Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 15

🌐 Location: Sendai, Miyagi

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Today’s event… well, honestly, it’s not today’s event. It took place on the 12th. But anyway, day 15th event took place at Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Sendai has been one of the places hit most severely in the 2011 Tohoku disaster, and sever years later, it’s still seeking revival. Accordingly, two Yokozuna with their entourages reported in to perform a ceremonial dohyo-iri for the revival of Sendai:

If you’re wondering about the absence of Hakuho, just remember that in 2011 he did the rounds as lone Yokozuna to perform dohyo-iri all over Tohoku, including Sendai. The other Yokozuna get to be in the spotlight this time.

The event also included some solemn sumo jinku:

jinku-for-restoration-of-sendai
Tochigidake, Mutsukaze, Motokiyama

Back in the venue, Hakuho continued his off-dohyo workout routine. Though who knows what he was exercising here:

hakuho

If you think that looks silly, that’s one Hakuho record easily broken by Kakuryu, who seems to be really creative when it comes to looking silly:

kakuryu-silly-exercise

Other than that, most practice was sane. Takakeisho was doing butsukari with Daieisho:

takakeisho-butsukari-daieisho

And Takayasu was doing san-ban with Yutakayama:

takayasu-sanban-yutakayama

Goeido also had gave butsukari, but was still off the torikumi. Apparently, he has an ear infection. Takekaze, by the way, is back in the bouts.

Just before the Juryo torikumi, a drum exhibition took place:

Here is another duty performed by gyoji: the announcer in the venue is always a gyoji. In this case, Kimura Ryosuke:

ryosuke-chiyootori

Here accompanied by Chiyootori, who seems never to let go of that portable mini-fan.

It’s the announcer’s duty to explain what is going on on the dohyo – who is coming up for sanban or butsukari, what performance is about to take place and what it means. He gives the audience the kimarite at the end of each bout, reads out the names of kensho sponsors, and also gives general guidelines such as what to do in case of earthquake.

Dohyo-iri time is goof time. Chiyomaru decided to make sure all the photos taken by the sumo ladies were decent:

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I wonder how he got those removed (cringe)

Tamawashi and Chiyomaru bullied poor Shodai so badly he ran away:

Tamawashi didn’t settle just with that. He also pestered Ikioi:

tamawashi-annoys-ikioi

…and bothered Kagayaki:

tamawashi-annoys-kagayaki

I guess somebody forgot his Ritalin today?

Alas, I do not have any torikumi videos. I can inform you that Aminishiki, who is very popular in Sendai, won his bout vs. Takanoiwa:

aminishiki
That’s a pretty determined face for a mere Jungyo bout

Apparently, Chiyomaru lost to Arawashi, while Mitakeumi beat Takayasu. And honestly, I don’t know who won, but Endo seems to be really enjoying his bouts:

endo-enjoys-himself-too-much

Now, in our Enho corner, I wanted to give you yet another solo dreamy prince photo. Or maybe one of him doing his shiko. But I have been informed that there are still a few people not trained enough to recognize Yago on the spot. So I give you Enho – accompanied by Yago:

enho-with-yago

Easily recognizable by having his center of gravity in his jaw.

And so as not to diminish Enho, here is a little clip from Instagram, which shows you why people love the little prince to bits. He recognizes the lady fan who is filming this from a previous occasion, and turns to greet her. She: “Hey, you remember me?”, He: “Yes, I remember”. She “Oh… thank you!!!” 😍

That guy waiting for Enho there is Kyokusoten, who has also fallen under the spell of the little pixie prince. Just today I saw a tweet in which he refers to him as “Uchi no Enho” (“My Enho”). 💕

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 11

🌐 Location: Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

takayasu
Welcome back, big bear

The Jungyo made its way back to Tokyo on day 11, and in the middle of a typhoon, took place at the Aoyama university campus in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Tokyo is a convenient places for rikishi to join or leave the Jungyo. Joining today was Ozeki Takayasu – just in time for the next event, which takes place in his home prefecture of Ibaraki.

But though it would have been understandable if he took it easy in Tokyo which served as a convenient convergence point, he decided all of a sudden to go up the dohyo and have san-ban with Asanoyama and Onosho. The results were less than spectacular – at least as far as the Ozeki was concerned:

The Ozeki’s shoulder is still not quite right?

Ah, finally, a win:

So, although he managed 4 wins and 1 loss to Asanoyama, he was completely smashed by Onosho, 3 wins and 12 losses.

In between, Nishikigi-mama and his assistant, Takanosho, wiped what little dirt Takayasu managed to put on Onosho.

Ryuden: “you missed a spot!” 🙂

So that was the man joining. But there were also men leaving. First, the whole Arashio gang which went to Suwa lake with Sokokurai disappeared. I thought they were joining to be there in time for Fukushima – especially the two elder Onamis – but no, they just made an appearance on that particular day. Special sponsor request, I guess. Perhaps specifically an Arashio beya sponsor.

But that’s a minor disappearance. The major one was, of course, Hakuho, who announce that he will go kyujo as of the next day. He did make an appearance as usual, and worked out lightly below the dohyo:

hakuho

But he informed the press that his knee was bothering him more than he let on at first. A few days ago he said that his knee was “feeling odd” but “there was no pain”, but today he qualified that to “I’m taking strong painkillers, so there is no pain”. Ouch.

He will be re-examined, and while he expressed his hope that he’ll be able to re-join the Jungyo at some point, he said there was a possibility he’ll need surgery or at least an arthroscopy. This may well mean he’ll be absent from Aki.

The Yokozuna is going to stay at Tokyo, but not with his full entourage. Kasugaryu will be needed to perform the yumi-tori, as there is no backup currently at the Jungyo (Satonofuji stayed home this time). And what will be the fate of our  daily Enho photos?

Hakuho is not the only worry – two notable participants were off the torikumi this day: Takekaze and Goeido. I believe they did participate in the keiko session, but can’t find evidence of any on-dohyo activity of these two.

But the show must go on! Yokozuna Kakuryu is still around, and probably slept at home, so he didn’t have time to get a decent shave in the morning:

unshaven-kakuryu

But later in the day he became pretty to celebrate his birthday – although that’s actually on the 10th. That’s probably because it’s easier to get those cakes in Tokyo:

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Soccer cake to celebrate his unofficial soccer analyst position in the recent World Cup?

Aoiyama lent his chest to a lower ranked rikishi (I would guess his tsukebito). Interestingly, his usual bracing is not used for this exercise:

aoiyama-butsukari

Ryuden was using his tsukebito for weight training. Version one:

 

And version two:

The ever rounder Chiyomaru was doing some fansa right before his bout. His brother-come-tsukebito was fanning himself:

chiyomaru-chiyootori

Onosho continued to goof around just before the dohyo-iri, and got a bit of shoulder massage:

So here are some bouts for you:

Kagayaki vs. Ikioi:

Shodai not only serves as padding for the fall but also politely folds Ikioi’s sagari.

With Goeido off the bouts, Takayasu faced yusho winner Mitakeumi. The bout is part of the following news report:

Sigh. Mitakeumi should watch the Hakuho-Tochinoshin bout from Natsu to learn how to deal with tsuri-yori. That leg wriggling – not helpful!

The musubi:

And here is your Enho. I think this photo ranks pretty high on the heart throb Richter scale:

enho

So let’s hope he didn’t leave the Jungyo together with Hakuho…

PS: more synchronized workout by Enho and Tobizaru:

Day 5 – Below the Curtain

Makuuchi, you may know, means “Inside the curtain”. This is a reference to days gone by, when the top level rikishi were curtained off from the mere mortals, named “makushita” (“below the curtain”). In those days, there was no separate “Juryo” division.

And so, let’s go below the curtain.

Juryo

Everybody’s favorite Uncle Sumo finally managed to pull his first win in this basho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, yes, he-e-e-enka. But it’s really not clear what Aminishiki tried to do there other than confuse Azumaryu. Then followed a short oshi battle which Aminishiki, much to his relief, won.

Another Isegahama beya man who finally got a win after three consecutive losses was Homarefuji.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both rikishi were patient and did a bit of leaning and thinking, but I think Takagenji should have reacted to Homarefuji’s grip change. He didn’t, and the circling continued, and eventually he found himself thrown.

On the other hand, Terunofuji and Terutsuyoshi, who were the leaders for Isegahama the previous day, had a bit of a reversal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terunofuji opened well, but Takanosho managed to turn and put him between himself and the Tawara. Unfortunately, the ex-kaiju still has no staying power on the bales.

Terutsuyoshi had to face the mawashi-wearing-spud, Akiseyama. Actually, today Akiseyama looked a bit more like a sumo wrestler and less like a lucky blob:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He doesn’t allow Hefty Smurf to get anywhere near the front of his mawashi, and eventually catches the little devil and throws him out unceremoniously.

Enho, the Less-Hefty Smurf, had to face Takanoiwa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was quite a match! Enho stuck to the front of Takanoiwa’s mawashi like bad reputation, and wouldn’t let go. Kudos to Takanoiwa for pulling Enho back from the edge of the dohyo after the yori-kiri.

The Juryo yusho arasoi looks like this at the moment:

5-0: Sadanoumi.

4-1: Takekaze, Gagamaru, Takanosho, Mitoryu, Akiseyama

If Takekaze keeps that up, we’ll see him back in Makuuchi by Natsu.

Makushita

Wakatakakage and Hakuyozan were both 2-0 before their bout today.

 

 

 

 

Hakuyozan denies Wakatakakage any access to his mawashi with a barrage of tsuppari. I think Wakatakakage was just a bit too slow today.

For those who were wondering how Chiyootori looks following his injury:

 

 

Well, there is a slight limp there at the end, but generally, despite losing this particular match, he seems to be in a reasonable state to do sumo. Whether he’ll be able to get his sekitori status back is another question. Rumor has it that he has been set as Chiyotairyu’s tsukebito, by the way. Former komusubi, I must remind you.

I’m skipping Sandanme, as I don’t have any quality video to share, noting only that finally Terunohana got his first win.

Down at Jonidan, Torakio continues his decisive race back to the next level. Yusho potential here.

By the way, Torakio may be the star of his heya, but the little smurf, Oshozan, is doing nicely this basho at Jonidan, despite being a rather self-effacing guy (based on his Twitter account, that is).

Finally, the great rivalry developing down at Jonokuchi: Naya, the grandson, vs. Hoshoryu, the nephew.

This is a bad angle for it, so you may want to watch the same bout at Miselet‘s channel, where the entire Jonokuchi broadcast is available. Naya has Hoshoryu in a firm grip and there is really no way for the lighter Mongolian to get away from that grip. I can well imagine these two in three years, throwing a spanner into each other’s Ozeki runs.

Hatsu Day 14 Summary – The New Talent Continues to Excel

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Sumo’s Bright Future On Display

The second to last day of the January tournament turned in several thrilling matches, as low ranked Maegashira paired off against senior Sekitori to test their potential at future higher ranks. In general the new talent gave a very good showing, and in some cases surprised their senior opponents.

First there were visitors from Juryo today in the upper division, starting with Ura. Clearly Ura liked his first taste of Kensho, and was looking for more. Sadanoumi had a straight ahead approach, but a match with Ura requires improvisation. Juryo Daieisho also showed a great deal of poise and balance in his win over Takakeisho, having him his make-koshi (ouch!). The battle looked all Takakeisho until Daieisho executed a stunning thrust / throw at the tawara.

Ishiura’s dirty henka over Osunaarashi was demeaning, and Osunaarashi’s icy glare post match told the whole story. It was not like Osunaarashi had the strength in his lower body to offer much of a challenge. This was purely an insult. Chiyoo looked very good handing Kotoyuki his make-koshi, and survived a lot of really well place thrusts from Kotoyuki. Chiyoo eventually got a belt hold and gave Kotoyuki a nice hug-n-chug to exit him from the ring.

Takekaze displayed yet another fantastic, crowd pleasing Judo style throw in his win over Chiyootori, who sadly is now make-koshi and may be headed back to Juryo. Kaisei seems to have finally remembered his sumo, and will possibly save himself from further demotion. It does beg the question of why it seems to take him so many bouts in a tournament to get warmed up. His limited box of moves is “I am enormous and weight more than a side of beef”, so it limits him.

Mitakeumi gets to double digit wins in his blistering match against Hokutofuji, who is certainly fighting strong this basho. Keep an eye on Hokutofuji, as he has yet to turn in a losing record in his sumo career. Much as I worried, Takayasu was surprised by Sokokurai, who executed a fantastic move at the tawara that seems to have embarrassed Takayasu. This should be a lesson to the joi – don’t underestimate Sokokurai.

I felt a bit sorry for Ichinojo taking on Kisenosato. Here is a Maegashira 13 facing the dai-Ozeki, and clearly he is as nervous as can be. After a false start, you can clearly see his composure crumple and drift away. On the second attempt, Kisenosato easily escorts him out. If Ichinojo can stay healthy, and stay at this weight or lower, he has potential. But I fear he may end up like Terunofuji, where his body fails him after a few years. Ikioi picked up his kachi-koshi against poor Kotoshogiku who now carries a double-digit loss, and has nothing left.

Lastly, once again, Takanoiwa defeated Yokozuna Hakuho convincingly. The Yokozuna was driven back, raised up and Takanoiwa applied a series of hip-pumps to push Hakuho out. It was a shocking upset, and re-awakens concerns over Hakuho’s post-surgery strength and endurance.

Hatsu Day 5 Preview

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Can Mitakeumi Wake Up Kisenosato?

With day 5, we bring the first act of the Hatsu basho to a close. We know who is hot, and who is not. We can see that a number of fine sumotori are injured and in trouble, and that the cold equations of sumo are going to likely run their course unless some external force rescues them.

Day 4 was a weird one. Even HHK was so impressed with Ura’s distortion field that they snuck his match into the start of their highlight show. Having watched it several times, it reminds me quite a bit of Jackie Chan’s drunken master.

But at least one day 4, poor Ishiura took a break from the swirly he is getting this basho to win a match against Kagayaki, who is having a similarly disappointing tournament. Ishiura is debugging the problems that small, highly mobile rikishi have with the giants of Makuuchi – many of their sumo techniques simply won’t work. When Ura finally makes it out of Juryo, it will be the same thing once more. The rikishi who seems to be getting a handle on that is Chyonokuni.

At the start of day 5 there are still 5 rikishi who are undefeated:

  • Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takanoiwa, Sokokurai, Sadanoumi

Which is pretty impressive, and there is a fine chance that most of them will be 5-0 at the end of day 5, too. But in general, day 5 seems to be tailored to the hot fighting the not, so it’s going to get ugly.

Notable Matches

Gagamaru vs Ichinojo – In the category of planetary object colliding over Tokyo, we have this example. Who’s going to win? Ask an astrophysicist. Seriously though, Ichinojo is 3-1 right now. How? Consult the data from Hubble. Ichinojo has a 2-0 advantage historically.

Takanoiwa vs Chiyootori – Takanoiwa is ripping it up as part of the 4-0 group, and day 5 sees him against the struggling Chiyootori. I predict pushing, thrusting and a lot slapping.

Yoshikaze vs Ikioi – Both of these two are solidly 2-2 and having a lukewarm basho. Yoshikaze lost to Endo day 4 due to a brief mistake that Endo was able to exploit masterfully. Ikioi is the kind of over-commit / under-commit, so it could be a weird bout. Yoshikaze has a slight career advantage at 6-5

Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Terunofuji was recently mistaken for the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by the US coast guard. He’s really in tough shape and had very little power due to damage to his legs, knees, ankles and McPherson strut assembly. Tamawashi is looking very strong and may make it another weird bout. Lifetime advantage to Terunofuji at 4-2, but I think he is in pitiable condition.

Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – This bout is likely to be the highlight of day 5. Kisenosato really has seems kind of depressed and detached, as if he is waiting for something exciting. Given how many scalps Mitakeumi has taken, this may be the day that “Dump Truck” Kisenosato finally gets a chance to work. Kise has won both of their prior meetings. I really hope this goes yotsu-zumō from the start.

Kakuryu vs Takayasu – Takayasu seemed to be suffering from the same kind of funk on day 4 that has consumed his stable mate Kisenosato, with the exception being that Takayasu lost. Today he takes on the wily Yokozuna Kakuryu and his reactive sumo style. Takayasu’s sumo is about being strong and stable, Kakuryu mobile and using the opponents energy against them. Kakuryu has won 11 of their prior 15 matches.

Hakuho vs Shohozan – Hakuho is back in form close enough to the original that he is a joy to watch. Up on day 5 is burly and rowdy Shohozan who is fighting better than his 2-2 record might indicate. In their prior 11 matches, Hakuho has won them all. So the question is what kind of attack plan will he use against the man from Fukuoka?

Okinoumi vs Harumafuji – With both of these guys at full health, it would be a quick bout with Harumafuji the easy winner. Both of them are in pretty bad shape, and with Harumafuji staring Moriya’s vendetta in the face, it could get kind of sloppy. I just pray neither one of them exit the bout more injured, which is a real possibility at this point. Harumafuji leads the career record with 12-6 over Okinoumi.

Hatsu Day 2 Preview

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Kokugikan Sellout Continues

The popularity of sumo is on the upswing both in its home country of Japan and indeed world wide. For a good period of time I considered attending several days of Hatsu myself, but the entire venue quickly sold out. This happens at a great time for the sport, as there is a fantastic crop of young, eager rikishi who are present in the upper divisions to test and train with some of the greatest men ever to wear a mawashi.

Day one was a really solid opening day, but there were very few upsets, and as Andy quipped, things turned out pretty much as expected. I note that Ishiura is still working hard to get a consistent attack plan together for these mid and upper level Maegashira, but I have a lot of faith that under Hakuho’s tutelage he will get winning recipe.

Notable Matches

Chiyootori vs Osunaarashi – Osunaarashi pulled a fantastic utchari twisting throw at the edge of the ring on day 1 to win over Chiyoo. In his second bout against the Chiyoo twins, he faces to much larger Chiyootori, who is a far more even match at 3-5 in favor of Chiyootori. Strong chance of a Chiyootori henka or early pulling attack.

Sokokurai vs Ishiura – Ishiura’s day 1 bout was nothing special, and he was pretty easily contained. Early basho bouts, and Hatsu specifically see a lot of cob webs being cleared as the rikishi get back into their sumo. This will only be the second meeting between these two, with Sokokurai winning the last match by getting behind Ishiura and pushing him out. (okuridashi)

Kotoyuki vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze is prone to have streaks of amazing sumo performance. The last example was Nagoya 2016, and it was a joy to watch. With his strong opening day disposal of Chiyoshoma, Yoshikaze fans globally are hoping that his new mawashi has brought renewed vigor. Yoshikaze has a slight edge over Kotoyuki. These two really love to let the slaps fly, so I expect Yoshikaze to get the expected battle damage to his face in today.

Endo vs Ikioi – Two crowd favorites face off in a match where you wish they both could win. Endo looked to have a flat tire on day one, hopefully his cobwebs are gone now and he is ready to bring his sumo. Sadly Ikioi tends to dominate their matches, with a 6-1 advantage.

Arawashi vs Shodai – On day one, Shodai got the Tsukiji treatment from Hakuho. It’s time to see if that rattled his confidence as he faces Maegashira 2 Arawashi on day 2. The have only met once before, with Arawashi prevailing with am underarm throw on day 15 of Kyushu.

Terunofuji vs Takayasu – It kind of hurts to watch Terunofuji. He has, in the past, been one of the most feared men in sumo. Now he struggles just to get off the line. Takayasu, if he still wants a shot at Ozeki, needs to help Terunofuji vacate a slot for him. Takayasu has been struggling, and he needs to really step up before he has too many losses for a shot at Kachi-koshi and a return to contention for Ozeki. His record with Terunofuji is an even 6-6, and I am hoping we see some great yotsu-zumō.

Kakuryu vs Shohozan – It went largely unnoticed, but Shohozan looked very good day 1 against Terunofuji, doing just as much to win the match as Terunofuji did to lose it. Now he faces a very strong Yokozuna Kakuryu, who is clearly fired up and ready to defend the Emperor’s cup. Their prior 10 matches have all gone to Kakuryu. Shohozan’s chance comes if he can wrap up the Yokozuna and fight the match via the belt.

Mitakeumi vs Harumafuji – Mitakeumi handled Goeido very cleanly on day 1. Now it’s time to face the frenzied attack of Yokozuna Harumafuji. I would expect The Horse to deploy his famous nodowa today, as is his custom against Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi’s one chance before he lands the death grip is likely a henka.

NOTE – Monday is the day of Wakaichiro’s first bout. He will face Tatsunofuji in the second match of the day, at a fairly early hour of the morning. Eternal gratitude to any soul that can put video of this on YouTube.

Chiyootori Goes Kyujo

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Word in the last hour that Kokonoe Beya wrestler Chiyootori has withdrawn from the Aki basho due to further injury to the meniscus in his left knee . His injuries had been greatly impacting his sumo, and he had already gone make-koshi (1-9). Tachiai wishes him a speedy and complete recovery.

November 2015, Day 4: Hakuho, Kotoshogiku, Ikioi, Chiyootori lead (updated)

This will be a quick update because I need to run. I hope to update later tonight with more analysis. Kaisei dropped off the lead pack but Ikioi and Chiyootori are hanging with Hakuho and Kotoshogiku…for now.

Kotoshogiku will have his hands full with Toyonoshima tomorrow. The maegashira 3 has beaten both Sekiwake and Endo and he’s beaten Giku the last four times they’ve fought. Hakuho will likely have no problem dispatching Aoiyama as Tochinoshin and Osunaarashi are bigger challenges, I think, especially the way the man mountain just sat down against Ternoufuji today. It seemed when he tried to brace with his left knee, it gave and he collapsed. As for Hakuho, I think everyone was surprised at his henka win over Yoshikaze.

Ikioi will face Endo who’s not been doing well this tournament and Chiyootori is still battling chumps at the bottom of the banzuke. Chiyootori will likely carry on undefeated for the first week, at least.

Knees: Endo, Aminishiki, Chiyootori

Chiyootori’s knee buckled as he tried to get the special prize today. His injury adds to Aminishiki and Endo. None of the three could walk away from the dohyo under their own power. Endo seemed in the least pain of the three but all of these cases show how the Kyokai needs to make a change in the way it handles injuries. These wrestlers need medical attention quickly and they should not be walking after these injuries. After seeing what Homasho and Tochinoshin went through, and how he battled back from the lower ranks just last year, I’m not sure Aminishiki will have that much time to battle back.

Chiyootori makes it three
Chiyootori makes it three