Hatsu Day 4 Highlights

It looks like it was hair-pull Wednesday. None of it seemed like a deliberate tactic, but it took at least one clear win from a rikishi on a no-loss streak. There are an impressive number of rank-and-file rikishi who are still 4-0, and sadly two Ozeki who are in real trouble with injuries, and might want to consider kyujo and immediate medical attention.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Aminishiki – A couple of false starts, Chiyonokuni was worried about an Aminishiki henka, and who would not be? Aminishiki took the tachiai, but Chiyonokuni was able to overwhelm uncle sumo’s offense.

Yutakayama defeats Daiamami – Yutakayama picks up his third win, in this evenly balanced oshi/tsuki match. Yutakayama was consistently in better position, and kept Daiamami moving to his tune. My favorite part comes when Daiamami has a solid nodowa, and Yutakayama applies a vigorous slap to his attacker’s face.

Kotoyuki defeats Chiyoshoma – Kotoyuki got into his favorite mode of sumo, and after trading a short series of thrusts, he had Chiyoshoma off balance, and spinning toward the East side.

Yago defeats Kagayaki – Excellent fundamentals as usual from Kagayaki, and he controlled the early part of the match, moving Yago backward, keeping Yago higher and reacting to his sumo. Yago worked to bring Kagayaki to his chest, and when he got Kagayaki wrapped up, he went to work. Although Kagayaki struggled, Yago kept his opponent centered and marched him out. More evidence that Yago is probably going to be a big deal in the next few years.

Abi defeats Endo – It was a cloud of flailing arms immediately from the tachiai, and Abi put himself at risk by attempting an early pull down. Respect to Endo for doing a better job than most at repelling the Abi-zumo attack, but Abi continued to apply pressure, and Endo landed in a heap.

Ryuden defeats Asanoyama – A solid, protracted mawashi battle. Asanoyama was in control for a good portion of the match, but failed to pick up his first win. It looked like Asanoyama got tired, and Ryuden exploited his opponents exhaustion. Good sumo from both.

Kaisei defeats Daieisho – Kaisei seems to have his sumo at full power for the first time in a while, and he remains undefeated. Daieisho gave it everything he had, but there is just too much Kaisei to toss around.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – This match was all Aoiyama, and Onosho could not overcome the Man-Mountain’s superior reach, and was bodily thrown to the clay. But a Monoii was called, and it was determined that Aoiyama had contact with Onosho’s hair during the throw, and was disqualified.

Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – I hate to say it, but it’s painful to watch Yoshikaze right now. He seems completely out of energy and drive, and he presents little offense in any of his matches. Injury? We don’t get to know.

Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku – Shohozan scores his first win by shutting down Kotoshogiku’s hug-n-chug attack, and getting to Kotoshogiku’s side.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – A critical tadpole battle, this match did much to shape the second act, and it’s a fair question to wonder if Takakeisho needs to work out a mechanism to defend against this kind of attack. Mitakeumi was able to shut down the “wave-action” by never letting Takakeisho get enough distance to effective push against him. At close range, Mitakeumi’s bulk and grip carried the match. Excellent strategy from Mitakeumi, and he moves to 4-0. I can point to Takakeisho’s early attempt at a pull-down as the fatal flaw that allowed Mitakeumi to close the gap and back Takakeisho to the bales as the moment he lost the match.

Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Ozeki Tochinoshin needs to just go kyujo, and work to get his injury treated. He is going to be kadoban either way, and he may as well save himself from any potential damage that might arise.

Ichinojo defeats Goeido – A wide range of thoughts about this, firstly a lot of credit to Ichinojo for outstanding, aggressive sumo two days in a row. He looked like a real champion, and I can’t get enough of this when he is fighting well. Goeido gave it everything he had, and we saw some fantastic attempts to overcome Ichinojo’s size and mass advantage. But with Goeido pressed tightly to his chest, Ichinojo expertly wore him down, and then tossed him aside like a spent ice cream bucket. Fantastic sumo from both, but Goeido likewise needs to own up to his injury and seek treatment before it becomes permanent.

Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Influenza patient Takayasu blasts through his fever to drop Tochiozan. As the scion of Tagonoura now, I expect Takayasu to further harden his already grim determination to win every time he mounts the dohyo. On a related note, it seems the flu is ripping through Japan right now, and there may be several more rikishi who end up sick before this tournament is complete.

Kakuryu defeats Myogiryu – It was not pretty, but it was a much needed win.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji lost this match because Hakuho used anything he could think of to delay the moment he touched out. It was a masterful act of agility and poise, but it was really a toss up who was the dead body in this match. Although Hakuho won, this is a great barometer of just how far Hokutofuji’s sumo has come. The boss remains undefeated.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Final Day (Dec. 22)

🌐 Location: Tsuchiura/Ushiku, Ibaraki
😝 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽

It’s the end of the winter Jungo. The two towns of Tsuchiura and Ushiku probably planned this event with the intention of celebrating the return of Kisenosato. Takayasu comes from Tsuchiura, while Kisenosato comes from Ushiku. However, since the event was planned, Kisenosato had the disastrous Kyushu basho, followed by a long kyujo.

And so, Takayasu had to be the star of the day, all on his own.

Hey Takayasu! Today you are going to get so… loved… by the Yokozuna! Enjoy!

But there were other rikishi in the venue as well! There was Aminishiki, showing one of those rarer and rarer smiles:

I guess being around his heya’s yobidashi, Teruya, makes Uncle Sumo happy.

Ichinojo managed to convince Mitoryu to let him play a little

Mitoryu doesn’t seem to take this too seriously, though.

Kakuryu practiced with hand weights. In the past, this exercise was mostly associated with Harumafuji.

Shohoryu watches and learns.

Hakuho, on the other hand, was working mainly on his legs. He started with plain suri-ashi:

Then he did this… thing:

I’m rather amused by Nishikigi getting trapped in the hana-michi and not being able to escape. 🙂

Then the Yokozuna did this:

Hehe… Yokozuna, try the Abi shiko. It will do wonders for your thighs (and your dohyo-iri)!

I wonder if the reason they called this janitor was to clean up after him…

There’s something very familiar about this janitor, though…

On the dohyo, the usual moshi-ai sessions took place, and there were several lengthy kawaigari sessions for the spectators to enjoy. Kakuryu decided to give his former tsukebito, Gokushindo, some love

Hey, even the gentle Kakuryu kicks!

Gokushindo took this as an encouragement to get himself back to sekitori status as soon as possible. He is going to drop back to Makushita tomorrow when the Banzuke is published. “Get back to the white mawashi quickly and you’ll be able to practice with me again!”, so to speak.

Goeido once again took on Chiyonoumi. I’m not sure why exactly, but hey, as long as somebody loves my man from Kochi!

Even Hakuho stops to watch, and nods his head approvingly!

Then, of course, the highlight of the keiko part of the day, was Hakuho’s kawaigari for Takayasu. There was six minutes of this:

This:

“[Get on your] feet! feet! feet! feet!”. Then finally, this:

Among the encouragement calls for Takayasu were also shouts of “Thank you, Hakuho!” coming from the Ozeki’s townspeople. Hearing this, the Yokozuna reacted: “The people of Ibaraki know their sumo”.

Which tells me the Yokozuna is well aware of the latest outrage campaign against his “evil kawaigari” going through the social media.

Poor Takayasu had to go through a lot of adoring fans when he got finished with that lovemaking session:

The people of Ibaraki may know their sumo, but they sure don’t know when to back off and let a man breath…

It’s time for shower, lunch and hairdos. And I have another behind-the-scenes revelation for you today!

Well, no controversial, um, reading material today. Just an amusing Asanoyama moment captured by Wakamotoharu:

In the afternoon part, Hakuho was doing the rope tying demo:

Here is the East side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri:

Note Abi tugging at Kagayaki to get him to respond to some fans his eye caught. Kagayaki obliges. It seems he is softening a bit! He also had a lively chat with Abi while they were both at the side of the dohyo waiting for their respective bouts. Maybe it’s the effect of Tamawashi’s kiss! 😘

I have two bout clips today. Here is Endo vs. Chiyoshoma:

Endo quite happily allows himself to win for a change, as Chiyoshoma is not a local boy.

The local boy himself was matched with Hakuho. And there was a lot of kensho riding on this match!

That’s not exactly common for a Jungyo bout… So Hakuho made his salt throw:

And went on the attack!

How surprising! The local boy won!

And this is it. The last bout of the last Jungyo day of this year! Now let’s get on that banzuke!

Your final pin-up is here

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 16 (Dec 21)

🌐 Location: Kawagoe, Saitama
😝 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◾️◽️

This is the penultimate day of the 2018 Fuyu Jungyo. Before we begin, a health check:

  • Absence since mid-Jungyo: Yutakayama, Kotoyuki
  • Off the torikumi but present: Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu
  • Started off the torikumi but now participating: Hakuho, Goeido, Yoshikaze.
Hey, have we started already? God, what’s the time? Where are we, anyway?

While Terutsuyoshi gets over his morning blues, rikishi are already exercising with vigor around the venue. Asanoyama is stretching:

And Takayasu is stretching while trimming his fingernails:

Who said men can’t do two things at the same time?

Takayasu doesn’t settle for just the pedicure and flex. He also lifts his weight – Tagonofuji.

OK, I’ll go off at a tangent here for a second. There are lots of fujis in the sumo world. We are used to seeing fujis at Isegahama beya, but they don’t have an exclusive hold on that suffix. Hokutofuji is from Hakkaku beya, for example. Most of those fujis end with 富士 – the same as the kanji for Mt. Fuji. Many of them are “no-fuji”. The “no” is a particle that indicates possession or characterization. The most common ways to write the “no” are の, ノ and 乃. So the other day, it was announced that Takayoshitoshi, Takagenji’s more evil twin, is going to be renamed “Takanofuji”, and some Terunofuji fans got really pissed off, because that name was chosen by Takanohana, and he used the same “no” as “Terunofuji” – ノ- and they really don’t want the unfortunate former Ozeki from Isegahama to have anything in common with the tsukebito-beating brat from Takanohana beya (now Chiganoura).

But not all fujis are even 富士. In this case, the “fuji” in “Tagonofuji” is 藤 – “Wisteria”, which is a lovely plant with lilac-colored flowers. He also has that ノ – but nobody seems to have any issue with that.

OK, back from our tangent, let’s continue our round around the walls. Ikioi and Chiyoshoma want to have a practice bout, and go for the full monty, including the sonkyo (ceremonial crouch):

But the actual execution is a little less impressive:

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast Of Traal must be roaming the Jungyo grounds again, because Aoiyama is doing his best to hide from it:

See how useful towels are?

Guess who the rikishi stretching near the wall is?

Hint: he is considered about as ravenous as that beast of Traal. Look at those thighs!

And I can’t really move on to the on-dohyo exercise without showing you Takanosho and his Mickey-Mouse towel:

Now that Kakuryu has joined the Jungyo, he also practices with his tsukebito. So we can get reacquainted with Shohoryu. Who is not Hoshoryu.

Looks like Shohoryu’s servitude is rather intense. I assure you, though – Kakuryu is not the type to give his tsukebito bitter memories. Hard work – sure. In fact, the one who gets to practice in this photo is the tsukebito, not the Yokozuna:

His former tsukebita all respect the Yokozuna very much.

Another tsukebito who is being respectful is the American delegate to the Jungyo, Musashikuni:

Actually, judging from their positions, Takayasu is on the dohyo. So I’m guessing this is not just a show of respect, but the cup of water Ozeki enjoy when they do san-ban. There is probably another tsukebito with some towels around as well.

At one corner, we have a nice show of rhythmic gymnastics:

These guys take their exercise seriously. Here is Tobizaru doing a wheelbarrow exercise:

Enho is not allowing himself to trail behind:

It’s actually very rare to see Enho practice together with his heya-mate, Ishiura, in Jungyo.

So here is some on-dohyo practice. We have Azumaryu with Chiyomaru and with Ishiura:

Jokoryu with Akiseyama, then Jokoryu with Hakuyozan:

The on-dohyo exercise that really drew attention this day was this:

Yes, for the first time in this Jungyo, Yokozuna Hakuho is practicing actual sumo, not just giving butsukari/kawaigari. In fact, it’s the first time in the past 3 months!

Hakuho took Shodai for 8 san-ban matches, and won all of them.

He said at first he was a bit hesitant about doing actual sumo (interestingly, he doesn’t consider the “wari” bouts to be actual sumo), but as the bouts flowed, he was relieved to find himself in satisfactory shape.

The practice part of the day gone, the sekitori went to shower and have their hair done. Then some relaxed in the shitaku-beya and… what are you reading, exactly, Mitakeumi?

It’s a magzine. And it appears that it’s a magazine about very poor women, who can’t afford to buy much in the way of clothing. I’m sure he is reading this magazine out of warm empathy with the poor women who need to go through the winter wearing no more than three square centimeters of cloth each.

OK… outside the shitakubeya, Juryo wrestlers were getting ready for their dohyo-iri. And that means Enho. And that means a bunch of guys vying for Enho skin:

In this very short clip we have Terutsuyoshi who, as usual, has the pixie in his arms. Then as the pixie cuts loose, it gets groped by Jokoryu, and then, although Terutsuyoshi tries to get some attention, Tobizaru also lays a paw on the tiny Miyagino man. Twice! And how about that hand fan the fan hands him? It’s bigger than his head! And it has “Enho” on one side and an element from his Kesho-mawashi on the other.

Seriously, everybody loves Enho.

Juryo bouts are performed, Kakuryu demonstrates rope tying, and so Yago has to wait his turn patiently (when there is a rope tying demonstration, it takes place before the last three Juryo bouts). Yago is lonely, and needs a hug:

That’s what tsukebito are for, isn’t it?

And then it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And of course… it’s boring to wait for dohyo-iri… so let’s play a game!

For those who have not seen it in previous Jungyo, this game is a Japanese children’s game called Atchi-Muite-Hoi. The two players do rock-papers-scissors. The one who wins moves his finger in any of four directions – up, down, left or right, and the loser has to move his head in one of the same four directions. If he moves his head in a different direction than the winner’s finger, he is safe, and the game begins again. But if he moves his head in the same direction – he loses the game. And in this case, he receives a punishment – a dekopin. The second dekopin is so painful, that Tamawashi immediately decides he wants to play, too. 🙄

The dohyo-iri is followed by the Yokozuna dohyo-iri. It seems Hakuho is working on straightening his arms:

Shiranui Dohyo-iri, Hakuho

But Kakuryu’s are still straighter:

Unryu Dohyo-iri, Kakuryu

And then it’s time for Makuuchi bouts. And if you thought for a second that Tamawashi would leave off at the dohyo-iri, you are dead wrong:

Poor Kagayaki. Definitely got the cooties there

Tamawashi has been on his best behavior as long as he was on the Island of Kyushu. He has a reputation to maintain in Fukuoka. But as soon as he is back in Honshu… rikishi beware!

Later (because Nishikigi is in a surprisingly high position on the banzuke) we also get the good old “where are Nishikigi’s glasses?” game:


Glasses make you look smarter!

Well… unless you’re Shodai. In his case, glasses make him look ridiculous. But then, many things tend to make Shodai look ridiculous.

Eventually Nishikigi gets back from his bout and wins his glasses back:

Ooh, somebody is getting confident (much to the amusement of Narutaki).

Ah, yes. I have no bouts whatsoever. Sorry… Here is a cogitating monkey for you instead:

“Damn, no. That would be contradictory to Einstein’s General Relativity. So we have to check our results from Quantum Field Theory. Back to the drawing board…”

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 8 (Dec 9)

🌐 Location: Koshi, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We continue our journey through the Kumamoto prefecture. As always, the day starts with the low-ranking wrestlers around the dohyo, while some of the sekitori are shaking hands, some exercise around the venue, and some around the dohyo. The Kokonoe sekitori seem to be very diligent. Earlier than everybody, they start exercising around the dohyo:

Chiyonoumi, Chiyomaru, and (non-sekitori) Chiyootor

The reason for this is that Kokonoe oyakata is in the Jungyo, and watching his flock like a hawk. He is the one who took this picture, by the way.

Hmm… where is Chiyoshoma? I guess not everybody is that stressed out about the oyakata. Chiyoshoma, as usual, gravitates toward the Mongolian corner:

Chiyoshoma, Daishoho, Mitoryu

Mitoryu is not the only one doing resistance training. Takanosho is hard at work, simultaneously stretching his rubber strap and being cute.

Ishiura is busy stretching his tendons:

You can do better than that!

Takekaze was doing… something…

The tweet says suri-ashi, but it doesn’t really look like it.

Takayasu is busy lifting one of his tsukebito. Ozeki and Yokozuna get to bring more than one tsukebito to Jungyo. His other tsukebito is also by his side – Musashikuni.

Now let’s see Takayasu try that with Musashikuni…

The local boys are Sadanoumi and Shodai. Sadanoumi does a frog impression:

Ribbit!

OK, OK, it’s another type of stretch. I get the impression that Sadanoumi tries to avoid the limelight, as opposed to Shodai who is in full fansa mode:

Shodai is accompanied by Asakura, who demonstrates the duties of a tsukebito to us.

Other rikishi take their time and chat a little. Here is a rare smile from Kagayaki:

Kagayaki once said the only rikishi he is on friendly terms with is Enho. But it seems he found some companionship in Onosho. Onosho seems to be a friendly guy in general:

Here he is with Midorifuji. Midorifuji seems to enjoy the same popularity Enho had when he was still in a black mawashi and doing the Jungyo as Hakuho’s tsukebito: he seems to hang out with many sekitori, not even from his own ichimon, which is a bit unusual for a low-ranker. I’ve seen him chatting with Chiyoshoma (who rarely chats with anybody other than his own heya-mates or the Mongolian rikishi), and even with some of the oyakata. It’s the pixie dust, I’m sure!

On the dohyo, we have some Juryo moshi-ai:

And some Makuuchi: Ryuden vs. Sadanoumi

Endo vs. Aoiyama:

I expect Aoiyama to cut through the ranks like a hot knife in butter next basho. Tamawashi vs. Shohozan:

I always like to watch these two going at it. I expect the bartender to dive under the counter any minute.

And here are Tochinoshin and Asanoyama:

No explicit information, but it seems Meisei has been through some kawaigari:

And so we get to the second part of the day. Not many photos from the actual bouts, but remember, Hakuho is back! Therefore, we have this familiar scene:

That’s Hakuho, leaning on the Yobidashi after the sanyaku-soroi-bumi, awaiting his bout. He invariably does that in Jungyo – and sometimes runs some pranks on the yobidashi while he’s at it.

Here’s a short video with some shokkiri and some bouts (alas, no complete ones):

Not a very convincing yori-kiri there.

So, pin-up time. Back to the classic Enho:

Where is the emoji for swoon?

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 3 (Dec 4)

We interrupt the scandal to bring you some relaxing Jungyo stories.

🌐 Location: Kurume, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◾️◽️

The Jungyo continues its trail through Fukuoka. The rikishi start practicing around the venue. We have Ryuden pumping iron:

Or in this case, pumping Shobushi. The tweet, by the way, says “Oh, I want to be hugged by Ryuden princess-style!” – carrying a person in this position is called “Ohime-sama dakko” – “Princess-style hug”. Shobushi is the princess in this case.

On the first day, Terutsuyoshi was a good boy and didn’t touch Enho at all! But it seems that the phase of the moon changed, the monster is out and about:

Eventually, of course, Terutsuyoshi does end up with at least one hand on his favorite pixie:

Enho doesn’t seem to mind it too much, though. By the way, I was surprised to realize that Takarafuji is taller than Chiyoshoma. Proportions can be misleading. Of course, both look like giants next to the pixie pair.

Rikishi come to greet Asakayama oyakata (the oyakata formerly known as Kaio). He seems to have a little rule: You want to talk to me? Talk to that salt bag first!

Terutsuyoshi as all like “Are you kidding me? All I want is to say my greeting!”. Nevertheless…

Pump that salt! Mission accomplished, Terutsuyoshi can have a few words with the former Ozeki, and make his bow. All the while, Enho is waiting for his turn.

That is to say, he’s pumping that bag as well.

Many photos and videos we share with you actually come from the NSK’s social media. They get ther via the lovely NSK social media ladies:

Bearing in mind that these PR people are, indeed, ladies, there is no wonder we end up with the following Yokozuna practice video:

I’m sure videos like this increase the sales of hand fans at the concession stands at least threefold – even though it’s mid-winter.

Speaking of the Yokozuna, he and Takayasu were comparing their tegata print skills:

One set of paw prints, coming up!
You finished a stack? Hold my beer…

While the Yokozuna wins in the speed and quantity categories, Takayasu totally nails the cool category by getting retweeted by…

And Ms. Rowling wins by having Takayasu retweeting her, of course!

The participants in the Jungyo are the sekitori and their tsukebito. Now, the on-going scandals may make you think that being a tsukebito sucks rocks. The truth is, though, that it all depends on the master you serve. Some are abusive. Aminishiki was asked today (Dec. 7) about the Takanoiwa scandal, and said, among other things: “Your tsukebito is not your plaything. In exchange for helping you with the daily necessities of your career, you are supposed to guide and sort of ‘raise’ him”. Apparently, Aminishiki is not the only one in Isegahama who believes sekitori owe their tsukebito some coaching:

Takarafuji’s tsukebito is Sakurafuji. And Takarafuji gives him both some general tips:

…and actual hands-on practice:

Sakurafuji doesn’t look too miserable being Takarafuji’s tsukebito.

Meanwhile, on the dohyo, there’s some butsukari taking place between moshi-ai sessions:

Here is some Juryo moshi-ai:

Hakuyozan • Kotoeko • Daishoho • Shimanoumi • Wakatakakage

Interesting to note that they have a short shikiri between the bouts. They don’t just go down and tachiai. So here is some Makuuchi moshi-ai:

Takakeisho • Myogiryu • Yutakayama • Kagayaki

Practice time over, the Yokozuna leaves the building, but doesn’t forget his fansa:

Before we turn to the dohyo-iri, let’s take a look at one of the back rooms. Apparently, the rikishi have changed their favorite game this Jungyo.

Narutaki, Mutsukaze, Kyonosato

In the previous Jungyo, it was “Nip the Nipple”. This Jungyo they have switch to the less-painful “Wiggle the Wattle”.

And Kyonosato does have a considerable wattle.

And this leads us right to the dohyo-iri, where Onosho decides to play “Wiggle the Wattle” with Chiyomaru:

Last chance to see Takanoiwa signing autographs.

Dohyo-iri over, and the Yokozuna is also done with his.

I dunno. Takarafuji looks completely out of place in that scene.

It’s bout time. I don’t have many bouts, but I do have this:

Apparently, in Jungyo, Kotoshogiku still entertains the spectators with his back bend.

Shohozan, at this point sitting beside the dohyo as his turn is two bouts later, is apparently impressed, because…

…he totally steals the move.

The only bout of which I have footage is… guess… Enho! He is facing Chiyonoumi.

And Enho does his famous… tsuppari? Tsuppari? Enho?

Well, the Jungyo is the right place to try new stuff, I guess. But Chiyonoumi is all like “Thanks for the gift, man. You do know that tsuki-oshi is my specialty, right?” – and unceremoniously tosses the pixie off the dohyo.

Practice makes perfect, though, Enho.

Time for our pin-up rikishi of the day. And by special request…

Shucks. Golly. Am I on camera?

Um, nope. I’m not going to close a post with Akiseyama. Un-uh.

Now that’s more like it.