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mikawa

32nd Wanpaku National Championships (2016-7-31)

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Part 1 - Introduction

The Wanpaku Tournament (第32回わんぱく相撲全国大会) is possibly the largest tournament in amateur sumo in terms of number of participants, with over 40,000 primary school kids from all over Japan (and parts of Mongolia) vying for a place in the Wanpaku National Championships, which is held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan end of July / start of August. Only about 400 make it to the finals, where entry is free.

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The Wanpaku National Championships is the first real chance to see who has what it takes to make it in Ozumo, and who has the potential to become Makuuchi regulars, or even sanyaku regulars in the future. Size is a bigger factor at Wanpaku level, and as such, other aspects of their sumo provide a better indication of their future potential in Ozumo, such as skill (Furukawa Haruki), strategical awareness (Sato Takanobu), power (Utetsu Fumiya) and fighting spirit (Kawazoe Fuma).

Because of this, not many Wanpaku Yokozunae actually succeed in Ozumo, though it should be said that most of the Japanese rikishi we see in Makuuchi today have done well at Wanpaku (Kisenosato and Tochiozan are both Wanpaku quarter-finalists). Below are a selection of famous rikishi back in their Wanpaku days (from left to right: Kisenosato, Tochiozan, Futeno, Goeido, Mitakeumi):

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In recent years, Wanpaku has become an international tournament, with qualifiers in Mongolia for 3 years running (2014, 2015, 2016), and a qualifier in Hawaii last year. There has also been full live coverage of the event on Ustream for the past few years (26th to 30th), and on Niconico last year. It is now confirmed that there will be live coverage of this year's event on Niconico.

Edited by mikawa
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Part 2 - The Contenders (Grade 4)

For the kids in Grade 4, this is their first time competing at the Wanpaku National Championships. Taking into account their results in other competitions, here are some names to watch out for in the Grade 4 competition (the numbers represent their order of appearance):

#7 Saito Chugo (斎藤 忠剛)
As one of the winners of this year's Tokyo prefectural qualifiers, the (relatively) small but skilful Saito Chugo will be aiming to carry on the traditions of his senpai at Komatsuryu Dojo by reaching the quarter-finals of the Wanpaku Tournament, and he has a good chance of doing so. If he does get that far, his opponent in the quarter-finals is likely to be rikishi #22, who will be introduced below.

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#22 Hirano Shurato (平野 修良斗)
As one of the winners of this year's Zama City qualifiers in Kanagawa, Hirano Shurato is one of the big names in his year group, and won the Grade 3 competition at the 9th National Chinju-no-mori Kids Sumo Tournament 3 months ago.

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#37 Jo Hiroki (城 皓貴)
As one of the winners of this year's Osaka prefectural qualifiers, Jo Hiroki (left in photo) has always been successful at regional tournaments in Kansai, and should get a good result later this month, that is, if he wasn't scheduled to face rikishi #40 in the last 64.

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#40 Nishijima Yurai (西島 悠来)
As one of the winners of this year's Chiba prefectural qualifiers, Nishijima Yurai (left in photo) is definitely the favourite for his year group, as he's won the Hakuho Cup 3 times in a row. It also helps that his biggest rival, Nakanishi Kaishin (中西 海心), failed to qualify for this year's Wanpaku Tournament.

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#114 Samejima Hikaru (鮫島 輝)
As one of the winners of this year's Saitama prefectural qualifiers (along with his club senpai Onozawa Ayato and Kobayashi Arashi), Samejima Hikaru (front row, right in photo) was a key member of Iruma Junior Sumo Club when they became national club champions last year (for the second time in a row). Certainly a potential jo-i (quarter-finals or beyond).

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Edited by mikawa
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#7 Saito Chugo (斎藤 忠剛)

As one of the winners of this year's Tokyo prefectural qualifiers, the (relatively) small but skilful Saito Chugo will be aiming to carry on the traditions of his senpai at Komatsuryu Dojo by reaching the quarter-finals of the Wanpaku Tournament, and he has a good chance of doing so. If he does get that far, his opponent in the quarter-finals is likely to be rikishi #22, who will be introduced below.

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Son of Kabutoyama oyakata (former Oikari)

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Part 3 - The Contenders (Grade 5)

More information is available for those in Grade 5, who are aiming to better their results from last year's Wanpaku Tournament. Here are some names to watch out for in the Grade 5 competition (as before, the numbers represent their order of appearance):

#23 Onozawa Ayato (斧澤 亜矢斗)

As one of the winners of this year's Saitama prefectural qualifiers (along with his club senpai Kobayashi Arashi and club kohai Samejima Akira), Onozawa Ayato was a key member of Iruma Junior Sumo Club when they became national club champions last year (for the second time in a row). He reached the last 16 at last year's Wanpaku Tournament, where he lost to Shizuoka's Suzuki Masane (鈴木 真実). This year, he also has a potentially tricky opponent in the last 16, either rikishi #27 or rikishi #30.

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#27 Taniguchi Yusa (谷口 優冴)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Hyogo prefectural qualifiers, Taniguchi Yusa reached the last 32 last year, where he lost to the eventual finalist, Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真).

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#30 Aino Shogo (相野 祥吾)

As one of the winners of this year's Chiba prefectural qualifiers, Aino Shogo reached the quarter-finals last year, where he lost to Osaka's Tasaki Masami (田崎 正美). Aino Shogo has a potentially good match against Taniguchi Yusa in the last 32.

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#33 Nara Subaru (奈良 昴)

As one of the winners of this year's Tsugaru regional qualifiers in Aomori, Nara Subaru reached the last 16 last year, where he lost to the eventual winner, Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介). Nara Subaru appeared a few times in the documentary series on Kinboshi Sumo Club, and should reach the quarter-finalist this year, where he should be facing Yamashita Shosuke for a re-match.

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#53 Kanazawa Sorato (金澤 空大)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Chiba prefectural qualifiers, Kanazawa Sorato (middle in photo) is a 4-time national champion in wrestling, and only started learning sumo a little over half a year ago. He is Kinboshi Sumo Club's ace, and should be good enough to reach the last 16, where he should be facing the defending Wanpaku Yokozuna, Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介), an opponent he's faced a few times when his club visited Kumamoto.

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#64 Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介)

As one of the winners of this year's Kanoya City qualifiers in Kagoshima, Yamashita Shosuke is the defending Wanpaku and Hakuho Cup champion, and also came second in last year's Primary School Championships. He is definitely the favourite for his year group, and it also helps that his biggest rival, Amami Oshima's Ichikizaki Daisuke (市来崎 大祐), failed to qualify for this year's Wanpaku Tournament.

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#66 Tasaki Masami (田崎 正美)

As one of the winners of this year's Osaka prefectural qualifiers, Tasaki Masami reached the semi-finals last year, where he lost to the eventual finalist, Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真). He won the Grade 4 competition at the 9th National Chinju-no-mori Kids Sumo Tournament 3 months ago, and should reach the quarter-finals, where he should be facing Sakamoto Shoma for a re-match. His biggest threat before the quarter-finals is Kanagawa's Masuda Manato (増田 聖士).

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#82 Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Tokyo prefectural qualifiers, Sakamoto Shoma, who is the younger son of Tokitsukaze Oyakata, has always been one of the biggest names in his year group, having won multiple Hakuho Cups. However, his results over the past year haven't been as good, finishing second in last year's Wanpaku Tournament and third in the Primary School Championships. Sakamoto Shoma always goes for a morozashi grip, followed by an attempt at yorikiri, which works against most opponents, but not against Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke (who successfully countered with Hikiotoshi and Uwatenage). His biggest threat before the quarter-finals is rikishi #90.

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#90 Suzuki Nozomi (鈴木 希)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Shizuoka prefectural qualifiers, Suzuki Nozomi reached the last 16 last year, where he lost to Chiba's Aino Shogo. This year, he should be facing Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma in the last 16.

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#117 Suzuki Masane (鈴木 真実)

As one of the winners of this year's Shizuoka prefectural qualifiers, Suzuki Masane reached the quarter-finals last year, where he lost to the eventual winner, Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke. This year, he should reach the last 16 at least, where he should be facing one of 2 tough opponents (rikishi #126 and rikishi #131).

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#126 Yamashina Hiroyasu (山科 啓容)

As one of the winners of this year's Mie prefectural qualifiers, Yamashina Hiroyasu comes from a judo background, and reached the semi-finals at last year's Primary School Sumo Championships.

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#131 Kitayama Keigo (北山 慶悟)

As one of the winners of this year's Ono City qualifiers in Fukui, Kitayama Keigo reached the quarter-finals last year, where he lost to the eventual finalist, Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真). This year, he has a potentially tricky bout in the last 64 (which should be) against Hyogo's Matsunaga Akane (松永 聖鐘), and then a tough bout in the last 16 (which should be) against Shizuoka's Suzuki Masane.

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Edited by mikawa
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Part 4 - The Contenders (Grade 6)

For those in Grade 6, this is their last chance to win the Wanpaku Tournament. Here are some names to watch out for in the Grade 6 competition (as before, the numbers represent their order of appearance):

#4 Narita Rikido (成田 力道)

As one of the winners of this year's Tsugaru regional qualifiers in Aomori, Narita Rikido is the 2-time and defending Wanpaku Yokozuna, and also came second in last year's Primary School Championships and second again in this year's Hakuho Cup. He is the favourite for his year group, though not by much, as rikishi #79 is the 2-time and defending Primary School Yokozuna (as well as multiple Hakuho Cup champion), while rikishi #113 is the defending Hakuho Cup champion (whom Narita Rikido lost to in the Hakuho Cup final earlier this year). This year, Narita Rikido should at least reach the final with his tsuppari style of sumo.

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#16 Komiyama Toa (小宮山 翔海)

As one of the winners of this year's Tokyo prefectural qualifiers, the (relatively) small but incredibly skilful Komiyama Toa reached the last 16 during both of his previous appearances at the Wanpaku Tournament, where he lost to an eventual quarter-finalist both times (rikishis #59 and #83). This year, he should reach the last 16, where he should be facing the 2-time defending champion, Narita Rikido.

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#35 Miura Tomokazu (三浦 智一)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Tsugaru regional qualifiers in Aomori, Miura Tomokazu reached the last 32 in Grade 4 and quarter-finals in Grade 5, losing to rikishi #79 both times. He is also a regular in the latter stages of other national tournaments, and should at least reach the quarter-finals this year, with Saitama's Furuhata Haruki (古畑 遼樹) likely to be his opponent in the last 16.

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#54 Shinozaki Sota (篠崎 颯太)

As one of the winners of this year's Ibaraki prefectural qualifiers, Shinozaki Sota reached the last 64 in Grade 4 and last 16 in Grade 5, losing to rikishi #116 and Aomori's Miura Tomokazu respectively. This year, he should be able to reach the last 16, where he should be facing 1 of rikishis #57, #59 and #64, all of whom are very tough opposition.

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#57 Yoda Shigeki (依田 蒼基)

As one of the winners of this year's Zama City qualifiers in Kanagawa, Yoda Shigeki certainly had the force with him when he reached the last 32 in Grade 4 and last 16 in Grade 5 (defeating, and injuring, rikishi #116 in a very exciting gappuri yotsu first bout), but that wasn't enough as he lost to Narita Rikido and rikishi #59 respectively. This year, he should win his first bout comfortably, but after that, he should be having a re-match against a very tough opposition in rikishi #59, who is a 2-time Wanpaku quarter-finalist (and reaching multiple other quarter-finals as well).

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#59 Honda Gotaro (本田 豪太郎)

As one of the winners of this year's Uki City qualifiers in Kumamoto, Udo Junior Sumo Club's Honda Gotaro reached the quarter-finals in both Grade 4 and Grade 5, where he lost to rikishi #79 and Tokyo's (and Komatsuryu Dojo's) Nishikawa Mirai (西川 宙生) respectively. This year, Honda Gotaro might be able to reach the quarter-finals again, but to do that, he would need to find a way to win against Yoda Shigeki (in the last 64), rikishi #64 (in the last 32) and Shinozaki Sota (in the last 16). All 3 are tough opponents.

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#64 Sugawara Haruka (菅原 悠翔)

As one of the 3rd place finishers at this year's Shizuoka prefectural qualifiers, the highly excitable Sugawara Haruka rounds off the "block" of death, as any one of 4 rikishi in this section of the draw are good enough to reach the quarter-finals. He reached the final in Grade 4 and semi-finals in Grade 5, losing to Narita Rikido and Tokyo's (and Komatsuryu Dojo's) Nishikawa Mirai (西川 宙生) respectively. You may be wondering how someone as good as him could only finish 3rd in his prefecture? That's because statistically speaking, Aomori's Narita Rikido is the best rikishi in their year group, but the 2nd best (rikishi #79), 3rd best (rikishi #116) and 4th best (Sugawara Haruka) are ALL from Shizuoka. This year, Sugawara Haruka should be facing either Yoda Shigeki or Honda Gotaro in the last 32, and if he were to win that bout, he should be up against Shinozaki Sota in the last 16. His road to the quarter-finals is also a tough one.

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#79 Uchida Kyota (内田 京汰)

As one of the winners of this year's Shizuoka prefectural qualifiers, Uchida Kyota is one of the favourites to win this year (alongside Narita Rikido and rikishi #113). He reached the semi-finals in both Grade 4 and Grade 5, losing to his arch-rival Narita Rikido both times. Uchida Kyota is a multiple Hakuho Cup winner, as well as the 2-time and defending Primary School Yokozuna (defeating his arch-rival Narita Rikido in the final both times). This year, I don't see anyone stopping him before the semi-finals.

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#83 Niishima Ibuki (新島 伊武起)

As one of the winners of this year's Amami Oshima regional qualifiers in Kagoshima, Niishima Ibuki reached the quarter-finals in Grade 5 (defeating Toky's Komiyama Toa in the last 16), where he lost against the eventual winner, Aomori's Narita Rikido.This year, he should be able to at least reach the last 16, where he should be facing rikishi #91.

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#91 Kohara Sota (小原 颯太)

As one of the winners of this year's Kawasaki city qualifiers in Kanagawa, Kohara Sota reached the last 64 in Grade 4, and last 16 in Grade 5, where he couldn't match Uchida Kyota. This year, he should be able to set up a last 16 meeting with Niishima Ibuki.

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#113 Sosorufu (アルタンゲレル ソソルフ)

As one of the winners of this year's Mongolian qualifiers, Sosorufu is the defending Hakuho Cup champion, famously defeating Narita Rikido in the final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTgtyjJM5C4, from 5:01). Incidentally, he is the first rikishi ever to win a national competition in this year group whose name isn't Narita Rikido or Uchida Kyota, such was their dominance over the past 5 years. This year, Sosorufu should be able to at least reach the quarter-finals, where he should be facing rikishi #116. After that, his path to the championships should be going through Uchida Kyota and then Narita Rikido. It won't be easy, but Sosorufu is the only one who's capable of beating them.

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#116 Mochizuki Masaya (望月 大矢)

As one of the runners-up of this year's Shizuoka prefectural qualifiers, Mochizuki Masaya reached the last 16 in Grade 4, where he lost against the eventual winner, Narita Rikido; and lost in his first bout in Grade 5, against Kanagawa's Yoda Shigeki (and had to be carried off the dohyo on a stretcher). He would go on to redeem himself in last year's Primary School Championships, where he reached the semi-finals. This year, Mochizuki Masaya should be able to set up a quarter-final bout against (most likely) Mongolia's Sosorufu, though he does have a tough bout in the last 64 against (should be) Fukuda Shintaro (福田 真太郎), who reached the last 16 in both Grade 4 and Grade 5.

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Edit: Added rikishi #91 to the Grade 6 contenders, as his strength and technique are both good

Edited by mikawa
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Incidentally, rikishi #8 in the Grade 6 competition is from Kashihara City in Nara, and goes by the name of Yasuda Hikaru (安田 光). Yup, that's the SAME name and also the SAME year group as Kinboshi Sumo Club's Yasuda Hikaru (安田 光), except that Kinboshi Sumo Club's Hikaru is from Aomori. This really is a small world.....

Edited by mikawa

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As with last year, the 32nd Wanpaku National Championships will be streamed LIVE on Niconico (http://live.nicovideo.jp/watch/lv269492024) on Sunday 31st July. IIRC, you will need to register on the website in order to watch the tournament.

The live streaming should be starting at 8:00am JST with the opening ceremony, and finishing a mere 10 hours later, at 6:00pm JST (after the awards ceremony). This year, 131 teams from across Japan (including 1 from Mongolia) will be taking part, with 392 wanpaku rikishi all aiming for the title of Wanpaku Yokozuna. Here are the day's schedules (times are JST):

8:00 - Opening Ceremony (Speech from the head of the Wanpaku Organizing Committee and from an NSK representative, most likely the

Rijichō himself. After that, Team Amami Oshima will be returning the Team Trophy, followed by a competitors' oath)

9:10 - Grade 4, Rounds 1 & 2 ( 131 -> 128 -> 64 )

10:20 - Grade 5, Rounds 1 & 2 ( 131 -> 128 -> 64 )

11:30 - Grade 6, Rounds 1 & 2 ( 131 -> 128 -> 64 )

12:55 - Wanpaku Yokozuna's dohyo-iri, featuring last year's Grade 5 Yokozuna, Narita Rikido (成田 力道), followed by last year's Grade 4

Yokozuna, Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介).

13:10 - Grade 4, Rounds 3, 4 & 5 ( 64 -> 32 -> 16 -> 8)

14:10 - Grade 5, Rounds 3, 4 & 5 ( 64 -> 32 -> 16 -> 8)

15:10 - Grade 6, Rounds 3, 4 & 5 ( 64 -> 32 -> 16 -> 8)

16:10 - Grade 4, 5 & 6 Quarter-finals

Grade 4, 5 & 6 Semi-finals

Grade 4, 5 & 6 Final

16:45 - Wanpaku Yumitori-shiki

17:00 - Awards Ceremony for Wanpaku Yokozuna / Ozeki (runner-up) / Sekiwake (last 4) / Komusubi (last 8), and for the best finishing teams.

Which of those kids will make it in Ozumo after they grow up is anyone's guess, but it will certainly be an exciting tournament, with bouts quickly flowing from one to the next. Expect tears, fist-pumps, a lot of nerves, and even more words of encouragement shouted from the stands. Hopefully, the contenders listed in this post will help in getting to know the big names of Wanpaku, and I will certainly be rooting for them in the Kokugikan a week on Sunday.

Hakkeyoi, nokotta!

Edited by mikawa
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390 bouts in one day, on the same dohyo? Looks like they allot just over 1 minute per match. They must certainly move through them at a much faster clip than Ozumo.

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390 bouts in one day, on the same dohyo? Looks like they allot just over 1 minute per match. They must certainly move through them at a much faster clip than Ozumo.

Yup, all the bouts take place on the same dohyo, with each bout involving bow -> sonkyo -> tachi-ai -> bow, and that's it (the quarter-finals and beyond include an extra step).

In terms of pace, Wanpaku is certainly quicker than Ozumo. In fact, it's quicker even than middle school, high school and college tournaments.

I've done a comparison of the kimarites used for Honbasho and for Wanpaku, and here are the results:

Kimarite Ozumo Wanpaku

Hatakikomi 8.7% 2.9%

Hikiotoshi 3.8% 2.6%

Kotenage 1.5% 1.0%

Okuridashi 3.9% 4.2%

Oshidashi 22.1% 21.8%

Oshitaoshi 3.6% 5.5%

Shitatenage 3.4% 1.8%

Soto / Uchigake 0.6% 1.0%

Sukuinage 1.9% 4.7%

Tsukidashi 2.5% 1.3%

Tsukiotoshi 5.3% 2.6%

Tsukitaoshi 0.3% 1.0%

Tsuridashi 0.1% 0.5%

Utchari 0.2% 0.8%

Uwatenage 5.8% 8.1%

Yorikiri 26.2% 27.8%

Yoritaoshi 5.5% 8.9%

Other 4.5% 3.1%

Edited by mikawa
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Visited Tachikawa Renseikan Sumo Club today, and got confirmation (from his mum) that Grade 4's #22 is pronounced Hirano Shurato (平野 修良斗)

Edited by mikawa
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Because this will be a full and detailed report on today's 32nd Wanpaku National Championships (attended in person today, along with Nishinoshima) and will be including an extra section at the end, the report will be divided into different sections. So here goes......

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Part 5 - Results and Report (Grade 4)

Winner: Fukuhara Joichiro (福原 丈一朗, Ehime)

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Runner-up: Sugimoto Satose (杉本 智斗勢, Wakayama)

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Semi-final: Nishijima Yura (西島 悠来, Chiba)

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Semi-final: Nishide Daiki (西出 大毅, Wakayama)

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Quarter-final: Uchiyama Ryunosuke (内山 龍之介, Niigata)

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Quarter-final: Hattori Koyo (服部 公洋, Gifu)

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Quarter-final: Nakano Kanato (仲野 奏人, Fukui)

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Quarter-final: Takei Ginji (武井 銀士, Shizuoka)

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This year's Grade 4 competition was a landmark event, as it marked the first time ever that Chiba's Nishijima Yura (西島 悠来) lost a bout in a national-level tournament (he previously went through 3 Hakuho Cups unbeaten). Perhaps fittingly, the kid who defeated him was Ehime's Fukuhara Joichiro ()福原 丈一朗, who went on to claim the title. This also marks the first time ever that a rikishi from Ehime became Wanpaku Yokozuna.

Unlike previous Grade 4 competitions (which were usually won by a largely-built kid), this year was a very skilful affair, with many competitors showing great strategical awareness as well as good technique. There was Tokyo's Saito Chugo (斎藤 忠剛) cleverly dodging his bigger opponent's attacks, and then going in for a low yorikiri when the opportunity arose (which drew thunderous applause from the crowd, though he did lose in his next bout); there was Fukushima's Tanji Jun (丹治 純), who out-manoeuvred Hirano Shurato (平野 修良斗) in their first bout (in a shock result); there was Kanagawa's Nasukawa Shoki (奈須川 将輝), who skilfully overcame one bigger opponent after another to reach the last 16; and there was also Wakayama's Nishide Daiki ()西出 大毅, throwing down one opponent after another (showing why he was able to keep the 2nd best rikishi in their year group, Nakanishi Kaishin (中西 海心) from qualifying for the Wanpaku Tournament this year).

As for the predictions, Osaka's Jo Hiroki (城 皓貴) did indeed win his first bout comfortably before losing to Nishijima Yura (西島 悠来), though Saitama's Samejima Hikaru (鮫島 輝) only managed to reach the last 64.

Edited by mikawa
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Part 6 - Results and Report (Grade 5)

Winner: Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介, Kagoshima)

Yamashita.jpg

Runner-up: Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真, Tokyo)

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Semi-final: Yokoyama Tsukasa (横山 司, Tokyo)

Yokoyama.jpg

Semi-final: Yamashina Takahiro (山科 啓容, Mie)

Yamashina.jpg

Quarter-final: Matsuda Ten (松田 天, Tottori)

Matsuda.jpg

Quarter-final: Nara Subaru (奈良 昴, Aomori)

Nara.jpg

Quarter-final: Ote Kira (大手 希星, Kumamoto)

Ote.jpg

Quarter-final: Tanimura Ryuki (谷村 竜喜, Toyama)

Tanimura.jpg

 

This year's Grade 5 competition ended the same way it did a year ago, with Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真, Tokitsukaze-oyakata's younger son) facing Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介) in the final. The bout went exactly the same way it did last year, with Sakamoto Shoma going for and getting a morozashi (as he does in every single bout), and then being thrown down by Yamashita Shosuke (last year was uwatenage, this year kubinage).

Giving his size and strength, Sakamoto Shoma is able to use this style of sumo to overcome pretty much every other rikishi in his year group, everyone that is, apart from the equally strong and more technically gifted Yamashita Shosuke. And so, the humble Yamashita Shosuke becomes a 2-time Wanpaku Yokozuna, while the Sakamotos (including his brother Sakamoto Hirokazu 坂本 博一) end up with a 3rd successive runners-up medal. Sakamoto needs a different approach next time.

Sakamoto Shoma's path to the final had been smooth, including a comfortable win in the last 16 against Shizuoka's Suzuki Nozomi (鈴木 希, though admittedly Suzuki did have an exhausting bout against Akita's Kagaya Ryota (加賀谷 涼太) in the previous round). On the other hand, Yamashita Shosuke had to face a very big and fairly strong opponent in the semi-finals in Tokyo's Yokoyama Tsukasa (横山 司), struggling a bit to get Yokoyama over the tawara.

Yokoyama Tsukasa (横山 司) won this year's Tokyo prefectural qualifiers (with a reversal win in the semi-finals against Sakamoto Shoma), and in today's tournament is responsible for the defeats of no less than 3 contenders (Chiba's Aino Shogo 相野 祥吾, Hyogo's Taniguchi Yusa 谷口 優冴 and Saitama's Onozawa Ayato 斧澤 亜矢斗). Onozawa Ayato tried very very hard in the last 16 against Yokoyama Tsukasa, only to be thrown down when the win was in sight.

Speaking of Onozawa Ayato, remember when I mentioned that he defeated a certain Ote Kira (大手 希星) from Kumamoto in his first bout last year (in the Udo Junior Sumo Club thread)? Well, the same Ote Kira managed to get all the way to the quarter-finals this year (getting a major victory over Osaka's Tasaki Masami 田崎 正美 in the last 16), where he came up short against Sakamoto Shoma. If he hadn't faced such a tough opponent last year, then his name would most likely have been included in this year's contenders list.

Kinboshi Sumo Club's ace, Chiba's Kanazawa Sorato (金澤 空大), proved extremely popular with the spectators (no doubt due to his fame on Guru Nai), and won his first bout with a well-executed throw. However, he had a less-than-ideal tachi-ai in his next bout, and wasn't able to turn things around.

As for the contenders, Aomori's Nara Subaru (奈良 昴) reached the quarter-finals, where he once again was no match for the defending Yokozuna, Kagoshima's Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介); while the judo-rikishi Yamashita Takahiro (山科 啓容) went one better by reaching the semi-finals (thanks to a bunch of leg trips), where he lost to Tokyo's Sakamoto Shoma (坂本 正真). However, a major shock occurred when the Shizuoka champion Suzuki Masane (鈴木 真実) bowed out in his secound bout, and a couple of minutes later, Fukui's Kitayama Keigo (北山 慶悟) couldn't negotiate that tricky bout in the last 64 against Hyogo's Matsunaga Akane (松永 聖鐘).

Having reached 4 successive national finals over the past year and winning 3 of them (2 Wanpakus and a Hakuho Cup, finishing second in the Primary School Championships), one gets the impression that unless the current Primary School Yokozuna, Kagoshima's Ichikizaki Daisuke, can qualify for next year's Wanpaku Tournament (as he did so in Grade 4 but not in Grade 5), then there's nothing stopping Yamashita Shosuke (山下 昇介) from taking the title again next year and completing the set.

Edited by mikawa
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Part 7 - Results and Report (Grade 6)

Winner: Uchida Kyota (内田 京汰, Shizuoka)

Uchida.jpg

Runner-up: Narita Rikido (成田 力道, Aomori)

Narita.jpg

Semi-final: Miura Tomokazu (三浦 智一, Aomori)

Miura.jpg

Semi-final: Sosorufu (アルタンゲレル ソソルフ, Mongolia)

Sosorufu.jpg

Quarter-final: Shoda Haruto (正田 悠倫, Hokkaido)

Shoda.jpg

Quarter-final: Takko Masei (田子 麻聖, Akita)

Takko.jpg

Quarter-final: Kando Akira (神藤 輝, Osaka)

Kando.jpg

Quarter-final: Mochizuki Masaya (望月 大矢, Shizuoka)

Mochizuki.jpg

 

Before delving into the results, it is worth mentioning that this year group is unlike any other in recorded Wanpaku history, in that before Sosorufu came along earlier this year, every major competition for their year group was won by either Narita Rikido (成田 力道) or Uchida Kyota (内田 京汰), with no exceptions. That's 5 entire years of total dominance by the two 'fields', and as you'd expect, a bout between them is effectively the final. Below is a list of their achievements for reference:

Grade 1

Hakuho Cup: Uchida (winner)

Grade 2

Hakuho Cup: Uchida (winner)

Grade 3

National Primary School Championships: Narita (runner-up, in the Grade 4 or lower competition)

Hakuho Cup: Uchida (winner)

Grade 4

Wanpaku Tournament: Narita (winner), Uchida (semi-finals)

National Primary School Championships: Uchida (winner), Narita (runner-up)

Hakuho Cup: Uchida (winner), Narita (semi-finals)

Grade 5

Wanpaku Tournament: Narita (winner), Uchida (semi-finals)

National Primary School Championships: Uchida (winner), Narita (runner-up)

Hakuho Cup: Narita (runner-up)

Not only are they big for their age, but also with the added bonus of Narita's Baruto-esque power and Uchida's superb tactical awareness and skill, the two of them are just so much better than everyone else in their year group. With the majestic dragon of Aomori on one side and the ferocious tiger of Shizuoka on the other, they are the ultimate rivals for each other.

And so, when the draw was released for this year's Grade 6 competition (putting Narita Rikido and Uchida Kyota in different halves), there was great anticipation / expectation for a destined final between the two, an ultra-exciting showdown that would be worthy of their era in Wanpaku. They duly made their way through the field (pun not intended) today to reach that final, and fair to say, they didn't disappoint.

Such was the excitement and tension in the air that the gyoji had to call matta and restart the bout 3 times (this has NEVER happened at Wanpaku). Once the bout got under way, Narita immediately released a whole barrel of tsuppari attacks, against which Uchida was able to stand his ground. Uchida then tries multiple times to get under Narita's attack and grab his opponent's mawashi, but Narita defended well against that. After an almighty battle between their conflicting styles, Uchida was finally able to get a firm hold of Narita's mawashi, and yorikiri him out for his first Wanpaku title. They will most likely meet again before entering middle school, but today's bout was certainly of epic proportions.

The biggest threat for a Narita-Uchida final is this year's Hakuho Cup winner, Team Mongolia's Sosorufu. In order to set up a repeat of this year's Hakuho Cup final against Narita Rikido, Sosorufu needed to beat big names in both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. His quarter-final against Shizuoka's Mochizuki Masaya (望月 大矢) was a good bout, with Mochizuki having defended well at the edge. In the semi-finals however, the equally skilled but bigger and stronger Uchida Kyota (内田 京汰) proved to be too much of a challenge. Nevertheless, semi-finals is the best result (joint) of any rikishi from Mongolia at the Wanpaku Tournament. Will we be seeing a Mongolian kid claiming the Wanpaku title somewhere in the near future? Possibly.

The other semi-final was an all-Aomori affair as Narita Rikido (成田 力道) faced the tall, relatively thin, but strong Miura Tomokazu (三浦 智一), which Narita was able to win comfortably. Narita's quarter-final against Hokkaido's Shoda Haruto (正田 悠倫) however, was a truly crazy bout, with Narita actually coming close to losing (which would have been one of the biggest shocks in Wanpaku history), but his power came through for him this time.

Akita's Takko Masei (田子 麻聖)'s journey to the quarter-finals was made easier as Ibaraki's Shinozaki Sota (篠崎 颯太) surprisingly lost in his first bout. Just a minute later, Kanagawa's Yoda Shigeki (依田 蒼基) also lost in his first bout, which capped a very disappointing day for Team Zama, as all three of their members lost in their first bouts (including Grade 4's Hirano Sorato (平野 修良斗).

Takko's opponent in the last 16 was to be decided by an epic clash between two major names in their year group, Kumamoto's Honda Gotaro (本田 豪太郎) and Shizuoka's Sugahara Haruka (菅原 悠翔), which Sugahara won in a battle of strength. Honda is very good, no doubt about that, but he seems to not have enough fighting spirit within him when it really matters, either in the latter stages of a national tounament or when he's up against a tough opponent. Three national finals did his club (Udo Junior Sumo Club) reach in the past few years, three times did Honda lose in his bout.

As for the other contenders, the Tokyo champion Komiyama Toa (小宮山 翔海) had a shaky performance in his first two bouts, and then lost in the third one (last 32). Try as he may, Kanagawa's Kohara Sota (小原 颯太) just couldn't find a way to beat his bigger opponent in his second bout (last 64), while Kagoshima's Niishima Ibuki (新島 伊武起) was knocked out in his first bout by Osaka's Kando Akira (神藤 輝).

Edited by mikawa
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Dropped in myself mid-afternoon. Some of the boys looked like real pros already ... though many of the helpers seemed a bit at sea.

Orion or whoever I am here

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Dropped in myself mid-afternoon. Some of the boys looked like real pros already ... though many of the helpers seemed a bit at sea.

The organising standard has certainly dropped this year, with a lot more mistakes / oversights occurring. First there was a lack of furigana next to the competitors' names in the tournament draw, then when they are leading each year group out from the hanamichi (in a zigzag way to form rows facing the dohyo), sometimes they would get the direction of the first row wrong, other times getting the back few rows a bit clustered, not to mention quite a few mistakes made by the announcer, for example saying the name of rikishi #59 instead of rikishi #58 and messing up a few pronunciations. There was even once where the shimpan got east and west mixed up following a mono-ii, resulting in many confused faces in the audience.

All in all though, the atmosphere in the arena was very good, with loud cheers and applause from the audience all round, and all the competitors tried their best, win or lose.

Edited by mikawa

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Part 8 - Looking Ahead (Grade 6)

Now that the Grade 6s' final Wanpaku Tournament has come to a close, there are not many opportunities left for them to compete as a year group (with only the Primary School Championships and the Hakuho Cup coming between them and entering middle school). As such, it would be useful to list all the major names in Grade 6 in order of their overall strength (taking into account all the major tournaments they have competed in up until now), and commenting on each of them as a rikishi, including a prediction as to how well they may do in Ozumo if they decide to enter in the future. (photos to come in a few weeks' time)

#1 Uchida Kyota (内田 京汰, Shizuoka)

Admittedly, it had been a tough decision to choose which one of Narita and Uchida to put as the number one rikishi in their year group. In the end, the decision was based on the fact that Uchida has won the Hakuho Cup but Narita has not, Uchida has won the Primary School Championships but Narita has not, and now Uchida has won the Wanpaku Tournament as well.

Heart: ☆☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆☆

Uchida Kyota has been keeping his weight in check for the past couple of years, which has helped him to greatly improve his techniques in sumo. He is equally good in oshi- and yotsu-zumo, and can adapt his style against different opponents (a skills battle against Sosorufu and a power battle against Narita). Would expect him to win the middle school championships in three years' time, he is certainly sekitori material.

#2 Narita Rikido (成田 力道, Aomori)

Heart: ☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆☆

Narita Rikido has extraordinary power and strength for his age, and along with his big body, has helped him claim two Wanpaku titles. He has a devastating tsuppari attack, which is very effective against most opponents, but once someone like Uchida or Sosorufu is able to get into a belt fight with him, Narita has shown some weaknesses. One scene I remember from last year's Sports Japan on NHK is Narita breaking into tears ahead of his semi-final bout against Uchida, because his tsuppari attack hadn't been working quite as well for him in the quarter-final, and had to be comforted by his dad. It may be harsh to say this, but I think that Narita may not have the heart and determination required when things are not going so well for him. Probably Sandanme.

#3 Sosorufu (アルタンゲレル ソソルフ, Mongolia)

Heart: ☆☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆

As with what might be expected from a Mongolian rikishi, Sosorufu has tremendous fighting spirit and a lot of skills to back it up. His strength is very good as well, and can find ways to win a bout from a disadvantageous position. If he decides to enter Ozumo in the future and develop a bigger body the way Harumafuji did, then Sosorufu can certainly make it to sekitori, maybe even makuuchi.

#4 Mochizuki Masaya (望月 大矢, Shizuoka)

Heart: ☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆☆

Mochizuki Masaya has a good build and prefers a yotsu-style of sumo, and has good strength to support it. He has a good set of skills, and is always up for the fight. Likely Sandanme / Makushita, though I would be surprised if he does decide to enter Ozumo.

#5 Sugahara Haruka (菅原 悠翔, Shizuoka)

Heart: ☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆☆

Sugahara Haruka is very lively outside the ring, but is very serious in it. He has a good build, and has the strength to engage in oshi- or yotsu-zumo. His skill set does have room for improvement though, and so should be Sandanme.

#6 Honda Gotaro (本田 豪太郎, Kumamoto)

Heart: ☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆☆

Honda Gotaro has shown two sides of him at national level competitions. On the one hand, he is a strong rikishi with plenty of skill, and simply doesn't lose to anyone but the toughest opponents (which is why he's reached so many quarter-finals); on the other hand however, he has shown to lack enough of a fighting spirit when he IS facing the big names (or if it's the latter stages), whom he always loses to. A case of unfulfilled potential in all honesty, hence Sandanme.

#7 Miura Tomokazu (三浦 智一, Aomori)

Heart: ☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆☆

Miura Tomokazu has a slim build relative to the other big names in his year group, but he is very tall, and also very strong, with a good set of skills as well. Sandanme / Makushita.

#8 Komiyama Toa (小宮山 翔海, Tokyo)

Heart: ☆☆☆☆

Skill: ☆☆☆

Body: ☆☆☆

Komiyama Toa is one of those rikishi who can be easily underestimated due to his slim build. In fact, he is a strong kid with plenty of skill and ring sense, and is a tough opposition to face. Sandanme.

To be continued......

Edited by mikawa
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