitekaze. 65 points (+19)
  4. (-1) Sakaigawa. 60 points (even)
  5. (+6) Tomozuna. 55 points (+32)
  6. (-4) Kasugano. 50 points (-44)
  7. (-3) Kokonoe. 48 points (-1)
  8. (-2) Miyagino. 36 points (-9)
  9. (-1) Takadagawa. 21 points (-9)
  10. (-1) Dewanoumi. 20 points (-5)
  11. (+4) Tokitsukaze. 20 points (even)
  12. (+8) Kise. 20 points (+4)
  13. (**) Minato. 20 points (+5)
  14. (-2) Isegahama. 19 points (-2)
  15. (-5) Shikoroyama. 17 points (-7)
  16. (-3) Hakkaku. 16 points (-4)
  17. (+-) Oguruma. 16 points (-3)
  18. (-4) Kataonami. 15 points (-5)
  19. (+-) Isenoumi. 15 points (-3)
  20. (**) Nishonoseki. 15 points (+2)

(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, higher position in the previous chart breaks the tie)

Movers

Izutsu-beya hits the summit for the first time, after Kakuryu’s ultimately comfortable yusho win. He is a Yokozuna and he won the yusho, and you get a lot of points for all of that action the way we calculate it. While the stable is almost empty behind Kakuryu, that has been the case for many years and Izutsu-oyakata is still about 8 years from mandatory retirement. They did add a tiny 16 year old named Bando Jinki in the last year, but he may be one to wash rather than ‘one to watch.’

That all said, what makes me feel good about this model is the way that it rewards stables that have a number of strong performers. Oitekaze-beya is that kind of heya (and Kokonoe would be that kind of heya if they could find this kind of consistency). Yes, Endo won a special prize and had a great tournament and will finally be in san’yaku and there is going to be a lot of cheering. But the stable had seven men in the top 2 divisions accumulating points here, and five of them grabbed kachi-koshi. The other two (Tsurugisho and Tobizaru) were towards the wrong end of Juryo where the stakes are lower anyway, so the stable top-loaded its best records.

The fan-and-rikishi-favorite, former-Kyokutenho-and-now-Tomozuna-oyakata’s heya also scales new heights owing to a thrilling yusho-and-ultimately-jun-yusho-challenge from the Kaisei mammoth. I probably should have tacked on a couple more points here, because in a sport where you don’t always get a lot of face, the Brazilian has been giving some wonderful reaction shots of late (Abi and Ikioi are also members of that club). Kaisei will be finally joined by movie-star Kyokutaisei in Makuuchi at Natsu. The schedulers did the Hokkaido man few favors at Haru by way of repeated call-ups to test his readiness, so he may well have a good chance to stick in the top division. Kyokushuho has been stuck back in Juryo for a year now, and there’s nobody coming up behind him imminently, so it’s going to be on the top two men’s shoulders to keep the good times rolling.

Let’s also talk about Sakaigawa-beya for a minute. Despite the fact that Goeido hasn’t won on Day 15 since September of 2016 (his yusho tournament), he’s actually managed to put together a fairly consistent if unspectacular run of results to keep himself out of kadoban recently. Admittedly, this is probably somewhat helped by the absence of many of the top men of the banzuke, but you can only beat what’s in front of you. Usually, the stable which wins the Juryo yusho gets a bit of a drop off in the following tournament as we award 15 points for that achievement. However, there’s no drop here as both the Hatsu winner (Myogiryu) and Haru winner (Sadanoumi) come from the stable. Our man lksumo believes that Myogiryu is going to dodge the demotion bullet, so the three sekitori will need strong performances to maintain the heya’s position on our chart after Natsu.

Despite their fall, I’m charitably going to include Kasugano-beya in this section. Asking for a repeat yusho was a lot and they were always bound for a big drop, but they are hanging in there at the top end in light of another very strong performance from Sekiwake Tochinoshin and his latest special prize. They could even be due another bounce in the next couple months if his Ozeki run is in fact successful.

Losers

We’ve talked a lot about the sea change that is (slowly) taking place atop the banzuke, and the three stables I’m going to mention here include two that didn’t even make the chart this time.

First of all, the fall of Isegahama continues. This is probably the bottoming out of their ranking as they just have too many sekitori competing at the moment. With 3 men in Juryo and another 2 in Makuuchi next time out, I just can’t see the performance getting lower, especially if Terunofuji can right the ship and challenge for the Juryo honours. Also, Takarafuji was better than his 5 win record at Haru, and even if he’s in for a stiff demotion, he hasn’t had a make-koshi at Maegashira 6 or lower in over 4 years. Additionally, we may see the next wave of Isegahama rikishi challenge for Juryo later this year: while, yes, there are plenty of rikishi in the stable stuck in Jonidan quicksand, Nishikifuji and Midorifuji are on a fast track for fun times.

The question will be whether their strength in numbers restores the stable to the force it was just a half year ago, or a stable like Kise or Kokonoe that’s big on numbers but low on prizes. The road to the former case would seem to run through Terunofuji redeploying his inner Kaiju, Terutsuyoshi making the next step in his development to move up a division and Nishikifuji and Midorifuji establishing themselves as sekitori (Midorifuji will also need to add some heft). And the other case? Well, that’s what you get if all of the above doesn’t happen, and Aminishiki retires.

The other two aforementioned stables are the former powerhouse Sadogatake and the beleaguered Takanohana. Sadogatake, which has an incredible number of rikishi in the lower divisions, hasn’t seen the reinforcements arrive for the struggling Kotoshogiku and Kotoyuki yet, and Kotoeko just hasn’t managed to put together a run for Maegashira promotion. He will have his best shot in some time at Natsu, but it may only serve to offset the continuing declines of the other sekitori in the heya.

As for Takanohana-beya, we gave nil points for the debut of Takayoshitoshi after his assault-inspired half-kyujo tournament, and the limping out of the tournament from Takakeisho was perhaps a metaphor for performances there and elsewhere. The stable combined to go 22-28-10 in the upper tiers, and unless Takakeisho can put together a storming return to sansho-grabbing form or someone can win a yusho in Juryo, it’s unlikely the stable will trouble these charts again soon.