We still have more than a week before honbasho, so let’s take a look at the Jungyo events in Sapporo, which took place on August 17 and 18.
As it is hard to separate materials that were posted about the two days of this Sapporo event, I am going to plot them as one event. So while I’m fitting the post to the usual “Jungyo Day” format, bear in mind that the actual events described may not have been part of the same sequence.
🌐 Location: Sapporo, Hokkaido
The event took place at the “Tsu-dome” – the Sapporo Community Dome, a semi-open sports facility in Sapporo. This gave the rikishi large peripheral areas in which to work out and goof around – but on the down side, it wasn’t air-conditioned. It wasn’t as bad as the event at Itayanagi, though .
The home boys in Hokkaido are these three guys:
Remember, the Jungyo at this stage does not include Juryo wrestlers. However, because they are Hokkaido men, Ichiyamamoto and Kyokutaisei stayed with the tour, and this is their day to shine.
But they are not the only ones. Much attention was given to tate-yobidashi Takuro, who hails from Sapporo himself:
Like tate-gyoji, a tate-yobidashi is the highest ranking yobidashi. Takuro is 63 years old and this was, in fact, his last Jungyo at his home town. Next year there will be no summer Jungyo, because of the Olympics. Takuro will reach the mandatory retirement age before the next summer Jungyo in 2021. So for him this was an extra special event.
All participants arrive at the venue early in the morning. Among them, this guy:
No, it’s not the NSK’s chief accountant. And the fact that he has a couple of fude-pen in his accreditation sleeve should clue you in to the fact that he is a gyoji. A fude-pen is a fountain pen with a brush tip. And no self-respecting high-ranking gyoji will ever sign or even write anything with a mere ball-point pen or magic marker.
Yes, this guy is, in fact, this very man:
So let’s go around the periphery of the venue, and see how the guys are warming up.
Kotoyuki and Ichinojo split the work. While Kotoyuki is doing his shiko,
Ichinojo relaxes and watches. And when Ichinojo starts doing his:
…it’s time for Kotoyuki to sit down and relax. Ichinojo then turns his attention to making sure all the walls in the arena are well aligned.
Or maybe that’s just vertical push-ups. At his weight, it’s hard enough to work against inertia, he doesn’t need to have gravity to fight as well.
Abi, Daieisho and Chiyomaru try to look busy.
They are not very successful at that, though. That particular group is in a very good mood this day, even when the Abema TV team is trying to get them to do a promotion:
It all starts when Abi and Daieisho tease Dewanojo, Mitakeumi’s largish tsukebito (who happens to weigh about the same as Ichinojo. Diet tip: you want to lose weight? Don’t call yourself anything-no-jo).
Dewanojo is not taking this lying down. Well, technically he is. This time, Abi orders him to do some sumo with Daieisho. Daieisho, being a sekitori, wins pretty easily:
But as you see, Dewanojo is not going down alone.
When they are done with Dewanojo, that’s when Chiyomaru joins in.
You see, life in Jungyo is really hard and these professionals are gambarizing with all their might:
Well, let’s try to find some rikishi who actually do something for those famous sekitori salaries.
Ryuden and Nishikigi are doing a suri-ashi contest (and Shohozan stretches):
Meisei and Onosho are also working out their lower bodies:
They are from completely different heya, but still, since they are practicing together, their tsukebito – Kitadaichi and Ako, respectively – also exercise together:
Kagayaki seems to be the hardest working rikishi on Earth:
So we can forgive him if he’s sometimes just idling and talking with other rikishi. Like Aoiyama.
I mean, what do these two have in common anyway? 🤔
Tamawashi is trying to somehow improve his flexibility.
This may require a bit of explanation. Most rikishi are very flexible. They can do perfect splits and spread themselves on the ground, like this clip from the variety show “Vs. Arashi” shows us:
Tamawashi, as he somewhat exaggeratedly demonstrates, can’t. The whole “matawari” thing is a bit beyond him. So above he was trying to have Daieisho stop his legs from closing, and pull him down to extend his range.
It wasn’t really working. Then he did this, which certainly isn’t going to get him very flexible, but will give the watching tsukebito an aching neck, I’m sure:
On the sidelines, a reporter is interviewing Myogiryu, who won the first place in popularity in a fan poll this year. “What do you feel about that?” she asks.
Answer: Why… me?
He then relents and says he is happy to be #1 in anything. It then turns to questions about gifts he gets from fans. And he stops, “can’t say that here”. What’s the gift he can’t tell us about? “A love letter”.
Many rikishi were interviewed there but I thought this was the funniest and really demonstrated why, indeed, Myogiryu is so popular.
Speaking of popular rikishi, here is Enho, with his well-tanned tsukebito, Kiryu, and a rubber tube. But he is more busy being charming than exercising:
Rikishi are not the only ones to exercise. Some oyakata are at it, too. Here is Minato oyakata, Ichinojo’s master:
He says is aim is to get below 100, both in weight and in golf. His workout plan is devised by Onaruto oyakata. Minato finds it surprisingly difficult. Yeah, at 51 it’s not as easy to do exercise 22 year old rikishi (or 34 year old Yokozuna) easily do.
Hey, are Nishikigi and Abi practicing?
Er… not exactly. What’s more, they are harassing witnesses:
Somebody needs to lay down the law. And… there is a Yokozuna in the building!
The King enters regally, accompanied by his retinue of tsukebito. He then starts his stretching routine, magnanimously allowing all the other sekitori to come by and greet him.
Terutsuyoshi is not the kind to be intimidated by any of this, though, and he has a light chat with the Yokozuna as if they were buddies since high-school.
With all the pomp and circumstance done, Hakuho starts exercising as well:
At least he is exercising and not goofing around. Well, not until his official match, anyway. We’ll get there. But in the meantime, let’s approach the dohyo and see some sumo.
Chiyotairyu is giving some butsukari to local boy Kyokutaisei:
Tamawashi is doing the same for local boy Yago:
What about Ichiyamamoto? Well…
Asanoyama is giving him footsies, but it’s not quite the same.
No, in fact, Nishikigi is doing the duty for Ichiyamamoto:
The day before, at Hakodate, he was fed to Hakuho. So getting Nishikigi this time is a mercy.
If you think sekitori who get kawaigari get mercilessly squeezed, just take a look at Ryuden giving kawaigari to his tsukebito, 20-year-old Ai:
Hakuho’s victim-du-jour is actually Hokutofuji.
Note that part of the Hakuho-Show where he lets Hokutofuji loose in mid-push, and Hokutofuji does not fall to the ground as he did in the previous push. “Oh? Nice!” exclaims the Yokozuna and ends the torture with three symbolic rolls.
He also had Shimanoumi – probably each in a different day:
Note thet though Kawaigari is murder for the pushing side, it’s not an easy task for the torturer, either:
A couple of moshi-ai bouts: Hokutofuji and Asanoyama:
And Ryuden vs. Meisei:
The practice part is over! Tsukebito hurry up to eat, get their hair re-done, and do their various duty. Mienosato awaits his turn at the Tokoyama station.
Nice mini skirt! The tweet from which this photo was taken notes that Mienosato got a lot more interesting than he probably would have been if he just stood there in his mawashi. It’s all about suggestion!
After the low-ranking rikishi completed their bouts, the usual activities took place.
Well, the usual activities plus Gokushindo stopping to have his photo taken:
OK, OK. So we have hair tying demonstrations. The first day’s was Yago:
The next day’s was Kyokutaisei’s:
Ooh, he’s serious.
After that, we had some Jinku. Hmm, what’s this? Kotomanabe has a yobidashi’s fan in his kesho-mawashi. What’s he doing with that?
The answer is: hiding a concealed cheat-sheet!
Hehehe… he doesn’t remember the lyrics, yet.
Though Kotomanabe is not a bad singer, I want you to listen carefully to the voice of Daishowaka:
That is Ikioi level, that is.
The jinku is followed by Shokkiri. There are two pairs of shokkiri artists (in fact, the Takadagawa pair also has a third stand-in). Their acts have slightly different flavors. While the Takadagawa pair has the giant toy hammer, the Kasugano pair has this:
The gyoji, Sakuranosuke, rules that instead of Tochisato winning, he will “mercifully call a torinaoshi” (this is part of the Shokkiri routine – it would not be his call in real life). Tochisato is displeased, and flicks the eboshi right off his head.
Judging from Sakuranosuke’s expression, this was not rehearsed. At least, not with him:
Do not worry, he got it back eventually.
It’s time for the dohyo-iri! And for some reason, Asanoyama, Abi and Mitakeumi find their dohyo-iri very funny.
On the west side, Terutsuyoshi, if you recall, is the lowest ranking maegashira at this point in time (quite different after the latest banzuke, but the Jungyo was still held under the old one).
So he is rather amused to see that there is someone to his left (that is, ranking lower) in the dohyo-iri:
Of course, this is only because Kyokutaisei would not have normally been part of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, being a Juryo wrestler. But he is a home boy!
Hey, Mitakeumi, Shodai, don’t be late to your matches!
This sprint took place at the background of the Yokozuna dohyo-iri. So no, they were not actually late to their matches.
Everybody was in a good mood, even when losing, like Enho, who was getting carried away:
That’s Tochiozan, BTW. And this bout is in the summary video below.
Endo has a beautiful Shiko to rival Abi’s:
Speaking of which, here is the san-yaku soroi-bumi:
Abi may not achieve his beautiful shiko but he can certainly coordinate well with Mitakeumi and Kakuryu.
His bout was a bit less well coordinated, though he did win it (this, too, is in the summary video below). He keeps going for the grapple, though he does it as if he is afraid that something awful will happen:
And he is actually right. I mean, this being Jungyo, it ended with his win. But the way he uses his arms, in honbasho, his right arm would have been locked and he would have joined Takayasu and Chiyonokuni on the lengthy list of Tamawashi kotenage victims.
Well, at least he learned to put one foot forward.
Mitakeumi is coming back from his bout. And it seems that our friend Dewanojo is well used to being fooled around with. And also, not taking superiors too seriously.
Good mood, did I say? Well, I dare you. No, I double dare you, to find me a photo of Hakuho with this facial expression while waiting for his bout – in honbasho.
This fine mood continues right into the salt throw:
… and straight into the bout itself, in which he and Kakuryu look like a comic duo. I mean, this is Kakuryu beating Hakuho:
Yet another facial expression you won’t see in honbasho in this situation. And the cherry on top is this, at the end of the match:
So here is a summary of the day, by a fan (who is apologetic for the way Hakuho’s dohyo-iri has literally turned up).
- East dohyo-iri
- Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri
- Hakuho’s vertical dohyo-iri
- Ichiyamamoto vs. Terutsuyoshi
- Enho vs. Tochiozan
- Kotoshogiku vs. Ichinojo
- Shodai vs. Endo
- Abi vs. Tamawashi
- Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin
- Laurel vs. Hardy. I mean, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu.
- Yumi-tori shiki.
And this is it. The Sapporo event was the last in the journey, with only one more event to do a few days later at the Tokyo KITTE mall. The tsukebito helped load the trucks one last time:
And then everybody headed for the airport to get back to Tokyo:
And with that, we wrap up the report. But not without a whole gallery of pin-up boys!