Road Trip! Sumo Wrestlers Face Full Jungyo Schedule

Barely a week after getting off the roller coaster that was Wacky Aki, our favorite sumo wrestlers will begin their Fall (巡業 – Jungyo) promotional tour. Bruce has mentioned the grueling schedule but Tachiai’s analysis provides more context to how challenging that schedule will be.

Fall Jungyo Tour

We mapped the Fall tour which consists of 22 different event sites that the crew will visit over the month of October, tracing a winding, 2500 kilometer journey across the breadth of southern Honshu, from Chiba to Hiroshima. No venue is visited more than once. Although there are three days in Osaka and two in Hiroshima, each site is in a new city within them. Add in stops in Yokohama, Fuji, Nagano, Kyoto, Nara…Holy crap, this is my next vacation itinerary!

This schedule does allow many of the Japanese rikishi to pay visits close to their hometown (shusshin 出身. The tour will pass through Ibaraki, home of Kisenosato and Takayasu. Ishikawa is home to the resurgent Endo and a leg in Shimane prefecture may help recharge struggling Okinoumi. Additionally, Goeido and Ikioi lead the Osaka contingent and Mitakeumi is from Nagano.

To give it some context, Josh, helped me liken these tours to breaking bands who sometimes play more than 120 gigs a year. But Hakuho has done this for more than a decade. It’s a hard life. There’s little “off-season” time to be with family. And for the foreign wrestlers, Jungyo brings you no closer to home. However, bands do have the extra hurdle of international tours; traveling extensively in the US and Europe with the occasional jaunt to Japan and other Asian countries with Western music scenes (I’m not talking Justin Beaver tours where he can take 20 months off and play a few gigs at big cities).

Since these wrestlers put in such rigorous work, I hope to bring more coverage of these tour dates in the intervening month between hon-basho (本場所).

Aki: Sekitori Rememberance

wakanoshima_rikishin

With the Aki 2017 basho now in the rearview mirror, let’s pay tribute to two rikishi and former sekitori who announced their retirement during the tournament.

Wakanoshima (former Juryo 7)

Wakanoshima (latterly of Shibatayama-beya) finished his career with a kachi-koshi in Makushita. The 32 year old took the long and winding path to achieve sekitori status, entering the banzuke as a 15 year old in 2000. He managed 7 basho at Juryo level over his career, across four separate trips to the professional ranks.

While Wakanoshima never scored a yusho at any level, he did manage to put dirt on familiar recent makuuchi names like Chiyonokuni, Chiyomaru, Ichinojo, Kagayaki, Shohozan… and he loved to face Ishiura, beating the latter five times out of six career matchups. The rikishi his career tracked most closely with was another Juryo yo-yo man in Kizenryu, and the pair split their 18 career match-ups evenly. He might be one of few men who can look back on their career and brag that the great Ozeki Takayasu never got the better of him, having bested one of sumo’s popular men in both bouts, in Takayasu’s younger days.

Wakanoshima, real name Fumiya Saita, finishes his career with 398 victories in the dohyo, and let’s remember him appropriately, with a sukuinage win over his longtime foe Kizenryu:

 

Rikishin (former Juryo 10)

We have often covered the battle that rikishi must endure to remain healthy, and so it is very sad to wave goodbye to the promising 21 year old and appropriately named Rikishin, who reached Juryo this year. He retires due to injury.

Another rikishi who started as a 15 year old, Rikishin’s achievement where so many others have failed in reaching the professional ranks should be commended. While his career was short, he still managed do to battle with several names with which Tachiai readers will be familiar. His greatest foe might have been Nagoya Juryo winner Daiamami, whom he bested on 3 of their 5 meetings.

Rikishin, real name Tatsuki Kubota and of Tatsunami-beya, finished his career with 158 victories. He also managed one division championship in his career, scoring a zensho yusho in the Makushita division in Nagoya three years ago. Here he is, dominating a Tachiai-favorite in Osunaarashi, marching him along the straw bales before finishing him off:

 

We wish both men the very best!

The Day After Aki

While Harumafuji was holding a post-yusho news conference, the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee was convening for its regular post-basho meeting.

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“Ouch, my elbow!” – his joke, not mine

The meeting is held to assess the situation of existing Yokozuna, and also discuss future prospective Yokozuna. And the hero of Aki 2017 was complimented all around, and seems to have passed his assessment with flying colors.

“While we can’t compliment him for his early losses and negative record of the first week, we can only consider his tenacity and resolve following that with the utmost respect” said Masato Kitamura, the chairman of the YDC. Other members expressed similar opinions.

Compared to the other Yokozuna, Harumafuji was in the least advantageous position, with his previous yusho having been won more than a year ago. But after his performance in Aki, despite his recent kyujo and less-than-brilliant star balance, there will be no pressure on him for any make-or-break decisions.

And indeed, he is not considering intai at the moment. In that press conference, he said that his goal now is to win his 10th yusho and achieve double-figures, and that he will practice and prepare with that goal in mind. Attaboy!

Regarding the other three Yokozuna, the YDC issued its standard message that “it hopes to see them return to active duty in perfect condition”. The jun-yusho winner, Goeido, was not brought up in the deliberations. Goeido and his stablemaster both admitted that there is no chance of this jun-yusho to be considered part of a rope-run. “Not with 11-4, especially not in a basho where three Yokozuna and two Ozeki were absent” said Sakaigawa oyakata.

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Goeido as captured by Futagoyama oyakata

Goeido himself had a casual meal with Futagoyama oyakata earlier today. He still seems shell-shocked.

Main source: Tokyo Sports