Jungyo Newsreel – Day 6

🌐 Location: Uji, Kyoto

The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:

Local boy Narutaki, pretty boy Toshonishiki, and maiko

These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.

There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:

Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.

They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:

Wakatakakage – Wakamotoharu

This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:

At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).

On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.

But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.

Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.

So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:

And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?

This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.

This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:

On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:

While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:

…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.

So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:

Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:

Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:

Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.

Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:

Yep, that nodowa again.

Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.

Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:

And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:

By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.

During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:

Imagine him with a Mohawk

I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:

Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.

The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:

Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.

So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho:

7 thoughts on “Jungyo Newsreel – Day 6

  1. Is there an english book you’d recommend on geisha culture? NHK World documentaries only go so far…

    When you think about it it’s basically the female equivalent of sumo.

    • No, I haven’t looked at books about this. Some documentaries, some online sources which have to be cross checked as they are not always accurate. It’s a lot less popular than sumo, and the “behind the scenes” part is even more secretive than sumo – I think this is because apparently there is no central organization that controls geisha.

      Sumo enjoys the fact that it’s a sport, so new stars and new stories are born all the time. Geisha, on the other hand, simply carry on a tradition, which makes it harder to find young fans. There are many differences between the worlds (geisha cannot be demoted, geisha can work independently of their okiya once they graduate, etc.) but it’s very interesting to compare, because the cultures both originate from the same 18th/19th century culture.

    • Herouth will have better sources, I’m sure, but when I was doing some research into Geisha/Geiko I found these to be informative:
      Geisha of Gion : The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (also under the title Geisha: A Life)
      Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda
      Women of the pleasure quarters : the secret history of the geisha by Lesley Downer.

      I was more interested in the history and training, so I ignored many newer books. Check out your local college library, that’s where I found most of the good sources.

  2. Thanks for these reports, they add so much to enjoying sumo. It’s good to see the maiko again, the same ladies were posting great photos of their visit to the Osaka basho on instagram. It made me wonder whether there is an expectation that one traditional art supports another, or whether sumo is a personal interest of the house mother (sorry, don’t the proper title).

    Do you know who was presenting the prizes? He looks like he could be a sportsman himself.

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