Thursday, November 30, 2017

Behind The Curtain - January 2018

Happy New Year!!  Happy Year of the Dog, ‘bow wow’, or in Japanese, ‘won won’.  It would be nice to put behind us the “dog’s breakfast”, which we collectively experienced the week after the Kyushu basho.  What might have got lost in the noise, is that we will see 2 new sekitori step out in front of the curtain, along with 3 rikishi returning to the paid ranks.

Our first shin sekitori is Mitoryu - Ms4e 6-1, Nishikido-beya, Mongolia, who is 23 years old (makushita tsukedashi debut May 2017).  Interestingly his first sumo gig was Sumo World Championships for amateur sumo competition organized by the International Sumo Federation.  He won the Openweight at both the 2014 and 2016 tourneys. 

Our other new sekitori is Akua - Ms4w 5-2, Tatsunami-beya, Ibaraki, who is 27 years old.  Was he the beneficiary of Harumafuji’s intai?  We will never know, but we can see what happened on the banzuke, folks only move up when another rikishi moves down, or retires.  Interesting, his shikona has a cool story.  His oyakata supposedly got the idea for the name from the Aqua World public aquarium in Akua's hometown.  Akua followed the typical path into sumo as other of his countrymen.  He attended Tottori Johoku High School, and from there he entered Nishikido-beya.  One benefit of attending high school first is that their Japanese language are significantly better, after this years in high school

Moving on to our returnees, let’s begin with Kizenryu - Ms2w 4-3, Kise-beya, Kagawa, 32 years old, 8th promotion (joint all-time record).  He has been in and out of of the paid ranks since he debuted back in Natsu basho 2013. He is one of Ura’s preferred asageiko partners. Ideally all this practice with Ura has contributed to his ability to return the paid ranks an 8th time.  It must be noted that he hails from a famous sumo college, Nihon University, which only adds to his sumo portfolio.  Let’s hope he can keep climbing the banzuke ladder, making this his last promotion from Makushita.

Our next returnee is Daishoho - Ms3e 5-2, Oitekaze-beya, Mongolia, 23 years old, 2nd promotion.  Born in Sapporo, he took up skiing as a young boy, as he came from an area famous for its ski slopes. He also played basketball at school. However his father was an amateur sumo enthusiast and encouraged his son to try the sport.  In his third year of junior high he took part in the National Junior High School Sumo Championships, held in Tokyo.

And finally let’s congratulate our last returnee, Tochihiryu - Ms10w 7-0 Y, Kasugano-beya, Shizuoka, who is 30 years old, this is his 5th promotion.

As always, what goes up, something or someone goes down.  There is the 5 rikishi turning their silk mawashi for cotton.  Here’s a few of the rikishi stepping back behind the curtain.

Yago (J14w 7-8) .  This is only his 3rd tournament.  You may recall from our previous issue, Yago nailed a perfect 7-0 record and the Makeshita Yusho!  Again as a college sumo champion, he was allowed to enter sumo at the Makushita Tsukedashi 15 rank.  

Terutsuyoshi (J9e 4-11). He is 22 years old, 168cm, 115kg, is Isegahama’s lowest-ranked sekitori.  With his small stature and his bad knees, his body has not been able to manage the paid ranks level.

Daiseido (J12s 2-9)  Since changing his shikona from Sasanoyama, this is only the 2nd time he has posted a losing record.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Behind The Curtain - November 2017

All the rikishi have traveled south, to Kyushu, to participate in the last basho of this year in Fukuoka.  It is the last chapter / tourney of 2017.  Unfortunately there is little action regarding those rikishi switching to sekitori for November’s tournament.  There is one rikishi returning to the paid ranks.  There is one rikishi putting on the silk mawashi for the first time.  Let’s start with the rikishi debuting in the paid ranks this November.

Our first timer is Takanosho.  He was ranked Ms3e and notched 6 wins against just loss.   He belongs to Chiganoura-beya.  He is 22 years.  If you look for his name on previous banzuke, you will find him listed as Masunosho.  For the writer, I always find it cool when a newly promoted rikishi gets a new shikona.  It emphases the accomplishment the young man has achieved. 

His hometown is Kashiwa, Chiba.  Unrelated fact, Kashiwa is home of the professional soccer team Kashiwa Reysol.  More importantly the Kashiwa soccer stadium is where Ireland tied with Germany in the 2002 World Cup group play.  Apologies, the writer was there, so Kashiwa always brings back found memories.

Our returnee is Takagenji from Takanohana-beya, His hometown is Oyama, in Tochigi perfecture.  He is only 20 years old.  At the Aki basho, he was ranked Ms1e, on the fringe of the paid ranks.  He managed to squeak out from behind the curtain with a 4 win and 3 loss record.  This is his 2nd promotion to juryo.  His first appearance in front of the curtain was only at the 2017 Natsu basho.

What is really nice is that Takagenji is from Takanohana-beya.  There was a time, when Takanohana oyakata was assigned the jugyo manager role within the koenkai, that pundits commented that it would weaken Takanohana oyakata’s ability to train his rikishi.  Takagenji is an example that this predication was false.  Takagenji joins his stablemates Takakeisho and Takanoiwa as sekitori at Fukuoka basho.

If two rikishi step in front of the curtain, then two must step behind.  These two rikishi that turned in their silk mawashi for black cotton.

Kitaharima could only manage 5 wins, losing 10 bouts at the Aki basho.  From J12e, he will most likely have fallen back into makushita.  His highest rank was all the way to Maegashira 15, but it was a one basho visit.  At 31 years old, he may be running out of juice for sekitori level performance.  On average, 32 years old is the average retirement age of a rikishi.

Kizenryu lose 6 bouts, won 6 bouts, then had to drop out after that due to injury.  It is sad, cause if he could have stayed in and won 2 out of 3, he would not be in this article.  He has been in and out of of the paid ranks since he debuted back in Natsu basho 2013.  Like Kitaharima, he is long in the tooth, at 32 years old. 

In closing, please allow the writer to extend to all our readers a happy holiday!  I look forward to discussing rikishi stepping out from behind the curtain next year, the year of the dog!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Behind The Curtain - September 2017

The leaves are falling on the ground, and sumo is returning to Tokyo for the Aki Basho.  In addition to the tournament returning to Tokyo, for the final Tokyo basho of 2017, but we have a couple rikishi that are return from behind the curtain.

Kizenryuu Ms1 East tallied up a 4-3 to finally make it over the line and land back into Juryo.  This was his 3rd consecutive 4-3 record.  He posted 4-3 from Ms2 West, next 4-3 from Ms1 West, and finally 4-3 from Ms1 East.  This also the 7th time he has been promoted to Juryo, talk about elevator rikishi.  It should be expected that Kizenryuu can stay in the paid ranks a little longer.  He is one of Ura’s preferred asageiko partners.  You figure he must be getting better, since he gets to train with a superior rikishi. Kizenryuu belongs to Kise-beya.  He is from Kagawa prefecture.  He is 32 years old.

Kitaharima Ms2 East smashed out a 6-1 record to him back into the paid ranks.  His shikona is interesting.  The first kanji in his shikona is Kita or North, and it stands for Kitanoumi-beya, where he is a rikishi.  The second kanji, harima, is an ancient name for an area in the west of Hyogo prefecture where he is from.  In addition, as of the last basho, Kitaharima has had 829 consecutive matches in honbasho.  Kitaharima belongs Yamahibiki-beya.  He hails from Hyogo perfecture.  He is 31 years old.  Like his fellow rikishi Kizenryuu, this marks his 7th promotion to Juryo, yet another elevator rikishi.

In addition to these two rikishi putting their silk mawashi again, we have two rikishi who will be putting on a silk mawashi for the very first time.

Daiseidou Ms3 East produced a nice 5-1 record to step out from behind the curtain.  Since changing his shikona from Sasanoyama, he has had only one losing record.  Maybe he had ought have done that sooner, he has spent 32 basho in Makushita, a long slog in the unpaid ranks.  At 24 years old, he should have plenty of good sumo left in him.  Daiseidou belongs to Kise-beya.  He is from Aomori-ken, very famous prefecture for sumo rikishi.  Supposedly Aomori boys do good sumo from all the walking through deep snow.

Yago at Ms11 East nailed a perfect 7-0 record and the Makeshita Yusho!  What is even more impressive, he did this in only his 2nd tourney in sumo!  As a college sumo champion, he was allowed to enter sumo at the Makushita Tsukedashi 15 rank.  He posted a 5-2 record at that rank in May.  At this point, his shikona will remain Yago.  Yago belongs Oguruma-beya.  He is from Hokkaido, another prefecture with deep snow, get for future sumo rikishi to build up leg and core strength.  He is 23 years old.