Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 14 (Oct 17)


🌐 Location: Kyoto, Kyoto
🚫 Scandal level: 0

Sumo tournaments and events draw members of other traditional Japanese professions, such as rakugo story tellers, and in this case, geiko.

Geiko are the Kyoto version of what is called a “geisha” in Tokyo, or a “geigi” in Fukuoka. They are traditional entertainers, skilled in singing, dancing, playing instruments, conversation, and drinking games.

There are many similarities between the world of geiko and the world of sumo. Aspiring geiko join an okiya, which is the equivalent of a heya. There is strict hierarchy between them, and you can tell the ranks by the outfits and accessories. There is a sharp difference between an apprentice geiko – a maiko – the equivalent of a makushita-and-below rikishi, and a full-fledged geiko, the equivalent of a sekitori. Maiko and geiko wear kimono or yukata even when off-duty (though less fancy then their work kimono), and you can recognize an off-duty maiko by the combination of the kimono and the special hairdo.

They also spend most of their days training. Even when they have graduated into geiko.

So in the photo above we have five maiko – one of them a minarai, the equivalent of a Jonokuchi wrestler – and one senior geiko, from the Tsurui okiya, coming to see and be seen at the Kyoto Jungyo event.

So let’s join them and see what the rikishi are up to.

Today’s fashion statement comes from Kagayaki, who shows how to do a head tie:


The fans claim that this is actually a form of stretching.

Yesterday we had a discussion in the comments about seiza and hefty guys like Takayasu. So what would you say about this guy sitting seiza?


My legs ache in sympathy. The fans, by the way, claim that this, too, is a form of stretching.

Now here is a mystery rikishi for you. Since the connoisseurs here are able to tell Kisenosato from Kotoshogiku by the mere outline of their moobs, I’m sure identifying this butt will be no challenge:


The answer is below, following the daily Tobizaru.

Goeido does shiko stomps at the bottom of the dohyo. But something seems to distract him:

There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto. The NSK had to dig really hard for home boys – the reason why Enho is accompanied by Kyoto-born Jonidan rikishi Umizaru this Jungyo rather than his regular tsukebito. Another Kyoto man is Sandanme rikishi Kawamoto, from Kasugano beya, who gets the unexpected honor of a butsukari from an Ozeki.


This is easy enough for the Ozeki to leave his gigantic brace off his knee.

Takayasu went for a more serious butsukari opponent – Wakatakakage. And Takayasu doesn’t do butsukari by halves.


Tamawashi’s moshi-ai bout with Yutakayama:

Tochinoshin didn’t settle just for Kawamoto, and also landed his chest to Tochiozan:

Still no brace.

Moshi-ai, Kagayaki vs. Onosho:

Still no joy for Kagayaki.

Onosho also had a butsukari session with Kisenosato:

And Kisenosato continues to practice san-ban with Mitakeumi:

Yutakayama vs. Goeido:

Now here are a couple of lessons in Japanese consideration for others. First, Takanosho practices his tachiai. But waits patiently until the arriving spectators move along, so as not to hit them by accident:

Abi starts doing some push ups, but hurriedly stops and instructs his tsukebito to pick up the bars to make way for a wheelchair.

After training is over, there is some Jinku.

I find it strange to see jinku without the famous Mutsukaze and his mutton chops.

Gokushindo seems to enjoy his continuing oicho-mage privileges:


What is Nishikigi laughing so hard about?


As it turns out, he has been using that towel of his as a whip, lashing at Ryuden as he came down from his bout down the hana-michi. I guess Nishikigi is yet another one in the “pain is fun, especially in others” faction of bored rikishi. But Ryuden seems not to mind too much.

Remember Goeido’s new gag, heckling Tamawashi by proxy? Well, I have footage of it. Tamawashi is about to start his bout with Kaisei:

“Kaisei, gambare”


And the ozeki is guffawing into his elbow. He then has that tsukebito get eye contact with Tamawashi after he wins and raise his fist in feigned encouragement.


Eventually Tamawashi comes down the hana-michi after giving Takakeisho his chikara-mizu, and Goeido sends his proxy to greet his hero.

Tamawashi, for a change, is totally classy about all this:

Let’s see some bouts. Here is Akiseyama vs. Meisei, though I have to warn you – the end has been cut off, because apparently this fan, sitting in this excellent seat, is a huge fan of Yago:

As soon as the last bout of the day (well, the last Juryo bout in this case) is over, the kachi-nokori and make-nokori, the rikishi from the previous bouts who fill the seats next to the shimpan (and also have a duty to raise a mono-ii if they see something amiss) rise and hurry off to the dressing room. Yago was one of them.

By the way, here is something that only happens in Jungyo. Takayasu and Tochinoshin were waiting their turn by the sides of the shimpan – who happened to be the gregarious Tomozuna oyakata. The oyakata took the fan’s smartphone and took their pictures for her:

Let’s see you try to get a picture from that angle in honbasho. And those smiles right before a bout.

Here is Goeido vs. Takayasu:

Finally, here is your Tobizaru:


OK, OK, what’s that supposed to be? Yet another prank during the wait for the dohyo-iri?

No, worse. It’s a prank during the dohyo-iri itself:

Tobizaru demonstrates the Japanese saying “Even monkeys fall from trees” – or dohyos, in this case.

So here is your real Tobizaru of the day:


And the mystery butt is, of course, Enho, the thinnest sekitori.

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 13 (Oct 16)

We’re in Osaka! Dotonbori! Food!

🌐 Location: Izumisano, Osaka
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The Jungyo reaches Osaka, where a one day hiatus allows the rikishi to roam the big city and try to imitate the Glico Man, which Abi does much better than Tsurugisho. They then head to the town of Izumisano.

But the theme of attempting to imitate local landmarks continues:


Guys, that statue has his right arm stretched straight forward. Mitakeumi, are you trying to demonstrate self-defense techniques? That’s a tried-and-true way to defend against a taller guy attacking you from behind, though I can hardly think of anybody who would dare to do that. Well, maybe Hakuho. But I wouldn’t recommend trying to elbow him in the face if you want your innards to stay out of the sun.


Yeah… well… Hokutofuji, good marks for being the closest. Mitakeumi, you are imitating that statue, not Muhammad Ali, and your left arm… oh, I give up. Where is Abi when we need someone who can (a) lift his leg properly, and (b) imitate a land mark closely enough?

Still outside the venue, a lucky spectator caught a sekitori playing catch with his tsukebito. Only… from that distance, it’s not clear who the rikishi is:


I’d swear we’re seeing a Yokozuna here, and Kisenosato is known for having rather strange forms of exercise. But opinions on Twitter say that this may actually be Kotoshogiku. What do you think?

OK, let’s move inside the venue. What do we see there?

Ryuden is trying to make a fashion statement.


I think this is inspired by Greco-Roman art.

Takayasu, on the other hand, demonstrates a perfect seiza (did I mention “ouch”?):


God, look at his paws. I mean, feet.

Now, I know I make fun of poor Akiseyama all the time. The man really has an unfortunate shape. But he is apparently a nice guy. Here he is fixing Chiyonoumi’s mawashi knot:


Here Tsurugisho tells a young fan that Akiseyama is hot and needs to be fanned. The little lady complies:

Akiseyama: “Thank you”.

I personally started liking him when I saw him in the previous Jungyo, interrupting Takayoshitoshi, who was trying to strike a conversation with his tsukebito, with remarks about violence prevention. I call that Akisekarma.

So go Akiseyama! (Just try to go dressed if you can).

Practice bout between Meisei and Chiyonoumi:


Myogiryu vs. Ichinojo:


Onosho vs. Shohozan:

Onosho still not as dominant as he would like to be.

Takayasu vs. Daieisho:

Takayasu needs to get that ass of his down.

Yutakayama vs. Mitakeumi:

Tons of upsets this day.

Kakuryu (who has began doing serious keiko rather than just butsukari) vs. Shodai:

No upsets here.

Practice time over, and the rikishi begin their bouts. And the torikumi schedule of the day is repurposed as a rack for spectacles:


There is even a pair in one of the portholes. Japan, and East Asia in general, has a very high percentage of myopia, and rikishi are no exception.

Just before Juryo is up, Enho turns up the Cute generator to near maximum level:


I’m guessing it’s at this point that Tomokaze and Chiyonoumi start asking him if he has a sister. No, seriously, that guy is a walking cognitive dissonance. What’s a pretty pixie oozing with Cute like that doing in a combat sport, and practically at its top decile at that?

That doesn’t prevent people from pulling pranks on him, though. Here he is receiving his power water and power paper… form somebody who makes a point of handing them from high above:

“Here is your water, short stuff”
“And your paper, half pint”.

I think that’s Tomokaze doing the deed.

And before the Makuuchi bouts, who else but Tamawashi is pestering Kaisei:


Can’t you find a way to amuse yourself that doesn’t involve pain?

Here is the Abi-Onosho bout, courtesy of Teraoumi (who serves as Abi’s tsukebito):

Onosho looks a lot better here than in the keiko session earlier on.

And here is a Kisenosato digest for you, which includes the bout between him and Kakuryu:

Both Yokozuna have their hips up in the stratosphere. I don’t get this.

Here is a lonely Kasugaryu with his bow:


Kasugaryu is Hakuho’s tsukebito. But now Hakuho is not in the Jungyo, and basically, he’s a servant with no master. His only duty is the bow twirling – he doesn’t even participate in the torikumi!

That’s it. No additional Tobizaru other than the group photos has been located today. So instead, here is another Enho. With the inseparable Terutsuyoshi, of course:

Hey, there’s a spec of dust on your right wing. Let me get that for you.

Did you notice something strange? A whole day spent in Osaka, and there was absolutely nothing about Goeido. And it wasn’t as if I wasn’t looking. There were only some photos with fans.


Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 12 (Oct 14)


🌐 Location: Kanazawa, Ishikawa
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The reason I decided to use the NSK’s official Yokozuna photo as my header is that last year, the 2017 Aki Jungyo passed through exactly the same city and the same venue, and I used that same photo as my header:

Four Of A Kind
K♣️ • K♥️ • K♠️ • K♦️

Alas, what a difference a year makes. It’s the same place and the same season, but the King of Hearts has broken our hearts, and the King of Spades is spading bone fragments out of his knee. They had to substitute Hiyonoyama for them this year.

But at least Kisenosato seems happier.

In fact, I think Kisenosato has a thing with Hiyonoyama, the lead mascot. Here he is leading him down the aisle:

Is the yokozuna… skipping…?

Well, there’s no accounting for taste. And it’s about time the Yokozuna settled down, isn’t it?

Last year, Hakuho joined the Jungyo at Kanazawa, having been kyujo when it started. The reason he chose Kanazawa as his point of rendezvous is probably that there was a special request for Enho, who at the time wasn’t a sekitori, so he arrived as Hakuho’s tsukebito (Chief Holder of Threads, later promoted to #5 VP of Rope Pulling).

You see, Ishikawa is blessed with no less than three popular rikishi who call it home:

Slash, Slash and Backslash

It seems the lesson has been learned. This time they provided the rikishi with rikishi-sized sashes. Ones big enough to wrap even around Kagayaki’s big… tracts of land.

And while Endo merely came from a small town in Ishikawa, Enho and Kagayaki are both from Kanazawa itself. So they had their traditional photo together:

\ & \

And when I say “traditional”, I mean these two are always photographed together. They are from the same town, have been doing sumo in the same competitions.

Enho and Kagayaki, that is, Nakamura and Tatsu, 2005

And Kagayaki is only 4 months older than Enho. They were even team mates in middle school, until Kagayaki decided to join the world of professional sumo:

Enho participating in Kagayaki’s “Nyumon” (joining a heya) announcement event.

Enho didn’t have plans to be a professional sumo wrestler, until Hakuho convinced him to do so despite his obvious height disadvantage. And thus, they find themselves in that same pose once again. And Again. And again.

All three Ishikawa men had a very busy day. In fact, Enho had an especially busy day, as he had no less than three bouts in the official part of the evening. The torikumi today had extra bouts that were specifically added to feature the local boys: Enho vs. Jokoryu before the official Juryo matches, then (for some reason) Yutakayama-Asanoyama, Abi-Kagayaki, Mitakeumi-Endo – preceding the official Makuuchi bouts.

So Enho had this bout with Jokoryu, then the “official” bout vs. Daiamami, and then he had to fill in for Aminishiki, as the veteran’s knee’s condition has worsened.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that Aminishiki has left the Jungyo as of the next day, to try to nurse his knee back to health.

So, as I said, busy day. Enho also helped Kototsurugy promote his Enho goods:


Kagayaki was busy outside promoting Ishikawa’s new rice crop:


And Endo was doing the oicho-mage tying demonstration:

Mmm… I love it when my hair is pulled taut. Give it to me, tokoyama!

They were also attacked from all sides by fans demanding that their baby be held or that their hand fan be signed:

No resting when you’re about to have a match
No resting after a hard session of keiko
And certainly no rest for Endo

But hey, there are also other rikishi in this Jungyo. And they seem to be enjoying themselves:

Shodai and Chiyonokuni seem to be happy. Maybe because Tamawashi is far away.

Kotoshogiku also seems to be in a good mood:


Goeido seems to be having an especially good time:


It’s not really clear from this photo, but with Kyokusoten laughing behing him, this may be related to his recent running gag: he makes his tsukebito heckle Tamawashi during his bouts.

Abi was having a good time with a little friend:


Which is remarkable, because usually those tykes scream their heads off when held by even the most charming rikishi.

Abi was also having his photo taken in a sexy pose:


Ah, erm, er… OK, I declare a competition in the comments: who can come up with the most hilarious explanation for that bulge in Abi’s towel, but keeping it strictly family-safe?

I’m sure you’re feeling an Enho overdose by now, but I just couldn’t skip this one of him returning from the bath. We know Kakuryu has a funny towel wrapped on his head, while Kisenosato prefers the lopsided Mickey-Mouse look. So here is what Enho does with his washed hair:

His real identity exposed: He is Po from the Teletubbies!

Chiyoshoma decided to apply for assistant announcer:


But I think it won’t work well with a Mongolian accent.

And Kisenosato somehow lost the good mood he had earlier:


What is he so angry about? I hope he didn’t discover Arikawa’s little mime act.

OK, let’s watch some practice sessions:

Jokoryu vs. Chiyonoumi:

Azumaryu vs. Meisei:

Strange tachiai.

Shohozan vs. Tamawashi:

That looked like a continuation of the basho.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama:

The local boys don’t get any gifts in keiko sessions.

And I have a couple of official bouts:

Endo vs. Mitakeumi. OK, it’s an extra-curricular official bout:

And the end of the musubi-no-ichiban. The tweet author says the actual bout took about a minute:

So here is your daily Tobizaru. Accompanied by Enho, because of course he is, and Tsurugisho. What do you think about this outfit combo? Oicho-mage, hoodie, and towel?


Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 11 (Oct 13)

Venue at Toyota. What, no cars?

🌐 Location: Toyota, Aichi
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The city of Toyota is mostly known for the headquarters of a certain motor company. But if we are in Toyota, we are in Aichi prefecture again. And if we are in Aichi prefecture again, then the star of the day is once again…

Akiseyama! (And Nishikigi)

OK, it’s enough that Akiseyama looks inelegant in a mawashi. But that sash is certainly not doing him any favors. You see, in each event there are a few rikishi – usually the local stars if any, but others if not – stand in a corner dedicated to the prevention of violence wearing those sashes and shaking hands with the fans. The rest of the rikishi don’t wear a sash, just their practice mawashi.

But anyway, somebody designed these sashes with a normal-sized Japanese person in mind. So it doesn’t really work well for rikishi.

I mean, someone the size of Wakatakakage could look half-way decent in it.


But Gagamaru just had to give up.

Outside the venue, young Yobidashi Shigejiro from Kokonoe beya, who is a Jonidan Yobidashi, was doing the drumming duty for the day. But for some reason, there is a whole Yobidashi conference around him:


What is this all about? I can’t say for sure, but take a look at the official photo:


Oh, a young Yobidashi in a traditional seiza posture (ouch, I can’t sit seiza for more than 30 seconds!), doing the fine traditional duty of… wait a second… is that his smartphone?

That may or may not be the reason for the rather shocked expression of the high-ranking yobidashi behind him in the first photo.

I don’t think he got too badly disciplined for this, though. In fact, he was relieved from duty for a while to have a drink of water, by no other than the san-yaku yobidashi Shiro.


Or maybe Shiro just decided that he, too, wants to watch a movie while drumming.

Going back inside the venue, let’s move along the walls and see who’s doing what.

Takekaze and Okinoumi working out:


I wouldn’t be surprised if that rubber strap with the convenient handles actually belongs to Takekaze. He’s been going around with all sorts of portable workout devices which I think are provided by a sponsor.

Remember I talked about Chiyonokuni’s splits? Well, judge for youself:

Shodai: “Are you sure this is not hazardous to your future parenthood?”

Aminishiki, rather than practicing sumo, was practicing his future oyakata skills.


Looks like he is explaining something about a maemitsu grip.

I keep showing goofy pictures of Abi. But the boy is pretty serious when it comes to customer service:


Or maybe he just hasn’t woken up yet.

Kakuryu was doing some push-ups at the side of the dohyo:


While his tsukebito, Gokushindo, was engaged in a battle of Yokozuna tsukebito off on the tarp:

Gokushindo vs. Arikawa. Not fair!

Gokushindo was always at it with Arikawa this day:

Wait, these two were spitting at each other?

Speaking of Arikawa, remember that strange Kise Dance? The Yokozuna does that every day. There are miles of footage on Twitter of that puzzling little exercise. But take a look at this one:

Arikawa is quantum-entangled with Kisenosato? Or… is he making fun of the Yokozuna behind his back? Chiyonokuni must have given him a significant look as he passed there, because Arikawa hurriedly stops.

Here is a smiling Ichinojo I just couldn’t let pass:


And speaking of smiles, this photo is from the Chiganoura Twitter account. They had somebody take picture of their Jungyo participants this day – on duty, off duty. I think they weren’t quite prepared for the stir this photo (and the others that accompanied it) will cause:


This got replies such as “Takakeisho can smile? I can’t believe it!”, “Chiganoura oyakata, you’re a magician!”, “Wow, this changes my whole perception of Takakeisho”, and so on. It’s not as if Takakeisho never smiled in Jungyo, but it’s a kind of thing you usually only see in unofficial photos.

But Chiganoura seems to be a heya of smiles. This is a picture of Takanosho:


Takanosho’s nickname is “Onigiri-kun”. Fans claim he looks like an onigiri:


…only with a smile. Some fan gave him that figure of “Omusubi-man”. “Omusubi” is another name for “onigiri”. And yes, there are some similarities, aren’t there? 🙂

On the dohyo, Tochiozan, who started this Jungyo kyujo, joined it a couple of days before, and has been working hard since:


But if you take a look at his lower body, it seems like maybe he should have stayed off the dohyo for a while longer:


I guess that’s what happens when your oyakata is the Jungyo master.

Now let’s take a look at some of the on-dohyo action:

Here’s Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo:

See, that’s why I wrote above that Gokushindo vs. Arikawa is just not fair. Gokushindo is very serious and beats Juryo rivals left and right. He is literally out of Arikawa’s league.

Chiyotairyu vs. Aoiyama:

Given Aoiyama’s knee situation, he’s pretty mobile.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama:

Kagayaki seems to have a rather frustrating Jungyo.

Going off the dohyo again and outside, there is a new yumi-tori performer in training!

This is Awajiumi from Tagonoura beya. He is Kisenosato’s tsukebito. Remember the guy with the little wand-like stick standing in front of Kisenosato in the rope tying demonstration? That’s the guy.

This seems to be significant. In the previous Jungyo a new backup performer was introduced – Hokutoo from Hakkaku beya. But Hokutoo is not a tsukebito for any of the Yokozuna. Tradition requires that the performer should be a yokozuna’s tsukebito. Kakuryu has several tsukebito from Hakkaku beya, but Hokutoo is not one of them.

Now that Kisenosato is out of kyujo, and has passed his “probation” basho, a rikishi from his own team – and his own heya – can be introduced to the bow-twirling ceremony. I’ve seen many tweets wishing to see him installed at Kyusho, though that remains to be seen. I don’t think they depose an existing official performer unless his associated Yokozuna retires – though I don’t know what the custom is when the Yokozuna involved is kyujo.

Going back inside, it was time for Shokkiri. And the performance didn’t even begin, but the gyoji was already bursting with laughter in anticipation:


Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And fans, of course, don’t settle just for the designated fansa time, but ask for autographs at all times. Enho obliges, but that doesn’t mean that Terutsuyoshi is going to let go of him for even a second:


I generally think it’s really nice to have someone always ready to hug you when you are on a long, tiring tour of the entire country, far from the comforts of home (or at least your private Sekitori room). But maybe Terutsuyoshi is overdoing it just a a tad.

By the way, lest you think that I have a bias for pretty rikishi, here is a pretty gyoji for you:


This is Shikimori Kinosuke, who is apparently doing the announcer duty for this event. And he is pretty enough to attract the attentions of the ladies. Though admittedly this particular lady seems to be a bit on the young side.

So of course, all I have from either the Juryo or the Makuuchi bouts is just Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw:


Come on! Where are all the aunties with the video-capable phones?


So here is your Tobizaru of the day.

Who dared blemish that face?!


Career Visualizer

For the next 6 days I’ve got a trial license of Tableau and I want to let you all play with the Visualizer. On the right side is a list of the rikishi I’ve been able to import. It’s not all of them but it’s a pretty good chunk. There’s a “Full Screen mode” on the bottom right. That seems to be the best way to toy around with it. Have fun!

Nuts…it’s giving me a sign-in screen in the other browser…I’m working on making this viewable for the public.