🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo
After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.
As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.
The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.
The dohyo at Yasukuni Shrine is old-fashioned, unlike the one at Ise Grand Shrine. It doesn’t have a tsuri-yane, it has columns supporting it, and its roof is low. And it doesn’t provide much shade for the spectators, just as the article said:
And there is a fairly large portion of gaijin among the spectators:
First, of course, the rikishi arrive, their tsukebito carrying their stuff:
Takataisho has a novel approach carrying Takakeisho’s kesho-mawashi:
Being a dedication event, it includes a ceremonial part. All the sekitori gather in front of the main prayer hall in their kesho-mawashi and offer their prayers. To do this, the Yokozuna have to put on their ropes and walk down the path to the main hall. Going to a Shinto shrine always means walking. Kakuryu manages to avoid his usual “cute” or “ridiculous” mode, and actually pulls off a regal appearance:
Which, annoyingly enough, Hakuho manages to pull off without even blinking, and despite wearing his yukata like a slob:
He’s had a lot of practice, of course. So we start with the sekitori, led by the attending toshiyori, showing their respect to the kami (yes, I know the kami at Yasukuni shrine are controversial):
The Yokozuna then perform dedication dohyo-iri:
And the four Ozeki get their photo taken:
After this is over, it’s time to go put on some practice gear and do some serious training. Or maybe not. It’s spring, and love is in the air. Ryuden shows sudden interest in Kotoyuki:
Wakamotoharu is wooing Asanoyama:
But Asanoyama’s heart is already given to Yago:
Which means Wakamotoharu has to settle for Tomokaze:
Of course, the one who suffers the most from this sudden epidemic of love is Enho. Everybody wants some smooth, milky Enho skin. Aminishiki wants a piece of Enho:
Yutakayama needs a lot of Enho to get his day going:
Abi needs his Enho fix as well:
And as you see, he is not the only one. Someone on Twitter asked, when this photo came up, “Who is it who holds Enho’s arm?”. The follower that answered her said – I kid you not – “By the shape of the nipples, it’s Wakamotoharu”.
Was it? Let’s look from another angle:
Indeed it looks like Wakamotoharu. And he is not letting Enho go:
Poor little pixie.
While Ryuden is getting some exercise with the supporting column, Tsurugisho is purposefully going to greet… Enho?
Well, probably not. More likely he was greeting Aminishiki, and Enho just happened to turn at that same moment.
Speaking of Ryuden, he was trying to give the Chichiwashi a taste of his own medicine:
Tamawashi, however, is nobody’s bitch. That attempt quickly turns into this:
The master of pain then turns round and, for some reason, punishes Nishikigi as well:
Tamawashi is kind of scary.
OK, maybe it’s time to stop the goofing around and get informative. But first say hello to young yobidashi Kenta, who is in this event, though being a minor, he is not supposed to be in the Jungyo:
Kenta, nicknamed Maeken, is 16 years old and belongs to Naruto beya.
Even if he wasn’t a minor, he would probably not belong in a normal Jungyo event, as he is a Jonokuchi-level yobidashi, and there are no Jonokuchi bouts in Jungyo (all the tsukebito are Jonidan and above). I suspect he is here because the dohyo in Yasukuni Shrine is a real dohyo, and there is a real dohyo-matsuri before activity begins.
So apparently some extra yobidashi are needed to prepare the dohyo.
Let’s move on to the sick list of the day. As you have seen in the title photo, Takayasu is back from kyujo:
Takayasu said he wants to join the Jungyo and immediately be able to participate in the bouts, and so he joined it this day, and indeed you’ll see his bout below. In addition, Chiyonoumi is back on the torikumi list, while unfortunately, Yoshikaze is once again off it.
The NSK did not share practice videos today. But it did share Takayasu signing his autograph at the shrine.
One special bit of practice takes place away from the dohyo. We have a new yumi-tori performer in training:
This is Shohoryu, who is not Hoshoryu. But he is Kakuryu’s tsukebito, and I believe this is the first time any of Kakuryu’s tsukebito has been trained to do the yumi-tori shiki – whose official head performer is Kasugaryu, in his capacity as Hakuho’s tsukebito. The yumi-tori shiki is usually performed by a Yokozuna’s tsukebito. Satonofuji in his day was Harumafuji’s tsukebito. After Kisenosato’s short-lived comeback in Aki 2018, one of his tsukebito, Awajiumi, was trained in the art, but with the retirement of Kisenosato he shortly became obsolete. There always has to be a backup yumi-tori performer.
So it’s time for everybody to get a bath and get back to the shrine for the matches. And… we present you the latest in towel fashion, straight from the Tokyo, the fashion capital:
Wakatakakage sets out in a denim-colored standard-length towel:
This goes well with his casual, modern toiletry purse. His brother opts for a calligraphic motif:
I can’t say much for his choice of accessories, though. Shodai’s designer elected to have a streak of color in the middle of the towel for dramatic effect:
Accessorized by the smaller towel casually laying on his shoulder. Onosho matches the color and design of his shoes to that of his towel:
Yoshoyama surprises with a unique combination of yukata and towel:
The knot at the front gives it a luxurious look. Very wise of him to complement the somewhat noisy Takanohana yukata design with a single-colored, pastel towel.
Shimanoumi goes for a somewhat daring design with a side slit showing off his shapely leg:
It could do with a different pair of shoes, though.
Chiyomaru has a similarly risqué towel design, but he decides in the last minute to avoid the controversy and wear a pair of pants.
This combination is a fashion crime and should not have made it past the door of the bathhouse.
Yago… simply doesn’t have any fashion sense. What is this color? And what is this hair style?
Who let him on the cat walk?
Finally, Abi makes good use of his long legs, wearing a full-length towel in lengthwise stripe design:
The stripes compliment his curves and make him appear even taller.
(Seriously, what drives the Japanese sumo fans to take so many photos of rikishi wearing towels?)
OK, OK, let’s get down to sumo. Let’s start with some Sandanme bouts, because we don’t often get those:
Takataisho – the guy with the novel way of carrying a kesho-mawashi – faces Asadaimon (Asanoyama’s tsukebito, I assume):
Takatenshu (serves one of the twins) faces Sakurafuji (Takarafuji’s tsukebito):
Nice gaburi in the face of a much larger opponent. Takatenshu will have to learn to use his feet.
Shuji from Kise beya faces Taichiyama from Chiganoura beya (probably Takanosho’s tsukebito). Both of them had an excellent basho in Osaka.
Low-rank matches over, and it’s time for Shokkiri, Jinku, etc. Our Shokkiri pair of the day are Shobushi and Ebisumaru:
Time for Juryo dohyo-iri.
Note how very popular Aminishiki and Enho are.
The dohyo-iri is followed by some bouts. As the rikishi line up to battle, Wakamotoharu decides this is the best time to have a pre-bout with Tobizaru:
In the following video, we have Daiseido vs. Takanofuji, Tobizaru vs. Aminishiki, and Wakamotoharu vs. Akiseyama.
Aminishiki sends Tobizaru straight into Akiseyama’s arms. Seems to me the pre-bout between Wakamotoharu and Tobizaru was a tactical mistake.
Here is Takanosho vs. Kiribayama:
And Takagenji vs. Tokushoryu:
Before Makuuchi, there’s dohyo-iri, and Yokozuna dohyo-iri. Kakuryu seems to be rather amused by the two clowns he has chosen as his dohyo-iri team:
But trust the yokozuna to be all-hinkaku by the time they start marching:
By the way, where are Nishikigi’s glasses?
During keiko, they are on this lovely glasses-holder:
But during official business, they are on this rather more shabby one:
Before the bouts, Hokutofuji and Nishikigi reminisce about the previous shrine event they were in. That is, Day 1 at Ise Grand Shrine. Hokutofuji won the yusho there, and Nishikigi the Jun yusho.
On to the action! The following video contains:
- Makuuchi dohyo-iri.
- Yokozuna dohyo-iri
- Chiyoshoma vs. Yutakayama.
- Terutsuyoshi vs. Kagayaki (watch out for Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw hitting the gyoji in the face).
- Sadanoumi vs. Shohozan.
- Okinoumi vs. Abi. Someone in the crowd yells “Okinoumi, you can’t raise your legs!” when they face each other doing their shiko. That’s a bit unfair, comparing shiko with Abi. Okinoumi clearly hears the heckle.
- The very end of Ichinojo vs. Onosho.
- Takayasu doing some fansa inside the shrine while Makuuchi bouts are already under way.
- Tochiozan vs. Myogiryu
- Kaisei vs. Endo
- Mitakeumi vs. Hokutofuji (with some very loaded geezer cheering for Mitakeumi loudly)
- San-yaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko)
- Takakeisho vs. Tamawashi
- Tochinoshin vs. Goeido
- Takayasu vs. Kakuryu
- Yumi-tori shiki
If you’re interested in such matters, take a look how the gyoji change. There is one gyoji change after the Sadanoumi-Shohozan bout. At this level gyoji are not allowed to wear sandals on the dohyo so they leave their sandals below it. Then there is a gyoji change during the sanyaku bouts, and sanyaku gyoji are allowed to wear their sandals on the dohyo so up they go without delay.
Daishoho seems to really enjoy his bout with Kotoeko:
Here is Asanoyama vs. Kotoshogiku:
Here is some standard chikara-mizu pranking. Ichinojo is giving the chikara-mizu to Abi. Abi sniffs suspiciously:
Tastes, and doesn’t enjoy it too much:
But Ichinojo was not very wise to do this, because, you see, his bout followed Abi’s, and as you have seen, Abi won. So… Ichinojo gets the chikara-mizu from Abi. He looks at the ladle suspiciously:
He then pretends to take a sip. Only he does so with his mouth about half a meter from the ladle.
I guess unlike Baruto, an acting career is not going to follow his retirement from sumo.
If you’re really hardcore, here is a video that shows the walk to the shrine, the dohyo-matsuri, and the low-ranking rikishi’s keiko sessions.
And here we conclude this long post, with our pin-up boy of the day, Tobizaru: