I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of two factoids before we begin looking at the bouts of interest today. Firstly, as was constantly reminded to us by the commentators today, this is the first basho in Osaka in two year thanks to last year’s Bout-Fixing Scandal (read: last year’s round up the Mongols and ship ‘em out).
Secondly, I’d be deeply remiss if I didn’t make mention that today, shonichi, marks the one year anniversary of the 3/11 Tohoku Earthquake. I also suppose you can say it’s somewhat appropriate I report on this day, as I’m the only contributor on this site whom resides in Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest smacked parts of the country. I was on the sixth floor of a building when the earthquake hit, and I could barely keep my balance as I could hear the steel beams supporting the building twisting and bending around me.
I have a story, and we all do, and today here in Iwate Prefecture I look out the window and with cloudy skies and light snow it looks exactly like it did last year, and I’m reminded of what I went through one year ago today. But, I want to make it clear that my story and my experience is a trip to Disneyland compared to others, particularly those on the coast who lost friends, family members, or their own lives.
I recall just a few weeks after the disasters last year, seeing Hakuho come for a visit here in Iwate. The JSA is known for making head-up-the-ass decisions more than we’d like to believe, but I have been impressed with the amount of support and effort the JSA has given to these people directly affected by the disasters of last year. Mind you, much of this is due to the strong appeals from rikishi such as Hakuho, but eventually they did win the nod from the men in black, and all the top rikishi have come up here for tours, cooking and serving chanko, and all the rest.
Moving on to today’s action in Juryo, EJ3 Takamisakari took on WJ7 Kimikaze, who happens to be Ringo’s junior by ten years. Kimi deflected Ringo’s initial attack away at the tachiai, but Appleseed came back in close locking Kimi’s arms between their sweaty bodies and pushed his opponent out to start off this basho with a white star. Push-out win for Ringo.
Lower Makuuchi featured EM10 Sadanofuji vs. WM10 Aoiyama (2-1): Aoiyama hunkered down well at the tachiai, but stood up to try a pushing attack, then aimed to get to Sadan’s mawashi with no luck as Sadan was defending. Aoi gave up on the mawashi and used his right in Sadan’s left arm pit and launched a powerful belt-less arm throw for the win in memory of his former stablemaster who passed away last month.
First time between EM8 Chiyonokuni vs. WM3 Takekaze today. Tachiai, and a nasty henka to start off this basho by Takekaze, and probably not his last henka this basho either.
EM4 Toyonoshima vs. WM4 Aran: head-to-head is 5-1 in Toyo’s favor. Today Aran sidestepped to the right, which wasn’t an out-and-out nasty henka; Toyonoshima was moving like his was a blind man. Aran easily escorted him out with a force-out win. Strange bout, as Toyo seems to be continuing his downward spiral from last basho.
EM3 Tochinoshin and WS Aminishiki are five wins a piece in the record books. Today they locked up pretty well at the tachiai with Tochi moving forward, then Sneaky moving things back. Ami won a inside grip and Tochi with an outside grip on the belt, they went for a simultaneous throw down, and indeed, they simultaneously hit the clay, so after a Jedi huddle it was time for a rematch. Sneaky came right into the Georgian’s chest, pushing Tochi too high for comfort. Tochi fiddled around trying to keep his balance and go for a belt grip, but before he could achieve either Sneaky launched a belt-less arm throw to the right, and the Georgian was on the clay a second time today. Sneaky with the white star on shonichi.
ES Kakuryu vs. EM3 Kyokutenho: head-to-head is 9-3, in the Kak’s favor between these Mongols. Deep morozashi by the Kak right off from the tachiai, and eventually the elder Mongol gave in. Force-out win for the Kak.
M2 Yoshikaze vs. WO Kotoshogiku: history is 9-2, in the Geek’s favor. The gentlemen bonk noggins low and the Geek got in real close as to shut off Yoshi’s attack and with morozashi, the Geek whipped out his belly-pump and force-out win.
EM2 Tokitenku vs. WO Kotooshu: the Eurozeki leads the head-to-head 12-8. From the tachiai, Oshu was a bit too high, but quickly got a super-deep left-hand grip on the mawashi. Toki tried a few Jack-the-Trippers but Oshu stayed steady and led him out, thanks to that deep left-hand grip. Force-out win for the Eurozeki.
EO Kisenosato vs. WM1 Tochinowaka: 2-0 in Kissy’s favor. Kissy starting things out with a nodowa buffet for Nowaka, but Nowaka took to the chin-music with stride and kept center against Kissy, bringing both arms in front. Once Kissy backed off the nodowas, Tochi stayed close enough Kissy couldn’t thrust. A career-highlight push-down win for Tochinowaka. Kissy is starting off a classic Ozeki sophomore jinx.
EM1 Myogiryu vs. WO Harumafuji: first meeting, and both predictably quick on attack at the tachiai. Myogi came out ablazin’, overextending himself. Haruma gathered this much, and grabbed him a left-hand outside, and stepped back for a fun over-arm throw, using Myogi’s own momentum to take him out.
EO Baruto vs. EK Gagamaru: the two heaviest guys in the division, head-to-head is a pair of ones. Gentleman Gaga started off low at the tachiai, but Bart got a right-hand outside and threw Gaga down gingerly with an over-arm throw win. Nice, confident power sumo win by Bart.
EY Hakuho vs. WK Tochiozan: head-to-head, the Yokozuna has dominated 12-0. At the tachiai, O got in close with morozashi and was actually, steadily moving the Yokozuna back. Giving up on a forward win, Hakuho fly-swatted O down for a thrust-down win. Not the best stuff from Hakuho, but still made it look effortless.
That’s it for shonichi. There are quite a few storylines to follow this basho, most notable being Bart’s yokozuna run. Chalmers will come next, bringing you a little closer to the climax.