(May 11 to 25, Tokyo)


Technique award: Oginishiki
Fighting spirit award: Tosanoumi, Tochiazuma
Outstanding performance award: Tamakasuga

Final day (May 25)
The 2 yokozuna competed for the Emperor's Cup--Takanohana with one loss and Akebono with 2. If Akebono won this bout, they will have to wrestle again in a playoff. Soon after the bout took off, Takanohana was in an advantageous position. Taka pushed and shoved Akebono on the verge of the ring. Akebono withstood the attack and he was the one to slowly toppled down Takanohana. It was a great bout! 10 minutes later, the two were again on the ring. It's the first time that Takanohana and Akebono are the only ones facing eachother in a playoff. This time, Akebono forced his weight on Takanohana and fell on top of the 16 time champion. Akebono smiled while trying to get back on his 2 feet. He has at last won the Emperor's Cup! It's his 9th, and it has been 13 tourneys since his last victory.
Michiyo's Note: Akebono showed incredible strength and was determined to withstand anything. I bet many fans were relieved and happy to see him win. It has been a while! I'm also very happy for Tomonohana. He marked his 8th win in the juryo division. That's despite the fact that he had sustained an injury that would have taken him out of the entire tournament. What a dedicated man!

14th day (May 24)
Oginishiki and Tamakasuga attacked eachother aggressively. Oginishiki eventually won, and the victory gave him his 11th win against 3 losses. Takanohana threw Musashimaru on the ring for his 13th win. Akebono thrusted out the other ozeki Takanonami. So the top 3 remain to be Takanohana, Akebono and Oginishiki, in that order. In other news, Mainoumi won his 8th bout for a kachikoshi or majority win by throwing Shikishima on the ring. By the way, Mainoumi has announced late in the evening the previous day that he had already submitted his marriage certificate on May 20. His wife has 2 children from a previous marriage and is 6 years older than him.
Michiyo's Note: Mainoumi's romance was a well kept secret. His mom didn't even know about it. I guess many women fans have broken their hearts on hearing the news.

13th day (May 23)
Kotogaume, who has submitted his retirement document to the Japan Sumo Association on May 22, spoke before reporters on the 23rd saying he did the best he could. His final standing was juryo number 11. Great big Konishiki successfully pushed out Kotoryu to mark his kachikoshi or 8th victory in the top, makuuchi division. Good for him! He has secured his place in the division. Ozeki Takanonami lost to veteran rikishi Tochinowaka. He is down to 9 wins 4 losses. Akebono faced fellow Hawaiian born Musashimaru. Akebono took off by slapping his opponent, and in the end thrusted Maru down on the ring. Takanohana beat Mitoizumi for his 12th win. Takanohana is still the leader, the runner up is Akebono , followed by Oginishiki who defeated Rikio for his 10th victory.

12th day (May 22)
Takanohana had a very very close bout against Tosanoumi. The gyoji or referee gave Tosanoumi the win, because he thought Takanohana's hand touched the floor first. But on reviewing the videotape of the bout, former sumo wrestlers around the ring came to the conclusion that Tosanoumi's hand landed on the floor before the yokozuna's. Takanohana is now with 11 wins and 1 loss. Akebono still follows Takanohana for the Emperor's Cup. By the way, Kaio has pulled out from this day. He was diagnosed to have ripped his ligament in the left leg and will need 2 months to recover. Good news is concerning Tomonohana who was on the verge of being demoted from the juryo division. He marked his 5th win by defeating Oginishiki. He has secured his place in the 2nd highest division.

11th day (May 21)
Asahiyutaka was toppled on the ring by the small Mainoumi. He succumbed to his 3rd loss. Akebono has improved his record to 9 wins 2 losses. Takanohana defeated Aogiyama for his 10th victory. The most shocking events occurred in other bouts this day. Kaio was thrown down on the edge of ring by ozeki Takanonami. They fell together-- Takanonami slightly on top of Kaio. Kaio could not move after the bout. His stablemates and master ran up to him. They seemed to be asking him what was wrong. Kaio lied there pointing at his left leg. He was taken away on a wheelchair. Earlier this day, Daihisho, who lost to new makuuchi rikishi Tochinonada couldn't get up after the bout either, and had to be carried out on a wheelchair.
Michiyo's Note: Poor Daihisho! Just yesterday, his stable master had passed away. And Kaio's condition is rather pessimistic. He is said to have heard something crack in his leg as he fell on the ring and some more shattering noise when Takanonami fell on him.

10th day (May 20)
Yokozuna Akebono and sekiwake Tosanoumi with 2 losses each, clashed against eachother. Then Tosanoumi pulled away. Akebono lost his balance slightly, but recovered immediately, and pushed Tosanoumi out. The other runner up, Asahiyutaka took a disadvantage position. Tochiazuma gripped Asahiyutaka's belt from a better position. Asahiyutaka though successfully went around the youngest makuuchi rikishi and forced him out. Veteran rikishi Tochinowaka tried various techniques on Takanohana, and they seemed to be effective, but Tochinowaka ended up falling on the ring. So Takanohana was able to keep the tourney lead, followed by Akebono and Asahiyutaka. By the way, stablemaster Asahiyama was pronounced dead from heart failure on this day. He was 55. He is said to have been present at the morning practice. His top apprentice is Daihisho who is ranked juryo number 2. Daihisho was matched up with makuuchi rikishi Yamato and defeated the Hawaiian. Daihisho, however, looked very unhappy after the bout.

9th day (May 19)
Takanohana had an easy bout. Asanosho tried to move around, but was not able to control is movement that he left the ring. So the yokozuna kept his lead. The runners up with 2 losses are Asahiyutaka who took out Kitakachidoki, the disciplined college graduate, Tosanoumi, who pushed out the ill-mannered Takatoriki, and thank goodness, Akebono.
Michiyo's Note: The bouts among the top rankers were not very exciting. Konishiki probably gave one of the most powerful thrusts of the day when he threw Rikio out of the ring.

8th day (May 18)
Asahiyutaka was taken out of the ring by Rikio. Oginishiki was thrown by the aggressive Takatoriki. Kaio was forced out by Akebono. Even though Takanohana had to deal with a couple of slaps in the face, Asanowaka was the one to fall on the ring. So the yokozuna has become the sole leader with 7 wins and 1 loss. Unfortunately, ozeki Musashimaru has worsened his record to 3 losses. The Hawaiian born rikishi lost to Kotonishiki for the 2nd tournament in a row.

7th day (May 17)
Asahiyutaka who won every bout so far lost to Gojoro this day. Those following him with 1 loss did all right. They are Kaio, Oginishiki, and Takanohana. So there are 4 in the leading pack. Oginishiki, by the way, defeated ozeki Takanonami as a result of a fierce struggle at the edge of the ring. Some good news are--Konishiki overpowered Higonoumi to improve his record to 4 wins 3 losses. "Shaltshaker" Mitoizumi won for the first time this tournament, pushing out Asanosho from the back. He seemed elated to be able to win at last.

6th day (May 16)
Tomonohana is incredible! He's back after missing only 2 days of the grand tourney. He's sustained a rather serious leg injury on the 3rd day. It is said that he was so desperate to fight again that he broke into tears when he asked his stable master for his permission to fight from the 6th day. Otherwise, he'll accummulate losing records without doing anything and lose his post in the juryo division. Tomonohana made an amazing return. He toppled Wakahayato by taking his leg. Asahiyutaka continued to extend his winning streak to 6 by defeating Kotoinazuma. However, the other leaders Kaio lost in a close bout, and Oginishiki was forced out by Takanohana. An upset occurred in the final bout of the day. Akebono lost balance and fell when Musoyama moved away from the big yokozuna.

5th day (May 15)
Sekiwake or junior champion Kaio seemed passive to aggressive attacks by his opponent. That attitude actually gave him a winning bout against Takatoriki who appeared to have slipped from struggling too hard against the wall-like Kaio. Kaio kept his record clean. So did Asahiyutaka and Oginishiki. All yokozuna and ozeki successfully improved their records this day.

4th day (May 14)
In the juryo division, former schoolteacher, Tomonohana has pulled out from the tourney from this day. The previous day, he severly injured various parts of his right leg when he fell backwards right on the rope making the shape of the ring. It is said to take him 1 month to recover. If he misses the rest of the tournament, that'll probably mean retirement for him. In the highest division of makuuchi, it's the first time all ozeki and yokozuna have won their bouts. The rikishi with perfect records so far are Oginishiki, Asahiyutaka and Kaio. The bouts this day drew a full crowd, thank goodness!

3rd day (May 13)
The heaviest and the lightest sumo tori faced eachother. It's the 275 kilo Konishiki and 99 kilo Mainoumi. The previous time they met was on the 2nd day in Nagoya 1996. It was then that Konishiki fell right on Mainoumi's left leg, causing serious injury to him. This time, the Mighty Mouse kept on running away from the Dump truck. Konishiki eventually could not control his heavy weight and walked out of the ring. Among the top rankers, Musashimaru lost to Tosanoumi in his 1 minute 52 second struggle. Both ozeki has a record of 1 win 2 losses as of this day. The 2 yokozuna were able to win.
Michiyo's Note: The Japan Sumo Association dismissed hanging down the drape written with the words "thanks for sellout" above the ring. However, by 4 pm, only 64 tickets were left. So the turnout wasn't bad afterall.

2nd day (May 12)
The Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena was not fully packed this day. The record that was started on the 11th day of the 1989 Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament was, unfortunately, brought to an end. The press officer of the Japan Sumo Association announced that there were 392 tickets left at 4 pm. The full audience streak ended at 666 days. As for the bouts, they were as unpredictable as were those for the top rankers on the 1st day. Ozeki Takanonami practically rolled out of the ring from the thrust of Asanowaka. It's the ozeki's 2nd defeat in a row. The almight yokozuna was defeated. Takanohana couldn't find a way to change his position while Tamakasuga thrusted the grand champion's upper body. Tamakasuga pushed Takanohana out of the ring. So already on the 2nd day, all ozeki and yokozuna have a losing record.
Michiyo's Note: Despite the unexpected results this tourney is bringing, the full turnout record failed to continue. The reason why sumo is losing its appeal is said to be because Takanohana is becoming too dominant while popular wrestlers Wakanohana and Terao are absent.

1st day (May 11)
The summer tourney took off to a turbulent start--that's especially among the title holders. The first to go against everyone's expectation was ozeki or champion Takanonami. The youngest in the makuuchi division, Tochiazuma got hold of the ozeki's belt and threw him over. Oginishiki took the other ozeki, Musashimaru's arm and took him out of the ring. Grand champion Akebono fought a hopeless bout. Mongolian wrestler Kyokushuzan shoved the giant from one corner to another by attacking Akebono's legs and trying to trick the yokozuna by moving very quickly. Finally, the giant body was thrown onto the ring. It's the first time Kyokushuzan defeated a yokozuna. He said after the bout that he's extremely happy with this victory. The other yokozuna, Takanohana won a confident bout against Musoyama. In other makuuchi bouts--Mainoumi won his first bout marking his comeback to the highest division by hooking his leg on Yamato's to take him out. The smallest guy's bout was followed by the appearance of the heaviest man. Konishiki walked Gojoro out the ring.

Pre Summer Tourney News
The sumo rankings for the coming tourney was announced on Apr. 28. The smallest wrestler, Mainoumi will return to the highest makuuchi division this time. He has fought the past 5 tournaments in the juryo division. The bad news is that 2 popular rikishi, Terao and Wakanohana will be absent from the summer tourney, since they have not recovered from the injuries sustained at the last tournament.

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