A Day Out at the Koshigaya Gymnasium: Spring Jungyo Finale

Koshigaya Gymnasium - Exterior
The Koshigaya Gymnasium

It’s been a month since the conclusion of the Haru basho, and if you’re like me, you probably really miss sumo right now. If you’re like me, you’re also in Japan for the next month and will be looking to cover some unique events for Tachiai. So, with that in mind, I headed up to Koshigaya today for the final date of the spring Jungyo tour. This is my first time covering Jungyo for the site, and I will do my best to do justice to the work of the mighty Herouth!

Getting to Koshigaya

From my base near Shimbashi Station in Tokyo, it took about an hour, two trains and around ¥600 to reach the town of Koshigaya in Saitama prefecture. Koshigaya Station is your typical Japanese suburban train station with a decent amount of amenities, and it was very handy that the station had a 7-11 ATM that supports international cards, as I didn’t have much cash on hand for food and/or souvenirs.

From the station, it’s about a 3km/35-40 minute walk to the Gymnasium (which is part of a sports complex in the town), and the alternative options are bus and taxi. I didn’t see any buses and there was one taxi nearby, so I grabbed that at the price of an additional ¥1450. Both the driver and I had a very limited grasp of each others’ languages, but I showed him where I wanted to go on the map and off we went.

The Venue

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The entrance to the Gymnasium was very festive, despite some scaffolding in front of the venue as you can see in the photo at the top of this post. There were a number of food stalls set up out front, and also some rikishi walking around (most prominently, in more ways than one, Chiyootori).

It is safe to say I have never been at a place in Japan where people were so happy to see me, at every stall. They were incredibly surprised to see a foreigner in their town (I saw, at most, 3 or 4 others in the venue), and everyone wanted to be very welcoming to me. An older gentleman at a noodle stall asked where I live, and when I told him that I live in Los Angeles, he was extremely excited to share that he spent time in Chicago in his younger days. He assumed I must have friends in Koshigaya and when I told him I was just visiting to come see the sumo, he shook my hand in surprise multiple times and very enthusiastically thanked me for supporting the town and his stall.

At the door, you receive a sheet with the day’s torikumi and a plastic bag for your shoes. Fortunately, our friends at BuySumoTickets.com alerted me when I purchased my ticket that everyone must remove shoes inside the venue and switch into your own slippers. If I hadn’t brought a pair with me, I probably would have been OK just wearing socks, as I saw a handful of people doing (the restrooms, if you’re interested, had a space outside for switching from your slippers into special provided shoes for the toilets). The whole floor inside the entry of the venue was covered with tarp. At the entry, it was quite easy to make this costume change, but the large group of (mostly elderly) fans exiting the arena at the end of the day led to quite a bit of a bottleneck.

The food and merch stands inside the venue had good, if limited selections. The best option at jungyo seems to be to take advantage of the numerous local vendors outside. I grabbed a box of karaage inside the venue which was tasty, if a bit fattier and greasier than you’ll usually find at the Kokugikan.

The Gymnasium layout consists entirely of floor seats on the main dohyo level, and a couple of sections of arena seats in the upper level. I had an Arena “A” seat, of which there were two rows up against the balcony wall in front of the corridor, so I had a view unimpeded by pedestrians.

The crowd on hand consisted mostly of the extremes of very young children and very elderly folks. There were a lot of grandparents on hand with their grandchildren. A very large group of school kids wearing yellow bucket hats filled out the room for the sekitori bouts. In all, the venue and events provide a great day for families and in the local community to connect with sumo, and I found that being there in person was an interesting counterpoint to how jungyo is often discussed: “that endless injury-causing tour that everyone complains about.”

The Events

I arrived just in time to see Hakuho engaging Ryuden for butsukari. Hakuho was playing up the crowd, who loved every appearance he made throughout the day. It was clear that his presence just electrifies the room, and this was made even more clear given that we were in a smaller, local gymnasium.

Kiddie sumo came up next, with a group of very eager kids pairing up to take on the three local Saitama-born rikishi Hokutofuji, Daieisho and Abi, as well as Endo and Ryuden. Endo led off, after which Hokutofuji and Ryuden took several rounds. Abi, who was unquestionably the star of the day, played up the local crowd by interfering with Hokutofuji and Ryuden’s bouts, coming up behind and helping the kids push/pull the big rikishi out. Ryuden looked absolutely exhausted and was still covered in dirt from the Hakuho treatment he had received moments earlier, but he still managed to give a pair of kids the helicopter treatment, grabbing one each by the mawashi and spinning them around in the air!

Finally, Daieisho and Abi got their turns to loud applause from the crowd. With Abi, the kids took the logical approach: trying to lift up those huge legs! And of course, shiko-wizard Abi took this as an opportunity to show off just how high he could raise his leg (answer: well over the head of a small child).

Abi with fans. Jungyo Koshigaya 27 April 2018
Local hero Abi: taking pictures and signing autographs for fans

There was a bit of a lull after the butsukari and kiddie sumo finished. While the jungyo events follow a different cadence to the relentless progression of a day at a honbasho, it’s still a long day, and plenty of folks were taking naps in the upstairs part of the venue while the sandanme and makushita wrestlers were having their bouts.

The shokkiri team of Sadogatake-beya’s Kotoryusei and Kotorikuzan definitely brought the comedy to their portion of the day’s events, and I’ve added the first 5 minutes of their performance here:

The performance was a real welcome moment to get everyone in good mood and ready to enjoy the stars as they prepared to mount the dohyo for their proper bouts. The only sad part of the shokkiri was that the crowd didn’t seem to recognise Kotoryusei’s impression of Kotoshogiku doing his famous belly bend. Is it possible that now that the former Ozeki has stopped doing his famous pre-match routine, some memory-challenged fans simply forgot it?

The Bouts

Touching on just one bout outside of the top two divisions, I will say that the Chiyootori comeback tour is looking good. He appeared mostly unbandaged apart from one foot, and created a thunderous tachiai that I actually felt in the second row of the upper deck, as it reverberated in the entire gymnasium. I suppose that is one benefit of the odd acoustic differences between a gymnasium and a proper arena like the Kokugikan.

Juryo

Enho easily dealt with Akua but came away with a bloodied face for his troubles. Here’s the video:

Terutsuyoshi deployed his heaping salt throw and had a decent start against Akiseyama as he worked to lock up his arms. But, when he shifted to get a mawashi grip, the big man took advantage and got two hands around the smaller rikishi, picking him up by the back of the mawashi and carrying him out spectacularly.

Billy no-mates Takagenji, the lone sekitori representative of his more isolationist stable at the jungyo, posted a good yorikiri win over a thoroughly exhausted Daishoho, after a prolonged grapple in the center of the dohyo. If Takagenji can continue that form, then he should have a good tournament at Natsu.

Tsurugisho is middling at the moment, but he absorbed Kotoeko‘s tachiai in an almighty clash and tossed him aside, laying waste to the notion that the Sadogatake man might be ready for a big promotion that it’s possible he will get this weekend.

Terunofuji beat Gagamaru, who showed up without any strapping, so I assumed he’d be in good health and genki. You wouldn’t have known that to be the case, as Gagamaru appeared to be so confused at the tachiai that he must have thought he was Shodai. He just stood up and took two blasts from Terunofuji, who promptly switched to plan B, turned the Georgian around and pushed him out. This was not really a match that will tell us much about either guy, and Terunofuji, who received a hearty applause in the dohyo-iri and then entering and exiting the arena floor, appeared a little disappointed in the level of opposition.

Kyokutaisei, who usually has an expression like someone ate his chanko, had a grin on his face all day, both in the dohyo-iri and before his match with Takekaze. It looked like Takekaze might get the better of him, but after a good grapple, the soon-to-be shin-makuuchi man pushed out his elder colleague.

Makuuchi

A number of infants made the makuuchi dohyo-iri and one man holding an infant was Saitama prefecture’s Abi who received an almighty ovation during the ring entering ceremony for the east rikishi of the top division. On the west, Tochinoshin seemed to receive the largest round of applause. I didn’t think there would be a louder cheer than we got for Hakuho‘s dohyo-iri, but the place exploded when Kisenosato walked in the room.

Asanoyama meant business and led with what appeared to be a Takayasu-style shoulder blast before leading Nishikigi to the bales and out.

Chiyoshoma vs Ishiura is a battle I want to see every basho. The Tottori protein spokesman and GQ model drew a nice round of applause, and this match also had a handful of sponsors. As for what happened, regular readers won’t need to guess: Even at jungyo, Ishiura tried a henka. He nearly pulled it off, as the Kokonoe man ran right through. Up against the bales, Chiyoshoma managed three times to pull the smaller rikishi up with his legs dangling horizontally in the air, but all of those protein shakes are working for the muscular man from Miyagino-beya, and Ishiura managed to put him over the the line. Then he threw a cool party on Instagram Live tonight, featuring Daishomaru, Terutsuyoshi and a very reluctant Akiseyama.

David Gray was a pop singer with a good run of success in the 2000s, and on stage, he became known for how his head would wobble from side to side when he played guitar. Ryuden has an oddly-similar pre-match demeanor, and suffered a fairly straightforward yorikiri loss to Yutakayama, whose technical ability has improved tremendously. Mawashi-watchers will note that Ryuden has switched from black to a new wine-colored mawashi.

Daieisho got a good round of applause from the locals as he mounted the dohyo. Okinoumi had him going backwards, but Daieisho turned the veteran around and got a yorikiri win for his troubles. Again, it’s tough to take a lot from this match, and I’ll just say it was probably not a match he would have won in a honbasho that wasn’t taking place in a gymnasium in his home prefecture against a perma-injured opponent.

Chiyonokuni is now sporting a blue mawashi. Not a vibrant Kotoshogi-blue but more of a soft Shodai blue. I don’t know what Kagayaki was doing engaging him in a high octane slapfest but Chiyonokuni loves a good handbags-at-ten-paces kind of encounter and ushered his opponent back and out.

Yoshikaze didn’t look great, and Hokutofuji grabbed him one-handed by the belt, pulled him around and shoved him out. I thought the winning technique was going to be called an okuridashi, but, perhaps charitably for the elder, losing rikishi, it was ruled uwatedashinage.

Kaisei v Chiyomaru: these guys are big enough to bring a small gymnasium down with a thunderous tachiai. The announcer gave Kaisei’s shusshin as Sao Paolo rather than Brazil, which I hadn’t heard before, and thought was cool. Chiyomaru dropped the pretense he has sometimes flirted with of trying to be a mawashi guy, and relentlessly thrusted Kaisei out. Chiyomaru reminded me of a smaller, rounder Aoiyama in this match. Kaisei (who has been giving great face lately) walked away toothily grimacing and clutching his stinging chest.

Kotoshogiku and Takarafuji engaged in a battle of the vets. Takarafuji is always technically very sound, but this time he was clinical as well: he wrapped up his man, and escorted him out. Takarafuji has also switched to a soft matte blue mawashi from his previous wine blend.

Big Guns Shohozan took on Tamawashi, who also has given up his signature teal mawashi for the very in-vogue soft matte blue. This was a street fight that I wish I caught on video. Both men bounced off each other and then stood a few paces apart, seemingly egging the other to bring it on. Shohozan threw a right hook which Tamawashi ducked, then both men traded attempts at a roundhouse and missed before Tamawashi just shoved Shohozan into the crowd. This was another matchup I hope to see again soon.

Endo was wearing a dark purple mawashi, and took on local man Abi, who got an enormous applause. Endo got the better of the tachiai and moved Abi back, but of course the local hero danced his long limbs out of danger and recovered to put Endo away. Abi exited to huge cheers from the crowd. Watch the match:

Ichinojo smacked into Chiyotairyu in the matchup of the two current komusubi, and had him out within seconds.

I’m not sure where the version of Mitakeumi we saw today has been. He charged into Tochinoshin, moving him back. But then, Tochinoshin lifts him off his feet, and as his feet are wiggling in the air, you think: “oh no, he’s going to get embarrassed again.” But he recovers, turns the Georgian and lifts the Hatsu yusho winner off his feet and out.

Goeido beat Kisenosato in a lengthy match where it looked like he was going to snap the Yokozuna’s left arm in half probably 2 or 3 times. It was clear even in an exhibition contest that Kisenosato has very limited ability to do much with that injured left side. Let’s cut to the VT:

In the musubi-no-ichiban, Hakuho has a good match against a Kakuryu who fought hard. Kakuryu moves Hakuho back, but this crowd is here to see The Boss win and he delivers them the victory. As Kakuryu moves to pin him back, Hakuho lifts up his fellow Mongolian yokozuna in the air, spins and deposits him out of the ring.

After the event ended, there were long lines on hand for buses and taxis in a suburban town which perhaps wasn’t used to holding large events. There didn’t appear to be enough buses or taxis, but the bus seemed my best bet to get back to the train station. In spite of the wait, the elderly crowd was very good-natured, and a nice old gentleman waiting next to me gave me a wrapped seat cushion from the event as a gift.

I can’t say enough about how friendly and warm and welcoming everyone in the Koshigaya community was, and I strongly recommend checking out a jungyo event if you ever get the chance.

Jungyo Newsreel – Days 15 and 16

Day 15

return-of-the-satonofuji-2
Ohisashiburi, Yumi-chan

🌐 Location: Takasaki, Gunma prefecture

Kiddie sumo – Abi purifies a scalp:

abi-purifies-boys-head

Trust Abi to be more childish than his child rival.

Shodai had to go kyujo due to an inflammation. This meant Kakuryu was a tachimochi short. So, for the first time in his life, Yutakayama bore the sword for the Yokozuna dohyo-iri.

yutakayama-the-tachimochi

In his bout with Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi had a wardrobe malfunction:

You can see the two in a mawashi-matta. Explanation to newcomers: if a mawashi knot comes undone and reveals the wrestler’s family jewels, he loses immediately by disqualification. For this reason, if the gyoji or someone around the ring spots an undone knot, the gyoji calls a “mawashi-matta”, signals the rikishi to freeze, ties back the naughty knot, then slaps the backs of both rikishi to signal them to continue from the same position.

The only bout I have is actually Takayasu vs. Goeido, but I warn you in advance that you probably want to silence your speakers. This was shot by a very enthusiastic Philipino patriot who seems bent on embarrassing Takayasu very loudly:

The Gunma prefecture locals who came to watch this day’s event got a rare treat – they got to see Satonofuji perform the yumitori-shiki again. Satonofuji is a Gunma native.

Satonofuji also got many requests for photographs and autographs from his enthusiastic neighbors.

Day 16

 

three-yokozuna-backs
Unryu, Shiranui, Unryu

🌐 Location: Yasukuni shrine, Tokyo

Today’s honozumo event (a sumo event performed in the precincts of a shrine) marked the rikishi’s return to Tokyo after a very long while – those who participate in the Jungyo have been on the road since before the Haru basho.

Here come the entire Makuuchi – gathering at the main yard for a purification ceremony.

It’s really hard to have an elegant walk in a kesho-mawashi, isn’t it? Myogiryu manages it quite well, though.

This event marked the return of Hakuho to the Jungyo. The Yokozuna reported to the NSK board and expressed his appreciation for receiving permission to participate in his father’s funeral.

I’m not really sure what that new adornment to his right ankle is supposed to mean.

The main event took place at an outdoors, permanent dohyo by the side of the shrine. As usual, they started with some keiko. Enho got lots of wedgies practice.

enho-wedgie

Especially from this guy:

Looks like despite his recent kyujo, Terunofuji is gaining some of his physical strength back. Aminishiki, by the way, is still MIA.

Kakuryu performed his dohyo-iri accompanied by a mini-yokozuna with a perfect little Unryu-style rope. The little tyke was none other than Kakuryu’s own son. Pay attention to Nishikigi-mama.

Please excuse the quality. The video shows the dohyo-iri of all three Yokozuna. I think both Hakuho and Kisenosato improved their shiko recently.

This has been Kisenosato’s first dohyo-iri at Yasukuni shrine.

This time I have several bouts to show you.

A few seconds of Enho vs. Akiseyama:

I guess all that practice pays.

Here – with a couple of glitches – is the Ichinojo-Tochinoshin bout, followed by the san-yaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko stomps – though the west side is a little disappointing):

Here is the Kisenosato-Goeido bout. What is Goeido doing there, exactly?

And here is the full Hakuho vs. Kakuryu bout.

Note how Hakuho, fresh off the dohyo, immediately switches to fansa mode.

Jungyo Newsreel – Catching up at Kanagawa

Hello again, Jungyo enthusiasts. I have strayed off the trail after day 6. Let’s try to do some catching up and join the sekitori again at Kanagawa, where they have been spending days 13 and 14.

So what happened during that interval?

Little girls can no longer participate in kiddie sumo

Despite public outcry, the NSK is asking each hosting town not to send little girls to the kiddie sumo events of the Jungyo. The reason given “Safety first”. When various outlets pointed out that boys and girls are equally susceptible to injury on the dohyo, the answer was “We don’t want to risk girls sustaining permanent injuries to the face”.

Hakuho’s father passed away

On April 9th, Hakuho’s father, Mönkhbat, the former Olympic medalist in wrestling, and the equivalent of Dai-Yokozuna in Mongolian Wrestling, passed away at the age of 76 of liver cancer.

Hakuho fully participated in the event in Ina, Nagano prefecture, but asked for – and received – a leave of absence to attend his father’s funeral in Mongolia starting from April 11th. He will re-join the Jungyo for the Honozumo event at Yasukuni shrine on April 16th.

hakuho-funeral

The late Mönkhbat has been a national hero in Mongolia, and his funeral drew much attention and included military escort.

hakuho-funeral-son

Hakuho has always been very strongly connected to his father and looked up to him. When the father was diagnosed with liver cancer, Hakuho had him flown to Japan for treatment, then back to the comfort of his own home in Mongolia. Of course, even the best modern medical intervention has its limitations.

Kisenosato joins the Jungyo

Kisenosato announced that he will re-join the Jungyo. His return was planned for the 13th, but he joined one day earlier – may be to avoid Friday the 13th, or maybe to cover up for Hakuho’s absence.

kisenosato-tsuna-shime

In the couple of days he’s been participating he has been showing mixed results. I’d warn you against developing high hopes hearing reports that he wins his Jungyo bouts. We’ve been here before – Kisenosato managing to win bouts and elimination tournaments in Jungyo, getting breathless coverage from the press, then hitting a wall in honbasho. That injury is not going away any time soon.

Terunofuji and Aminishiki absent

I reported in my Day 6 coverage that Terunofuji was absent from the torikumi. The next day he was joined by his stablemate, Aminishiki. Terunofuji was reportedly back on duty today (April 14th) at the Fujisawa event, but Aminishiki is still out.

Birthdays

Goeido had a birthday on April  6th – day 6 of the Jungyo – and is now 32. The following day, Ichinojo celebrated his 25th birthday.

ichinojo-25

Today, although he is never again going to be on any Jungyo, many sumo fans celebrated Harumafuji’s 34th birthday.


So let’s now proceed to the daily coverage.

Day 13

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

Here is Chiyomaru’s version of kiddie sumo:

Ahaha… poor kids.

Tochinoshin offered his chest for some butsukari to Tobizaru and Takanosho. Bigger men have failed to move the Georgian Cliff:

Things look a little different when it’s reverse butsukari (the higher ranking guy is the pusher). You just let the Wookiee win:

Endo is getting a lot of high-rank attention this Jungyo. Apparently that’s because he is going to make san-yaku in the Natsu basho. Previously he got juiced by Takayasu. This time, Kakuryu invited him to san-ban (practice form in which the same two wrestlers go through full bouts repeatedly until the higher ranking one calls it off).

kakuryu-vs-endo

This one consisted of 13 bouts, all won by the Yokozuna. Rather than counting wins, the Yokozuna concentrated on adjusting his own movement and building up his body.

After practice, the Yokozuna was seen having a talk with Endo. It turned out that they were exchanging injury-related experience.

Kakuryu’s finger injury lingers on. He seems able to use his grip, but says that after applying sudden force, when he lets go of the opponent’s mawashi, the pain hits. “But it’s not preventing me from doing sumo”.

Kisenosato engaged Meisei from Juryo for a 9-bout sanban, and won them all. Also watch for the bout vs. Kakuryu at the musubi-no-ichiban. Just remember my warning above.

Day 14

🌐 Location: Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture

Help, a group of fierce robbers has taken to the streets of Fujisawa!

fierce-robbers

(A word of advice to Kyokushuho: your highwayman career is going to be very short if you wear kimono with your name (and those of current and former stable mates) splashed all over it).

The spectators got to enjoy double bills, both in the oicho construction performance:

And in the tsuna-shime performance, where the two Yokozuna present showed off their ropes. I think this was originally planned to include Hakuho, which would have given the spectators both Shiranui and Unryu style rope tying, but unfortunately Hakuho is in Mongolia, and so they got a double Unryu.

The top 16 members of Makuuchi participated in an elimination tournament. So here is Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi:

Kisenosato vs. Shodai (who has beaten Tochinoshin in the first round):

Kisenosato vs. Kaisei:

And finally, the final, Kisenosato vs. Takayasu. When playing in elimination format, the restriction against matching rikishi from the same stable does not apply:

Kisenosato wins today’s yusho.

Jungyo Newsreel – Days 5 and 6

sanyaku-soroi-bumi-himeji
san-yaku soroi-bumi

Day 5

🌐 Location: Himeji, Hyogo prefecture

3800 people came to view the event in Himeji. The main objects of interest were, of course, the Hyogo local boys – Myogiryu, who comes from Takasago, some 10km from himeji; Terutsuyoshi, from a nearby island; and the young jonidan Teraowaka, of Shikoroyama beya.

Myogiryu was the object of a demonstration of oicho-mage construction, while Terutsuyoshi played with the kids:

terutsuyoshi-himeji-kiddie

Those kids are almost Terutsuyoshi’s size…

The jinku team members in their borrowed kesho-mawashi basked in the adoration of the spectators.

jinku-team-having-fun
The hills are alive with the sound of music

Of all the bouts, the only one I have anything about is the musubi-no-ichiban. I don’t know the result, but since Hakuho is closer to the ring, I guess it was his win:

hakuho-vs-kakuryu-himeji

Day 6

🌐 Location: Takarazuka, Hyogo prefecture

3150 people came to view the jungyo event in Takarazuka.

As in every Jungyo event, there was a speech by the mayor. However, this time, the mayor happened to be female. This means the speech was not delivered from the dohyo:

Tomoko Nakagawa, mayor of Takarazuka

The mayor addressed the issue in her speech: “Not being able to deliver my speech from the dohyo is frustrating and painful”. She later held a press conference, in which she said she was insulted by the salt thrown after the incident in Maizuru (Note: salt is thrown on the dohyo whenever a serious injury occurs on it. It’s also thrown as a marker of separation between events and even thrown if practice seems somewhat subdued. The claim that it was thrown because of the women is false). She also added that she will write to the NSK and ask them to treat men and women equally, whether it’s on or off the dohyo, implying that if women have to give speeches from the side of the dohyo, men should have to do the same.

The mayor’s speech got a mixed reaction – applause on the one hand, jeers on the other (mostly by male spectators). The discussion is becoming heated. While everybody agrees that women should be allowed when life is at stake, there are many – men and women – who think that breaking away from this tradition or even asking for it to be broken is not warranted.

On to actual sumo.

Tobizaru worked hard enough to get his hair in zanbara again:

Ichinojo practiced his kaiju mode, grabbing kids and eating them. OK, maybe not eating. But certainly giving them atomic wedgies.

By the way, there were over 30 local kids, starting from those little “play with the big mountain” toddlers and through to serious wanpaku sumo practitioners. Ichinojo was not alone on that dohyo – there were Kaisei, Ryuden, Chiyoshoma as well.

Takayasu decided to invite the ever-popular Endo for butsukari. Takayasu does butsukari with all his heart. So Endo ended up looking like this:

Takayasu showing his love and compassion

By this time, Hakuho was on the dohyo as well, doing his shiko and waiting his turn after the Ozeki. He revived Endo by pouring some water on him (it’s common practice for a third party to do that, especially high rankers):

Hakuho bastes the roast

You can’t really see endo and Takayasu in this video, but pay attention to Hakuho. He is priming the audience for applause, and when Endo finally manages to push Takayasu out, the Yokozuna gives the signal:

Then Hakuho himself started training on the dohyo. He did reverse butsukari (that’s when the lower ranked man offers his chest to the higher ranked one) with Ishiura.

Note the tsukebito waiting at the side of the dohyo for the incoming sliding sekitori:

As you can see, at this point Takayasu is on the sidelines, continuing to practice with his tsukebito. Here he tries to sharpen his leaning skills:

Tsukebito are busy people…

In sadder news, Terunofuji has gone kyujo. He was on the bout program. In Jungyo, they don’t do the fusensho thing – the Jungyo is intended to entertain the audience. Terutsuyoshi filled in for him, meaning that Terutsuyoshi did two bouts this day.

Musubi-no-ichiban:

Jungyo Newsreel – Days 2 through 4

Before I fall into too much of a backlog, here is a selection of events from the days 2 through 4. If you’re dying to read about the scandal of day 4, jump right ahead. Just remember, we’re here for the sumo, not for the sensation.

Nobori flags for a Jungyo event. Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takayasu, Goeido.

Day 2

🌐 Location: Nakatsugawa, Gifu prefecture

About 3000 people came to watch the event at Nakatsugawa. There were handshakes and fansa (Japanese shortcut for “Fan Service”).

The center of attention was Mitakeumi. Although he is not from Nakatsugawa or even from Gifu, he hails from the close-by Agematsu in the adjacent Nagano prefecture. So the locals were rooting for him.

Practices around the dohyo also included a komusubi doing stretches:

Ichinojo, and Ichinojo’s thighs, stretching

Day 3

🌐 Location: Sakai, Osaka prefecture

In this Jungyo tour, the shokkiri team consists of Kotoryusei and Kotorikuzan from Sadogatake. Every different shokkiri team changes the details of the shokkiri routine a bit and makes it its own. Notable elements – Gyoji very much a part of the show, and Kotoryusei doing the Kotoshogiku stretch. I guess he got permission from his senior heya mate.

Hakuho performed his dohyo-iri with a toddler:

You can almost hear the “there, there” (or “yosh-yosh” in Japanese). The toddler is the son of the leader of Japanese pop group ET-King, the late Itokin, who died in January of lung cancer at the age of 38. Hakuho promised him he’ll put his boy on the dohyo and this was the fulfillment of that promise.

Takayasu is aiming for the yusho in the next basho. He said that he doesn’t get enough practice, and accordingly, invited Abi, Shodai and Mitakeumi for san-ban – a series of bouts between the same rikishi – in which he won 11 of the 12 bouts. He followed that with butsukari-geiko for Mitakeumi, who himself aims to re-establish himself at the sekiwake position which he is certainly going to lose in the coming basho. Mitakeumi said Takayasu “was heavy”, but was thankful for the exercise.

As always in Osaka, Goeido is king, and participates in the kiddie sumo, something Ozeki only do if they choose.

Here is a rather shaky video of the musubi-no-ichiban, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu:

Day 4

🌐 Location: Maizuru, Kyoto prefecture

Jungyo tours are usually done by invitation from the town being visited. The town’s mayor usually opens the festivities with a speech. It so happened that the mayor of Maizuru (“Dancing Crane” – it could make a good shikona), who is 67 years old, suddenly dropped in the middle of his speech with his hands shaking.

A number of people, including yobidashi and people from the audience gathered around him, when a medical professional – first said to be a doctor, later a nurse – who clearly had experience in CPR climbed up the dohyo and gave the man a heart massage. She happened to be a woman. Women are not allowed on the dohyo, but the men on the dohyo gave way and let her do her thing. Another similar professional joined her. More people gathered, including a few other women, when the PA started calling “Ladies, please leave the dohyo”.

The additional women who came confusedly left the scene. The original professional stayed until the paramedics arrived. There is a fully staffed and ready ambulance in every Jungyo event, and the paramedics came in rather quickly. By this time a female usher was tugging at the lady professional to get off the dohyo. She only left when the paramedics took over.

The PA is always handled by a gyoji. His part usually comes down to announcements such as “On the west, Maegashira Kaisei, from Brasil, Tomozuna beya. On the east, Maegashira Takarafuji, from Aomori, Isegahama beya”, and “The kimarite is yori-kiri, Kaisei performs a yori-kiri and wins”. The standard formulae are always the same, occasionally peppered by kensho messages, requests from the audience not to throw zabuton and safety procedures.

The gyoji with the mike, shocked and confused by the emergency situation on the dohyo, for which he did not have a manual, reverted to first principles, and did what he knows best: stick to tradition. Unfortunately, this was the wrong choice, further complicated by being made in an age in which everything is being captured and uploaded within seconds.

Twitter basically burst into flames. “How can you put tradition ahead of human life?” was the main theme. Some, of course, blamed the NSK as a whole for this, as if this was done by official sanction. The situation reached such proportions that the chairman of the NSK, Hakkaku, had to issue a written press statement back in Tokyo. He said that the gyoji’s response was an inappropriate response when human life was at stake. He apologized to the women involved and thanked them for coming to the mayor’s rescue.

The next day the new Jungyo master, Kasugano – who, I believe, was in the restroom when the whole thing happened – also made a statement. He said that this was an unforeseen occurrence, and that since it may also happen during honbasho, the NSK will have to come up with a procedure for dealing with it.

So next time, the gyoji will have it in his manual.

The mayor, by the way, was diagnosed with a haemorrhage from a cranial blood vessel. So in fact the CPR was not pertinent to his situation. He is currently stable, and will need a month of hospitalization to fully recover.

Unfortunately, this event overshadowed the rest of the day. I could not find any photos of wrestlers or bouts. If any turn up, I’ll be sure to include them here.

Another Embarrassing Sumo Incident

Maizuru

Frankly, I did not want to report this story at all, as it’s a demonstration of stupidity. But now that it has gone global and is busy giving sumo yet another black eye, it’s unavoidable.

During the spring Jungyo tour’s stop in Maizuru, the mayor of the town was on the dohyo speaking and collapsed. Many people rushed to the dohyo to help, including medical professionals that were present to enjoy a day of sumo. They applied CPR and first aid techniques to sustain the mayor until he could be transported to the hospital. The Mayor is going to be ok, it seems. The quick work and skillful application of medicine saved the day. That’s the good part of the story. Now the stupid.

Several of the highly trained medical professionals were women. Did they care that the dohyo is supposed to be a sacred place were women were not allowed? Hell no! These were dedicated healers. A fellow human was in peril, and they were going to go save him. So far, only slightly stupid. Oh, but then one of the younger gyoji took to the PA system and directed the women to leave the dohyo. Not once, but several times. Of course, it was captured on video, of course it was posted to social media.

Sumo loves to be a sport of unchanging and unyielding tradition. As a westerner my perspective is not the Japanese perspective. As I mention at least once per basho, most of us in the west are outsiders to this land, this culture and this sport. But at some point, common sense had to have kicked in. Look here, Sumo Association of Japan, if you want to make sure no women doctors or nurses try to rescue the hurt and injured from your sacred space, you are going to need a set of medical folks who are on call.

Chairman Hakkaku rightfully apologized later, stating “It was an inappropriate response in a life-threatening situation,”. Damn straight Hakkaku. Furthermore, it was an unforced error and loss of face for a great sport that has been greatly degraded over the past year. For the chairman to try and pass this off on the inexperience of the young gyoji is inexcusable.

The only clear winners here are the mayor of Maizuru, who lived to see another sunrise, and Takanohana, who through a majestic stroke of luck is no longer the biggest asshole in sumo for a few days.

Again, I am an outsider, but I am going to guess that my favorite sport is going to suffer a well-deserved set back in the people’s hearts from this pointless insult.

Video at this link

Comments Closed

PLEASE NOTE

Comments for this post are now closed. Some great and thoughtful discussion from our highly-valued readers, but we were swerving into things like trans-gender issues that have nothing to do with sumo. Thank you for understanding.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 1, Ise Shrine

Preface and apology

Some of the readers may know that I’m currently on vacation in Tokyo. I thought that from Japan, I would be able to post better, high quality matter. As it turns out, it’s very difficult to post anything larger than a tweet when all you have is a tablet and a smartphone. Well, today I finally got myself to Akihabara and got an external keyboard for my tablet, so I’m ready to brave posting again, but I still can’t promise these jungyo posts will be up to par – or even that I’ll be able to post them daily. I’ll do what I can.

The Jungyo actually started on April 1st. So I’m sorry about the delay. Let’s start!

🌐 Location: Ise Shrine, Mie Prefecture

The Ise Shrine is Japan’s holiest and most ancient shrine – the main shrine of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. The visit to Ise Shrine was not just your regular jungyo visit, intended to entertain the residents of small towns and let them share in the national sport. It’s a “Honozumo” event – sumo bouts that take place inside the precincts of a shrine. Sumo originated as an entertainment for the gods, and Honozumo events bring it back to its origins.

12 sekitori are absent from the Jungyo. This includes Kisenosato who – unsurprisingly – still has that problem in his left chest. It also includes every sekitori from the Takanohana stable, except for Takagenji. Takanoiwa’s medical certificate indicates mental stress.

That same Takagenji stood a long time at the edge of the dohyo. The sekitori were doing moshi-ai, where the winner of a bout stays on the dohyo and chooses his next opponent. Nobody chose Takagenji and he looked pretty frustrated.

Takagenji is used to having his twin around during jungyo.

While the rest of the rikishi were practicing, the Yokozuna performed a ceremonial dohyo-iri. This is much like the one performed in the beginning of every year at the Meiji shrine, with a few differences. First, at Meiji it is performed right in front of the main Shrine building. At Ise, the grand shrine is actually off-limits to anybody but high priests.

Second point, the Meiji shrine yard is hard cement. Here, the Yokozuna had to do their dance in the sand. Hakuho had a really hard time doing the seriagari (the part where he gradually rises):

Kakuryu managed it slightly better:

As I said on Twitter, I’m pretty sure there were a couple of tsukebito that night who were muttering curses under their breath as they were trying to clean all the sand out of the fringes of the two Yokozuna’s kesho-mawashi.

Ah, you did notice that Hakuho is back and beaming, didn’t you? He was in a very good mood the whole day, and said that he was really eager to get back on the dohyo. When asked about the condition of his big toes, he said “so-so”, but was still wearing that big smile when he did.

The torikumi that day was in the form of an elimination tournament. Here is a demonstration of the kimarite known as “kekaeshi”. It’s a minor trip, usually accompanied by a pull that causes the rival to lose his balance.

Hakuho in a magnanimous mood, helping Chiyotairyu up. The final and deciding bout of the day was this:

That boy in the front row? He is not going to forget this visit to the shrine. And a very genki Hakuho takes the yusho for the day.

Note that dohyo, by the way. It’s not your regular beer-crate jungyo dohyo. It’s an old permanent dohyo. Many of those are scattered around Japan, in school yards and shrines. Not as pretty or straight as the one in the honbasho venues, but one where you really feel the Earth under your feet.

Haru Jungyo!

With Haru Basho now in the rear view, time for Jungyo! The Iki Thump tour officially kicks off on April 1 at the Jingyu Kaikan in Ujinakanokiricho. No, I did not just step on my keyboard but thanks for asking.

So, for those of you unable to get your fill of sumo during the last fortnight in Osaka, there are still opportunities to watch your favorite wrestlers in action…maybe. There have also been a lot of injuries, including those to Nelly, I mean, Ikioi so we do hope they get a chance to recover. For those on the path to recovery – Onosho? Ura? – I wonder if this may be a nice way to ease back into the routine, though with Ura now in the depths of Makushita, I doubt it. But wouldn’t that be a way to keep the sport in the headlines and off the “other sports” tabs on Japanese news sites? A full list of dates is available on the Sumo Kyokai website.

LocationDateVenueLatLong
伊勢神宮奉納April 1, 2018三重県伊勢市宇治中之切町15234.462801,136.7185575
中津川市April 2, 2018岐阜県東美濃ふれあいセンター中津川市茄子川1683-79735.4579753,137.4655545
堺市April 3, 2018大阪府 堺市金岡公園体育館 堺市北区長曽根町1179-1834.570691,135.506387
舞鶴市April 4, 2018京都府舞鶴文化公園体育館舞鶴市上安久420番地35.4550923,135.3378189
姫路市April 5, 2018兵庫県 姫路市立中央体育館 姫路市西延末9034.8212194,134.6699379
宝塚市April 6, 2018兵庫県 宝塚市立スポーツセンター総合体育館 宝塚市小浜1-1-1134.8022502,135.3606516
刈谷市April 7, 2018愛知県 ウィングアリーナ刈谷 愛知県刈谷市築地町荒田1番地35.0193854,137.0078769
静岡市April 8, 2018静岡県 草薙総合運動場体育館(このはなアリーナ) 静岡市駿河区栗原19-134.9883592,138.4245477
掛川市April 9, 2018静岡県 東遠カルチャーパーク総合体育館 掛川市大池225034.7854244,137.9991479
伊那市April 10, 2018長野県 伊那市民体育館メインアリーナ 伊那市西町5834-835.839454,137.9414958
東御市April 11, 2018長野県 東御中央公園第一体育館 東御市鞍掛177-236.3623777,138.3453912
草加市April 12, 2018埼玉県 草加市スポーツ健康都市記念体育館 草加市瀬崎6丁目31-135.8126413,139.8168489
川崎市April 13, 2018神奈川県 川崎市とどろきアリーナ 川崎市中原区等々力1−335.5873118,139.6453032
藤沢市April 14, 2018神奈川県 秋葉台文化体育館 藤沢市遠藤2000-135.3887615,139.4420105
高崎市April 15, 2018群馬県 高崎アリーナ 高崎市下和田町4丁目1-1836.3160485,139.0106099
靖國神社奉納April 16, 2018東京都 靖國神社相撲場 東京都千代田区九段北3-1-135.6945115,139.7405352
柏市April 18, 2018千葉県 柏市中央体育館 柏市柏下73柏市民文化会館横35.8675563,139.9833309
柏市April 19, 2018千葉県 柏市中央体育館 柏市柏下73柏市民文化会館横35.8675563,139.9833309
町田市April 20, 2018東京都 町田市立総合体育館 町田市南成瀬5-1235.5359736,139.4770061
八王子市April 21, 2018東京都 エスフォルタアリーナ八王子 八王子市狭間町1453-135.6397614,139.2903041
青梅市April 22, 2018東京都 青梅市立総合体育館 青梅市河辺町4丁目16-135.7807013,139.2821679
取手市April 24, 2018茨城県 取手グリーンスポーツセンター 取手市野々井1299番地35.9191301,140.024319
笠間市April 25, 2018茨城県 笠間市民体育館 笠間市石井2068-136.3853014,140.2442122
越谷市April 27, 2018埼玉県 越谷市総合体育館 越谷市増林2丁目3335.9026965,139.8114681

Final Jungyo Newsreel – December 17th

🌐 Location: Ginowan, Okinawa

Today was the second day at Ginowan, but the last day of the Jungyo. Today’s newsreel centers on bouts, bouts, bouts!

hakuho-takayasu
Hakuho vs. Takayasu

Before we sit back to enjoy our sumo, it should be mentioned that Kakuryu’s health took a turn for the worse in the past couple of days, as he developed an inflammation in his left foot (or leg – the word in Japanese is the same). He says that once everybody returns to Tokyo, he’ll be able to get care for it, but nevertheless, this is a source for worry. Remember, Kakuryu has to participate in Hatsu, and have a good showing. Having been kyujo from Aki with a problem in his right foot, in the preparations for Kyushu he got his lower back in trouble again, and was kyujo from Kyushu as well. He is running out of body parts to spare.

He did participate in today’s tournament, and did a dohyo iri-with a baby, but Hakuho was the one doing the tsuna-shime ceremony today.

tsuna-shime-enho

Those who followed the Jungyo reports diligently will notice that Enho has been promoted from “thread bearer” to “rope puller #5”, an important position that comes with white gloves!

OK, so let’s finish this Jungyo with a bit of sumo. As in the previous 3 days, the top 16 Makuuchi (which is basically Ichinojo and up on the Kyushu banzuke, deducting Harumafuji, Kisenosato and Chiyonokuni) competed in elimination format. Below that, the torikumi went the usual way.

The Makuuchi bouts started with Aminishiki vs. Yutakayama. Yutakayama won – and the audience let out a sigh. Poor Yutakayama! It’s not his fault that Aminishiki is the most popular rikishi in Japan!

No visuals from that torikumi, I’m sorry to say, but here is the Maru bout, Chiyomaru vs. Daishomaru:

Arawashi vs. Ikioi:

Now let’s move to the tournement part. Hakuho starts with Onosho:

…and makes short work of it. Onosho, where is your red mawashi?

Mitakeumi takes on Tochiozan:

Nexw was the battle of the Fujis – Hokutofuji vs. Terunofuji. No video for that, but Terunofuji wins. So did Goeido vs. Takakeisho. So the two top tadpoles were eliminated in the first round already.

Takayasu took on Chiyotairyu in the first round. Remember Takayasu took the title yesterday:

Sorry for the lack of Tachiai. Next was Ichinojo vs. Tamawashi. Ichinojo wins.

Now Yoshikaze vs. Shohozan:

And the end of the first round is Kakuryu vs. Kotoshogiku:

This, despite the left foot issue…

Next round. Hakuho vs. Mitakeumi:

No repeat of Nagoya basho… And also no video of the Terunofuji-Goeido bout. But Terunofuji won. Terunofuji actually able to beat both Hokutofuji and Goeido is great news. Please don’t let him find a new way to ruin his knees in January.

Next was Takayasu vs. Ichinojo.

I do wish Ichinojo would not give up so easily at the tawara. 🙁

To finish this second round, Kakuryu vs. Yoshikaze:

Yori-no-questions-about-it-kiri!

Semifinals. Hakuho wants to finish this Jungyo with a freaking yusho. Terunofuji hung on for about 20 seconds:

Takayasu got the other Yokozuna and won. No video.

And so we come to the final: Hakuho vs. Takayasu:

And here is a different angle with better video quality but poorer view:

Okinawa Jungyo day 2 - tournament brackets

Hakuho was, of course, delighted, and felt that he has tied up the Jungyo in a satisfactory way, giving the audience something to enjoy.

Now everybody has already landed back in Tokyo, having been absent since September. And this is the end of this newsreel series, see you in the next Jungyo!

 

Short Jungyo Newsreel – December 16th

🌐 Location: Ginowan, Okinawa

Today was the penultimate day of the Jungyo. Almost 3000 people came to the venue today to see some sumo action.

okinawa-basho-day-1

Among them, apparently, many gaijin enjoying a bit of Japanese tradition

gaijins-enjoying-sumo
Let me fix your hair, there are foreigners watching!

Daiamami seems to have found his alarm clock and now shows up to morning practice like a good boy:

daiamami-up-for-asa-geiko
Daiamami (left). Now let’s see you do some shiko.

Just as in Miyakojima, the top 16 rankers fought in elimination format. This time, the winner was Ozeki Takayasu, who has beaten Onosho by hikiotoshi.

Here is the NHK summary of the day: Shokkiri and some bouts. Notably, Ishiura being Ishiura. He is probably telling himself that’s a hassou-tobi. But we all know what that is:

But this short summary won’t be complete without the following little candy. Kiddie sumo. This rather cheeky kid is asked to pick his opponent. He picks… Aminishiki, no less, who is not on the dohyo and is rather surprised.

But fansa is fansa. And Uncle obliges.

Who needs Shokkiri when there’s Aminishiki around? 🙂

Tomorrow is the last day of the Jungyo!

Short Jungyo Newsreel – December 14-15

🌐 Location: Miyakojima, Okinawa

The second day of the Jungyo at Miyakojima continued pretty much the same as the first day.

venue
Venue filling up in the early afternoon

Hakuho still didn’t practice on the dohyo, and opted for practicing with low-rank partners in what was at first a quiet corner:

hakuho-practicing-off-dohyo

Ikioi joined the Jinku team again, once again singing the part dedicated to Yuho. He commented later “Yuho has always been kind to me and cared about my well-being. I put my soul into the song and I believe it has reached him in Heaven”.

ikioi-doing-jinku-again
Ikioi in the Jinku finale. Note the fan with the lyrics stuck in his mawashi.

Kakuryu did the tsuna-shime ceremony again. On his way back down the hana-michi, still wearing his rope, he high-fived a kid who stood on the sidelines with his hand extended (this used to be a Harumafuji specialty).

The main difference between yesterday and today was that Hakuho found motivation enough to want to win the Yusho on the second day. Remember, the top 16 rikishi were competing in elimination format.

Hakuho beat Onosho in the first bout. In the second, he defeated Tochiozan. In the semifinal, he met Terunofuji (back on the torikumi, apparently, and able to win two bouts!), and passed him as well. In the final bout, he faced Chiyotairyu – but lost, and the yusho slipped away.

“Aaagh… I wanted that yusho!” he lamented in the shitakubeya.

The day ended in dance again. Note Homarefuji dancing like a boss, hand motions and all:


Today (December 15th) the Jungyo was on hiatus again, as the rikishi took flights back north to the main island of Okinawa. The first plane that landed included Kakuryu and Takayasu, and a few other sekitori, and they ended up participating in a welcome party at the Naha airport, in the company of the lovely Miss Okinawa.

arrival

A while later Hakuho and Goeido arrived as well, and the two Yokozuna and two Ozeki, together with Kasugano oyakata, went to lay flowers at the Cemetery for the Fallen in the Battle of Okinawa in Itoman, and also had a moment of silence at the Cornerstone of Peace.

Tomorrow the Jungyo renews, for the final two days in Ginowan.

Jungyo Newsreel – December 13th

🌐 Location: Miyakojima, Okinawa

After freezing in Kitakyushu, the jungyo entourage boarded planes and headed down south to Okinawa. In fact, so much down south, that they were almost within waving distance to Taiwan. This means warm weather, and rikishi going around in Yukata.

Right off the plane, landing in Miyakojima airport on Dec. 12, Hakuho was doing the fansa rounds, sought after by both the passengers who shared his plane, and awaiting fans.

hakuho-at-airport
Both handfan and Yukata adorned with “Hakuho”

The press was there as well, to ask Hakuho for his comment about the death threat letter he received at Kitakyushu (He didn’t actually receive it personally. It was delivered to his contacts there, and they handed it to the Fukuoka Prefectural Police). He deferred his comment to the next day (the next day he said “The Kyokai is handling all communication about it”).

Other rikishi were also making use of the hiatus. Yutakayama and Toyonoshima visited a local hospital’s day care center for the elderly, together with Yutakayama’s tsukebito, Rikito.

toyonoshima-with-elderly
Toyonoshima receiving flowers and a hug

The locals were thrilled, and shot questions at the rikishi: “How much do you weigh?”, one of them asked Yutakayama. “Well, officially, 175kg. But lately I’ve been eating too much, I am about 180kg by now”.

Rikito is a member of the Jinku team, so he entertained the locals with some Jinku, and everybody around joined in the “haa-dosukoi-dosukoi” calls.

The jungyo event itself includes two days at Miyakojima, both “nighters” as the Japanese call events being held in evening time. This is also why this newsreel is posted late. Usually a Jungyo day starts in the morning with asa-geiko, but these “nighters” start in the afternoon and only make it to the media sites the next day. The format is also a bit different, though of course it includes the popular kiddie sumo, tsuna-shime, jinku and shokkiri.

Hakuho was looking less genki than usual. He settled for some keiko with low-rankers:

hakuho-practice

This downturn in his health may also explain why it was Kakuryu who did the tsuna-shime (rope tying) demonstration (which has been performed regularly by Hakuho on all previous days).

On the dohyo, Kakuryu took Daieisho for a full workout, including both san-ban (no information on content) and butsukari, which you can see here:

kakuryu-daieisho-butsukari

It seems to be a peculiarity of the Izutsu Yokozuna, that he doesn’t take his butsukari partners for a monkey-walk (that’s what I call that type of suri-ashi Daieisho is performing in the above image) while holding on to the back of their head. He just tells them to walk it and stands aside. He also does away with the korogari (the roll that follows a failure to push) many times, ordering them to try again instead.

The main change in the format was that the top 16 rankers (excepting kyujo rikishi) fought in elimination format rather than the usual rank-for-rank torikumi. Both Yokozuna and Both Ozeki were eliminated in the first round. The winner was Yoshikaze.

yoshikaze-pushes-mitakeumi
That’s a bout, not Shokkiri.

Those below the top 16 fought as usual, as you can see in this video (together with some drumming, babies galore, and the usual apology for Harumafuji’s behavior)

Aminishiki tries the Hakuho trick of harite right off the tachiai, and discovers that you need to be really, really fast to pull it off…

Here is another TV video, blissfully free of the scandal and full of interesting stuff (and bouts):

  • Tochinoshin in moshi-age (winner picks next partner)
  • Kakuryu vs. Daieisho in one of their san-ban.
  • Memorial corner for Yuho (see below)
  • A local amateur (well, a dan 3 judoka…) defeats Shodai
  • Kaisei vs. Chiyomaru
  • Ichinojo vs. Kotoshogiku
  • Yoshikaze vs. Mitakeumi
  • Everybody dances around the dohyo!

Despite his fatigue, Hakuho continued to service the flocking fans:

hakuho-fansa
Among the many duties of tsukebito: taking pictures of fans with The Boss

And now for the treat of the day. In September, the former Yuho, who hailed from Miyakojima, passed away. He continued as a sewanin (a non-toshiyori NSK employee) since his retirement. The NSK put up a commemorative exhibition for him at the Jungyo venue. In addition to that, a special verse in his memory was added to the sumo Jinku, performed by no other than Ikioi:

Remember that sekitori do not usually take part of the Jinku. Ikioi is the only one there in his own Kesho-Mawashi, and of course an oicho-mage. Never mind the fact that he towers above the rest. He reads the verse off the paper fan in his hand. Dosukoi!

 

Jungyo Newsreel – December 11th

 

🌐 Location: Kitakyushu, Fukuoka

I hope you will forgive this newsreel for having less content than usual. Today the Tottori police finally handed Harumafuji’s case to the prosecution, and after a few days of having some actual Jungyo news, the press and the media once again focused on the scandal rather than on Sumo.

hakuho-communicating-with-god
O Lord, just let this end and let me do what I do best – Sumo

So, everything today has been picked from Twitter.

First, our sources inform us that there was a clay malfunction today! The dohyo in the Jungyo is made, it turns out, from beer crates, fixed in place, and covered with planks and clay. Somehow something moved, and the clay broke, and morning keiko had to be suspended for quite a while – with fans watching – to do the repairs:

dohyo-repairs

Don’t worry, the rikishi got plenty of workouts. Take this aerobics lesson:

Somebody there is visibly skipping leg day.

Also, weight lifting:

homare-mutsukaze
Homarefuji and Mutsukaze

Apparently, Homarefuji wants to join the Isegahama elite no-knees club, currently including Aminishiki, Terunofuji and Terutsuyoshi. So he opted for lifting Mutsukaze, who weighs above 140kg.

Mutsukaze is a member of the Jinku team, by the way. That, and those face hugging sideburns, make him much more worthy of the title “Sumo Elvis” than Chiyotairyu has ever been!

Once keiko resumed, our sources caught a glimpse of Onosho and Takakeisho in a moshi-age (winner invites next opponent) bout:

In the shitaku-beya, rikishi were taking naps. Take a look at these two:

ryuden-nishikigi-amakaze
Ryuden ❤️ Nishikigi

This photo was actually taken by Amakaze. Apparently, these two lovebirds stole his zabuton, his pillow and his favorite elephant  blanket, which Ryuden held hostage:

Sorry for the neck ache. That’s what happens when you let a rikishi use a camera (yeah, that’s actually Amakaze filming, and desperately shouting at Ryuden “Don’t spill it!”, “Wait, don’t, don’t!”).

To end the entertainment part of this slightly wacky newsreel, here is what Satonofuji looks like when he is not holding a bow:
satonofuji-without-bow

Now here are a few bouts.

Enho vs. Terao, who still tries tsuppari…

Takagenji vs. Osunaarashi:

Edit: The Musubi-no-ichiban finally materialized!

Hakuho 5 – Kakuryu 3. The tie is finally broken.

Tomorrow the Jungyo is on hiatus, and then everybody is going to Okinawa!

Jungyo Newsreel – December 10th

🌐 Location: Kagoshima, Kagoshima

Today’s location was Kagoshima, where 4500 fans came to cheer for the rikishi, particularly the Kagoshima-born Chiyomaru and Daiamami. Daiamami, as a freshman, drew most of the attention. Accordingly, Kakuryu invited him to san-ban and butsukari.

kakuryu-butsukari-daiamami

The san-ban part consisted of 9 bouts, and as would be expected, Kakuryu won them all. This was followed by butsukari, but at this point Daiamami somehow came to admit that he “wasn’t doing enough keiko”.

The butsukari that followed turned out to be rather punishing for the local. Despite much support from the spectators, he hardly had any pushing power, and found himself rolling frequently:

Kakuryu was relentless, and after about 10 minutes, the session ended like this:

Daiamami did come to, and went through the thank-you ceremony at the end, albeit in a bit of a hazy state:

“This is all because you don’t do keiko”, scolded the Yokozuna after the keiko session was over. “I didn’t work you out that hard. You shouldn’t be exhausted by that much. You should do keiko every day.” Kasugano oyakata, who sat on the sidelines during the session, added his own voice to the scolding. “Both veterans and youngsters should go up the dohyo with vigor. It’s your job. There are fans watching.”

Kakuryu added: “The butsukari is not over. When we get to a warmer place, I’ll continue it”, hinting that when the Jungyo gets to its Okinawa leg he is going to be grilling Daiamami again.

By the way, did you notice Nishikigi hovering worried over Daiamami in the video above? This is typical of Nishikigi, who has earned the nickname “Mommy Nishikigi” for caring for rikishi during keiko, wiping sweat, etc.


OK, switching to the light side of the day’s event. First, Halt! Yokozuna aboard!

Enho works out in what seems to be a rather painful way:

Tobizaru, the Flying Monkey, tries to imitate him…

Er, no banana for you…

Isegahama beya took up the kiddie sumo as a team today:

isegahama-kiddies
Takarafuji, Terutsuyoshi, Aminishiki exchanging tykes

Where’s Homarefuji? Well, funny that you should ask!

Sumo with the older, more serious young sumo hopefuls was taken up by Kokonoe. Specifically, Chiyomaru, the other local.

Yep, that’s a big kid. But Chiyomaru is not Hikarugenji, either, if you catch my drift.

Here is the NHK coverage for the day, in which you’ll see Daiamami having recovered from the morning’s troubles, and beating Okinoumi in their torikumi.

You’ll also see Hakuho doing a baby dohyo-iri. This time we get to see the excited parents at the end. “He passed near us, and I asked if he’ll give the child a ‘dakko’. And he said a good-natured ‘yes’, so I quickly undressed her and handed her over” said mom.

More torikumi:

Takayasu vs. Goiedo

Takayasu complains about his lack of practice, but somehow ends up with the kensho-kin. Goeido having trouble with his ankle again?

Note Mitakeumi rising at the end to give the chikara-mizu on the opposite side. This means he has won his own torikumi (vs. Yoshikaze).

Musubi-no-ichiban:

Hakuho 4 – Kakuryu 3. Close call, there?

Again, note the applause Satonofuji gets when he arrives at the side of the dohyo. Very popular, that man.

satonofuji-popular
Also popular as a picture subject

 

Jungyo Newsreel – December 9th

🌐 Location: Kumamoto, Kumamoto

Today an Ozeki and a Yokozuna started practicing in earnest. Takayasu, who has been practicing mostly with rikishi of Makushita and below, selected Nishikigi for san-ban practice, which consisted of five bouts, all won by Takayasu. He then followed that by naming Tochinoshin as his next opponent.

takayasu-with-tochinoshin

Now, this was a whole different power level, and the san-ban started with 3 consecutive losses for the Ozeki. He rallied and won 3 times, but then he started favoring his damaged leg, and lost the next three bouts.

“Not enough practice. It’s not real sumo yet”, commented the Ozeki. “My leg takes its time recovering, but if I do nothing at all, my entire body will lose its power. I have to work my body back into its normal condition.”

Yokozuna Kakuryu also chose this day to step up his practice, after doing mostly dohyo-side workouts. He – unsurprisingly – picked Shodai as his san-ban opponent. This consisted of 10 bouts, all of which the Yokozuna won.

kakuryu-butsukari-shodai

Kakuryu demonstrated various dashi-nage, yori and sukui-nage techniques in that series of bouts. However, this Jungyo event took place in Kumamoto, which is Shodai’s home territory, and Kakuryu seemed to consider his total dominance over the maegashira to be perhaps unsatisfactory for the fans. So he followed the san-ban with some butsukari.

When interviewed, the Yokozuna talked to the press about the state of his health. He said that favoring his injured foot has over-strained his back, and a few days before the Kyushu basho, after he went to sleep, he could not get up in the morning. “I was agonizing over the decision to go kyujo again”, he said.

He has consulted a specialist, and has taken special care of the affected area. “I have many injuries, but I do not want to give in to them. I want to overcome this. I will overcome this.”

Now let’s turn to the entertainment part of this event. As I told you, Shodai was the man of the day, and was supposed to be the center of attention in the kiddie sumo event. Only… Ikioi decided to steal his thunder.

You know how boring it is to wait in your kesho-mawashi until you are called up to the dohyo to do your dohyo-iri? Well, I don’t suppose any of the readers here has ever worn a kesho-mawashi, so you probably don’t know how boring it is. But Daieisho and Takakeisho found a way to pass the time.

This is called “Teoshi-zumo”. The rules are simple – you can only hit or touch the opponent’s hands. You lose if you move a foot.

Amakaze was in a specially sunny mood today as he waited for his torikumi. He helped the television crews with their work:

And offered “help” undressing:

So, speaking of torikumi, let’s start with a few at Makushita. But first, it appears that Enho and Tobizaru decided to have their own unofficial bout:

They then proceeded each to his own official one. Here is a – rather odd – bout between Terao and Enho:

It’s a bit hard to use tsuppari when your opponent is, like, a meter below you.

Then came the bout between Tobizaru and Akua:

Akua is a patient fellow.

Moving up to Makuuchi, we have the bout of the geriatrics, Aminishiki vs. Takekaze.

I keep fearing that one of Aminishiki’s limbs will simply come off and roll down the dohyo. But he somehow manages to keep them intact, with duct tape and spit.

You can see Shodai’s bout in this video from NHK (as well as some of Kakuryu’s san-ban mentioned above):

Onosho once again tries to win without his red mawashi? Tsk, tsk…

And I’m getting a bit tired of NHK opening every one of its reports of the Jungyo with “The Jungyo, which has been shaken by the Harumafuji incident, took place today at…”.

And the musubi-no-ichiban:

Hakuho 3 – Kakuryu 3

[cough, cough]

BTW, Takayasu is back on the torikumi, but Terunofuji [sigh] is no longer on it.

Finally, Osunaarashi shared this image of today’s shitakubeya (preparation room)… Lovely, but the rikishi were not allowed to use the pool. 😢

shitaku-beya