Sumo's Foreign Invasion
Sumo - still Japanese or truly International?
Rikishi of Old
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Umegatani II our man for June
John attends asageiko at Takasago-beya to give us the first of his bimonthly looks at sumo's stables
Kurt Easterwood & Quinlan Faris
Kurt & Quin treat us to some of the best sumo pics around - and seen nowhere else
May Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Natsu Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his 'gem' of the basho
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko provides his round up of the boys in Makushita and below at the Natsu Basho
July Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Nagoya Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out
Barbara Ann Klein
Rhyme and reason behind the pre-tachiai rituals that mystified us all as beginners
Mikko walks us through A, B & C
John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo
Las Vegas Jungyo Teaser
Months away but like kids at Christmas we are still too excited not to mention it
Hear from the founder of Guess the Banzuke (GTB) on exactly what makes it tick
Le Monde Du Sumo
The original team at MDS tells us how it all started
Heya Links Galore and a focus on 3
JR & EB square off: Right or Left - which should Asashoryu use when receiving kensho?
Let's Hear from You
What was it that made you a sumo fan?
Question of the month - What is Sumo?
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke
Gem of the Basho
by John Gunning
them out of the running early on.
Therefore (cue drum roll) it is with great pleasure that I can announce the inaugural choice for gem of the basho …………
The komusubi gets the award not so much for his record, as we all know that he is capable of those numbers – even from sanyaku – but for the way he achieved it.
His run from day 4 in which he gained morozashi in many of his bouts was a joy to behold and was almost like an instructional video of sumo technique. Kotomitsuki is a rikishi cut from the classic mold. He has the physique and technique to reach at least ozeki and possibly even yokozuna. Unfortunately since his broken jaw and elbow problems he seems to have lacked the shin of shin-gi-tai (heart technique physique). If only he were able to gain some confidence and learn from Tochiazuma how to deal with the yokozuna he could be a contender for the yusho on a regular basis. But then again who doesn’t need tips on how to deal with Asashoryu?
To wrap-up then, congratulations to the Aichi native and former Nichi-Dai graduate on being the first to be honoured in this way and let’s hope it’s the start of an ozeki run.
This certainly was a tournament where picking a gem was difficult. In recent times the ozeki could all be counted on to disappoint when near promotion (Kaio) or just to be plain awful (Chiyotaikai / Musoyama), which meant that any outstanding maegashira was inevitably the gem. Think Hokutoriki challenging Asashoryu for the yusho in Natsu 2004 when he finished with a 13-2 record or Asasekiryu undefeated through day 12 last March.
This May however the ozeki were, for the most part, solid if not inspired. Added to this was the lack of any exceptional performance from a maegashira. The only possible exception perhaps being Kyokushuzan, but his elevator act is becoming so familiar by now that it hardly comes as a surprise. Indeed one conspiracy theorist recently suggested his bouncing up and down the ranks is the result of aiming for the record of being the longest continuously ranked maegashira without a promotion to sanyaku.
So where are we to find our gem? Actually there were several highlights to the just completed tournament. Katayama’s shiko
is certainly worthy of mention. Unlike the pre-bout antics of Takamisakari, shiko is an integral part of sumo and to see someone at the Makuuchi level have the flexibility be able to perform it as Katayama did stirs the blood. Also noteworthy was Dewanosato. Watching him bravely struggle against the odds when so obviously out of his depth, I couldn’t help but notice his demeanor which was more like that of a 14-year-old allowed to play with the big boys than a 34-year-old veteran. That said I’m sure he will remember this tournament for the rest of his life. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to reach Juryo again, but the obvious joy he got from finally being able to complete as a sekitori was there for all to see. Heartwarming stuff indeed.