Kaishu Rintaro

Lower division sumo bouts are perfect prime-time viewing for those of us sumo fans living in exile in the Eastern US. Obviously, we miss out on most of the stars unless we take a nap through makushita and wake up at 3 to 4am for makuuchi. In the lower ranks, many of the wrestlers have yet to pack on the skills and girth necessary to climb up the ranks but there are some fantastic bouts with great finishing moves. This izori from Kaishu was one of my favorite bouts from the whole tournament.

Kaishu is a Musashigawa beya stablemate of Musashikuni and Wakaichiro. All of the coaches’ and wrestlers’ profiles are available on the Musashigawa homepage. He joined back in 2016 at the age of 18. Ladies, his blood type is B. https://musashigawa.com/rikishi-urakata/rikishi_kaisyu

He has three years of championship-caliber judo training in high school. If I’m getting my time frames right his High School, Shutoku, won the national judo title while he was there. With that experience under his belt, he’s come in with a strong grappling background. This was his first izori victory at Natsu 2019 but he’s already got a rather impressive slate of kimarite, including two ashitori wins and the zubuneri seen below, when he was fighting under the name Kobayashi. He’s young — but those guns, dude.

Now, for a statistic that blew me away when I saw it. For all of the 1107 wrestlers featured in the Tachiai Kimarite dashboard, which includes all active wrestlers plus those who retired after 2013, the median wrestler has won with 16 kimarite. Kaishu has already won by using 24 distinct kimarite. That puts him near the 90th percentile and he’s only been in sumo for 3 years. Granted, Aminishiki has nearly doubled that tally. But that’s Aminishiki. By the way, the data in the dashboard has been updated with data from Natsu 2019.

Median wrestler has won with 16 kimarite. Kaishu has 24. Mr 47 is Aminishiki.

For those fans with an interest in Japanese history, his current shikona, 海舟, is a nod to Katsu Kaishu. He also changed the character used for his first name, from 倫太郎 to 麟太郎, which was a name used by Katsu Kaishu, father of the Japanese Navy. When the West pressured Japan to open themselves to commerce in the 1850s, Kaishu pushed to establish a strong navy and to staff it with people based on capability rather than lineage. He commanded the ship which brought the first Japanese delegation to the US before playing a pivotal role in the Meiji Restoration.

He also likes mangoes. OK, I admit, that’s non sequitur. I just had to throw that in there because I had an amazing mango yesterday and his profile actually does say his favorite food is mango. In more Musashigawa fun facts, the stable will be participating in a beach clean up this Saturday at Enoshima’s Benten Bridge. If you’re in Japan, and in the area of Enoshima, this may be a great reason to go to the beach! There’s a great little train, too, the Enoden that you can take down there from Kamakura.

Kaishu Rintaro

Unfortunately, he’s been on a bit of a slide after peaking near the top of Sandanme. He had a winless hatsu and will be back in Jonidan in Nagoya because he finished with a 3-4 makekoshi record. One of those pivotal losses, though, came at the hands of Shiraishi who won the Sandanme yusho in his debut tournament from below Sandanme 100. He skipped Go — mae-zumo, jonokuchi, and Jonidan — based on his amateur pedigree from Toyo University. Without that tough match up, one wonders if he’d have been able to secure his kachi-koshi.

Yamagata: Jungyo Site #14

Yamagata prefecture is not only an unknown entity for me, my wife admitted she knows very little about Yamagata. Yamagata is a rural, mountainous prefecture known for its produce, mainly fruits. Cherries, pears, grapes and apples from this region are specialties. The pears are “La France” western-style pears, not the Asian pears. Yamagata is known for its Hanagasa Festival, which centers around women performing a traditional dance, and actually just happened last week, ended on Tuesday.

Hakuyozan Returns to Juryo

The Jungyo event will be held in Nanyo, just outside the eponymous capital city, Yamagata. The city of Tendo is also nearby. This city is where most shogi pieces (koma) are made and features an annual spring human shogi festival.

The Yamanashi — oops, sorry, Yamagata — Jungyo event will be a homecoming for Makushita yusho winner and Juryo promotee, Hakuyozan. He was first promoted to Juryo for the May tournament but finished with a poor 5-10 record. He fell back into Makushita but with impressive, and at times dominant, wins over Jokoryu, Toyohibiki, TYT, and Enho, this homecoming will hopefully give him a chance to enjoy center stage for the day…and perhaps a bout with Endo? Will he manage to get that mawashi undone?

Aoyama: Jungyo site #11

I got a wee bit behind in my jungyo site posts and suddenly we’re already back in Tokyo. Aoyama Gakuin University, informally called AoGaku, is in a fantastic location. If you’ve never been to Tokyo, Aoyama is in the Shibuya area, not far from Omotesando. Aoyama and Omotesando seem to have a more posh reputation than Shibuya, itself, and neighboring Harajuku. The university is found out the opposite side of Shibuya station from most of the famous stuff. Walk along Aoyama-dori about half way to an entrance for Omotesando station.

The university, itself, has ties to the sumo world. Last year, an event was put on here with the help of proud parents of current and former AoGaku students, Isegahama Oyakata, Takanohana Oyakata, and Harumafuji. It is known as a school for the children of celebrities. Private Universities like AoGaku and Keio have grade schools, as well. So many kids who go to the private grade schools go straight into the Universities when they graduate.

Omotesando is a shopping district not far away, but far enough from much of the hustle and bustle of Shibuya. Omotesando Hills is probably having its 10th anniversary about now? It’s a nice mall there that used to feature a wine bar with a wall full of what are essentially wine vending machines. It’s been a long time, though, so it may not be there anymore but I will need to do some research next time I’m back. As with all of these posts, it’s my goal to update and repost them with more information (especially pictures if I get a chance to go).

Fukui: Jungyo Site #3

Day 3 of the Summer Tour, July 31, will take wrestlers to back to the Chubu region of Japan after dipping its toes in Kinki at Lake Biwa. Fukui is not exactly a sumo powerhouse like Hokkaido. It is the shusshin of two active wrestlers, Koshinoryu of Fujishima beya and Maikeru, top-ranked wrestler of Futagoyama beya. Maikeru has been doing well his first year of sumo. After his fifth kachi-koshi, indeed a strong 5-2, he will find himself around sandanme 30, where Ura was ranked this past tournament. Maikeru already sports a massive knee-supporter. Koshinoryu has been as high as Makushita but has not been able to establish himself there for long. Most of his career has been in sandanme. Neither have faced Wakaichiro yet but Koshinoryu may be on the radar for next tournament.

Murakami Nightmare

Fukui prefecture, itself, is a coastal prefecture along the Sea of Japan. The prefecture is famous for those long-legged red crabs, the echizen gani. There are hot springs and there’s also a dinosaur museum. Katsuyama, site of the jungyo event, is in the far north, near the capital, Fukui, and the border with Ishikawa. This is also near the scenic Tojinbo cliffs. I will find myself there chowing down on crabs. I’m from Maryland, now, so it’s a requirement to find good crabs.

Shiga: Jungyo Site #2

July 30 and the second site of this year’s summer tour brings us to Shiga prefecture. This is the western loop of this long tour, before we head east again toward Ishikawa, Niigata, and Nagano on back to Tokyo in 10 days. Shiga prefecture is dominated by Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The southwestern section of the lake is surrounded by Otsu city, where the Jungyo event is being held. There’s quite a bit of historic significance, like the assassination attempt of the future Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, and World Heritage sites. A particular kind of fermented sushi, funazushi, is considered a delicacy in the area. It sounds like something Scandinavian that I’ve read about, gutted and salted when fresh to draw out the moisture, then stored for a year. It’s then taken out and stored again in rice. I’m a glutton, so I like food but my nerd side wins in Otsu – this Open Data site looks more appealing than fermented sushi. http://www.city.otsu.lg.jp/opendata/ I wonder whether a sumo jungyo mash-up with tourist or restaurant locations would be helpful…

Georgian Wine Review (Part 2)

For a review, and a look into the disjointed way Andy’s mind works:

My wife also bought a Georgian Red Wine the other day along with the sparkling wine we had the other day. (See Post 1) Tonight, we are having the red. I enjoy it. It’s not too dry. I’m not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignons. Granted, we’re not having it with steak but I asked for pork kimchi. My wife was not pleased with my choice of dinner but I got hooked on buta kimchi when I used to live in Hodogaya.

Tsinandali, home of Georgian Poet Alexander Chavchavadze

This particular wine was from the Teliani Valley winery. This was $12.99 and will be a regular in our house. Not too tart, or green, or too dry…my wife says the word is “balanced.” I smell a bit of black pepper. And while I wouldn’t advise eating it with kimchi, the cheddar cheese that my wife picked out was really nice. Both the wine and the cheese were smooth. The wine comes from grapes grown at the Tsinandali estate, pictured. This Mukuzani wine is apparently an international award winning wine. For 13 bucks?

I’ve got to visit Georgia. And that’s not because there was some big fancy neo-conservative pow-wow along the beach. It seems like a beautiful country. It’s perhaps fitting that Tochinoshin is doing so well, the round, Georgian script reminds me of Mongolian. I should probably start learning both languages. If I could read Georgian, then I’d be able to read the rest of the wine bottle.

My fond memories of buta kimchi come from this izakaya below, “Yume.” It’s about half a block from the Hodogaya JR train station, I believe along the infamous Tokaido where I used to watch the awesome customized Japanese long haul semi trucks. I hope Yume still there because my bottle of shochu should still be on the wall. I think it’s bottle #4 and should be about half full. Downstairs is a little bar with maybe 6 seats. It wasn’t until I’d been there a dozen times that I learned there’s an upstairs with tables with hibachi grills.

Yume

When I came home from Japan, I learned that the sushi chef at the new Japanese restaurant in my parent’s home town was from…Hodogaya. Then when I moved to DC and started working for FRA, we had an intern from JR. His wife was from Hodogaya and was living there when I was there. I just have a feeling there’s some Murakami portal to a different world there in humdrum Hodogaya. 懐かしい。

*Wow, I put this together quickly before dinner last night and didn’t have time to edit. Geez…what a disjointed mess. I did some editing but left the bit about Yume at the end because I miss that place.

Georgian Wine Review (Part 1)

 

Georgian Sparkling Wine

Yes, it’s been a while since Tochinoshin won his yusho but I finally have an opportunity to write about Georgian wine. You see, here in Montgomery County, MD, we have weird alcohol laws. Our town was actually dry for a long time after prohibition and even now there are strict laws that limit the sale of alcohol. My wife was in DC the other day and picked up a Georgian sparkling wine and a Georgian red wine.

Dinner

 

I’m no oenophile so I’m not going to talk about fancy tasting notes. I did pick up a bit of a yeast-like smell that I often smell with sparkling wine and champagne. My wife is a certified wine expert in Japan and her only issue with it was that the bubbles were not quite as active as she likes, particularly the next day. I must say, it was not flat and seemed pretty active to me. But today it is noticeably less “bubbly” than other second-day sparkling wines I’ve had. Anyway, I liked it. It tastes good and only cost $11 for the bottle.

She also bought a red wine so I’ll post about that in the next few days after we drink it. But tonight we had gorgonzola pasta with our bubbly.