Yokozuna Hakuho (14-1) is champion once again, winning his record 36th Emperor’s Cup. This should be a time of excitement and praise, but it seems like many people are questioning the way in which Hakuho won his match against Yokozuna Harumafuji (9-6).
The match started and ended in the blink of an eye. The match began, Harumafuji charged, and Hakuho side-stepped away. Yes, it was the dreaded “henka” move.
If you’ve been following our coverage of this tournament, we previously spoke about the “henka” move, which is sort of like a bull-fighter avoiding a charging bull. It’s a proven technique, but it is not an honorable one—especially, not for a Yokozuna. And in Japan, where honor is extremely important, it is very serious business.
It was so serious that Hakuho was wiping tears during the post-match interview, but these were not tears of joy. The crowd was not happy with Hakuho, and all he could say was “I didn’t think that the bout would end in that way—I must apologize.”
Some believe that Hakuho was facing pressure as a result of Ozeki Kisenosato’s (13-2) win over Ozeki Goeido (12-3). Kisenosato was too much for Goeido, and pushed him out of the ring easily. If Hakuho were to have lost against Harumafuji, then he would have faced a playoff against Kisenosato.
As for other wrestlers, the once Yokozuna-hopeful Ozeki Kotoshogiku (8-7) continued his downward slide by losing against Yokozuna Kakuryu (10-5), as Kakuryu threw him down.
The other winner of this tournament was maegashira Kotoyuki, who won the Outstanding Performance Award by finishing the tournament with a 12-3 record. He was in fighting-style as he defeated Yokozuna Harumafuji and Ozekis Goeido and Terunofuji during the 15-day basho.
In the end, I believe that Hakuho should be the champion, but he did not need to win with the “henka”. He should have had more confidence in his ability as a wrestler, but for some reason did not. Hakuho is a proven champion, and he will have many opportunities to show that he is an honorable champion too.
Thanks for staying with JapanSauce.Net as we covered the Osaka Sumo Tournament, and stay tuned for more Japan News!