Jungyo Newsreel, Day 9

Continuing with my intermittent reporting… The Jungyo finished its first leg, which consisted of winding its way back from Nagoya to Tokyo. The rikishi had one day off in their heya or homes, and then gathered back at the Tachikawa Tachihi Arena in Tokyo, where we land today.

Three of these nobori are for absent rikishi: Tochinoshin, Takakeisho, Goeido

While I’m here, I may as well update you on the list of kyujo, since, well, sekitori are dropping like flies.

  • Absent since day 1: Goeido, Kaisei, Takagenji, Takakeisho, Takayasu, Tochinoshin, Yoshikaze, Mitoryu.
  • Absent since day 3: Gagamaru
  • Absent since day 4: Ryuko, Takanosho
  • Absent since day 9: Okinoumi
  • Absent since day 11: Daishoho

So the day starts, and the drum roll calls us to the arena.

A young gyoji writes sign and notices for the event:

Gyoji are the Sumo World’s clerks. Their tools include big bottles of india ink (yes, traditionally Japanese and Chinese calligraphy requires ink stones, but they don’t have all day), and big bundles of brushes like the one you see bottom center. What he writes includes information about the day, as well as makeshift sponsorship “flags” when the sponsors are not the regular jungyo sponsors. Behind him in the corner are notices that tell us that today’s hair tying demonstration will be given by Enho and Terutsuyoshi, and the rope-tying demonstration will be given by Kakuryu.

So what are the rikishi doing? Well, the lower-ranked rikishi are on the dohyo vying for the right to take part in the moshi-ai:

The sekitori start with the handshakes and stretches on the sidelines. Meisei and Onosho are exercising together:

They were doing all sorts of stuff, including, mmm, I’m not sure what they are exercising here:

Kind of like two dogs fighting for a Frisbee, if you ask me.

Ichinojo is doing his suri-ashi:

Though I have to say that my eye is drawn more towards the shapely legs of Hanaregoma oyakata, who is, believe it or not, the former Tamanoshima, who retired in 2011. That guy was about the size of his former heya-mate Tamawashi 8 years ago!

Chiyomaru is working out with a rubber tube:

Kotoyuki and Daishoho are behind bars! Who’s going to bail them out?

Don’t worry. I’m sure our super-hero Kotoyuki will figure out a way to escape. Besides, they seem to enjoy themselves in the slammer.

As the lower-ranking rikishi finish up their dohyo time, the sekitori go up on the dohyo. The Yokozuna are exercising below it. Kakuryu is having a busy day. Arms:


Arms again:

And coaching Ryuden:

Hakuho, on the other hand, is using one of his tsukebito – I think that’s Onokura, but I’m not sure – as a barre, and then a teppo pole:

We get several classical art poses – if there are any artists among our readers who are looking for models.

What’s up on the dohyo, then?

Juryo practice – Kiribayama vs. Takanofuji (the former Takayoshitoshi):

Ah, too bad. Makuuchi practice, Nishikigi vs. Myogiryu:

Practice is over. The sekitori go back to have some lunch and sleep. Well, except for Terutsuyoshi and Enho. The two pixies have a hair-tying demonstration to do:

Hakuho, by the way, is doing the opposite: he is having his hair shampooed.

Or rather, degreased. The stuff they use for shampoo is very much like the stuff my grandad – who was a car mechanic – used to use to remove the grease from his hands – a thick, powerful detergent.

The rest of the rikishi are mostly out in the shitaku-beya. As you may have noticed in the drum-roll video above, there are two facilities there – the Arena, where the dohyo is located, and the spectators gather, and the Dome, where the shitaku-beya (dressing room) is located.

And it’s hot.

It’s basically a hothouse made of semi-transparent plastic. And though you can see that there are air conditioners, they are not really up to the task in the middle of August in Tokyo.

Nevertheless, Tochiozan manages to sleep in this Turkish bathhouse:

Amazingly, this photo is from the NSK official twitter feed.

So moving from the venue to the shitaku-beya requires going outside. Here is what happened when they went outside after the dohyo-iri ceremony. Note the one clever guy who thought of bringing shoes.

Live in the outdoors for your entire childhood, and you’ll learn to appreciate shoes when you can get them.

There are still some rikishi waiting for the dohyo-iri. And it’s boring… so they play a bit of Atchi-Muite-Hoi. The loser gets a dekopin. And Daishoho keeps losing.

While Kagayaki is relatively merciful, Tamawashi has no qualms about giving him the kind of dekopin he hasn’t had since he had his first chon-mage.

(It’s a custom – the first time you have your hair tied in a chon-mage, you get dekopins from everybody who is more senior or ranks higher than you).

Makuuchi dohyo-iri over, it’s time for the Yokozuna dohyo-iri. Team Kakuryu is ready. But someone is missing.

Ah. Tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke the 41st. I didn’t know he could run like that.

Looks like it’s a day to be late, though. Because here comes Enho…

And he is almost late to this, the only bout I have from this day:

Win or lose, both Shohozan and Enho seem to be having fun. They don’t meet every day in this Jungyo, but the days on which they meet turn out to be a lot of fun as both experiment with their most outrageous waza, much to the delight of the fans.

We can’t have a kore-yori san-yoku without Hakuho’s date with a yobidashi:

And here we have a summary video of the event, or rather, of Enho:

And with this, I bid you goodbye. The pin-up for today is Ryuden!

7 thoughts on “Jungyo Newsreel, Day 9

  1. The number of sekitori absent IS becoming quite alarming indeed.

    Maybe this is what will one day open the eyes of the Sumo Organization. When more than half of the rooster will be absent from a Jungyo due to injuries, and people will start complaining that it is not worth paying quite a good deal of money to assist to these event because their favorite or the most popular Rikishi are not there, and big sponsor will retire their support because of the lack of assistance and interest in Jungyo, they’ll start thinking ” Maybe we should do something more to prevent Rikishi from injuring themselves AND also help them heal and recuperate better and faster with better treatement and a better system to accomodate them.”

    The sumo kyokai won’t be able to argue that their sekitori aren’t doing their “duty” by being present to Jungyo when they’ll be bury under dozen and dozen of medical certificate of injuries from rikishi slamming them into their face one after another.

    Like i read somewhere else here, the sumo organization is litteraly killing softly their ” Gold laying eggs chickens “. The very core of Sumo are the Rikishis. It’s like crops. If you are doing nothing to care for them, nuturing them and make them grow strong, slowly in time throught generation, you’ll have the effect of ” culling the strong “. The qualities of sekitories will go down and down because the best and strongest Rikishi at the top of their art are not there to cull the weak and teach the new generation.

    By the time they get in the top division, they keep getting injured and has no way to recuperate. They’ll be forced to step in Honbasho crippled and peoples will only get to see saddening and poor Sumo performance. The qualities overall of the matches will keep going down and so will be the interest in Sumo in general. Peoples and sponsor will start supporting the sport in general and it’ll be the downfall of the sport.

    • No. They definitely don’t wash it daily. It’s done every few days. But they have their hair arranged at least once a day, at least twice for Sekitori, and it probably gets re-greased every time.

      • Makes my head itch just to think about it. They must sweat profusely too- another reason to admire their endurance! Thanks for the information.

  2. Thanks for the great articles. I appreciate them very much.

    Seeing the Nobori flags reminded me of a few questions. Could you confirm or correct my understanding?

    The Nobori are hand painted before each basho. Guessing sometime between the banzuke being published and opening day. I vaguely recall that there is a specialist who paints them.

    After the tournament, if there is Jungyo, the same flags travel the circuit?

    Eventually, something happens to them. I think I read that they are either given to the rikishi, or gifted to individual supporters or groups. Not at all sure about this.

    I’ve searched in the past, but not found any authentic used Nobori for sale online. Do they ever come up for sale, or would that be un-thinkable?

    Best regards!

    • Hmm. I’ll have to do some research about that, but I doubt the basho nobori are the same ones that are displayed on Jungyo. At least, not all of them. In the top photo, for example, there is a nobori specific for this event – “Tachikawa Tachihi Basho”.


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