🌐 Location: Kumagaya, Saitama
😛 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️
Having completed the tour through the traditional region for the Fuyu Jungyo, that is, Kyushu and Okinawa, the rikishi returned to Tokyo. But the Jungyo is not ended yet – some towns in the Kanto region requested winter visits, and the NSK obliged. So we get to enjoy three additional events following a few days’ break.
That break didn’t include any particular plans at first, but the Takanoiwa scandal caused it to be a bit more eventful. First, Takakeisho had a yusho parade at his high school, which was put off and then moved ahead again. Then, the rikishi received a lecture about the treatment of tsukebito which was supposed to be given in February. And third, the NSK board had a meeting to set the standards of punishment for violence, and for some reason, focused on violent Yokozuna despite the fact that there were four known violent events in the past year that did not involve a Yokozuna in any way.
So I’m pretty sure the rikishi were really glad to get on their busses and get out of Tokyo again:
Indeed, that’s a lot of busses!
And we have two important faces show up again! First, there is this guy:
Yep, Goeido is back and giving butsukari to Chiyonoumi here.
Then, there is this guy:
Kakuryu is back! We’ve missed you!
One face that’s conspicuously still missing is that of Kisenosato, the third Yokozuna. All the signs are that he is in a bad state. The knee injury, which was the reason for him pulling out from the last basho, and not showing up for the Jungyo, is still bothering him. Most of the Japanese press interpreted the YDC’s “Encouragement” decision about him as meaning that he cannot go kyujo in Hatsu basho. So an injury that has not healed yet and reports that his practice so far includes only shiko and suri-ashi are not encouraging. He said at first that he will join the Jungyo at this stage, especially the event in his home turf of Ibaraki, but he can’t, and his fans have every reason to worry.
So we have a Jungyo day with three Ozeki and two Yokozuna. Who else showed up?
Takanosho sure did, and has pulling at a rubber tube held by a slightly anxious Taichiyama
The oyakata showed up together with their mini-brooms:
Kokonoe oyakata, who took this picture, informs us that the mini-brooms are there to shake off any dirt flying from the dohyo.
Takakeisho was there for the handshake part. He got to meet a baby. The baby was not so happy to meet him and expressed his opinion at a very high volume. So Takakeisho made this face:
I think somebody is absorbing the true Chiganoura spirit.
Don’t worry, unlike what your grandmother would tell you, he didn’t get stuck in with this face forever. Here he is a while later, with his bestie, Daieisho:
See? No long-term damage to facial features!
Another pair of besties were engaging in mock bouts in one of the corners:
That’s Abi and Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu was asked the other day what he would take with him to a desert island. His answer was “I guess I’d take Abi”. These two are pretty tight.
At the side of the dohyo, we once again have a line forming to greet the Yokozuna. Only, it’s another Yokozuna:
Note how Kakuryu takes care to acknowledge each one’s greeting.
And if that doesn’t give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, how about these two practicing together?
Yep, that’s Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima. And they seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.
Tochinoshin also received an occasional morning greeting:
Not the same thing as a Yokozuna, but it’s still good to be an Ozeki.
Here are a couple of practice bouts. We have Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo, and Chiyomaru vs. Azumaryu:
Chiyomaru definitely concentrates on practicing with Juryo wrestlers. He has no illusions about his position on the next banzuke.
As for Hakuho, he must have been very bored today. He took up both Takayasu and Tochinoshin for butsukari. There is not much about his session with Takayasu, but with Tochinoshin he had no less than 10 minutes of kawaigari:
Ten minutes! A six-minute kawaigari is considered tough. I have been covering Jungyo for almost two years and I don’t recall a 10 minute kawaigari.
I’m pretty sure Hakuho was giving him a repeat performance because last time he didn’t seem exhausted enough. So ten minutes this time. And yet the Ozeki rose again and again and kept going. I’m sure the Yokozuna took a mental note: “In a bout with Tochinoshin, don’t rely on being able to wear him down. Find a way to end it quickly”.
After practice, the usual shows took place. There was Shokkiri, with my favorite part in which a toothpick of a gyoji somehow overpowers a big rikishi who was trying to grab his gunbai:
That’s Shikimori Tomokazu rescuing his gunbai.
And there was an oicho-mage demonstration, with the Yusho winner as the model:
This was followed, as usual, with the Juryo dohyo-iri and bouts, and then we had Yokozuna dohyo-iri. So I give you one we haven’t seen for a while:
The city of Kumagaya is supposed to host a rugby event next year. So they set up a contraption to take promotion pictures with rikishi. The concept was simple: a vertical piece of fake turf with a background that allows anybody who touches a rugby ball to the “grass” to look like he just scored a flying try… if the photo is rotated by 90º.
Good concept, but it had a few difficulties. For example, take a look at Tochiozan “scoring his try”:
Umm… besides the problems with the viewing angle, his sagari is a dead giveaway. Here is the much better actor, Abi:
He succeeds in working around the obvious issue of the yukata sleeves by pretending to hold his sleeve up. But the angle really kills the illusion.
Enho also got photographed. And they really tried their best here:
Yeah, cut away the pesky ceiling and avoid the sagari. If only there wasn’t a gap between the turf and the background panel… or the turf didn’t look like it was held by scaffolding… or the white line didn’t look like a piece of tape…
But hey, it’s the cutest try attempt ever.
So it seems I have more “rugby” photos than I have any sumo bouts. There is absolutely no material about the bouts in this event, other than a report on the musubi-no-ichiban: Hakuho beat Goeido by yori-kiri. Which tells us that Kakuryu was off the torikumi.
And so we arrive at the pin-up corner of this post, and I’ll bid you adieu with Tomokaze: