Kyushu Day 7 – Recap

1:59 bout vs. Takayasu, Ryuden

The first week of this tipsy basho is coming to a close, and the basho signals to us that it still has enough bottles of saké to develop a good delirium tremens, and that any advance bets and dares are at our own risk (how was your rump steak, Bruce?)

Daishoho does today’s duty as the Juryo fill-in, facing Meisei. He envelopes Meisei right off the Tachiai, and none of Meisei’s wriggles are to any avail. Yorikiri, and Daishoho picks a nice envelope in his first Makuuchi bout.

Chiyomaru and Takanosho are both 1-5 coming into this match. Takanosho is aggressive and pushes Chiyomaru to the edge. Chiyomaru tries to sidestep, but Takanosho maintains his balance and keeps up the pressure, leading him to the other edge. So Chiyomaru tries it again. This time it works. Hatakikomi, Chiyomaru grabs his second win. I believe both of them are heading down to Juryo by the end of this basho, but I’m not staking any body-part steaks on that.

Arawashi‘s bout with Onosho might as well has been a fusen. Onosho rises, and pushes unresisting Arawashi straight off. Watching Arawashi this basho is really painful.

Endo attempts a harizashi (slap-and-slip) on Chiyoshoma, but never gets to the sashi (slipping his hand inside) part. Chiyoshoma advances, retreats, advances again and seems in control, but Endo pulls and wins this one by hatakikomi.

Okinoumi and Daiamami are “kenka-yotsu” – meaning one of them prefers migi-yotsu (right hand inside), and the other hidari-yotsu (left hand inside). And indeed most of this bout is spent attempting to get their favorite grip and denying the other his. Daiamami maintains a strong grip on Okinoumi’s belt, but it’s just an “ichimai” – hold on one layer – and it’s Okinoumi who manages to wrap Daiamami up and yori-kiri him.

Chiyonokuni‘s match with Daishomaru starts with a strong kachiage – but it’s actually a matta. On top of that, that kachiage causes Daishomaru’s nose to bleed. He needs to take a break and returns to the dohyo with a wad of tissue up his nostril – not exactly a beautiful sight. The match restarts. This time Chiyonokuni is a bit more hesitant in his tachiai, and Daishomaru exploits that and yori-kiris the Kokonoe man.

Both Aoiyama and Sadanoumi look better than one would expect this basho, and start this match 4-2. Sadanoumi takes the initiative and has his right hand inside, but Aoiyama locks it, prevents him from achieving a proper yotsu position, and adds a bubious nodowa (you’re not supposed to do that with your fingers folded, though one can’t call that an actual punch), sending Sadanoumi for a dive. Oshitaoshi.

Yutakayama does not look very good this basho. However, he starts this match with a kachiage to Kotoshogiku‘s throat. Follows that with two powerful nodowa, and when Kotoshogiku applies all his strength to the ground to withstand those, steps aside and lets the former Ozeki’s strong legs to all the work. Yutakayama gets his second win by tsukiotoshi.

Daieisho, who somehow found himself in the chaser group without us even noticing him, is not impressed with Abi‘s well-known opener. He withstands a couple of shoves, goes under them and does some shoving of his own. Daieisho is now 6-1.

In the battle of the single-kanji wrestlers, Ikioi lands a shallow grip, but Kagayaki frees himself and starts a pushing attack that puts Ikioi in reverse gear and out of the ring. This is Kagayaki’s first win against Ikioi.

Something really is up with Takanoiwa this basho. It’s as if he is afraid of contact. Takarafuji manages to land a brief hold on him. Takanoiwa retreats, frees himself from that grab, but instead of making any attack of his own, keeps retreating and Takarafuji really doesn’t need to do much to win. Both end this match 2-5, and I’m sure Takarafuji was scratching his head asking himself how exactly he won that, as he was going back to Isagahama beya’s lodgings.

Shohozan starts his bout with Asanoyama with a mighty morotezuki… only he does it without having actually touched his hands to the ground – and soon-to-be-promoted Konosuke will have none of that. In the second tachiai, he touches very slightly, and repeats the morotezuki, following it by a brief morozashi. Asanoyama is very active, releasing himself from that grip first on one side and then the other, and then getting his own hold. From then on it’s Asanoyama all the (short) way.

Tamawashi starts his typical oshi bout with Nishikigi, but Nishikigi defends well, and starts his own attack. He really should have attempted to lock a hold on Tamawashi, though, because Tamawashi has years of experience and as he nears the edge quickly reverses the fortunes. It wasn’t far from another Nishikigi upset, though.

Hokutofuji is not letting Tochiozan‘s 5-1 record distract him. A shove. A nodowa. Another aggressive shove. Tochiozan ends up losing for the second day in a row, his magic gone.

This bout is exactly the reason why Kaisei decided to enter the basho while still injured. Despite Myogiryu‘s tenacity, the huge Brazilian envelopes him and doesn’t really leave him much room for maneuver. Kaisei wins, and if he picks enough such wins, the next banzuke may see him drop to a position that’s easier to defend on the one hand, and safe from demotion on the other.

Tachiai. Chiyotairyu slams into Ichinojo. Goes for the throat. But that only manages to wake Ferdinand up, and you can see Ichinojo getting warmer and his thrusts getting fiercer. Chiyotairyu’s own thrusts seem to leave no impression – other than the loud “Slam!” sounds reverberating through the Fukuoka International Sports Center. The last slam sees Chiyotairyu at the corner beyond the bales, and I can only hope that this has woken up Ichinojo enough to show us some of his better sumo in the next few days.

Mitakeumi starts a powerful shoving match with lossless Takakeisho right out of the tachiai, and it’s boom-forward-boom-forward. Takakeisho deftly sidesteps at the edge, but Mitakeumi was not born yesterday. He turns around with an “Oh yeah?” expression on his face. Takakeisho probably regrets having stepped so far away at this point, because if he was closer he could have pushed Mitakeumi from behind. Instead, the Sekiwake lunges at him, and an exchange of thrusts begins, at the end of which Mitakeumi grabs Takakeisho’s neck and pulls him down.

Takakeisho slowly rises, while fiddling with his chon-mage, hinting at the shimpan that his hair was pulled. I am not sure they noticed that, because only after the rikishi make their bows does the head shimpan, Onomatsu, signal a monoii. Perhaps he got a call from the video room. The shimpan confer, and Onomatsu oyakata goes back to his seat and gives a confused summary. “The hand, the mawashi, the hand, the whachamacallit, the hand didn’t grab the mawashi, the gyoji’s decision stayed”. I wonder how much the shimpan drink before starting their day below the dohyo.

So Takakeisho is no longer lossless, and the way is open for the single-loss Takayasu to claim the yusho – assuming you don’t think that Daieisho is a legitimate candidate. But the day is not over yet.

Next we move to our first Ozeki match. Tochinoshin faces Yoshikaze. Now, Yoshikaze’s tactic today somewhat reminded me of Enho’s opening gambit. Of course Yoshikaze is not Enho’s size, but relative to Tochinoshin, it’s not that far off, and the agility is certainly there. He scrambles for a maemitsu grip, while denying the Ozeki access to his own mawashi. Eventually, though, he gives up that tactic, and slides up that left arm, which was seeking the maemitsu grip, under the ozeki’s arm. A beautiful sukuinage ensues. Nice touch there, forcing Tochinoshin’s head further down making him lose his footing. Tochinoshin, a pretty solid yusho candidate before the basho, finds himself needing to get enough wins to avoid kadoban instead.

OK, so now that Takayasu knows Takakeisho lost, he knows he is in the spearhead of the yusho race. All he needs to do is beat 1-5 Ryuden. But Ryuden is not impressed by the Ozeki’s kachiage, and manages – momentarily, to get his favorite morozashi. Takayasu quickly releases himself on one side, and Ryuden is left with a hand inside with no grip on the left, and an outside grip on the right. Ryuden tries again and again to achieve the grip with his left, but the Ozeki denies him with a right ottsuke. Ryuden tries an attack. But he simply doesn’t have the muscle power against the Ozeki’s 180kg. The stalemate continues.

Then Takayasu frees himself on his right side and uses the left inside grip he has on Ryuden to try and turn the Maegashira away and out. Ryuden is not easily thrown off, though. He manages to get a maemitsu grip. But his combined grip is problematic – you want to get at least one hand on the back side of the mawashi. With both hands in front he can’t create leverage, though he tries again and again.

But as the stalemate continues, Takayasu’s lower back problems are starting to assert themselves. Yet another attempt by Ryuden, and the Ozeki finds himself out of ring – and out of the leader group, again. Ryuden, barely able to breath, gets a hefty batch of envelopes, and his first win against an Ozeki! What a match!

The musubi-no-ichiban is anticlimactic by comparison. Shodai manages to briefly get a good hold on Goeido, and his previous success makes him impatient. He tries to drag Goeido to the edge. Goeido is not obliging. Shodai soon finds himself in the typical Goeido embrace, and down below the dohyo.


What a day this has been. Here is the leaderboard after Cray 7. That is, Day 7:

6-1

  • K1E Takakeisho
  • M9W Daieisho
  • M13E Onosho

5-2

  • O1W Takayasu
  • M2E Tochiozan
  • M5E Chiyotairyu
  • M7E Abi
  • M12E Aoiyama

Hey, Abi, grab that Yusho! (わら)

Kyushu Day 3 – A Kise Crisis, A Tadpole Dance

How long is Kisenosato going to keep that hair?

It’s day three, and it’s clear that this basho is taking a completely different direction than the previous one. The Yusho question should, perhaps, be kept for a later part of the basho, as anybody with 0-3 at the moment can still theoretically win 12 and take the cup. But it’s already clear that the dominance of the upper echelon, which caused the entire banzuke to flip over last time around, has evaporated, and we have early signs of a free-for-all.

But we start at the bottom. The first bout of the day was between two hapless and winless rikishi. One of them had to take a white star from this bout, and Chiyomaru, starting with a morotezuki (double handed push) followed by a quick hatakikomi was the lucky man. Arawashi‘s legs simply can’t move forward. He couldn’t cope with the quick change in the position of his center of gravity, and dropped like a stone.

Daiamami and Meisei, the next pair, both hail from the Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima prefecture. That island is actually closer to Okinawa than to mainland Kagoshima. And yes, Daiamami is named after it. Meisei is fighting fiercely this basho, but although he had his right hand inside first Daiamami managed to insert his as well, lifted Meisei’s left arm high and neutralized him, then pushed him out. Meisei looked rather frustrated at the end of the bout. Yoritaoshi.

The bout between Daishomaru and Chiyoshoma was a bit odd. Daishomaru gets Chiyoshoma’s back and pushes him down pretty quickly, but although Chiyoshoma touches the ground quite clearly, the bout continues and Daishomaru chases him outside the ring, confusing the Japanese announcer – and myself. It was a tsukiotoshi – that hand touch is what counted, not the following exit. I guess Chiyoshoma’s copy of “1001 Sneaky, Dirty, Devious Sumo Moves Which Are Not Actually Cheating” (thank you for that, Tigerboy) also has an appendix about “Moves Which Are Cheating But Worth Trying Anyway”.

Onosho clashes into Takanosho, then quickly pulls and tries to pull Takanosho down. The Chiganoura man is stable on his feet. Onosho tries again. Fails. At this point Takanosho has got a better positioning and starts to attack and lift Onosho, including a nodowa which was more of a face-hugger. Takanosho gets his first win by yoritaoshi.

Aoiyama tries the same tactic Onosho has – starts with some tsuki-oshi, then attempts to pull Endo down. But he doesn’t make the mistake of trying it again. Instead he goes forward and paws Endo until it looks like he volunteers to step over the bales rather than have his pretty face redesigned. Tsukidashi.

Okinoumi is the faster off the Tachiai, enveloping Chiyonokuni almost immediately. Chiyonokuni would have preferred a tsuki-oshi bout but he does have yotsu abilities and even attempts a gaburi-yori, kotoshogiku-style. At this point Okinoumi lifts him by the belt and neatly performs a shitatenage.

Sadanoumi tries to get a migi-yotsu on Yutakayama, but Yutakayama manages to slip out of his “sashi” (arm insertion) and the two go into serious windmill action. Sadanoumi nearly loses balance and compensate by lifting a leg – it almost looks like an attempt at a forbidden high kick, but it isn’t aimed at Yutakayama. Yutakayama tries to use that loss of balance and gets Sadanoumi to the bales, but Sadanoumi recovers, and somehow manages to turn the tables, push Yutakayama to the same exact bale, and yori-kiri him without a belt hold.

Kotoshogiku gets Daieisho into his favorite hold and is ready to start the pump action. Daieisho, however, lifts the former Ozeki. Not the kind of construction crane lift Tochinoshin lives by, but enough to prevent Kotoshogiku from having any traction with his feet. Kotoshogiku’s gaburi may seem to be powered by his pelvis, but it is in fact his legs that transfer all the power, and with his feet barely touching the ground, Daieisho is the one who ends with the yori-kiri.

In yet another meeting between winless rikishi, Ikioi smartly crashes into Takarafuji. However, despite Ikioi’s attempt to lock his armpit, takarafuji manages to slip in his left hand and find his mawashi. At this point it’s just a question of how much power Takarafuji has. The legs – not so much. So he gives up the attempt at a force-out and instead goes for a shitatenage and his first win.

Abi, alas, is not showing us any of those mawashi skills he supposedly tried to develop during the Jungyo. He goes for his usual morotezuki. Shohozan also starts with a tsuppari attack, but Abi’s reach is greater, and so he has the upper hand – literally, as this ends with him pulling and slamming Shohozan with an uwatenage.

There is not much to say about the TakanoiwaKagayaki bout. Takanoiwa throws himself into Kagayaki and successfully defends against Kagayaki’s left – but then Kagayaki, who is a little too forward, simply slips. Slippiotoshi, officially tsukiotoshi. And yet another Chiganoura sekitori wins the day – first win for Takanoiwa.

Chiyotairyu, starts his bout with Asanoyama with his usual booming clash. Asanoyama is a yotsu man and tries to get inside on the big Kokonoe man, but Chiyotairyu’s tsuki attack blocks him again and again – until he finds himself out. Oshidashi.

Yoshikaze hits Shodai low and seems to have the better Tachiai – which is not surprising with Shodai – but as he tries to get inside Shodai again and again gets his arm away and secure his own hold, but then realizes that he has moved far enough forward that he can simply shove Yoshikaze powerfully, and that would be enough to get him out. Yet another oshidashi.

The smallest of the tadpoles, Takakeisho, faces no challenge in Ryuden, after downing a Yokozuna and an Ozeki. Ryuden is quickly dispatched by the angry bowling ball. Another Chiganoura win – by tsukidashi this time.

A little trivia item about Takakeisho: When he received his first kensho, he was asked by the press what he intends to do with it. He said “I’ll give it to my tsukebito, who has been supporting me all this time – though I have to give some to my oyakata”. His dissimilarity with Takayoshitoshi is not only in their outward appearance.

Tamawashi lands a nodowashi on Ichinojo right out of the tachiai, and doesn’t his hand off the Sekiwake’s throat until Ichinojo – who isn’t giving up easily this time – simply can’t go anywhere but across the tawara. I’m sure Ichinojo will not be able to sing for at least a week – which may not be a bad thing:

Ichinojo’s Singing Voice

Most of the next bout is actually Mitakeumi sliding his arms under Nishikigi‘s valiantly locked armpits. This takes a few seconds, and then with the morozashi thus achieved he quickly dispatches of the Isenoumi man. A reminder to you: Nishikigi said in his pre-basho interview that he is aiming to be a Yokozuna. Having challenging goals is important.

Welcome back, Kaisei. You have three seconds to spend on the dohyo, because it’s getting late and all. Clash. Push. A half-hearted pat on the back, and Kaisei finds himself eating dirt. Hatakikomi. I don’t think Takayasu broke even one bead of sweat. Takayasu now the only one in the top two ranks with a 3-0 record.

By rights, Tochiozan should not have been much of a challenge for Goeido. But as Goeido charges into and sweeps him to the tawara as Goeido does, Tochiozan sidesteps, lifts a leg ballerina-style, then just hangs there on tip-toe, while Goeido tries to rebalance and fails. I’m not good at kimarite, so I have no idea why this was called a sukuinage. I guess there is just no official kimarite for winning by sidestep.

Myogiryu proves himself a dangerous opponent this basho – considering how long ago it was that he was in the joi. His tactic is, quite sensibly, to keep Tochinoshin away from his mawashi. He keeps the Ozeki high by leaning against him diagonally, and having his arms right under Tochinoshin’s armpit, shortening their reach. With his left he is having a fumbling battle which he rather wins. However, the downside of this tactic is that, as I said, he is leaning on Tochinoshin. Eventually the Georgian takes a few steps backwards, Myogiryu has his legs trailing behind him, and Tochinoshin survives by letting him drop down.

What’s next? The musubi-no-ichiban, Kisenosato vs. Hokutofuji. We had most of the tadpole corps win by now (with the exception of Onosho). Can Hokutofuji join the rest? He is facing a Yokozuna with two losses already and dignity on the line.

Well, it seems that the Yokozuna is trying to attack with the left side that he no longer has. It may be the pressure causing him to revert to what’s familiar to his body. I don’t know. But a weak ottsuke against Hokutofuji’s strong right – it’s not working. The Yokozuna is too high. Hokutofuji keeps low and keeps pushing at Kise’s left chest with his strong right, making sure he stays high. He even attempts a tottari for a fraction of a second there. By the time the Yokozuna starts attacking with his right, it’s too little and too late. Hokutofuji plants his head in his chest. Adding a nodowa with his left hand. He manages to get the Yokozuna’s right side away from him again, and has his right under the Yokozuna’s left arm, and then – well, to me it looked like a kotenage, but the shimpan call it a tsukiotoshi, so what do I know. All I know is that the Yokozuna is rolling on the dohyo, with his third consecutive loss. He is only the seventh Yokozuna to start a basho with three straight losses. And the last one who did so was Asahifuji (the current Isegahama oyakata) in 1992, and he retired the next day.


There is a lot of speculation going on as to what Kisenosato is going to do now. Clearly, in the past this would be a reason for immediate retirement – that’s what Chiyonofuji did (with only two losses) and that’s what Asahifuji did.

But in recent times it has become a matter of norm that Yokozuna find a hitherto-unknown injury (it’s not as if they don’t have enough real ones for the doctor to be honest – they just usually keep them from public knowledge), and go kyujo.

Only, earlier this year the YDC warned Kisenosato against exactly this sort of thing. “If you are not absolutely 100%, don’t start the basho. We do not want to see you go kyujo in mid-basho again”.

I believe this warning to Kisenosato is also the reason why Kakuryu opted not to start the basho at all, rather than try anyway. It seems the rules have slightly changed. So what are the options?

  • He can still try the old trick of going kyujo and hope that the YDC will be forgiving, as they don’t have a spare Japanese Yokozuna. This seems to me to be beneath his dignity, but I don’t know how much pressure he will be under.
  • He can injure himself purposefully. Nobody is going to say he can’t leave in the middle if he actually breaks a bone. This is, of course, very risky.
  • He may choose the old-fashioned mid-basho retirement.
  • He may choose to stay the entire basho – there are still enough days for him to get a kachi-koshi, and even if he doesn’t, it may not be the end. Wakanohana Masaru, Takanohana’s brother, once stayed through a basho despite injury and had a make-koshi. He handed his resignation after the basho, but the NSK decided not to accept it, and he lingered as Yokozuna – but not for long. So Kisenosato may do the same, especially given that he is sole Yokozuna and it will be considered a show of responsibility.

I personally think the last option is the most sensible. He may yet win 8 bouts. That’s not a Yokozuna kachi-koshi, but it will be tolerated if it is done in the name of responsibility to the spectators. And if he has a make-koshi – he’ll have to hand in his resignation. And then it’s not up to him – the pressure will be on the shoulders of the NSK.


Note: I do not have the time for two posts today, so I will have to forego the lower division report. I leave you the Juryo digest, though. If you haven’t seen Enho’s bout on Kintamayama’s reel, don’t miss it! Also Gokushindo’s first win, Toyonoshima, Tobizaru… Juryo is great!

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Final Day (Oct 28)

Here it is, the final chapter of this Jungyo series. I hope you have a lot of free time this weekend, because I stumbled across a treasure trove of raw footage. Usually I give you short bouts or scenes from the side lines. But this person has what seems like the entire event uploaded to YouTube, and that is bound to give you a whole different perspective of what going to a Jungyo event must be like.

So hang on to your coat tails, here we go.

the-jungyo-is-over
The Jungyo is over!

🌐 Location: Shunan, Yamaguchi
🚫 Scandal level: depends how you look at moob groping

I’m skipping the videos that show the venue from outside, the sekitori arriving and the concession stands. Also the handshake part. Let’s start with some still photos from the side lines instead. Here are Chiyonoumi, Hokutofuji and Tomokaze. All graduates of the Nippon Sports Science University. Which, apparently, has its own not-so-secret hand gesture. Demonstration:

university-grads

And that’s the only wholesome sidelines picture you’ll see today. Because the Tamawashi bug seems to have taken in everybody. Here is Gokushindo with Dewanojo:

gokushindo-dewanojo-boobies

But Gokushindo himself does not escape abuse. From our university graduate, Tomokaze, both front:

tomokaze-gokushindo-boobies-front

and back:

tomokaze-gokushindo-boobies-back

Kagayaki is lifting his tsukebito as a form of weight. And that’s no problem. But what is Wakatakakage looking at?

what-is-wakatakakage-looking-at

OK, OK, better get on with those videos, shall I?

There aren’t any sekitori from Yamaguchi prefercture at the moment. So attention was focused on the lower-ranking wrestlers from that prefecture. This video starts with Harada, who is one of those Yamaguchi wrestlers, receiving butsukari. The chest is offered by none other than Enho.

The video then moves on to some moshi-ai among the Jonidan and Sandanme wrestlers.

I must say seeing Enho as the dominant in butsukari is rather comical. Harada is taller than him, and although light, Enho doesn’t seem to offer much of a stamina challenge for him.

No wonder, then, that the exercise is soon over. Moving on to the moshi-ai session. Remember, moshi-ai is a series of bouts in which the winner gets to stick around and chooses his next opponent. Therefore, the wrestlers who want to get some exercise vie for the winner’s attention as soon as the match is decided.

I didn’t like the first winner (sorry, at this level, I really can’t recall names from faces. If you know, please let me know) too much. He is prone to dame-oshi. The second one sticks around for quite a while – but you see his stamina seeping out with every bout until at last he is ousted.

I didn’t think that Mr. Huge there would be called by anybody, but I guess some rikishi like a challenge. So he was.

The attention wars are also quite amazing. Wrestlers are not shy of hanging on to the winner’s neck or poking his cheek or whatever it takes.

And all the while, Aoiyama and Tochiozan stand on the sides and do their shiko.

In the following video, the Sandanme-and-below moshi-ai continues, when sekitori start mounting the dohyo, and give short butsukari sessions to the low-ranking rikishi. You’ll see Akiseyama, Jokoryu, Enho (again) and Abi.

When no sekitori offers, the lower ranking wrestlers just continue on their own. Each butsukari session ends with a tap on the dominant’s chest and, answered with a throw for a korogari (roll).

In the next video, we start with some yobidashi activity on the dohyo – pouring new sand, watering, and sweeping. Then the moshi-ai starts again, with Makushita and some more rikishi joining in. You can see Kyokusoten and Musashikuni.

Kyokusoten is doing the typical Mongolian mawashi sumo. And despite winning, he just gives the right-of-way to a new pair and rests. Musashikuni’s koshi-daka is still unresolved and he isn’t likely to get a second chance quickly.

Apart from what’s going on on the dohyo, though, it’s interesting to watch the opposite corner where a little Mongolian clique is gathered to do some stretches, and apparently, joke around: Kyokushuho, Chiyoshoma and Azumaryu. Also, watch the lower left part of the screen for Tamawashi. Shodai shows something on his smartphone. Smartphone? In keiko? Anyway, that exchange of course evolves into Tamawashi slapping Shodai around.

Next vid. The moshi-ai continues, and then, once again, sekitori mount the dohyo, and we get a series of butsukari: Yago, Kotoshogiku, Jokoryu, Yoshikaze, Ichinojo, You can see how Ichinojo’s submissive actually asks him to do it. Some guys like challenges, as I said.

And now it’s time for the sekitori to start their own practice. The moshi-ai is more relaxed at this point. There are three men on the dohyo and when one of the two wrestlers loses, the third goes in.

We start with Meisei-Tochiozan-Takanosho. In the background you can see Kisenosato doing his wobble exercise, and various rikishi coming to hand him some water. I assure you, in this ladle there is not even a single grain of salt. Nobody is suicidal.

Kisenosato switches to Shiko. On the opposite side you can see Goeido doing the same. Takayasu is not far away from his Yokozuna. From time to time the wrestlers on the dohyo take a towel break.

It’s nice to see Aoiyama and Ryuden move to save Meisei from a bad fall.

After Tochiozan leaves the field and only Meisei and Takanosho are left, again, as if by magic, other sekitori get on the dohyo and a sequence of butsukari follows. If you notice, the first session is always with the winner of the last moshi-ai. Endo lends his chest to Takanosho. Then Aoiyama-Tochiozan, and finally, Ryuden takes Meisei.

The next video continues in the same pattern. This time we have four men on the dohyo – Aoiyama, Ryuden, Daieisho and Myogiryu. This means the two “free” wrestlers have to vie for the winner’s favors.

This session, too, ends with a series of butsukari, though curiously, the first two are between the same four wrestlers. We then switch to Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai.

I’m going to skip the next sequence, which is just a continuation of that trio, and go to the next one, which shows you a san-ban session. Goeido engages Shodai. Reminder: san-ban is a series of bouts between the same two wrestlers, who do as many bouts as the higher-ranked one wants.

As the session progresses, you can see the increasing frustration on Shodai’s face and in his body language. Goeido is relentless, and Shodai can’t stay in the ring for more than two seconds, let alone win.

Note how every time the Ozeki wants a rest he has his two tsukebito hurry up with a ladle of water and a couple of towels to service him. Shodai has to settle for Nishikigi-mama, who keeps handing him his towel, then folding it back neatly.

Eventually, after 16 minutes of this Goeido love, Shodai is saved by Tochinoshin. Again, the proper way to finish a session is with some butsukari, so poor Shodai, who is already out of juice, has to also push an ozeki for a while for his trouble. Tochinoshin doesn’t make a full-fledged kawaigari of this, though. So the nightmare is soon over.

What follows is reverse butsukari. Nishikigi offers his chest, Goeido pushes. But of course, Nishikigi runs around so as not to waste the Ozeki’s precious time, and there is no rolling in the mud. Finally, a short one between Onosho and Daieisho. Apparently, the etiquette here is that all participators in the moshi-ai or san-ban session (Remember this started with Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai) get to do some butsukari.

This next one starts with a san-ban session between Asanoyama and Mitakeumi. Not as lengthy as the one between Goeido and Shodai, though. Then Asanoyama goes out and Tochinoshin engages Mitakeumi.

Earlier, in that butsukari session with Shodai, Tochinoshin only had taping on his knee. Now that he is about to engage in san-ban, he puts on his brace.

Of course, being Ozeki, he also gets serviced by his tsukebito. One for ladle, one for towels.

A few minutes later he switches to Asanoyama.

The session, of course, ends with butsukari. Reverse ones this time. Tochinoshin pushes Mitakeumi, and Mitakeumi pushes Tochiozan. Then, not to leave the third man out, Aoiyama takes Asanoyama.

In the background you can see Mitakeumi thanking Tochinoshin for his attention by offering him a ladle of chikara-mizu.

I’m going to skip the lower-ranks bouts, the Jinku, drum demo and shokkiri, and skip right to the Juryo bouts. By the way, here are Yago and Wakatakakage, waiting for their dohyo-iri. Yago seems to also be a man who loves to keep his hands on other people’s bodies:

yago-wakatakakage-love

But at least there doesn’t seem to be much fondling going on. So let’s see how these guys (and the rest of the rather miserable division) did in the bouts:

JokoryuChiyoarashiTsuridashi
TomokazeEnhoUwatenage
AzumaryuNakazonoTsuridashi
GokushindoChiyonoumiOshidashi
TobizaruGagamaruYorikiri
TsurugishoWakatakakageYorikiri
KotoekoTakekazeUtchari

Enho is fast!

Watch out for the faces Tobizaru makes at Gagamaru. 🙂

Note how the “fillers” from Makushita don’t have their rank called out. The gyoji announcer describes each Juryo wrestler by shikona, rank, shushin and heya. But the “fillers” only get shikona, shushin and heya.

Next we have Kisenosato’s rope tying demonstration, and then the rest of the Juryo bouts:

DaiamamiKyokushuhoYorikiri
DaishohoAkiseyamaYorikiri
MeiseiYagoYorikiri

Ah, the look of frustration on Yago’s face.

In the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, of course we have the continuing Mitakeumi-Tamawashi saga:

mitakeumi-loves-tamawashi

Skipping the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, the Yokozuna dohyo-iri and the mayor’s speech video, we move straight to the Makuuchi bouts.

The first bout is missing a few seconds.

ChiyoshomaYoshikazeTsuridashi
RyudenTakanoshoYorikiri
SadanoumiOkinoumiYorikiri
NishikigiDaieishoUtchari
HokutofujiAoiyamaYorikiri
TakarafujiKotoshogikuYorikiri
ShohozanTochiozanOkuridashi
OnoshoAsanoyamaTokkurinage
MyogiryuKagayakiYorikiri

Takanosho gets a fast morozashi there, and Ryuden can’t make the makikae.

Daieisho rains tsuppari on Nishikigi. Nishikigi doesn’t lose his cool – saves himself at the edge with a nice utchari. Speaking of Nishikigi, where are his glasses today?

nishikigi-glasses-1

Apparently, right on Shohozan’s nose.

nishikigi-glasses-2

Onosho steals Aminishiki’s tokkurinage (“sake bottle throw”). But hey, Aminishiki does that in honbasho.

Continuing right from Abi’s shiko:

ChiyonokuniAbiUwatenage
ShodaiEndoUtchari
YutakayamaChiyotairyuTsukidashi
KaiseiTakakeishoYorikiri

Chiyonokuni goes on a shiko match with Abi. He is a little shaky on the left side, but still pulls it off, much to the appreciation of the crowd. He also gives Abi a serious stare-down. All is well and good – but Abi finishes him off within half a second.

Kaisei yori-kiris Takakeisho, but has an inertia problem. Takakeisho flies off the dohyo straight onto Tomozuna oyakata (ouch), but then Kaisei falls on top of both of them. That’s… well, a real-life drop-bear (hi, Australians). He helps Takakeisho up, and poor Tomozuna oyakata also asks for a hand up. Everybody is still in one (albeit squashed) piece.

Finally, we have the last four Makuuchi bouts. This includes Tamawashi vs. Ichinojo. And of course, Goeido still has his tsukebito heckling Tamawashi:

goeido-still-heckles-tamawashi

Kakuryu doesn’t seem to approve. So what did Tamawashi (and Goeido, and Kakuryu) do?

Now, Tochinoshin’s leg has neither taping nor brace.

TamawashiIchinojoOshidashi
MitakeumiTochinoshinTsuridashi
GoeidoTakayasuUwatenage
KakuryuKisenosatoYorikiri

Tomozuna oyakata gets hit again! Luckily, Ichinojo’s brakes are better than Kaisei’s, so he didn’t get hit by yet another drop bear. And that is Ichinojo’s killer nodowa making an appearance again.

I have a feeling of déjà vu about Mitakeumi’s bout with Tochinoshin. Haven’t we seen this bout a few days ago? First Mitakeumi attacks, tries a couple of gaburi, then Tochinoshin takes over and forklifts him out?

Takayasu seems pretty amused about how his match turned out.

And Kakuryu’s left foot is once again doing circles in mid-air. I thought his problem was his right foot.

Here is a link to the complete YouTube playlist from which these clips were taken. It’s a bit of a mess, so if you want to watch in order, pay attention to the numbers.

And your final pin-up boy for this Jungyo, I give you Asanoyama:

asanoyama

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 11 (Oct 13)

venue
Venue at Toyota. What, no cars?

🌐 Location: Toyota, Aichi
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The city of Toyota is mostly known for the headquarters of a certain motor company. But if we are in Toyota, we are in Aichi prefecture again. And if we are in Aichi prefecture again, then the star of the day is once again…

akiseyama-and-nishikigi
Akiseyama! (And Nishikigi)

OK, it’s enough that Akiseyama looks inelegant in a mawashi. But that sash is certainly not doing him any favors. You see, in each event there are a few rikishi – usually the local stars if any, but others if not – stand in a corner dedicated to the prevention of violence wearing those sashes and shaking hands with the fans. The rest of the rikishi don’t wear a sash, just their practice mawashi.

But anyway, somebody designed these sashes with a normal-sized Japanese person in mind. So it doesn’t really work well for rikishi.

I mean, someone the size of Wakatakakage could look half-way decent in it.

gagamaru-just-cant-fit

But Gagamaru just had to give up.

Outside the venue, young Yobidashi Shigejiro from Kokonoe beya, who is a Jonidan Yobidashi, was doing the drumming duty for the day. But for some reason, there is a whole Yobidashi conference around him:

yobidashi-conference

What is this all about? I can’t say for sure, but take a look at the official photo:

taiko-shigejiro-seiza

Oh, a young Yobidashi in a traditional seiza posture (ouch, I can’t sit seiza for more than 30 seconds!), doing the fine traditional duty of… wait a second… is that his smartphone?

That may or may not be the reason for the rather shocked expression of the high-ranking yobidashi behind him in the first photo.

I don’t think he got too badly disciplined for this, though. In fact, he was relieved from duty for a while to have a drink of water, by no other than the san-yaku yobidashi Shiro.

shigejiro-replaced-by-shiro

Or maybe Shiro just decided that he, too, wants to watch a movie while drumming.

Going back inside the venue, let’s move along the walls and see who’s doing what.

Takekaze and Okinoumi working out:

okinoumi-working-out

I wouldn’t be surprised if that rubber strap with the convenient handles actually belongs to Takekaze. He’s been going around with all sorts of portable workout devices which I think are provided by a sponsor.

Remember I talked about Chiyonokuni’s splits? Well, judge for youself:

shodai-opines-about-chiyonokuni
Shodai: “Are you sure this is not hazardous to your future parenthood?”

Aminishiki, rather than practicing sumo, was practicing his future oyakata skills.

aminishiki-practices-oyakata-skills

Looks like he is explaining something about a maemitsu grip.

I keep showing goofy pictures of Abi. But the boy is pretty serious when it comes to customer service:

abi-serious-about-his-fansa

Or maybe he just hasn’t woken up yet.

Kakuryu was doing some push-ups at the side of the dohyo:

kakuryu-pushup

While his tsukebito, Gokushindo, was engaged in a battle of Yokozuna tsukebito off on the tarp:

gokushindo-arikawa
Gokushindo vs. Arikawa. Not fair!

Gokushindo was always at it with Arikawa this day:

Wait, these two were spitting at each other?

Speaking of Arikawa, remember that strange Kise Dance? The Yokozuna does that every day. There are miles of footage on Twitter of that puzzling little exercise. But take a look at this one:

Arikawa is quantum-entangled with Kisenosato? Or… is he making fun of the Yokozuna behind his back? Chiyonokuni must have given him a significant look as he passed there, because Arikawa hurriedly stops.

Here is a smiling Ichinojo I just couldn’t let pass:

smiling-ichinojo

And speaking of smiles, this photo is from the Chiganoura Twitter account. They had somebody take picture of their Jungyo participants this day – on duty, off duty. I think they weren’t quite prepared for the stir this photo (and the others that accompanied it) will cause:

smiling-takakeisho

This got replies such as “Takakeisho can smile? I can’t believe it!”, “Chiganoura oyakata, you’re a magician!”, “Wow, this changes my whole perception of Takakeisho”, and so on. It’s not as if Takakeisho never smiled in Jungyo, but it’s a kind of thing you usually only see in unofficial photos.

But Chiganoura seems to be a heya of smiles. This is a picture of Takanosho:

takanosho-and-omusubiman

Takanosho’s nickname is “Onigiri-kun”. Fans claim he looks like an onigiri:

Onigiri

…only with a smile. Some fan gave him that figure of “Omusubi-man”. “Omusubi” is another name for “onigiri”. And yes, there are some similarities, aren’t there? 🙂

On the dohyo, Tochiozan, who started this Jungyo kyujo, joined it a couple of days before, and has been working hard since:

tochiozan-working-hard

But if you take a look at his lower body, it seems like maybe he should have stayed off the dohyo for a while longer:

tochiozan-leg

I guess that’s what happens when your oyakata is the Jungyo master.

Now let’s take a look at some of the on-dohyo action:

Here’s Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo:

See, that’s why I wrote above that Gokushindo vs. Arikawa is just not fair. Gokushindo is very serious and beats Juryo rivals left and right. He is literally out of Arikawa’s league.

Chiyotairyu vs. Aoiyama:

Given Aoiyama’s knee situation, he’s pretty mobile.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama:

Kagayaki seems to have a rather frustrating Jungyo.

Going off the dohyo again and outside, there is a new yumi-tori performer in training!

This is Awajiumi from Tagonoura beya. He is Kisenosato’s tsukebito. Remember the guy with the little wand-like stick standing in front of Kisenosato in the rope tying demonstration? That’s the guy.

This seems to be significant. In the previous Jungyo a new backup performer was introduced – Hokutoo from Hakkaku beya. But Hokutoo is not a tsukebito for any of the Yokozuna. Tradition requires that the performer should be a yokozuna’s tsukebito. Kakuryu has several tsukebito from Hakkaku beya, but Hokutoo is not one of them.

Now that Kisenosato is out of kyujo, and has passed his “probation” basho, a rikishi from his own team – and his own heya – can be introduced to the bow-twirling ceremony. I’ve seen many tweets wishing to see him installed at Kyusho, though that remains to be seen. I don’t think they depose an existing official performer unless his associated Yokozuna retires – though I don’t know what the custom is when the Yokozuna involved is kyujo.

Going back inside, it was time for Shokkiri. And the performance didn’t even begin, but the gyoji was already bursting with laughter in anticipation:

gyoji-laughs-before-shokkiri

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And fans, of course, don’t settle just for the designated fansa time, but ask for autographs at all times. Enho obliges, but that doesn’t mean that Terutsuyoshi is going to let go of him for even a second:

enho-terutsuyoshi

I generally think it’s really nice to have someone always ready to hug you when you are on a long, tiring tour of the entire country, far from the comforts of home (or at least your private Sekitori room). But maybe Terutsuyoshi is overdoing it just a a tad.

By the way, lest you think that I have a bias for pretty rikishi, here is a pretty gyoji for you:

shikimori-kinosuke-attracts-the-little-ladies

This is Shikimori Kinosuke, who is apparently doing the announcer duty for this event. And he is pretty enough to attract the attentions of the ladies. Though admittedly this particular lady seems to be a bit on the young side.

So of course, all I have from either the Juryo or the Makuuchi bouts is just Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw:

terutsuyoshi-and-his-salt-throw

Come on! Where are all the aunties with the video-capable phones?

Sigh,

So here is your Tobizaru of the day.

tobizaru
Who dared blemish that face?!

 

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 1 (Oct 3)

🌐 Location: Ota Ward, Tokyo
🚫 Scandal Level: 0

abi-being-abi
It’s the Jungyo! Let the Goofiness commence!

The sekitori and their tsukebito eased into the Jungyo, starting the rounds in Tokyo. This time, at the Ota ward, close to Kawasaki.

That is, the sekitori eased into it. The tsukebito are a different story:

kyokusoten-carries-tamawashi-akeni
Kyokusoten shouldering Tamawashi’s Akeni

They have to do all the fetching and carrying – here showing the akeni, packed into protective tarp.

Wait, whose Akeni is this?

yutakayama-akeni

The name on this package is “Oyanagi”. Actually, it’s Yutakayama’s Akeni. They simply didn’t replace the name on the canvas bag when they gave him his shikona – which happened when he was already a sekitori. Generally, it’s best to avoid changing shikona when the rikishi is already sekitori – it means that his kesho mawashi and akeni become obsolete.

Here is someone who has been sekitori for a long time. Very long time.

aminishiki-birthday
Happy 40th birthday, Uncle

Poor Aminishiki always gets to celebrate his birthday in Jungyo. He did get an early surprise party from his loved ones, but the day itself is always spent away from home. Aminishiki noted that with post-basho events, Jungyo, and Kyushu basho, it won’t be until after Fuyu Jungyo is over – ending December 22 – that he will get his much yearned-for “Family time”.

So let’s turn to the Jungyo event itself. Here we see the sekitori coming to greet Kisenosato, one by one. This Jungyo started with all Yokozuna present and in working order, so they had a lot of greeting to do.

But unusually, the focus of attention wasn’t Kisenosato. The focus of attention in this event was Takakeisho, although he is not a local boy. The reason for this is the Takanohana beya dissolution. Of the three sekitori coming from that heya, Takakeisho is the only one participating in the Jungyo. Many people cheered him on. But not just spectators, it seems! Here is a piece of the TV coverage of the event.

First, the commentators focus on the fact that Takakeisho is still wearing a Takanohana yukata. That’s actually something I didn’t think was too surprising. Naya wears a Taiho yukata frequently. Hoshoryu goes around in an Asashoryu yukata. And they are still in the strict part of the banzuke. Why shouldn’t Takakeisho, a san-yaku sekitori, wear whatever yukata he pleases?

Further forward, moving through showing his participation in keiko and the fans showing him a lot of attention and asking for autographs, and talking about keiko and stuff, they show him greeting Hakuho in the morning. Hakuho usually all but ignores the sekitori who come to greet him – except his particular friends like Tamawashi etc. – but this time he stopped, turned around, and held on to Takakeisho’s arm in an encouraging fashion.

The news piece ends showing the first item that sold out in the memorabilia stands: “Gambare, Takakeisho” towels.

The event schedule went on as usual regardless of the Taka-no-drama, though. Here we have the Shokkiri routine for this Jungyo.

The Shokkiri team from the previous Jungyo contines into this basho – Ebisumaru and Shobushi. In the previous basho they alternated with another pair, so I’ll check tomorrow if they alternate this time as well.

Due to the many absences from Juryo, no less than three Makushita wrestlers were thrown into the Juryo torikumi to thicken it up. Jokoryu faced Ms8E Nakazono. Azumaryu faced the newly promoted Gokushindo, and Gagamaru, who is going to say goodbye to his sekitori status in the next basho, faced the man replacing him – Tomokaze.

I ran into only one photo from the Juryo bouts – Terutsuyoshi vs. Tsurugisho – and boy, I’m dying to know who won and by what kimarite, exactly.

terutsuyoshi-tsurugisho

Here is Hakuho’s dohyo-iri. Due to Ishiura’s absence, his dew-gatherer is Daieisho. This state of affairs is likely to remain so until at least Hatsu basho, as Ishiura will not be in Makuuchi in Kyushu.

Here are Chiyotairyu and Daieisho awaiting their Torikumi. This is a boring time for rikishi, so they are playing a game – one rikishi has to guess how many thumbs the other rikishi will put up. This game is actually more interesting when played with more than two rikishi, because then the answer is not just zero, one, or two.

daieisho-playing-with-chiyotairyu
Chiyotairyu guesses 1, but it was actually 0.

Of the bouts themselves, I have Takakeisho vs. Ikioi. Notice the announcement for Takakeisho: “Hyogo-ken, Ashiya-shi shusshin, Chiganoura beya”.

Poor Ikioi, getting no love.

And we have Kisenosato vs. Goeido.

What a struggle. I wish I had this from another angle to see what the Yokozuna was trying to do with his left.

Finally, by popular request, here is your daily Tobizaru!

tobizaru
“Of course I’m smiling! I’m the new Tachiai pin-up boy!”