Once a year, the March basho is hosted in Osaka. The tourney is held at Edion Arena Osaka, a short walk from Namba station. At this tournament, we will see seven rikishi stepping out in front of the curtain. Of the seven, we have three first-timers and the other four have put on the silk mawashi before.
East Ms6 Enho of Miyagino stable made a huge leap into juryo from six steps away from the curtain. He did this with the bare minimum kachi-koshi, 4-3. It was at 2017 Osaka basho where he first stepped on the dohyo for his maezumo. He joined sumo along with his Kanazawa Gakuin University sumo club teammate, Masataka Tanabe. By the way, Tanabe is still using his family name for his shikona. And he is nipping at Enho’s heels. Like Enho, Tanabe has only recorded kachi-koshi results since his debut.
Unlike Tanabe Enho is now a sekitori, just one year after his maezumo. He got here by getting three straight yusho in a row; at the Jonokuchi, Jonidan, and Sandanme divisions. After that, it took just two tourneys in Makushita, posting records of 5-2 and 4-3.
East Ms7 Takayoshitoshi of Takanohana stable has reached the paid rank, with a respectable 5-2 record. Having seven sekitori being demoted helped. Interestingly enough, it was the final bout, against our returnee, Terutsuyoshi, which Takayo got his critical 5th win. It took Takayo 5 years to step in front of the curtain. His sumo debut was at 2013 Osaka basho.
East Ms1 Yago of Oguruma stable only needed 4 wins to cross the line into Juryo. He did one better than Enho, it only took him five tourneys to do so, having debuted at the 2017 Natsu basho.
West Ms4 Akiseyama of Kise stable is a returnee. He finished the 2018 Hatsu basho at 4-3. He made his dohyo debut back at the 2008 Hatsu basho.
West Ms1 Terutsuyoshi of Isegahama stable posted a 4-3 to move up to the paid ranks for the second time in his 8-year career. He spent the entire 2017 year in Juryo, and only fought in Makushita for the last basho.
West Ms2 Shimanoumi of Kise stable notched a 5-2 record at the Hatsu basho. Like Terutsuyohi, he is also stepping out from behind the curtain for the second time. However, unlike Terutsu, he only spent one basho at the paid ranks. Here’s hoping he can manage to stay a sekitori a lot longer this time around.
West Ms3 Tobizaru of Oitekaze beya is another rikishi going to the paid ranks for a second. And like Shimanoumi, he only lasted one basho at the paid ranks last Nagoya basho.
What goes up, must go down, and with seven rikishi moving up, there are seven moving down, including a couple fan favorites. Toyohibiki, Ura, Osunaarashi (1-8-6), Yamaguchi (2-12-1), Tochihiryu (4-11), Akua (4-11), and Kizenryu (3-12) have been demoted down to Makushita for the Osaka basho.
Of the stepping behind the curtain, a couple flat out did not step on the dohyo for the Hatsu basho. Toyohibiki (0-0-15) and Ura (0-0-15) did not participate. Worse still, Ura has not stepped onto the dohyo since Day 2 at the Aki basho. Having been unable to compete, he continues to fall down the banzuke.
Ura will be in Makushita for the first time in two years next basho. He has stopped using crutches. ”I am slowly rehabilitating myself. I still can't put much pressure on it but I'm training to get there eventually... March? I go with the feeling that I can always do it.." he said.
During the annual physical health check at Kokugikan, he said, ”…I was happy because, during the grip tests, I managed to grip 70 kilos with my left hand, which is my most ever. (In 2016 he fractured a bone in his left hand and had surgery after which he managed 35 last year.) When I entered sumo, I managed 50 kilos, then 60, and it went way down again with that hand injury. I thought I could never return to my original strength. So if I can do the same with my knee, I hope to reach the same condition as before the injury. I want to return even stronger.” Ura should return to the paid ranks in 2018.
Cherry blossom ought to be out by end of this basho. And more sekitori will blossom as well, joining the paid ranks at the Natsu basho!