Jungyo Newsreel – October 19th


🌐 Location: Kashiba

Guess what just popped out of the ocean?

terunofuji-with-aminishiki
A Terunofuji expression you don’t get to see in honbasho

Yep, today’s main sports news item is Ozekiwake Terunofuji (above, saying hi to Uncle Aminishiki) joining the Jungyo after his serious knee injury during the Aki basho. Which, I remind you, was only a month ago.

How bad was his injury? “Well, at first I couldn’t even use the toilet” remarked the fallen Ozeki (TMI! Please don’t say anything that will cause me to imagine Shunba helping you there, ever again! Somebody hand me the brain-bleach, please!). He was unable to properly extend his leg. Apparently, this was a new injury to his meniscus, unrelated to previous knee problems he had.

terunofuji-muscling-up
Pump it up, Kaiju!

He received some treatment and some rehabilitation, and alongside that (wisely) concentrated on building up his muscles. “I worked out vigorously”, he said.

Today he refrained from doing any on-dohyo practice, and opted instead for shiko, suri-ashi, tachiai practices with his loyal Sancho-Panza, Shunba. And of course, strength training, as you can see here.

But if you think he is taking it easy, like his anideshi Yokozuna, you’re wrong. Tomorrow, when the Jungyo hits Osaka, he intends to join the rest of the sekitori and do some actual keiko.

Moreover, he was in the torikumi today. And the schedulers matched him up with Mitakeumi, no less. When I read that torikumi I was pretty sure Fish-Mouth will make himself a kaiju sandwich. But surprisingly, he didn’t. Mitakeumi did a quick nihon-zashi, and got the ozekiwake all the way to the tawara, but in the end, Terunofuji lifted the sekiwake with both arms (both uwate!) and got him out by Utchari. Video below!

Terunofuji’s problems are far from over, though. “If I told you that there is no pain, I’d be lying. But even if I rested, it won’t heal. I’ll just have to live with it”. He said.

About his demotion from Ozeki after 14 basho in that rank, he had this to say: “If my injuries are healed, I’ll be able to attain that rank again any time. The fact that I ended up with a completely new, unrelated injury that time does not make me happy, but I’m not wasting time thinking about a drop down the banzuke. I have to have self-confidence, and I’ll gain self-confidence by training and competing.”

And as usual, Tachiai wishes our favorite Kaiju a safe and healthy continued career.

It’s kisenosato’s turn to play with Asanoyama

The Yokozuna has apparently forgiven the kanto-sho winner for playing hooky from keiko the other day.

kisenosato-asanoyama-kashiba

He invited him to a 14-bout sanban today, of which the Yokozuna won 9, and Asanoyama a respectable 5. Half way through the series, the two were pretty much even, and you could hear the Yokozuna grunting unhappily.

Those two have kenka-yotsu – the Yokozuna is hidari-yotsu, while Asanoyama is migi-yotsu. In those bouts in which the Yokozuna achieved his favorite grip, he easily dominated. But not so much when he didn’t. “I couldn’t push forward, so it wasn’t good sumo”, said Asanoyama, “but when I got my right hand in I could somehow negotiate at my own pace”.

Following yesterday’s 11-bout session with Kakuryu, this has been Asanoyama’s sixth time to be called for sanban by Yokozuna in this jungyo. “When I lose a bout, I can tell from the experience itself what the reason for having lost was. The angle at which Kisenosato hits you delivers a huge impact. Then he follows that by rapid attacks. Everybody should learn how to position themselves and quickly attack, from watching him”.

The Yokozuna, when asked about the training, narrowed his eyes: “He is skilled, and he has power. I can use him to assess my own state right now. He is the best opponent for that, as he vigorously produces power” he nodded his head.

(Taken from Daily Sports Online).

One thing I’d like to see is Terunofuji taking up Asanoyama (if the Yokozuna let him play with their toy). The youngster seems to be a certified self-assessment tool for high-ranking wrestlers.

Harumafuji is back on the dohyo

The Yusho winner who has, so far, settled for workouts below the dohyo, except for a couple of torikumi in the beginning of the jungyo, decided to do some butsukari geiko.

harumafuji-reverse-butsukari-chiyonokuni

This was actually a reverse butsukari. That is, usually it’s the Yokozuna who lends his chest, and the lower-ranked wrestler who attempts to push him out. Given that a butsukari is usually a show of superiority, not just a form of practice, it’s relatively rare to see reverse ones.

Harumafuji commented that the reason he did not participate so far was finding himself “slow to recover from the fatigue of the honbasho”.

(Taken from Daily Sports Online. And if you read the article to the end and get to the part where they say that sumo originates from Israel, and that the calls “Haikioi” and “Nokotta” are actually Hebrew, well, that’s utter nonsense alternative reality).

Torikumi

hakuho-strangles-kisenosato
Is that a nodowa or a Vulcan nerve pinch?

Edit: This just in: some bout videos!

Hakuho-Kisenosato:

Kakuryu-Goeido:

Terunofuji-Mitakeumi!

Not Jungyo related, but sad news all the same

Apparently, Nishonoseki Oyakata (60) was found unconscious by passers-by after an accident with his bike. He was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery, but so far is still in a coma due to a brain contusion. (Sponichi)

Short Jungyo Newsreel – October 18th


🌐 Location: Tsu

Short one today, as the newspapers are pretty dry.

Kakuryu on the mend, minces Asanoyama

kakuryu-asanoyama

Today it was Kakuryu’s turn to play with Asanoyama, the Yokozuna corps’ favorite toy in this jungyo. He took him for an 11-bout san-ban. The Yokozuna won all. Moving quickly, he led with his right and fiercely attacked the up-and-coming youngster.

“It was my own, never-retreating form. I am able to do sumo without any discomfort”, said the recovering Yokozuna. In Hamamatsu he took Asanoyama for 11 bouts as well and won them all. “But then, I was pushed back”, he recalls. Today, he dominated.

But is he back to his full form? “Not yet. There are still several days till the next honbasho, and I will work every day to improve my sumo and reinforce those parts that are currently unsatisfactory. Next time I’ll take on a rival who is a tsuppari specialist”.

Lots of bouts for your enjoyment

Most of these are Juryo and below, though.

Start with Takayoshitoshi vs. Akua (former shokkiri vs. current shokkiri performer here).

There is actually a second in that match that looks like they are actually doing shokkiri.

Hakkairyu vs. Motokiyama

Kyokushoho vs. Meisei

Azumaryu vs. Aminishiki

Daiamami vs. Kotoyuki

A real slapfest, that one.

Chiyonokuni vs. Takarafuji

Chiyomaru vs. Ishiura

Ishiura gets his just deserts.

As for the musubi no ichiban, if I find a decent video, I’ll add it. The only one I found was so bad I couldn’t tell if Hakuho won by Yorikiri or Oshidashi. Seriously. In fact, if it wasn’t for Kisenosato’s slightly larger silhouette, I wouldn’t even be sure who was who. That bad.

But Hakuho did win this time. So it’s 2-2 so far.

Jungyo Newsreel – October 15


🌐 Location: Kyoto

Hakuho ❤️ Asanoyama

Hakuho's first butsukari with Asanoyama
Ah, true love

After the sekitori were done with their moshi-ai geiko today, Asanoyama was headed down to the locker room, when he was called back by Hakuho: “You’re a Makuuchi freshman. And you got a prize in the last basho. Come over here for some butsukari“.

Asanoyama, of course, did not refuse. “Once you get called, all you can do is respond with all you have”, he enthused.

The enthusiasm soon waned as he was thrown to the ground time and time again. Hakuho dedicated 5 minutes to the love-making, and he doesn’t do things by halves. “It felt a lot longer than 5 minutes” said Asanoyama later to the press.

Here’s a glimpse:

After he released (what remained of) the Kanto-sho winner, accompanied by advice to avoid pulling back his backside when he pushes, Hakuho said about the 189cm, 165kg mostly yotsu-zumo freshman: “He is much like me: has softness, weight and strength. At last such a youngster has come along. One must nurture him and lend him a hand up. They say that he has come too far too fast, but if, once he hits a wall, he has the ability to put his feelings in it, he will be able to extend his success further”.

So far in this Jungyo, Asanoyama was called in by three Yokozuna: Kisenosato for sanban first (and disciplinary butsukari two days ago), Kakuryu for sanban, and now Hakuho for butsukari. I suppose if Harumafuji ever gets to do actual keiko, he won’t  want to be the only Yokozuna not to make out with the lovely new Maegashira. It only remains to be seen if Asanoyama can show the same kind of motivation Onosho has shown, because Onosho really made the best of the similar expert training he had in the previous jungyo, enough to get himself to sanyaku.

Kyoto is a special place

Kyoto is different from most cities in Japan (for one, it has streets with names!). And the Jungyo day in Kyoto was special. Instead of the usual torikumi, the non-sekitori divisions competed in elimination format. The three winners got prizes:

kyoto-winners

The winners:

  • Jonidan: Hokutoshin (Hakkaku beya)
  • Sandanme: Imafuji (Nishonoseki beya)
  • Makushita: Takagenji (Takanohana beya)

Wait, what happened to Enho?

And yes, if you’re into these things, that’s an actual Maiko in full regalia in the foreground, and she was not the only one observed there. I find this very exciting. To draw a parallel, it’s like Sekitori coming to watch a Geisha performance wearing their Kesho-mawashi. Maiko do not dress like that when they are off duty.

The Juryo and Makuuchi parts of the event went in the usual style. In the penultimate bout, Kakuryu beat Goeido by yorikiri, while Kisenosato beat Hakuho by oshi-dashi.

kisenosato-hakuho-oshidashi

Edit: Got the musubi!

Things you can only see in the Jungyo

We’ve seen a glimpse of this here in the previous Jungyo, but I can assure you that it’s a very common occurrence. Though not all babies get to have their own tsuna:

Yokozuna + Baby Dohyo Iri

Note that the ceremony also includes touching the baby to the sacred ground three times, tegatana style.

And this is what the shitaku-beya looks like during the jungyo. That is, the sumo equivalent of the “locker room” or “green room”.

shitaku-beya

Those big trunks are what each sekitori receives together with his kesho-mawashi.

Jungyo Newsreel – October 13th


🌐 Location: Nagano

Kisenosato reprimands youngsters, disciplines Asanoyama

This story actually starts yesterday, at Ichinomiya. Kisenosato came to the stadium in the morning with the intention of engaging Asanoyama in some practice, and was dismayed to find only six sekitori around the dohyo – all of them veterans. None of the young talents (Onosho, Takakeisho, Asanoyama etc.) were to be seen.

The Yokozuna liked this not at all, and made his opinions clear to the press: “Keiko is part of their job. When I was young, I never missed keiko. If you want to become strong, you have to be diligent. And there are spectators present who came today especially to see Asanoyama, the freshman who won ten bouts in the Aki Basho. The Yokozuna and Ozeki are present, but where are the young sekitori?”

The message apparently got through and today at Nagano the mean age around the dohyo dropped significantly. But Kisenosato didn’t let it go at that.

kisenosato-asanoyama-butsukari

The Yokozuna summoned Asanoyama to a session of disciplinary butsukari, which extended to five minutes of tough TLC, apparently accompanied by some talking-to. “The words were rough, too”, said Kisenosato. “Do I have expectations of him? Yes, though saying this to someone who doesn’t give a hoot is worthless.”

Edit: I originally translated from this article in Sponichi, but now they published another version, which makes the statements clearer. Bakanofuji’s translation of Kisenosato’s statement about Takakeisho and Onosho in the comments makes sense now that it is in the context of Hakuho’s return rather than the message to Asanoyama.

Mitakeumi welcomed as a hero on his home turf

Today was Mitakeumi’s day. He hails from Nagano prefecture, and the Jungyo today comes two years after the previous visit. The local police honored him (and Onosho, I have no idea why, as he comes from Aomori) as “police chief for a day”, which mainly consisted of Mitakeumi keeping his face straight, warning the elderly not to fall victim to phone solicitations.

Sumo-wise, almost 7000 people gathered in the stadium to see the local hero, and during the customary handshake part of the day, a long line formed waiting for Mitakeumi to shake their hand. On the dohyo, the sekiwake took some low-rankers for butsukari, and put some extra effort into the wanpaku-keiko goofiness. He even got his oicho-mage done in front of the spectators:

mitakeumi-oicho

He finished up with a torikumi vs. Goeido, ending with a tsuridashi in favor of the local celebrity, to the delight of the spectators. View it all here:

(This is taken from NHK)

“I’m glad I could come back here as sanyaku”, said the sekiwake.

Torikumi of the day

Lots of torikumi today! Thank you, sumo lovers of Nagano!

For Taka-twin lovers, let’s start with Takayoshitoshi vs. Terao:

And complete that with Takagenji vs. Yago.

Uch, Yago should not have tried that grip change. Very clumsy.

Edit: The YouTube videos were removed by their owner, so I can only describe the Kotoyuki vs. Asanoyama bout: Kotoyuki hoots, knocks the air out of Asanoyama twice, then when Asanoyama goes low and tries to headbutt his chest, he sidesteps. Asanoyama recovers and turns around, but Kotoyuki adds a rapid tsuppari and sends Asanoyama out by oshidashi.

The Takarafuji-Chiyoshoma starts with Chiyoshoma gaining a slight advantage. Takarafuji backs down, but gets a good grip, picks up Chiyoshoma and throws him off the dohyo and onto poor Nishikigi. This is followed by a bout between Ishiura and Chiyonokuni, in which Ishiura does the most flagrant Henka in the world, and then you get this:

Chiyonokuni flies out and… falls on Nishikigi on the sidelines. End of edit.

Poor, poor Nishikigi! And poor granny behind Nishikigi! Well, now we know why he puts his glasses somewhere safe and far away from the dohyo every time. 🙂

Actually, he didn’t suffer too much from that. In fact, it seems that he did two Torikumi today and won both (first one not really well filmed):

The one vs. Ichinojo (right after the granny incident):

As far as I understand, he did this one while covering for Arawashi. No word on what happened to Arawashi, though.

If I get a video of the musubi-no-ichiban I’ll be sure to post it. The result was yori-kiri for Kakuryu (vs. Kisenosato, obviously).

Tomorrow Hakuho is back, so maybe there will be some variation in the musubi from now on!

Jungyo Newsreel – October 11


🌐 Location: Hamamatsu

After a short break in which the rikishi went back from Ibaraki to Tokyo, they got on their buses again and traveled back to Shizuoka prefecture, venturing further than before, south to Hamamatsu. By now, even Aminishiki is gently complaining in his blog about the busy schedule.

That is, all got on buses but the Yokozuna, who instead took the Tokaido shinkansen along with their respective retinues, straight to Hamamatsu. It’s good to be the King.

It’s actually rare for all participating Yokozuna to travel together, as usually each makes his own arrangements (or has them made for him). This time they all had a reception to attend, and therefore traveled together.

Let’s see what they have been up to since finishing with their non-sumo obligations:

Kisenosato gives Daieisho a nosebleed

daieisho-bleedingKisenosato once again engaged Daieisho in san-ban. They did 10 bouts, of which Kisenosato won 8 and lost 2. And Daieisho, as you can see, also lost a bit of blood.

Sponichi reports that Kisenosato was in good form, used his left arm, and entertained the viewers with excellent mobility. Me? I’ll believe that when I see it. Unfortunately, it seems that no obasan was kind enough to record any of the events. If I see any video, I’ll be sure to edit it in later on.

Kakuryu practices with Asanoyama

kakuryu-asanoyama

Having been dumped by Kisenosato in favor of Daieisho, Asanoyama has been batting his pretty eyelashes at Kakuryu. Apparently Kakuryu couldn’t resist much longer, and offered him some Yokozuna love. That is, a sanban. I suppose Asanoyama’s tachiai is better than Shodai’s.

Harumafuji gives Ichinojo personal tutoring

Harumafuji, in addition to all the other responsibilities he seems to enjoy accepting, has taken it upon himself to give sumo lessons to anybody around the dohyo who is willing to listen. In the Natsu jungyo, he taught Goeido his arm and shoulders workout routine. In this Jungyo, at Chikusei, he picked Meisei and demonstrated waza to him (seemed to be ashitori), patiently placing Meisei’s hands on his own person to clarify the points. Today he took up Ichinojo.

ichinojo-harumafuji-lesson

While the other sekitori were busy with moshi-ai geiko (winner picks next opponent), the Yokozuna spent about half an hour making Ichinojo do suri-ashi repeatedly, and at the same time physically corrected his technique, such as the use of his left arm. “It was a tachiai practice. I just taught him what I know. But whether he’ll diligently ingest this or not is up to him,” said Harumafuji.

Ichinojo himself was dutifully thankful, and noted that it has been a long time since he received guidance from the Yokozuna. “If I can get this down pat, I’ll have confidence facing the next basho”, he added. The Yokozuna remarked: “That depends on him”.

Ichinojo himself paid it forward, picking Yago for butsukari:

ichinojo-butsukari-yago

Now, this makes a lot more sense than Nishikigi offering his chest to Yago. This is a butsukari whose video I’d love to find. I’m sure when those two bodies clashed, seismographs around Shizuoka went into the red.

Terunofuji achieves pole position in race for Darwin Award

terunofuji-leaning-on-shunba
Terunofuji, the knee disaster personified, announced today that he will… oy… be joining the… oy… Jungyo as of October 19th, when it stops at Kashiba in Nara. Sorry, it’s really painful for me to type this. Oy.

Reminder: last time the fallen Ozeki prematurely returned to action, it ended up as you see on the left. And he just refuses to learn. I wonder how much more of this Shunba can take.

A less painful addition to the Jungyo occured today, as the recovering Yutakayama joined forces with the rest of the Makuuchi.

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.

🤕😕

Aki Day 15 Preview


9

After many twists and turns, we have reached the final day of the 2017 Aki basho. I would like to thank our readers for joining us for the ride, and we are grateful for each of you taking the time to read our musings for the past 15 days. The fall out from Aki is likely to be quite dramatic. The old guard re-asserted their dominance in the second week, but the trend is clear that the younger rikishi are coming into their own. But first day 15 – it comes down to the rikishi still struggling for kachi-koshi, and the final act of the yusho race.

Going into day 15, there are 5 rikishi who will decide their kachi-koshi in their final match. Two of them are San’yaku! The list is: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Ichinojo, Chiyoshoma, Okinoumi. Mitakeumi in particular is a tight spot, as he faces Yoshikaze. But the 3 Maegashira who are on the bubble all have relatively easy draws for the final day.

The yusho race was narrowed to a simple contest between Yokozuna Harumafuji and Ozeki Goeido. The final match, of the final day. If Goeido wins, he is champion. If he loses, there is an immediate tie-breaker match between them again to determine the winner. For the scheduling team, this is a remarkable triumph in the face of absolutely miserable conditions. Ideally the yusho will come down to a high-stakes match on the final day. This draws viewers and fans, and creates overwhelming excitement. So my congratulations to that team for succeeding in spite of a difficult situation.

Please note, the Tachiai Yusho Drinking Game is still valid for day 15, if readers choose to participate.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Okinoumi vs. Sadanoumi – Okinoumi is battling for kachi-koshi but lksumo has him safe at the bottom of Makuuchi regardless. Sadanoumi seem to have found his sumo, and has won the two prior days. He is certainly returning to Juryo, but with any luck his injuries will be healed enough that he won’t be there long.

Kaisei vs. Arawashi – Kaisei test match, going up against the higher ranked Arawashi. Kaisei looks lighter, faster and generally in much better condition than any prior 2017 appearance, and I am delighted to see him back in form. With any luck he will continue his improvements and be fordable in Kyushu. Arawashi has been eating his Wheaties, and is generally doing awesomely this basho.

Chiyoshoma vs. Yutakayama – Scheduling throws Maegashira 8 Chiyoshoma a bone by making him face Maegashira 15 Yutakayama for his kachi-koshi on the final day.

Ichinojo vs. Daieisho – Another gift from scheduling, Maegashira 6 Ichinojo faces Maegashira 11 Daieisho for his kachi-koshi deciding match. A win will likely put Ichinojo in the joi-jin for Kyushu. We hope he can find some of his old energy and vigor.

Shodai vs. Endo – Another Endo test match, these are likely helping the banzuke team figure out just how healed up Endo is, and how high they can safely rank him for Kyushu. With Ura and possibly a few others out for a while, they need more kanban rikishi in the public eye to keep sumo compelling.

Asanoyama vs. Chiyotairyu – Likely a test match for Asanoyama, to help judge where to rank him for Kyushu. I am sure sumo-Elvis Chiyotairyu will dismantle him, but it’s important to see how Asanoyama holds up.

Tamawashi vs. Takakeisho – Komusubi Tamawashi needs a win to keep his San’yaku rank alive, and he’s going to have a tough time taking a win from Takakeisho. I have no doubt that Takakeisho is eager to rejoin the joi-jin and revisit his experience with Yokozuna Hakuho.

Mitakeumi vs. Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze has been very docile the past two days, and one has to wonder if he is injured or just throttled back for now. Mitakeumi needs to hope that he’s off his sumo on day 15, or the future Ozeki will lose his coveted Sekiwake rank. Yoshikaze holds a 3-1 advantage in their career statistics.

Goeido vs. Harumafuji – The ultimate match to end the basho, the yusho is on the line, and it’s Japan vs Mongolia. It’s the unreliable Ozeki against a battle scared war machine Yokozuna who never gives up. Harumafuji holds a 31-11 career advantage. If the same Goeido shows up that was on the dohyo day 14, this will be one for the highlight reels.