Nagoya Day 10 Preview

Here we are at day 10, the last day of act 2. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. Not sure we actually have a good idea who is going to compete for the yusho yet, maybe by the end of today. Right now there is a broad front of 6 rikishi who have 7-2 records—the best that can be offered right now. The most likely candidate for the cup among that crowd is Yokozuna Terunofuji. It’s apparent that he is at less than full power, but at the moment it’s good enough. With the week 2 schedule kicking in, he will have to dispatch both Ozeki, and overcome the other 5 co-leaders to take home the hardware.

But that assumes that the Sumo Kyokai will be able to finish this basho. Yet another heya has gone COVID kyujo in the past 24 hours. The new Omicron variants have become very adept at infecting people. There is a legitimate chance that many of the kanban rikishi are incubating an active Omicron infection right now.

The Darwin funnel continues to do it’s work, with a ridiculous number of rikishi being pushed toward a 7-7 score at the end of day 14. Funnel scores at the end of day 10 will be: 6-4, 5-5 and 4-6. That could be more than half of all athletes in the top division.

In a final and sad note, the 45th Yokozuna, Wakanohana, died last week of kidney cancer, it was announced. He was 82. We thank the divine for his time on earth, and all of the joy he brought to his sumo. Details at the Japan Times.

What We Are Watching Day 10

Myogiryu vs Yutakayama – A prime funnel match, with scores of Myogiryu 5-4 and Yutakayama 4-5, Ideal outcome for the match in terms of Darwin would be a Yutakayama win, which may be a bit of a tall order given that he has dropped his last 3 in a row.

Chiyomaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji has a chance to pick up another win today, as his career 9-1 record against Chiyomaru would seem to indicate that Takarafuji is going to be able to shut down the “Round One” and take the win. Typical win in this case is Takarafuji captures Chiyomaru, stands around for a while wearing him down, then walks Chiyomaru out.

Kotoshoho vs Oho – Another funnel match, no matter who wins here today, both will remain in the funnel. Kotoshoho has won 3 of his last 4, and Oho continues to be fighting somewhat less than he should. Both start the day at 5-4.

Onosho vs Midorifuji – A second consecutive 5-4 match up, this time it’s a first ever fight between Onosho and newcomer Midorifuji. I am interested to see if Midorifuji attempt to absorb Onosho’s big opening attack, or tries to make use of Onosho’s notorious early match balance problems.

Nishikifuji vs Meisei – A Nishikifuji win today is kachi-koshi for him, and a Meisei win would leave him at the upper edge of the funnel. This is their first ever contest, and I think that Nishikifuji will have an easier time anticipating Meisei’s sumo choices than the other way around.

Shimanoumi vs Daiamami – Two make-koshi rikishi that start the day with one win each. The good news is… one of these lucky guys will have their second win once the match is over. I personally think that Daiamami is too banged up (ankle) to be fighting right now, and should probably just eat the kyujo and take the demotion back to Juryo.

Tsurugisho vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko was wearing a lot of tape day 9, and I hope he is not trying to overcome some new injury to his arm or upper body. This is another funnel match with Tsurugisho at 4-5 and Kotoeko at 5-4. Ideal outcome would be both of them at 5-5 at the end of the day. They have a balanced 7-8 career record, with Kotoeko taking the last two matches.

Tochinoshin vs Terutsuyoshi – A traditional big man / little man match, that is actually fairly evenly matched. Terutsuyoshi holds a narrow 5-4 career lead over the big Georgian, thought I would think that Tochinoshin may a huge strength advantage if he can keep Terutsuyoshi from getting underneath and causing problems. Tochinoshin starts the day at 5-4, Terutsuyoshi at 3-6.

Chiyoshoma vs Nishikigi – This is probably meant as a bit of a hurdle for Nishikigi to clear to reach his 8th win and kachi-koshi. I think that Chiyoshoma is not fighting anywhere close to his intensity he had earlier this year, so this fight will likely to to Nishikigi. Chiyoshoma, at 4-5 to start the day, would put himself back to the middle of the funnel with a win today. He has a 8-4 career advantage.

Aoiyama vs Hokutofuji – Both men are 4-5 to start the day. The winner will keep pace in the middle of the funnel, the loser will go to the bottom edge. Hokutofuji has a 12-2 career advantage, and tends to take his frustrations out on “Big Dan” in any way he wants. Aoiyama has not won against Hokutofuji since 2019.

Chiyotairyu vs Tobizaru – A Tobizaru win today would be kachi-koshi, and I think not only is that likely to happen, but I think that the Flying Monkey is going for double digits this time. His sumo really seems to be working well for him, and we may see him near the top of the Maegashira ranks in September. He holds a 4-2 career advantage over Chiyotairyu, who can beat Tobizaru when he can launch his overwhelming cannonball tachiai.

Wakamotoharu vs Okinoumi – Another funnel match, both are 4-5 to start the day, and both need a win to stay in the middle of the funnel. While I would normally think that Okinoumi’s vast experience and technique library would make him an easy favorite, he has not once beating Wakamotoharu. That 2-0 for the Onami brother.

Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Over their 19 career matches, they have split them 9-10, so this is an even fight with all things being equal. But I note that Tamawashi won his first 3, then has dropped 6 in a row. As Kintamayama noted, he is likely injured, and trying to maintain his record of never missing a match. I applaud the dedication to his craft. An Ichinojo win would be kachi-koshi for him today.

Hoshoryu vs Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu, at 5-4, is in the middle of the funnel group, and a win today would move him to the top edge. But I think it’s far more likely that we will see Kotonowaka take the win today, hit his 8 and be kachi-koshi. Right now Kotonowaka is having a bit of a “break out” tournament, and like Tobizaru, I think he is going for double digits.

Kiribayama vs Abi – Kiribayama comes into day 10 with a fairly sad 3-6 record that does not show the fact that he has been fighting well. It’s simply a case that he has not been winning. He is up against 5-4 Abi, who needs 2 consecutive wins to escape the funnel right now. They have only fought twice before, and they are split 1-1.

Wakatakakage vs Endo – In some ways a bit of a sad match here. At one point many years ago, Endo was viewed more or less how fans view Wakatakakage today. A hotshot young rikishi who is destined for big things in the sumo world. Now we have this match where today’s “new thing” gets to deliver yesterday’s “new thing” his 8th loss and a make-koshi.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – The big statistic that leaps out at me is that Ozeki Takakeisho has a 13-7 career lead over Daieisho, and that he has a good formula for winning these head to head matches. In fact, their first competition was in November of 2016 when both were ranked in Juryo. They are both power-forward thrusters, though we have seen less of that from Takakeisho as of late.

Ura vs Shodai – If anything can put Shodai’s resurgence and attempt to snatch kachi-koshi from almost certain demotion, it would be a match against Ura. Shodai tends to shamble about the ring quite a bit in his matches, and that’s just pure bait for Ura’s grab-and-tug brand of sumo. In fact he has dominated the Ozeki 3-1 across all career matches. Shodai, at 5-4, needs just 3 wins out of the last 6 days to reach the safety of 8, so he can probably manage if he finds himself teleported into a different universe by Ura’s sorcery.

Terunofuji vs Sadanoumi – Some symmetry today, as it’s likely that Terunofuji will take his 8th win and kachi-koshi as he delivers an 8th loss to Sadanoumi for his make-koshi. They last fought in 2020 when Terunofuji was making his incredible run at the yusho from the bottom of the banzuke, having just battled his way back into the top division. The last time that Sadanoumi won was when Terunofuji was in Juryo, on his way down the banzuke.

Quiz ! About shikona changes…

As we previously mentioned it, Shodai decided to keep his shikona following his promotion to the ozeki rank. Let’s try to figure out how much we know about rikishi’s shikona, shikona changes and real names…

As usual, try your best to get your kashi koshi!

1. Let’s start this quiz quietly. Ama became ozeki…

a. Goeido

b. Kakuryu

c. Harumafuji

d. Baruto

2. Which one of these wrestlers is currently fighting with his real name ?

a. Takarafuji

b. Takayasu

c. Takanosho

d. Takagenji

3. Who started wrestling using his real name – Fukuoka ?

a. Hokutofuji

b. Okinoumi

c. Ryuden

d. Daieisho

4. Who is the other Mr. Fukuoka in makuuchi ?

a. Abi

b. Terutsuyoshi

c. Meisei

d. Enho

5. Who started his sumo career with the shikona Wakamisho ?

a. Kiribayama

b. Tamawashi

c. Ichinojo

d. Terunofuji

6. The Bulgarian wrestler Aoiyama was given his current shikona after being asked a few questions about things he likes. What does “Aoiyama” mean ?

a. Red wind

b. Red mountain

c. Blue wind

d. Blue mountain

7. And by the way, Big Dan’s (Aoiyama) real name is…

a. Petkov

b. Dimitrov

c. Kotov

d. Ivanov

Big Dan: Aoiyama Kosuke.

8. Let’s now have some fun (and a few headaches !) with Sadogatake’s wrestlers. Who used to be called Kotokikutsugi ?

a. Kotoosho

b. Kotoeko

c. Kotoyuki

d. Kotoshogiku

9. Kotokamatani, on the other hand, is now known as…

a. Kotonowaka

b. Kotoeko

c. Kotoshoho

d. Kotoshogiku

10. Whereas Kotoenomoto has become…

a. Kotooshu

b. Kotoeko

c. Kotoshoho

d. Kotoyuki

11. And finally, Kototebakari is currently known as…

a. Kotoshoho

b. Kotoyuki

c. Kotonowaka

d. Kotoshogiku

12. Takanohana and Wakanohana are one of sumo’s most famous brothers. Their real name is :

a. Hanada

b. Koga

c. Sawai

d. Hagiwara

A sumo legend: former yokozuna Takanohana.

13. Which one of these rikishi used to be called “Sato” and changed his shikona as he got promoted to makuuchi ?

a. Takakeisho

b. Asanoyama

c. Mitakeumi

d. Shodai

14. Hanakaze is known for his incredibly long career, which started back in 1986 (!). Under how many names has he wrestled so far ?

a. One

b. Two

c. Three

d. Four

15. And finally, the great Hakuho has changed shikona :

a. Once

b. Twice

c. Thrice

d. He never changed his shikona

The answers :

1. Let’s start this quiz quietly. Ama became ozeki…

c. Harumafuji. Of course ! He took that name after his promotion to ozeki, following the Kyushu basho 2008.

Nine time grand champion: former yokozuna Harumafuji.

2. Which one of these wrestlers is currently fighting with his real name ?

b. Takayasu Akira.

3. Who started wrestling using his real name – Fukuoka ?

b. Okinoumi. He actually semmed to have some remorses after changing his shikona to Okinoumi, in March 2009. Two basho after, he went back to Fukuoka Ayumi, during just one basho. He then changed once again – for good – to Okinoumi Ayumi.

4. Who is the other Mr. Fukuoka in makuuchi ?

b. Terutsuyoshi. He has used only one shikona so far : Terutsuyoshi Shoki.

Terutsuyoshi Shoki, also known as Fukuoka Shoki.

5. Who started his sumo career with the shikona Wakamisho ?

d. Terunofuji. Terunofuji likes changes : he used to be called Wakamisho Yoshiaki, then Wakamisho Noriaki, then Wakamisho Yoshiaki again, then Terunofuji Yoshiaki, then Terunofuji Haruo.

6. The Bulgarian wrestler Aoiyama was given his current shikona after being asked a few questions about things he likes. What does “Aoiyama” mean ?

d. Blue mountain. Aoiyama likes blue color, and prefers mountain over sea.

7. And by the way, Big Dan’s (Aoiyama) real name is…

d. Ivanov. Daniel Ivanov, to be exact.

8. Let’s now have some fun (and a few headaches !) with Sadogatake’s wrestlers. Who used to be called Kotokikutsugi ?

d. Kotoshogiku. His real name is Kikutsugi Kazuhiro.

9. Kotokamatani, on the other hand, is now known as…

a. Kotonowaka. Outside the dohyo, he’s Kamatani Masakatsu

10. Whereas Kotoenomoto has become…

d. Kotoyuki, also known as Enomoto Yuki.

11. And finally, Kototebakari is currently known as…

a. Kotoshoho. His real name : Tebakari Toshiki

12. Takanohana and Wakanohana are one of sumo’s most famous brothers. Their real name is :

a. Hanada. Koga is Kaio’s name ; Sawai is Goeido’s name and Hagiwara is former Kisenosato’s name. Some great wrestlers down there.

13. Which one of these rikishi used to be called “Sato” and changed his shikona as he got promoted to makuuchi ?

a. Takakeisho. Asanoyama did change his shikona, but after promotion to juryo. Mitakeumi took just one shikona, whereas Shodai is fighting under his actual name.

14. Hanakaze is known for his incredibly long career, which started back in 1986 (!). Under how many names has he wrestled so far ?

c. Three. He started fighting under his real name, Yamagushi Daisaku, then switched to Tatsuyamagushi Daisaku, and to Hanakaze Daisaku. He holds that name since July 1999 !

15. And finally, the great Hakuho has changed shikona :

d. He never changed his shikona. Hakuho Sho. That’s the GOAT’s shikona.

Simply the best: yokozuna Hakuho Sho.


Tachiai Interviews Kintamayama, Part 1: “It’s like breathing for me, I love sumo so much.”

Kintamayama / Moti Dichne Live in Concert
Moti Dichne, better known to many sumo fans as Kintamayama, prepares for his Tachiai interview

If you’re a sumo fan who lives outside of Japan, then it’s almost certain that you’ve encountered the work of Moti Dichne. Under the shikona Kintamayama, he has been present almost everywhere in the English speaking sumo community for over two decades. Between his popular newsletter, his presence on forums such as SumoForum, and his essential YouTube channel, he has not only provided outlets and lifelines for fans seeking content, but also introduced thousands of foreigners to the sport.

During the recent Natsu basho in Tokyo, I sat down for an extended conversation with Kintamayama. This is the first of several parts of that conversation which will run here on Tachiai. In this segment, we touch on how Moti discovered sumo, and the rikishi who inspired and continue to inspire him. It has been edited in places for length and clarity.

Tachiai: So, where did your love affair with sumo start?

Moti Dichne: When you’re growing up in Japan, in the late 50s and the early 60s, and you’re a kid and you like sports… then, all you have is baseball… and sumo. There was no soccer! Not like today. The only soccer was a league for companies. So, what could I like?

You [would] turn on the TV, and it was black and white, still. Sumo was on for 15 days, and I even got to watch it at Kuramae, the former stadium. Those were golden years, because it was [the time of] Taiho, Kashiwado, Wakanohana I… and you couldn’t miss it because it was everywhere. As a kid you love it, because there were the backstories. 

Without us actually knowing and saying, “yeah, that’s it,” the backstories are what’s important… what makes it fun! You know that Ikioi never lost a day [to kyujo], and you know he’s totally injured. It gives you a difference. It’s not that there are these two guys that you got nothing with, you know? You know each guy’s story. You know this guy, he always chokes, and this other guy needs to get the belt.

That’s part of the whole thing. It’s like a series: ‘Game of Fat Thrones.’ And you say, “wow, what’s going to happen?” [Nowadays] you don’t give it a second thought, because you know. 

I was sitting at the Kokugikan on Day 1, and there were 2 young Americans sitting next to me, a boy and a girl, and the girl said “wake me up – this is boring.” I said, “OK, you will listen to me from now on!” And by the end of the day, she was standing up, screaming, “Here come the towels!” I explained every bout. “You will see: the small guy’s going to go out there, grab the guy’s leg, and push him out.” “No! He’s 100 kilos more!” I said, “he’s gonna go under, he gonna get his leg, and push him out.”

And when Kotoshogiku’s up, it’s going to be X-Rated.

He’s gonna bump… and he did it! Not always, but he did on that day. 

Back to the story: I just grew up in Japan, I had no choice. We had baseball. I loved the Yomiuri Giants of course growing up in Tokyo. There was a saying: Jō-jin, Taiho, Tamagoyaki. That was what everyone was into. I never missed a day, it was great! School was over at 2 o’clock, so 4-6, that’s a very comfortable time zone. You can go out later.

I think everybody knows who your favourite guys are now, but back then, who were the guys?

Back then, it was of course Taiho. And Kashiwado, Taiho’s rival. And then there was a guy called Myobudani who had a dark complexion, thin and tall, completely different from the others and I guess that’s why he stood out. And of course there was Wakanohana I, he was the old man of sumo. He was incredible. Tochinishiki as well. As a kid, you go with the Yokozuna, you don’t go with the underdogs. You want the winners. I don’t want to be sad every day! Like, you know, going with Ikioi! 

Ikioi’s my favourite too.

Ikioi was always my favourite. 

We could talk about Ikioi for a long time. He has what I call… heavy metal sumo, high octane sumo. He goes full throttle.

And his heart is like a four year old. That’s the whole thing, and when it’s over, he’s limping. When it’s going on, he’s like a tiger.

Do you know his story? His background is a really interesting story. There was a guy called Kotokanyu, who was 39 years old. He was in Makushita. They had a bout, and Ikioi went in with slaps. Ikioi was 19. And won.

Kotokanyu put a towel across his hand and went – after his bout, not the next day – to the other shitakubeya, where Ikioi was in the bath, and beat the shit out of him. He beat the crap out of the poor guy. Because Ikioi slapped him, like Aoiyama slaps. And, the next day, Kotokanyu retired of course.

They both went kyujo, because Ikioi was injured. And Kotokanyu retired. Kotokanyu had been in Israel with Sadogatake-beya, with his wife and his two kids. He was gentle, but I guess that really humiliated him. Lower Makushita, Ikioi was just coming up! Whoever was there then, look it up, you’ll see it. It finished Kotokanyu’s career. At 39 years old, he could have gone on, he was OK, he wasn’t that bad.

That’s the Ikioi story. It was the first time I noticed Ikioi. I said, “OK, this guy is going to be my man.”

You couldn’t see Makushita then. It was a dream to see it, Juryo was a dream. Because we didn’t really have any idea who was where.

It predates a lot of information.

We had no idea what was going on. Today we know every guy all the way up from Jonokuchi, and who to look out for. You can see it. 

How hard is it for you to stay on top of sumo news? It seems like you get a lot of inside information.

You get the same internet in Israel! The camels are not on the streets anymore. We get everything, in real time, and also, every morning I read the papers!

Since I read the papers in Japanese, I know exactly what’s going on at every given time. [I know] Who was injured, who was in keiko, who was this, who was that. [I read it] with my morning cup of tea, at 9 o clock in the morning. If there’s something interesting to translate, I translate. I put it in the forum, and then my newsletter. If there’s nothing really interesting, then I don’t. It’s very easy, it’s all a question of wanting to do it. If you want to do it, and you love it, then you do it! It’s like breathing for me, I love sumo so much. I wouldn’t mind doing much less. But if no one else is doing it, it’s something that I feel I have to do! 

And I was at the Kokugikan, and I was astounded by the number of foreign fans! First of all, all the guys I was sitting next to got their tickets from BuySumoTickets because that’s the only way we can buy tickets now. 5 years ago, we used to walk in, and sit on a masu seat… alone… the whole day!

Now, it’s very difficult for foreign fans to get tickets through the Association.

BuySumoTickets is able to buy blocks. And other [vendors] buy blocks. Takakeisho’s sudden popularity, and new [female] fans, with the good looking rikishi: that’s a new thing, that wasn’t there ten years ago when I came, no way! The youngest guy there was a 70 year old, everyone was old!

The first basho I went to, it kind of felt like that, and then Kisenosato got promoted. After that, everything changed.

Oh, yeah. That was the moment. You used to [be able to] buy tickets at the entrance, the one day tickets, for 2000 yen. You know what we used to do? It’s called zabuton bingo. We would go and sit [in the masu] and then at 2:30, some guy would come, and we moved to the next seat. The contest was who could stay the longest [without having to move]!

I once made it to the middle of Juryo without having to move – in the 4th row! That’s an incredible experience. It’s nothing at all like anything else. And then… the old lady [whose seat it was] came!

Today you go, and they want tickets. They say, “where’s the ticket?” We used to walk around and only at the very end did you go to your actual seat. [This basho] I was sitting in the nosebleed seats, I started getting dizzy from the height!

I know what this experience has been like for me, so I’m curious about someone like you who’s been in the game as long as you have: What is the reaction of people you work with, who you know, who you play music with, when they find out how much you do with sumo?

They all give me the phone numbers of the nearest institution! Always! They say, “it’s right around the corner, they’ll be happy to have you. Shall I make the phone call?”  Everyone thinks I’m nuts. 

So they find out that you’re interested in sumo, and then…

They know! I came from Japan. There’s not many people in Israel who can say, “I grew up in Japan.” And nobody calls me between 9 and 12 in the morning, at all, because I don’t answer.

I don’t talk with my friends about sumo, unless they ask me. The guys in my band, they know nothing. They know about sumo stuff, but they don’t know how deep I’m involved, or what I do on the channel. I don’t tell them, because they think I’m crazy anyway. So, more than that, that’s institutionalised madness! But I really couldn’t care less. My [family] knows. My daughters grew up on this, they know everything.

I don’t think anybody knows the extent of my involvement, that’s for sure. It borders on crazy, so I’d rather it’s “maybe he has a passing interest, whatever.” I really don’t tell anyone.

Find out more from Kintamayama and subscribe to his mailing list at, and keep an eye out for the next parts of our conversation, which will run soon on Tachiai.

Rikishi of the Future – The Hakuho Cup 2018

Following the two hana-zumo events, the dohyo in the Ryogoku Kokugikan was not left unattended. On Monday, February 12, the 8th Hakuho Cup took place.


The Hakuho Cup is a children’s sumo event, second only to the annual Wanpaku National Championship. Its origins are actually in the Asashoryu Cup. The Wanpaku National Championship is an all-Japanese event, and Asashoryu wished to put some Mongolian kids on the dohyo in the Kokugikan. This dream has finally come to fruition in August 2009, in an event for boys age 8-12, won by the Mongolian delegation winning all of its bouts. Asashoryu wanted to make this an annual event, but unfortunately he was forced to retire a few months later, and the event was never repeated.

With Asashoryu gone, Hakuho took his place as the leading (and only) Yokozuna, and starting in 2011, established his own event. And as usual with Hakuho, anything Asashoryu did, he improved upon. The Hakuho cup in its current form is an event for boys from first to ninth grade. No less than 1300 boys attended this year’s event, hailing not only from Mongolia and Japan, but also from the USA, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Mainland China, Thailand and South Korea.

The Mongolian delegation practiced at Tomozuna beya:


While the “Aloha State” team practiced at Musashigawa:

Other heya have also opened their dohyo to the various sumo school clubs and delegations.

On the day itself, many bouts took place on temporary dohyos spread around the kokugikan. At lunch break, Hakuho and Yoshikaze – always involved in children sumo – sat down for a public chat on the dohyo. They were joined by a surprise guest:

Hakuho, Hanada, Yoshikaze

This was none other than the 66th Yokozuna, the former Wakanohana, Mr. Masaru Hanada. Yes, Takanohana’s older and estranged brother.

This was the first time for the 66th and the 69th Yokozuna to meet face to face, and also the first time for the former Wakanohana to step up the dohyo in the Kokugikan since his retirement in 2000. Hakuho told Hanada that he has been watching his videos since he entered into the sumo world, and always thought he would be a tough one to engage with. Hanada said “You’re huge!”, and then addressed the child wrestlers: “Don’t worry. Even small ones can become Yokozuna, like I did. Just be diligent with your keiko!” (Wakanohana was merely 181cm tall).

Among the participants in the event was Hakuho’s own eldest son, Mahato. That’s the same kid who participated in the 2017 summer Jungyo and asked to engage Mitakeumi, to take revenge (Mitakeumi has beaten Hakuho in the Nagoya basho).

Hakuho Jr. is 9 years old, in the third grade, and therefore this has been his third appearance in his father’s tournament. And for the first time, he actually won a bout – he was winless in the previous two occasions. He overcame a henka, got a brief migi-yotsu and finished with an uwate-nage. The proud father said “Keiko doesn’t lie. He does 200 shiko stomps… but not every day.” The boy was defeated in his next bout, though.

Hakuho, comforting his son Mahato after his loss in his second bout

The tournament winner for the second grade was Takaaki Uno from Kanazawa.


The Kanazawa delegation got a lot of support from the latest Kanazawa sekitori, Enho:


And finally, here is a video with a summary of the events of the day, including the Hakuho jr. bout and various other bouts:

Yes, they are children. The tears are real.