Le Petit Banzuke Illustré
Hors série n°24 - november 2007
(Click on the picture to download
the full french issue, with pictures,...)

Gilles Furelaud
translated by Gwenael Chapon and Jelena Macan
proofread by Barbara Ann Klein

New rikishi on the banzuke

Let us hope that rational predictions turn out to be wrong. In any case, it's to be wished for new recruits who appear for the first time in November 2007 banzuke, because, it must be admitted, there do not seem to be future stars jostling at the door.

A notable sign of such state of affairs: no deshi has finished the maezumo trials without a loss, the best among new recruits only scoring three wins and one loss. There could have been some hope with two rikishi returning after an absence... but in vain. Young Daishoai, in his second mae-zumo in four months, only managed two victories together with three defeats. Veteran Noguchi would seem more promising*. But even he managed only a 3-2 score, although it was his fourth mae-zumo tournament since March 1997. At 27 years of age, this Naruto-beya deshi is among the four oldest rikishi in his heya (following only Wakanosato). Despite the 61 basho to his credit, he never ranked higher than jonidan 2.

Among the five new recruits, two rikishi still seem to rise above the rest. Azumanami is the only one in this class with promising size. However, the young man is already 23, and could only fight a single mae-zumo bout because of a severe cold.

Daigen is much younger, only 16. Despite a smaller build (171 cm and 78 kilos), he managed to get a 3-1 score. But since his victories were against the other new recruits, who didn't have very impressive builds or results, his wins were, in the end, not very convincing. This young man could, however, be, at last, THE good recruit for Michinoku beya. Indeed, former ozeki Kirishima hasn't been very lucky with his recruits lately: wrestlers who managed to leave jonokuchi only with difficulty, a promising young wrestler (Maeyama) declaring his intai... that is a pity for a heya that nevertheless had a total of four sekitori last September! Will Daigen be the wrestler on whom oyakata Michinoku could rely to be the successor of his best deshi? That remains to be seen...

*In the original article it was mistakenly listed that Noguchi was in makushita.

Recruitment summary for 2007

At the end of the year, as is customary in November, we will present a small summary of new rikishi for year 2007. By "year 2007" we mean the year in which the banzuke is published, and not the year in which mae-zumo trials take place: rikishi that appear on the banzuke from January to November of 2007 had, in fact, completed their mae-zumo trials from November 2006 to September 2007.

A paradoxical recruitment

The situation concerning new rikishi appearing on the banzuke for the first time in 2007 is ironic, to say the least. In fact, the end of this year is marked by an unprecedented worry about the fates of very young deshi, what with Tokitaizan's death, oyakata Tokitsukaze's dismissal and his replacement by Tokitsuumi.

Simultaneously with this scandal, one can notice a remarkably low number of new recruits during the second half of the year. This lack culminated with the complete absence of shin-deshi during the mae-zumo tournament of July 2007.

The general impression of the second half of 2007 is, therefore, an undisputable and disturbing decrease in the number of recruits, whereas, on the contrary, the beginning of the year had been marked by significant recruitment, especially with the first-rate generation in January 2007, and a generation in March 2007 of 72 shin-deshi, a number last witnessed in 2004!

So, the balance shows a light increase in recruits: in all of 2007, there were 97 new rikishi appearing on the banzuke, compared with 86 in 2006, which is an increase of almost 13 %. In other words, the year 2007 is really split in two: a good first half (as much in promise shown by shin-deshi as in their numbers), followed by a disastrous second half, with a declining recruitment and without any real "hope" appearing. This double aspect of the year indicates that it's too early too tell if this end of the year is only a short awkward moment, or if Tokitaizan's case will leave a durable stamp on the heya's ability to recruit new deshi.

Three foreigners

Three new foreigners made their banzuke debut in 2007. So, although almost every heya has "its" foreigners, we may note that there is still a little room for non-Japanese newcomers (this was further aided by retirement of the oldest foreigners, and the naturalization of some others). Aran and Ri have already, at the end of the year, reached the makushita rank, and Kyokushuho (with a later debut) seems to be on the same track. "Only" three recruits, but obviously first-rate ones!

Different recruiting policies of the heya

Eleven heya didn't recruit this year (one less than in 2006). An amazing and disturbing fact is noticeable: for the second year in succession, Takanohana oyakata did not recruit a single deshi. For a young oyakata who should be building the future of an aging heya, it would seem somewhat worrying. Maybe such a state of affairs indicates other ambitions of this former yokozuna (quickly obtaining an important post in the NSK, for example)? We wonder...

One great change is remarkable when comparing 2006 and 2007: Takadagawa beya has recruited 3.5 times more deshi than last year! Now that is a heya that appears to prepare for the future. Former sekiwake Terao still stands well: 4 more recruits for Shikoroyama beya this year.

New recruits for the 2007 banzuke, for each of the 52 heya:
Takadagawa: 7
Nakamura: 5
Kasugayama, Kataonami, Kokonoe, Miyagino, Sadogatake, Shikoroyama, Tomozuna: 4
Kasugano, Kise, Tamanoi, Michinoku, Naruto, Onomatsu, Sakaigawa: 3
Azumazeki, Chiganoura, Kitanoumi, Magaki, Nishonoseki, Oitekaze, Onoe, Oshima, Tagonoura, Shikihide, Tokitsukaze: 2
Ajigawa, Arashio, Dewanoumi, Hakkaku, Hanakago, Hanaregoma, Isenoumi, Takashima, Mihogaseki, Minato, Musashigawa, Oguruma, Shibatayama, Takasago: 1
Araiso, Asahiyama, Hatachiyama, Irumagawa, Isegahama, Izutsu, Matsugane, Minezaki, Nishikido, Otake, Takanohana: 0

Download Le Petit Banzuke Illustré n°24 to get more information on this subject:
detailed information on all rikishi debuting in November 2007.
(Understandable without speaking French)