For the last week the tour has been island hopping, counter-clockwise, around Kyushu. It started in Kumamoto before heading for Miyazaki, Oita, and Fukuoka before capping off this weekend with two dates in Nagasaki. Next week, the tour will head to Shikoku before landing on Honshu and heading back toward Tokyo. For those wrestlers collecting manhole cover trading cards, these tours give an awesome opportunity to check out their favorites!
Bad news hit the Winter Tour early as both Kirishima and Takakeisho went to the hospital and were forced to limit their participation with flu-like symptoms. Terunofuji was already kyujo. Hoshoryu then also fell victim at the Kikuyo stop. As they say in show business, “The Show Must Go On.” And for the time being, the stars of the show are the native Kyushu wrestlers, such as Sadanoumi, Hiradoumi, and everyone’s favorite Emo-zeki, Shodai.
While researching these venues, I was particularly struck by Yatsushiro’s Myoken Festival featuring a procession of horses and a half-turtle/half-snake called a “ga-meh.” Much of the festival actually occurred during Kyushu basho, and the highlight was on November 23rd — just before the basho’s final weekend as the drama was building between Kirishima and Atamifuji. Nonetheless, Yatsushiro may have been chosen as the first stop on the tour because of the importance of this festival, which concluded on December 1, as well as being Takakento’s hometown. If you have a spare 4.5 hours (since there is no hon-basho, I know you do) there is great footage of the 2019 event to see above. Better yet, if you are ever in Kyushu for the tournament, you might want to check out the Yatsushiro Myokensai for yourself!
On December 4, the tour stayed in Kumamoto prefecture but shifted over to a town called, Kikuyo. and then headed down to Miyazaki. Judging by the short video above, our favorite wrestlers were able to enjoy amazing food, especially wagyu beef. Miyazaki prefecture awards the Makuuchi yusho winner (Kirishima) with a head of their famous cattle as well as a ton of fresh produce.
In Oita, visitors would also be able to check out the Oita Prefectural Art Museum (OPAM). Running from November to January 21, is a very interesting exhibition, “Thermae: Ancient Rome, Japan, and the Joy of Bathing.” I am sure Takakeisho checked it out while they were in town. Guided tours on some days are offered but likely in Japanese, only. From here, it’s back to Kasuga in Fukuoka. I imagine that is to pick up more Amaō strawberries and mentaiko (presented as yusho prizes from the prefecture and city of Fukuoka).
The wrestlers ended up this weekend in Nagasaki for two tour dates, Sasebo-city and Omura-city. Unfortunately, a few wrestlers are kyujo from the final Nagoya event, including Kinbozan, Takakento, and Chiyosakae. Hopefully everyone’s health cooperates as we enter another week of this tour. Sasebo city has an Open Data portal which I will be exploring for the next week, as well as Hirado. As I mentioned before, Ehime in Shikoku is next on the Jungyo calendar. The tour will then head toward Osaka on its way back to Tokyo.