Ending the year of the Monkey, we’ve got a handful of rikishi stepping out from behind the curtain. This is a bumper crop of young men, 2 are returnees to wearing the silk mawashi, and 3 first timers to the paid ranks.
Our first returnee is Yamaguchi (Mk2e, 7-0 Yusho, Miyagino), an ex-college rikishi from Nihon University. He’s been a rikishi for over 4 years now. 11 years ago, when he was 16 years old, he was the second rookie student to win the Japan High School Sumo Championship. The only other rookie student to take the high school championship was Maegashira Kushimaumi.
Our second returnee is Ryuden (Mk2w, 4-3, Takadagawa), a 10-year sumo veteran. He’s another ex-college rikishi from Nihon University. For those readers new to sumo, you might see a trend and yes, Nihon University is one of the sumo rikishi “factories”. When Ryuden was promoted 4 years ago, he discontinued his tsukebito role with Kisenosato. Now, we can suspect he will return to that job.
Next there is Daishoho (Mk1w, 5-2, Oitekaze), another Mongolian rikishi, is a first timer to the paid ranks. He’s part of the force that is Mongolian sumo, the highest represented country, besides Japan, in sumo.
Then there is Oyanagi (Mk1e, 4-3, Tokitsukaze-beya), an ex-college rikishi from another good sumo school, Tokyo University of Agriculture. Upon entering sumo, based on his college sumo record, he was placed at the Sandanme 100. From there, he went undefeated in his first two basho, then back-to-back kachikoshi, landing him in Juryo, an incredible pace. More incredible was when he was 17-0 at the Nagoya basho and needing one more win, to be automatically promoted to Juryo. Unfortunately, Wakanoshima was able to defeat him, and put the brakes in his rise to the paid ranks until this Fukaoka basho.
Finally, there is Meisei (Mk3e, 4-3, Tatsunami), in his sixth year of rikishi, who just squeezed out from behind the curtain.
Now one last thought on promotions for November, there are some pundits out there that believe we ought to have a 6th rikishi stepping out in front of the curtain. Sakamoto (Mk3w, 4-3, Oitekaze) entered sumo at Makushita 15 due to his outstanding college sumo career, at you guessed it, Nihon University. Since the first basho of 2016, he has gone 4-3 5 consecutive times! With his trend, we will definitely see him in the silk mawashi in 2017.
Now with a handful of rikishi going up the banzuke, we need to have an equal number of rikishi falling down the banzuke.
Wakanoshima (J13w, 6-9, Shibatayama) had a losing record in Tokyo. He is the same Oyanagi that squashed Oyanagi’s shot at 18-0. His drop down the banzuke, contributed to the opportunity on the banzuke for Oyanagi to become a sekitori.
Kizenryu (J11w, 5-10, Kise) was another rikishi that could not manage 8 wins at the last tourney. He’s been a rikishi since his debut at the Haru basho 2008.
Asabenkei (J11e, 4-11, Takasago) will put his silk mawashi in the closet and put his cotton mawashi back on for the next basho.
Fujiazuma (J14e, 5-10, Tamanoi) will go back to be someone’s tsukebito this tournament.
Toyonoshima (J8e, 0-0-15, Tokitsukaze) has been a sekitori for a dozen years. Falling out of Juryo is harsh, giving up all the sekitori benefits, very harsh from over 12 years of the paid ranks. Harsher still that he jun-yusho at the Shogatsu basho, followed by 2 makikoshi, and 2 outright absences. Let’s hope he quickly recovers to climb the ladder back to the paid ranks in 2017. He has the honor one of only three sekitori to who, to be able to enter sumo, took secondary physical exam and reached Juryo.
It was a wonderful year of sumo! Can’t imagine what next year has in store for us. See y’all next time, in the year of the Rooster!