Short Jungyo Newsreel – October 9th


🌐 Location: Chikusei

Yes, it’s already Monday, and you’d expect the media to come up with some real beef to feed us after a dry weekend, but no. The only article on Nikkan sports, for example, is about… Aminishiki caught reading a book! A book! I’m sure there is a rule against that somewhere…

Aminishiki Reading A Book

So today, like yesterday, we’ll settle for a short summary. But let’s start with a little tidbit that escaped me a couple of days ago:

New Shokkiri performer: Baraki

shokkiri-duo
Shokkiri duo: Akua (left), Baraki (right)

Baraki, who definitely has the right looks for Shokkiri, with a short stature (164cm) and a comical face, joins veteran Shokkiri man Akua to perform the traditional, but not-so-serious duties in this Jungyo.

Three Yokozuna exercise outdoors

After the regular asa-geiko, all three Yokozuna opted to exercise outdoors. Harumafuji performed shiko and mostly exercised his (already well-developed) smile muscles. Still no dohyo practices or torikumi. Still cites fatigue.

Kisenosato, who took a 9-bout sanban with Daieisho, opted for some fundamental exercises with his tsukebito for half an hour in the sun.

Kakuryu opted for nearly 40 minutes of walking around. “I drew power from the sun”, he said.

Nishikigi-Yago butsukari

Nishikigi offered his chest to Yago, but this was a rather short affair, as the muscular and bulky Juryo man easily pushed the medium-sized Maegashira across the dohyo.

Today’s musubi

Kisenosato can’t really lose in Ibaraki, can he?

Another angle:

Jungyo Newsreel – October 6th


🌐 Location: Yokohama

Kakuryu takes san-ban with Makuuchi-level wrestler

Yesterday Kakuryu settled for butsukari, but today, for the first time in a long while, he took san-ban with Maegashira Chiyonokuni for 10 bouts, of which he won 8 and lost 2.

kakuryu-chiyonokuni

The Yokozuna tested both his oshi-zumo and his yotsu-zumo. “I don’t feel any pains. If I can keep up this pace feeling the same, no worries” he said with a smile.

Regarding his time away from the dohyo, he said “Watching sumo on TV made me gloomy at first. Then gradually I became angered with myself. I was especially frustrated when three Yokozuna were absent. ‘Damn’, I thought, ‘I want to be out there and do sumo'”. He intends to make a few suggestions at the next meeting of the rikishi union, including re-instating the kosho-seido system.

Aminishiki puts his muscles where his mouth is

As the sekitori were engaged in moshiai-geiko (a series of bouts in which the winner decides who his next rival will be), Daieisho named Aminishiki as his next rival. Aminishiki ascended the dohyo, grabbed Daieisho under his armpits and pushed him out and away in one go. He then proceeded to wrestle with 21 year olds, taking a low stance and burying his head in their chests.

aminishiki-daieisho
Daieisho thinks he can easily beat the nearly mummified Aminishiki, proven wrong.

In all, he wrestled 9 bouts, winning 6. “Oh, just 9? Double figures and 9 are completely different things”, he joked (a hint to Harumafuji?). When asked about wrestling with his head (a basic technique usually used by weaker rikishi against stronger opponents) he said “Well, that’s the only kind of sumo I can do now. I aim to enter the dohyo every day, but preparing my legs takes time… I wrestle taking the length of tape I have left into consideration.”

Kisenosato continues to train with Asanoyama

For the second day in a row, Kisenosato invited Asanoyama to san-ban. This time 18 bouts, of which he won 12 and lost 6.

All in all, Asanoyama, whose favorite grip, right-hand-inside, is the opposite of Kisenosato’s, did not just go for a simple frontal attack-and-retreat vs. the Yokozuna, but tried various techniques and tactics, like ottsuke and makikaeshi, which pleased the Yokozuna very much: “That’s exactly what I wished for”.

Goeido offers chest to Yago

The lonely Ozeki offered butsukari to Yago

goeido-yago

But later pictures show Yago clean at the end, so either this was very, very short, or Yago simply succeeded in pushing the Ozeki out of the ring every time. If so, then it wasn’t Goeido’s last time of the day:

goeido

(Sorry, I’m not sure who that is. I’d say Mitakeumi, but doesn’t he wear a wine-colored mawashi?)

This just in – Harumafuji update

Apparently, Harumafuji did not participate in the torikumi. The only Yokuzuna bout was Kakuryu-Kisenosato.

From what I can gather, he also did not participate in any on-dohyo activity, and settled for stretches and advice to youngsters.

🤕😕

Jungyo Newsreel – October 5th


Note: I’ll do my best to make this newsreel a daily feature during the Jungyo, but this is subject to (a) work and other demands on my time, and (b) the availability of news on Japanese media outlets and twitter, so no promises made.

🌐 Location: Yachiyo

Kisenosato spars with Asanoyama 17 times, wins 15-2

kisenosato-asanoyama

Kisenosato summoned Asanoyama for a rather lengthy sanban session, consisting of 17 bouts, of which he won 15. There was still no sign of the Yokozuna’s famous left ottsuke, but he did grab Asanoyama’s upper right arm for a Yorikiri and did a left-hand uwatenage.

Kisenosato sounded rather pleased with the practice, saying he “tested out various things”, and that “he worked hard to be ready to work with sekitori”. Asanoyama’s comment: “The Yokozuna is heavy and has a low stance”. Yes, sunshine, learn.

Aminishiki celebrates 39th birthday and new age record

aminishiki-oldest-returnee
Aminishiki with cake and stablemates Takarafuji, Homarefuji and Terutsuyoshi

Everybody’s favorite Uncle Sumo celebrated his 39th birthday a few days ago, but received a belated cake from the press at the opening of the Autumn Jungyo, to celebrate a new record: being the oldest to return to the Makuuchi division. Aminishiki thanked his family for their support during “The most difficult 39th year of my life”, and vowed to strive to advance to a level that will allow him to face Ozeki and Yokozuna once again. “I’d like to wrestle with Hakuho again”.

Don’t kid us, Uncle, we know there’s a Yokozuna, not from your heya, off of whom you still haven’t peeled a Kinboshi. And that’s not Hakuho.

Hakuho to join jungyo on October 14th together with Enho

Hakuho expressed his intention of joining the tour on October 14th, when it hits Kanazawa. He will probably be accompanied by the Sandanme Yusho winner Enho, who hails from Kanazawa.

Kakuryu does butsukari with Daieisho

Kakuryu gave Daieisho a butsukari session. Commented afterwards: “I have been working out sufficiently, and now I am aiming to gain my sense of the dohyo again”.

Kisenosato beats Harumafuji again

I termed this on twitter “a Paralympic bout”, as it’s hard to tell which of the two has a worse disability. Better tachiai than the one in Beyond2020, though:

Aki Day 3 Highlights


Matta?

Day 3 in bizzaro basho, and the whole Tachiai crew, along with the cat, are wondering if this thing is ever going to settle down and stop pooping it’s diaper.

If you have yet to watch the NHK highlight reel, or Jason or Kintamayama, I strongly recommend a stiff drink before and during. With now 7 rikishi out kyujo – Including the majority of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps – each day seems a bit more odd and off pace. Yet there is abundant great sumo taking place, and in the absence of the top guys, the up and coming team are really in the spotlight. With rikishi like Takakeisho and Onosho clearly standing out every day, they are getting a great deal of attention, and probably new fans. This is another step down the path of transition that we have been pointing out for the past several tournaments, and it’s not going to reverse.

If you are wondering, many of the Angry Tadpoles are still undefeated at the end of day 3. These guys are a real driving force for the near-term future of sumo.

Rather than call it highlights, for today I am going to call it…

Things That Happened Today

Asanoyama defeats Yutakayama – I have decided I like Asanoyama. He just seems to be having a great time on the dohyo, even when he loses. It’s as if each time he steps up on the clay, he says to himself, “Can you believe they are paying me to have this much fun? Holy crap, what a life!”

Aminishiki defeats Tokushoryu – Yeah, thats right! Uncle Sumo came to Makuuchi for a day and won! His fans in the Kokugikan are legion, and he frequently gets a bigger reaction than 80% of Maegashira. There was a false start, but the second attempt was actually some really good sumo. Tokushoryu was trying to apply overwhelming bulldozery, but Uncle Sumo decided he was fine with that. He offered some token resistance to get Tokushoryu well cranked up, then pulled him down.

Endo defeats Kaisei – Ok, I am starting to allow myself to get optimistic about Endo’s recovery. Sure he is fighting the bottom end of Makuuchi, but I would say his ankle is at best 75% of good. He even had the presence of mind to break Kaisei’s fall. I think with the bloodbath thus far, everyone is worried someone else is going to catch a career impacting injury.

Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Daieisho is not getting a lot of coverage because he is down at Maegashira 11, but he is looking in solid form right now. Granted Nishikigi is not the strongest opponent, but Daieisho’s sumo was spot on today.

Arawashi defeats Takarafuji – Really nice effort by both Rikishi, Arawashi had a much better tachiai and was able to set up the throw.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Everyone sing along… Shodai blew another tachiai. Easy to do when you are tall and looking rather lethargic this basho, and your opponent is an amped-up bowling ball with legs who has chrome side pipes and the low-rider package. I counted 2 tsuppari from Takakeisho for every 1 from Shodai. Frankly Shodai looked surprised that this tadpole was kicking his butt. Takakeisho remains undefeated.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – Chiyotairyu continues to deliver above expectations, and is really knocking down some of the better rikishi that are not in the hospital.

Onosho defeats Tamawashi – I am still thinking that Tamawashi did more to his ankle than he cares to admit. Onosho was once again at 11+ on a 1-10 scale, and Tamawashi seems to be lacking his prior ability to transmit power to ground.

Mitakeumi defeats Shohozan – Mitakeumi hopefully is shaking off the cobwebs and the jinx of going on NHK to talk about his sumo. Big Guns Shohozan is sporting some Yoshikaze-style face damage now, so that may be effecting his sumo. Mitakeumi won by a fairly quick slap-down for a convincing victory.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – Goeido unleashes a dirty henka, but Yoshikaze bought it. Goeido really needs to clear his kadoban status, so I am sure nobody really is too sore about his deciding not to take the Berserker on head-to-head.

Terunofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Thank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan. The knee-less wonder won in fairly convincing fashion over Tochinoshin, and maybe there is hope that he’s still got some health left. Tochinoshin gave it his all, and put up a great fight. Terunofuji was relieved, the fans are relieved, and even my cat liked it.

Kotoshogiku “something-something” Harumafuji – I could call it a win, it was recorded as a win, but what the hell was it? It was, in fact, Kotoshogiku’s first kinboshi, but should it have been? Clearly we had a matta, but for whatever reason the gyoji did not call it back. Again, after yesterday’s injury fest, I am sure people like Harumafuji are being extra careful. Should he have ignored the matta and just given The Kyushu Bulldozer (Kotoshogiku) a death spin and a ride in the wheelchair? Either way, it’s in the record books now and Harumafuji has his first loss of the basho. Kotoshogiku… Undefeated?

Aki Day 3 Preview


Harumafuji-Dohyo-Iri

We have yet to start day 3, and it’s already fair to say this will be unlike any other basho for the last few years. We face the possibility of losing 2 more from the top ranks and a crowd favorite Maegashira. If all 3 who were injured on day 2 drop out of Aki, that means that both Tagonoura sekitori (Kisenosato and Takayasu) will be out, and the primary Kensho magnet (Takayasu) will be gone.

I know some readers here (and we dearly love our readers!) were uncomfortable with my prediction that Sumo’s injury problems were in the process of boiling over. But as we say in Texas, “Hold my beer”.

But it can and should rightly be pointed out that we are looking at a sekitori population that has multiple kanban rikishi at or above the average age of retirement, and that given the current sumo schedule, there are few windows for medical treatment and recovery without rather stiff demotions. Sumo is a very Darwin environment – the strong advance and the injured or lesser skilled fall away.

But even if there are no other rikishi that go kyujo this tournament, we are now up to possibly as many as 8 from Makuuchi, and half of those maybe from the Yokozuna/Ozeki ranks. Sumo as a brand stakes a lot of their draw and publicity on these top two ranks, and their decimation at Aki may take some time to recover.

Please note that some of the below matches will possibly have fusen wins if one of the rikishi announced they are withdrawing from the tournament

What We Are Watching Day 3

Tokushoryu vs Aminishiki – The REAL Ojisan, Uncle Sumo Aminishiki, comes to Makuuchi to give battle to the bulbous Tokushoryu. With NHK show it on their highlight reel? We can dare to hope.

Endo vs Kaisei – Ends has not come out strong, in spite of only having to face the lower end of the Makuuchi banzuke. Now he goes against the Kaisei, who has not been showing much in terms of speed. Their career series is nearly tied, but it will be interesting to see if Endo can muster his sumo to overpower the large Brazilian.

Daishomaru vs Okinoumi – I am very happy that Okinoumi has started 2-0, and I hope that he has his injuries under control, at least for this basho. He has beaten Daishomaru in their only prior meeting, which was at Nagoya, and one of his 5 wins for that basho.

Takanoiwa vs Ishiura – Takanoiwa has started strong, and he may be well positioned to have a “good basho” provided that he can stick to mid and lower Maegashira for the remaining bouts. Ishiura is still hit or miss, and we have to wonder if he has some chronic injury that is sapping him of his strength.

Chiyonokuni vs Ikioi – A pair of dedicated oshi-zumo practitioners, I would give a slight edge to Ikioi, who has two straight wins and leads the career total 5-2. Ikioi also bests Chiyonokuni in total mass.

Shodai vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is eagerly throwing himself into his offense so far. He explodes off the tachiai and delivers a relentless torrent tsuppari from the start. Shodai on the other hand is looking slow and comes in high at the tachiai. Takakeisho has never won against Shodai, but I think day 3 changes that.

Ichinojo vs Ura – I expect Ura to be kyujo before this bout. If he insists on competing, I expect Ura will be kyujo after this bout. Ichinojo is looking especially unpolished this basho, but all he has to do is push Ura hard and he might break him at this point.

Chiyotairyu vs Tochiozan – Someone activated Chiyotairyu’s “Beast Mode” and he has been coming off the line strong, and overwhelming his opponents. Tochiozan, by comparison, is looking vague and overwhelmed in each of his matches. It’s hard to tell if some injury is slowing down Tochiozan, but I am going to give an edge to Chiyotairyu this match.

Tamawashi vs Onosho – Tamawashi may be able to gamberize and make it to his day 3 match. But he faces Onosho, who is delighted to have a big target like Tamawashi for his match. Onosho is the real deal right now, strong, fast and completely sure his sumo will win each time. A healthy Tamawashi could delivery a brutal lesson to the young contender, but given day 2’s wrenched ankle, Tamawashi is not likely to be at full power.

Mitakeumi vs Shohozan – Mitakeumi received a lot of elevated expectations going into the basho, but now finds himself with a cold 0-2 start. I doubt that Mitakeumi picked up any injury, so I am going to assume it’s all in his mind right now. Day 3 he faces Shohozan, who has brought his big guns to each match and unleashed hell upon his opponents. Will this be the match where Mitakeumi turns it around?

Yoshikaze vs Goeido – Yoshikaze is also suffering a cold start. And on day 3 he faces Goeido, who is likewise struggling. These two are actually a very good match, with Yoshikaze leading their career total 12-9. I would expect for Yoshikaze to try to disrupt Goeido’s attempt to overwhelm Yoshikaze at the tachiai.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – If Takayasu is not too injured to compete, he is going to get a strong workout from Hokutofuji. They have only met once before (in Nagoya), and Hokutofuji was the winner. But my money is on Hokutofuji getting a fusen win.

Terunofuji vs Tochinoshin – Our favorite kaiju is really struggling now, he as no wins in his first 2 days, and we can assume he is not yet even close to 100% healthy. Tochinoshin is likewise winless, but I think he has a real chance to take one from Terunofuji day 3, even though Terunofuji dominates their career totals at 8-2.

Kotoshogiku vs Harumafuji – These two veterans have met 62 times in their careers. But it is Kotoshogiku who holds a slight edge at 34-30 over Harumafuji. If Kotoshogiku can take a win against the lone surviving Yokozuna today, it would in fact be Kotoshogiku’s first kinboshi.

初場所2016, 8日目: Aminishiki Henka’s Himself


In one of the more amusing “out-take” bouts of sumo, Aminishiki flopped as he pulled a henka on Aoiyama. Aoiyama was able to recover and maintain his balance as he’d likely known it was coming. Aminishiki must’ve spun too hard, potentially clipping the gyoji, lost his balance and fell flat on his belly.

In the first ozeki bout of the tournament, Kotoshogiku defeated Kisenosato to maintain his undefeated record. He never gave any opening and looked solid. Hakuho also stays unbeaten by mugging Yoshikaze, slamming him in a bloody heap off the dohyo. A week into this tournament and I’ll be stunned if the first Japanese title in a decade goes to Kotoshogiku, a guy who’s had trouble getting his kachi-koshi much less garnering 10 wins expected of ozeki or 14 to be in yusho contention.

Faux-zeki Goeido offered mere token resistance to Kaisei. He ran around the ring and tried a kick at one point but never got any drive against the maegashira. At first it looked like Kaisei shoved him out but on the replays it looked like he fell out. A rather inexplicable one there which has me wondering…

Sadly, Ikioi is injured now. He was outmatched by Harumafuji’s patented pivot move and may have aggravated an ankle or knee injury. He was in obvious pain, limping back into the tunnel. Hopefully it was a mild tweak of the ankle because he’ll have his hands full with Tochinoshin tomorrow. It would be a shame for his great start to be spoiled by injury. The rest of his tournament would be against maegashira as after Tochinoshin he’ll be done with sanyaku opponents and well positioned for kachi-koshi. Depending on the severity of the injury, I almost hope he gives up a fusen loss to rest a day and come back strong Tuesday.

錦 (nishiki): Brocade


I’m familiar with the meaning of many of the popular kanji used in wrestlers’ shikona. I’ve had a post about kiku/giku before, and in the future, between tournaments, I’m going to try to post a bit more about them – mostly to help myself study Japanese. I chose to post about 錦 because I really had no idea what that meant. The best part was that after I looked it up, I still had no idea what the English word (brocade) meant. So, I had to go to Wikipedia to get my answer.

Basically, if you clicked the link, you’d see it’s a loom-woven fabric. Wikipedia talks about how they were generally luxury items but I’m still a bit puzzled as to why wrestlers like Aminishiki, Homarenishiki, or Kaonishiki would use it in their shikona. Is it a reference to the keshou mawashi they wear for the ring entering ceremony? Those are made of fabric, heavily decorated, often with their sponsors’ logos or symbols from the cities or countries that they come from.

旧安田庭園
旧安田庭園

When I looked more into the Japanese term, it’s clear the Japanese meaning is more complex beyond the literal translation. There are references to animals and kaleidoscopes and artwork that incorporate the term.

But, for perhaps the best example, we’re all familiar with Koi fish particularly because they’re commonly found in Japanese gardens. I’ve got a picture here which I took at a beautiful garden a block away from Kokugikan (the main sumo venue in Tokyo). There are koi in this pond and many are 錦鯉(nishikigoi) which are prized for their decorative colors – gold, red, black, white. I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about.

Clicking the picture will take you to a Google Map of where you can find the garden. Like I said, it’s very close to the Kokugikan (you can actually see its distinctive roof behind the trees) so if you’re in the area for a tournament, this is a great place to visit. I walked around here for a few hours, taking pictures and just enjoying the peace and quiet. Anyway, there are fish and turtles in the pond and cranes and ducks. It seems a lot of people bring their lunch or bento and eat while pausing to feed the ducks. There’s a shrine in the back, over a little red bridge, behind the trees.

Anyway, this context certainly gives more of an idea of why the term is incorporated into shikona. It still could be something as straightforward and literal as their keshomawashi but Aminishiki, in particular, seems like a rather colorful character. That may be stretching the meaning a bit too far but to me it makes a bit more sense and will at least help me remember the meaning of the kanji.

*Update 1 – (10/4/2015)*
How could I neglect to mention the most famous modern nishikiKONISHIKI (小錦)? Maybe a future post will be about the kanji for 馬鹿 because sometimes I can forget the most obvious stuff that’s staring me in the face. (For some reason horse and deer equals idiot.)