Trip Report from Day 4 at the Kokugikan
-Arrived at the Kokugikan at around 12:30 for the early matches. Two ticket were windows open. One with virtually no line and one with a very long line snaking around the corner. Naturally, I chose the short line. I looked over at the ticket window with the long line, and who was taking tickets but none other than Terao. Mystery solved.
-Settled into my cushion in the sixth row. This is the press desk row, and other than the front row it may be the best seat in the house. Usually reporters don't bother to show for the early days, and so you can literally stretch your legs out and enjoy a day of sumo.
-There is a Sandanme wrestler named Omote. I'm looking forward to his future match-up against Ura.
-In upper Makushita, Naya and Chiyonokuni looked good, while Gagamaru looked like toast.
-In Juryo, Terunofuji continues to impress. Barring injury setbacks he should be back in Makuuchi within the year. Hoshoryu disposed of Takagenji with ease. Ichinojo was noticeably slimmer.
-I and most of the crowd were puzzled by the Kiribayama outcome. Seemed like the easiest torinaoshi call ever, if not an outright win by Kiri, although I didn't have the benefit of replay.
-Terutsuyoshi is listed now at 120k, but he has put on legit muscle to go along with his formidable skill (at both sumo and salt tossing). I expect him to become a regular visitor to Joi before long.
-Kotoshogiku remains a fan favorite, but how long he remains an active wrestler is another question. He picked up a nice win today, but I fear the end is near. Hope he can hold on a bit longer though.
-Speaking of fan favorites at the downside of their career, Ikioi is a broken man. He stepped up on the dohyo with a host of injuries, and following his bout he appeared to have collected even more. I respect his stoic demeanor and will to battle through injury, but it's not looking good for him at the moment.
-Tochinoshin has published the playbook on Enho, at least for big men. After being lifted out of the ring, the look of anger on Enho's face was palpable. Knowing Enho, I suspect his anger was directed toward himself at allowing himself to be scooped up rather than Tochinoshin for doing so.
-Meisei is wrestling with one arm right now. I hope he goes kyujo to risk further injury and derailing his promising career.
-Abi was the surprise win of the day. It was textbook Abi and Asanoyama was completely unprepared. Despite the bandaged leg, Abi said on Day 1 that the leg wasn't bothering him, but he was not able to do any keiko leading up to the basho. Indeed, his shiko leg raise off his bandaged leg was as high as ever. Perhaps he's regained his feel and is ready to resume doing Abi things.
-Shodai continues to impress. We've seen stretches like these from Shodai before. Maybe this is the year he realizes his potential and becomes the Shodai we all hoped and expected he would become.
-Takakeisho and Endo was another highly anticipated bout. It appeared it was going Endo's way, but Taka showed Endo who was boss. I have Takakeisho as the clear favorite to win at this point.
-Goeido's win was a hail mary. He was dominated. Kanraku seems like a mere formality at this point.
-Hokutofuji picked up a fusensho win, but was likely disappointed at not having an opportunity to win the kensho that had been put up for the bout.
-Like Hakuho, Kakuryo's kyujo became a formality the moment he was shoved out of the ring, but I'm happy he provided me another opportunity to toss my zabuton.
-There are some massive bodies even down as far as sandanme, but the biggest difference I notice live is the speed of the top rikishi. It's just on a different level.
-After it was over we filed outside in the area where the rikishi come up to the venue from the road. It was packed with people, and among the crowd was Shodai, making his way to his ride. He was swamped with requests for pictures, autographs, baby holdings, etc. He kindly and patiently accepted every one of them. Now I'm even more of a fan.
-Pink-clad comic husband & wife duo Peko and Pako were in attendance, but on the West side instead of their usual spot to the left of the camera view.
-There's nothing like the atmosphere of live sumo at the Kokugikan, but in many ways the viewing experience is better on TV. If you so much as blink at the wrong time you miss the action, and there's no replay screen. Even so, as hard as it is to get tickets these days, I'm grateful for every rare opportunity I get to see sumo in person.
TLDNR Cliff notes:
Went to the Kokugikan for Day 4. There was lots of exciting sumo and a great time was had by all (except Enho).