After the most recent tempest in a chawan (teacup 茶碗), sumo wrestlers pulled back from social media. I was happy to see a few have returned to social media. The posts so far have been quite tame…which is a good thing. An active, non-controversial social media presence is more than a way to connect with fans; it would be a great source of income for a heya, rikishi, or the Kyokai itself. Quick and subtle advertising for supporting restaurants and businesses will hopefully allow us another glimpse into the life of rikishi with some lesson learned regarding appropriate content.
Maybe my new shikona will be Chawan’arashi? It’s kinda fun to stir the pot every so often…so long as it’s sumo-related, right?
Winter Jungyo began on December 1. As is usual, the winter Jungyo will travel around Kyushu, ending in Okinawa. This Jungyo is not as much of a long, winding tour as has been the case in past. With 11 dates in 10 locations, it is much shorter than the Spring and Summer trips which often span a whole month, hitting around twenty-five tour sites.
The tour kicked off in Nogata with both Yokozuna, as Kakuryu’s back was feeling better. I have had back spasms before to where I can’t move for a couple of days…the cause, in both cases, was picking up my son. The funny thing is, he’s 10 now and weighs virtually nothing. Back then he was a tiny baby, always below the 5th percentile. Moral of the story is, take care of your back. I hope the Yokozuna and Ichinojo are able to recuperate. Sadly, we have a dwindling contingent of banged up (former) Ozeki. The only one to show up for Jungyo has been Takakeisho, and that comes with an asterisk, as Herouth reported. Herouth’s kyujo list grew a few days later with the addition of Kotoshogiku…but Takayasu was back to practicing as his arm is totally fine.
Nogata lies on the outskirts of Kita-Kyushu, the city at the northern tip of Kyushu. Herouth found this amazing video of practice bout between Enho and Shohozan. These two are a very entertaining pair so I hope this rivalry will last several years, though Shohozan has already been in Makuuchi for the better part of the last eight years.
For the next stop, Jungyo crossed the Kanmon Strait back to the main island of Honshu for an event in Shimonoseki, two days later. Perhaps the wrestlers needed an extra day to tour the Higashida Museum Park in Kita-Kyushu? Surely no more sightseeing time as the troupe hopped back down to the southern side of Kumamoto on the 4th and back up to Fukuoka prefecture on the 5th.
Kokugikan hosted the Amateur Sumo Championship on Sunday. Koshiro Tanioka of Kinki University (近畿大) won the yusho. One of the favorites heading into the event was new college Yokozuna, Daiki Nakamura. You may remember that last month the first-year college student from Nippon Sports Science University (日体大) defeated Tanioka to capture the University title. If anyone had hoped for a rematch, they got it…in the round of 32!
That’s right, imagine Duke facing off against UNC on the first weekend of March Madness, perhaps a late game on Sunday night as everyone’s trying to get home for their 8 am classes. The freshman yokozuna was toppled after his first-round bye. Tanioka went on to win his next four matches (at total of six through the knockout phase) and captured the yusho! Tanioka had one loss in the earlier qualification stage so while Nakamura went undefeated in the prelims, this highlight matchup came early.
* Corrections made to some rather sloppy mistakes I made with the universities. Thank you Herouth! I’m glad I spelled UNC and Duke right. That would have been embarrassing. I think they’d retract my birth certificate over that.The university abbreviations are often two characters but were three on the torikumi list I saw, and that’s what I used for the data in the graph at the bottom.
I’m sorry this video picks up after the tachiai but it gives a great sense of the crashing disappointment felt by Nakamura as he realized he lost. His afternoon should have just started but it was suddenly all over and time to go home. Tanioka, on the other hand, exhibited great technique by dancing along the tawara but sneaking his hands in for a strong uwatedashinage.
The title bout was against a Kazakh prospect, Yelshin, from Nippon Daigaku (日本大). Tanioka got on his opponent’s nerves early with the matta games. He did this several times during the tournament. The hit-and-shift tachiai led to a quick, arms-length shoving match with Tanioka quickly sneaking in for a belt grip. The sudden pull forced Yelshin to one knee for an uwatenage win for Tanioka.
I want to draw your attention not to the yusho trophy, which is quite nice or the Purple Ribbon of Greatness, but to the massive belt-buckle which would fit in quite well in Texas. Amirite, Bruce? This trophy may find itself next to the macaron and the mushrooms in my list of all-time-faves. The original of this comes from @die_is_cast_ on Twitter, who has more great pics of the winners.
An interesting component of this tournament is that it features sumo wrestlers from companies and the general public, even the occasional high school student. There were two such high school students in this year’s competition, including the high school yokozuna. Nippon Daigaku and Chuo Daigaku sent quite a few wrestlers, as did the Aishin corporation.
Don’t let the official Sumo Kyokai website fool you, there’s definitely something going down at Kokugikan tomorrow. As Hakuho and the rest of the sekitori start Jungyo in Nogata, the best amateurs will gather at Kokugikan for the 68th All-Japan Sumo Championship. NHK will offer coverage from 5pm.
For those Tachiai readers lucky enough to be in Japan, be sure to tune in. You may see the next crop of sekitori. Past winners of this tournament include Yago, Endo, and Makuuchi yusho winner, Mitakeumi.