🌐 Location: Kashiwa, Chiba prefercture
Another lengthy one today. Make some coffee, feed the baby, here we go:Continue reading
🌐 Location: Ota ward, Tokyo
Today we are still in Tokyo, in a part that’s mostly known for the Haneda Airport which is located there. Indeed, the official name for today’s event is “Haneda International Basho”.
An update on the sick list: Chiyonoumi is once again off the Torikumi, Yoshikaze is back on it.
We have already seen rikishi arrive early in the morning, eyes blurry, getting off busses, etc. But who are these two elegant gentlemen showing up at the venue? Are they lawyers? Doctors?
No, those are in fact these two gentlemen and co-workers from Kokoknoe beya:
Namely, yobidashi Shigeru, and Gyoji Kimura Konosuke. And Konosuke looks spiffy in his usual red kimono, and… what’s this, a tantō?
We are always told that only a tate-gyoji (that is, either Kimura Shonosuke or Shikimori Inosuke) wear a tanto – the short sword tucked into the left side of the belt. This is a symbolic expression of the gyoji’s commitment to perform seppuku if he misjudges a bout. So what is Konosuke doing wearing one? He is a mere san-yaku gyoji, there is not a hint of purple in his laces!
The answer to that is that while san-yaku gyoji do not wear tanto during bouts, they do wear it when they accompany a Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And it’s Konosuke’s turn today to accompany Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind. Back to the hand-shaking corner of the venue, where the Iwasaki brothers are showing us their muscles:
At one side of the venue, Abi is working out with Shodai. Well, kind of:
Shohozan is doing suri-ashi and manages to frighten the NSK’s SNS team:
Kotoeko is also working on his lower body:
Enho is also near one of the walls, having a quiet morning workout with Tobizaru:
But Enho has got to be the most popular wrestler in the top two divisions, because we shortly find him also serving as Mitakeumi’s teppo pole:
The little teppo pole turns all rebellious all of a sudden.
Perhaps the most impressive Enho practice pic of the day is this one:
The size difference between these two is enormous. Ichinojo is slightly bigger than two Enhos combined.
Next to the dohyo, Takayasu decides to give Onosho some personal tutoring.
I mean, close personal tutoring:
That is, very close, and very personal tutoring:
OK, well, they actually were practicing sumo there. Suri-ashi, for example:
He was also teaching him his new move:
We will reveal to you in a day or two what the secret move is! But in the meantime, let’s look at some practice bouts: Ryuden-Aoiyama, Asanoyama-Hokutofuji. Followed by a short glimpse of Hakuho and Takayasu who are not doing any on-dohyo practice at the moment.
With practice over, the rikishi head for the showers, which happen to be on-location this time. This means a great line of fans waiting outside of the shower.
Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And this time Enho is on the East side (not that he participates in the torikumi or anything), which makes Chiyomaru on the West lonely. He has no one to bump into… except Daiamami:
By the way, this day is Chiyomaru’s birthday! This has to be the reason why the only bout I have is his bout with Kotoyuki:
Kotoyuki sends the birthday boy almost into the arms of the awaiting Makuuchi wrestlers down the hana-michi.
Chiyomaru hurries out to celebrate his birthday with some cake, which the reporters have promised him. And in his hurry, he doesn’t notice he has interrupted a significant moment:
That moment which he has interrupted is the moment in which Kasugaryu hands over his bow to Shohoryu, who is wearing an oicho-mage for the first time and is about to perform his first yumi-tori shiki.
But that let’s see what kind of birthday celebration Chiyomaru gets.
Ah, this kind:
Congratulations, round one! Now it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri and Yokozuna dohyo-iri.
But it’s hard to be a Yokozuna when everybody around you, including your tsukebito, tsuyuharai and tachi-mochi, exchange jokes and laugh out loud, and you are the only one who has to control his face:
Now all the Makuuchi wrestlers can get ready for their bouts. Like, for example, Nishikigi and Ryuden
Interesting way to pass the time. But not as interesting as Shodai’s way:
The two clowns are everywhere. Ichinojo suddenly has a mind to get friendly with Shodai. Shodai is not in the mood to be crushed right before his bout:
Luckily for him, somebody calls out “Ichinojo zeki”. He immediately points out to Ichinojo that a fan of his has arrived:
Ichinojo complies, and puts on his fansa face:
We are not done with Nishikigi. He is still in the joi, so that means he waits for his bout a long time. And that means a lot of mischief. This time the victim is pretty Toshonishiki:
Again, recall that Nishikigi has the strongest armpits in Makuuchi. I wouldn’t want to trade places with poor Toshonishiki.
What does the expression on Onosho’s face mean? Is he admiring Abi’s shiko? Or is he preparing a salt-laden ladle? You be the judge.
Just to prove to you that Hakuho is not alone in being chased by the fans, here is Kakuryu on the way to his bout:
He certainly doesn’t need to find something to keep him busy during the wait.
Finally, as anticipated, let’s take a look at Shohoryu’s debut yumi-tori shiki:
Green, very green. He’ll need to learn how to wear a kesho-mawashi – his fundoshi is showing through. And he had a few mistakes here and there. But he is better than Kasugaryu at passing the bow behind his back.
And I leave off with the pin-up of the day – Asanoyama:
🌐 Location: Tsu, Mie prefecture
The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.
There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!Continue reading
Wear your sunglasses and prepare your insulin shots – we have a lot of kawaii today!
🌐 Location: Uto, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◽️◽️
We complete our journey through Kumamoto in Uto, home to two active rikishi. One is Ryuko, a Makushita wrestler who did well this basho and will be in the race for sekitori status in the next basho:
Um, Narutaki. What are you doing? I thought we were done with this stuff last jungyo. Anyway, you’re drawing attention away from the local boy!
So, in yesterday’s post’s comments, I was asked whether these tsukebito actually get any practice. Well, yes they do:
The practice session is more or less the same as that of the sekitori, only held earlier. It consists mostly of moshi-ai sessions, punctuated by quick butsukari for the participants. At the later stages, that butsukari is offered by sekitori:
Not that Enho is much of a pushing challenge. In Midorifuji’s case, it seems he got his butsukari from Tamawashi. At least, the mud on his back says he got rolled.
That’s a bit more of a challenge, and apparently Tamawashi makes sure that he didn’t hurt the micro-rikishi.
While the low-ranking wrestlers have their time on the dohyo, the sekitori are either outside in the corridors doing handshakes, or finding themselves quiet spots for some exercise. Meisei, who is out doing handshake, is so cold, he starts laughing uncontrollably:
Ishiura is all like “Who put me next to Crazy here”?
Which may be the reason why later Meisei had to settle for an isolated spot between a stroller and some derelict equipment:
Don’t worry, he didn’t stay alone for long:
A bit earlier, near the dohyo, just as yesterday, the Kokonoe guys do their morning workouts in front of their oyakata. This includes not just the sekitori but also Chiyosakae, who does this:
This seems to embarrass Kokonoe oyakata, whose voice you can hear in the background “take it seriously, will you?”. He also assures us in the tweet that Chiyosakae actually does take it seriously.
Around that same time, Akiseyama arrives at the dohyo and greets Kasugano, the Jungyo master.
I have a feeling Kasugano wishes he didn’t.
In some corner of the venue, Toyonoshima works out with a piece of rubber, assisted by his loyal Miyazaki:
The Juryo men start their own practice on the dohyo. Here is some butsukari between Chiyonoumi and Hakuyozan:
Jokoryu gets to have Ikioi’s chest:
And Enho… well, Enho is everywhere and practices with everybody. That is, anybody who can possibly find an excuse to lay his hands on the pixie:
Even the Yokozuna smiles when his little uchi-deshi greets him with a respectful ladle of water:
You’d think that Enho is the star of the show rather than Shodai. But actually, Shodai got a lot of attention. Some keiko with Asanoyama:
And some with Tochinoshin:
To which Tochinoshin also adds a hearty Kawaigari:
Practice part over, everybody gets cleaned, have their oicho-mage started, and have lunch. There are food stalls outside, and… it’s the perfect oportunity to grab Enho and ask him for a pic:
Hey, is that a way to start a conversation with a sekitori? Is there a single rikishi in the whole sumo world who doesn’t think the Japanese National Sport is actually “grab the pixie”?
As practice mawashi dry in the sun…
Inside the venue it still seems pretty cold. Take a look at Terutsuyoshi, all bundled into his… is that a kimono or a Mongolian Deel?
Sure looks like a Deel to me, but Terutsuyoshi is not Mongolian.
Nishikigi, on the other hand, gets warm by pestering his tsukebito:
In the entrance, however, Shodai was being photographed with his grandmother:
The Japanese press love Shodai’s grandmother, because of her name. Shodai is one of the wrestlers, like Takayasu, Endo and Yago, who wrestle under their own name. His grandmother’s name is 正代正代 – yes, twice the same pair of kanji, two completely different readings: Masayo Shodai.
It’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri, and Enho is turning up the kawaii level:
Gokushindo is doing the same thing on the East side:
Those two are supposed to face each other this day. And they both exude kawaii like two idol group members on a save-the-cute-bunnies campaign. Enho signals to Gokushindo across the dohyo as they wait their turn:
When Gokushindo gets up on the dohyo, Chiyonoumi gives him the good old salted ladle routine:
Which you can’t blame him for doing, when that’s the reaction he gets. Then the two kings of cute battle in the cutest sumo bout you have ever seen:
I did warn you to prepare the insulin in advance, didn’t I? And those two kept it up even after the bout was over!
Well, Toyonoshima and Tomokaze were a little more serious about it:
But then came the Makuuchi dohyo-iri and of course, the usual suspects were goofing around. Abi had an arm-wrestling contest with Chiyotairyu:
And Nishikigi was still looking for somebody to bother, and found Shodai:
Shodai: “Come on, my grandma is here!”.
Looks like a little bit of cute rubbed off even on Takarafuji and Asanoyama:
But if you want to see a little actual sumo, here is this short video:
Shodai was paired, unsurprisingly, with Endo, who must be rather frustrated at having to constantly lose to local boys. Utchari, no less!
And how about that tsuridashi Hakuho did on Takayasu? It’s very encouraging to see him do that. Remember, Jungyo bouts are not something anybody is advised to put money on. There are lots of “gentlemen’s agreements” there, and at the very least, nobody is going to risk injury to win. But still, you can draw some conclusions about wrestlers’ health, and if Hakuho can do something like picking Takayasu up, it means his legs are up to the extra load.
By the way, Yoshikaze was back on the torikumi this day for the first time since the Jungyo began – while Yutakayama dropped off it.
With the sun setting, everybody’s Akeni was packed and wrapped and loaded onto the truck (the side-loading Japanese trucks are very clever):
The Akeni and their wraps carry the names of the sekitori. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many names as possible. Try to learn the kanji for the wrestlers names!
During this visit to Uto, the Yokozuna paid a visit to the grave of Shiranui Nageimon, the 8th Yokozuna, performing his Shiranui dohyo-iri in front of the grave:
Shiranui Nageimon was actually the master of the 11th Yokozuna Shiranui Kotsuemon to whom that dohyo-iri style is (mistakenly) attributed.
And with this, we wrap up the day, tying it all up with Tobizaru:
That lovely Tobizaru really needs to be credited, so here is the Tweet from which he was taken: