Jungyo Newsreel – Day 17

🌐 Location: Gyoda, Saitama prefecture

Today the Jungyo lands in Saitama. The prefecture boasts one of the finest high-school sumo departments at Saitamasakae high, and accordingly, also boasts many rikishi who call it home. In fact, two top-notch sekitori are in the home-boy position today: Abi and Hokutofuji.

And while Abi has a long line for photos and handshakes inside, Hokutofuji distributes safety pamphlets and shakes hands outside the venue:

Inside the venue, Ichinojo is practicing his shot put. The one tiny thing missing is the shot, of course:

In the “Everybody loves Enho” series, today it’s Kagayaki’s turn to play:

Finally, a video has turned up which will show us what it is that Kakuryu is doing with that strange combination of rubber tube and a towel. I’m sure it will make perfect sense once we watch it:

Errr…. no. It still looks absolutely ridiculous.

The other Yokozuna is getting his morning greetings while Goeido is smearing someone on the dohyo.

It occurs to me that by the time the good mornings are over, the spittoon at the corner of the dohyo is probably full to the brim. Poor yobidashi.

The kawaigari session there doesn’t seem to be related to this short one Goeido is having with Takanosho:

Takayasu is in a mentoring mood this Jungyo. A couple of days ago he tutored Onosho. Today he is giving a proper class to his army of tsukebito. And we finally get to see what the mystery move he was teaching Onosho was:

Why, he is teaching them how to dance like Cossacks!

If you’re wondering, normal sekitori only get to bring one tsukebito to Jungyo. But Ozeki may bring five, and Yokozuna, eight.

This is Tatsunami oyakata:

Aside from being a good-looking fella, he has also been in charge of preparing some of the events – interacting with the sponsors and the like.

Tatsunami oyakata runs a modest heya up in Ibaraki, far away from the sumo hub at Ryogoku. And in that modest heya, he has acquired a gem not long ago. Namely, this guy:

This is, of course, Asashoryu’s nephew, Hoshoryu. Tatsunami oyakata knows quite well this one has a huge potential, and he is doing everything he can to get the boy the best environment in which to develop. That includes apprenticing him to his only sekitori, Meisei, and sending him off to practice at Miyagino and at Isegahama, outside his own ichimon.

I’m pretty sure the plan when setting him as Meisei’s tsukebito was for Hoshoryu to do the Jungyo as early as possible and hobnob with sekitori as much as possible. But the problem is that the NSK introduced a new rule recently, that minors are not to join the Jungyo unless invited by the sponsors. And Hoshoryu is not 20 yet.

So Tatsunami somehow brought him along with him to this event. Not sure exactly what the pretext was, but bottom line, Hoshoryu got to participate in his first Jungyo today. This included all sorts of good stuff like a butsukari session with Tochinoshin. “Wow, Ozeki are that heavy” commented the youngster.

Now, Hoshoryu was only 4-3 last basho, but that doesn’t mean anybody should dismiss him as too weak for the top of Makushita. Take a look at this practice – apparently with Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi):

Oh, did he just beat a sekitori? But you may notice Tochinoshin watching him from the side lines. He told him his wrestling style invites his opponent in, and is also dangerous for his knees. “Be careful not to be injured!” admonished the still-Ozeki, who knows what he’s talking about.

Hoshoryu also got workout advice from Kotoshogiku:

Jumping ahead a little, here is his bout with Ichiyamamoto:

Whoa.

Here are some practice bouts. First, Shodai-Shohozan:

Hehehe… the guys really swamp Shodai there in an attempt to get his nod.

Ichinojo-Ryuden, Endo-Takarafuji, Aoiyama-Takayasu:

Practice time over, let’s move on to the afternoon part. Today the Makushita bouts were in the form of “kessho-gonin-nuki”. This means five rikishi on the West face five rikishi on the East. Each takes his turn, and if he wins, he stays on the dohyo with the next opponent from the opposite side. The winner is the first who beats all five opponents. I don’t have the bouts themselves, except the one we have seen with Hoshoryu above. But I do have the gonin-soroi-bumi. That is, the five wrestlers on each side go up on the dohyo and perform synchronized shiko, similar to the san-yaku-soroi-bumi we see at the end of events just before the last three bouts:

Next was the Juryo dohyo-iri. And of course we get an Enho sandwich:

One pixie, between two slices of Daishomaru and Daiamami

In the dohyo-iri itself, Akiseyama completely breaks the Japanese stand-in-line etiquette.

And Chiyomaru also looks like he is getting ahead of his turn.

The Juryo members change and wait for their bouts, and Chiyomaru decides to tickle Daishomaru in the ass a bit with one of his sagari rods.

I think Chiyomaru may think again before he tries a prank on Daishomaru next time, as he finds himself slammed against the wall.

Whoa, whoa, aren’t you overreacting just a bit?

It’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And just a reminder, the one who announces what’s going on is always a gyoji.

In this case, a rather casually seated Shikimori Kinosuke, from Sadogatake beya.

While the Makuuchi rikishi show off their kesho-mawashi, the Yokozuna’s tsukebito work hard at making him pretty for his own dohyo-iri:

Shame on you if you don’t know which Yokozuna that is…

OK, with all dohyo-iri done, it’s time for… what, you thought it’s time for bouts? As far as the Makuuchi rikishi are concerned, it’s time for playing games and goofing around, that’s what it is.

You know sumo wrestlers love sumo when they opt to do sumo to pass the time before they do sumo:

On the other side, four rikishi play rock-papers-scissors. Daieisho is mightily relieved when he wins it. It’s probably another one of the “lose and you get… pain” games that rikishi love so well:

Looks like a group version of atchi-muite-hoi, but I can’t imagine what the rules are when there are three fingers pointing.

Ichinojo checks the order of matches but the fans call from behind. The big man seems to be a bit bewildered by all the attention. Look, there’s even some grandpa aiming a phone at him from the second floor:

“Look over here, Ichinojo zeki!”

That’s what happens when you win too many bouts in honbasho, dear boulder.

Of course we can’t do without our favorite pair of clowns, Nishikigi and Shodai. This time they find a back room in this sports facility, and strain a poor vaulting box that never thought it would have to take that much weight:

The goofy mood spreads all the way to the top, as Takayasu gives Tochinoshin a hearty massage:

Takayasu is generally in a good mood today:

This seems to be post-bout, so he must have beaten Kakuryu in their daily match.

The only match I have today is an “off the list” – an extra bout between local boy Abi and Meisei. Why Meisei? I guess the sponsors wanted a duel of pretty shiko:

I think Meisei didn’t get the memo about letting the local boy win, though.

And I leave you with today’s pin-up rikishi, Kiribayama:

With a shikona like “Foggy Horse Mountain”, can you guess where he is from?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 16

🌐 Location: Adachi ward, Tokyo

Today’s event is really close to home – at Adachi ward, just north of Sumida, where the majority of sumo stables are located.

And yet, equipment still needs to be delivered and carried into the venue.

That is yobidashi Hiromasa, proving to us that yobidashi is physical work, not just singing and drumming.

Here is Chiyoraizan from Kokonoe beya. Whose baggage is he carrying?

This is Kimura Konosuke’s stuff. Gyoji need their outfits and paraphernalia, too.

The equipment comes from side-opening trucks like this one, which you can see is loaded with sekitori’s akeni:

Akeni are the green-red-black boxes that each sekitori receives upon promotion to Juryo, where he stores stuff like his kesho-mawashi, shimekomi (silk mawashi) and sagari. During transit, akeni are wrapped in plastic or tarp. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many of the Akeni as I can. If you read kanji, or at least memorize shikona, try that yourself. I’ll give you two hints:

  • The ones wrapped in gray are not rikishi’s, but rather gyoji’s.
  • While the name on the Akeni itself matches the sekitori’s current shikona, they rarely replace the tarp. Thus, there are two akeni in the bottom row labeled “Takayoshitoshi” (now called Takanofuji), and “Oyanagi” (now called Yutakayama).

Good luck!

So let’s go inside the venue and see what everybody is doing. Kakuryu seems to be very tired:

Aw, Yokozuna. Why don’t you find something soft to rest your head against and get some shut-eye?

Um… not exactly what I had in mind. But if it works for you…

This early in the morning, Takakeisho is trying to find an out-of-the-way corner where he can work out properly without being disturbed.

It’s not working.

Nishikigi is working out his already formidable arms:

Wakamotoharu and Ishiura are doing their shiko.

Between the two of them, I’m sure there is not a single evil spirit in the ground anywhere in Adachi.

Ichinojo is working with hand weights:

These arms are made for slap-down
And that’s just what I’ll do
One of these days these arms are gonna hatakikomi you!

Later, after he does some on-dohyo training, Hakuho calls him over and gives him a private lesson. “Insert your right arm deeper!” and the like:

When reporters ask the Yokozuna about this, he says “I felt I wanted to do some teaching this Jungyo. Every day I take one man and guide him”.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I am imagining a baton being passed here.

Here are the three top contenders for “kawaii rikishi of the late Heisei era”:

Daishoho – Meisei – Takanosho

And by now Takakeisho arrives at the dohyo, and greets his beloved Daieisho:

Daieisho, Daieisho, wherefore art thou Daieisho?

The reason these two have been called a “couple” throughout this Jungyo is apparently because they were caught in the shitakubeya sleeping wrapped in one towel. If a photo ever turns up…

Hokutofuji, look behind you!

There is a prowling bear!

The bear, I mean, the Ozeki, started actual on-dohyo practice today:

This included, for example, this practice bout with Tochiozan:

Up on that same dohyo, Mitakeumi is giving butsukari to Wakatakakage:

This apparently gets carried beyond the standard end-of-moshiai-session butsukari and into the realm of kawaigari:

Goeido is doing the same for Takanosho:

This session is definitely kawaigari rather than plain butsukari:

Here are a couple of practice bouts: Gagamaru vs. Takanosho, a short interlude showing Tochinoshin working out, then Meisei vs. Kaisei.

This concludes the practice part of the Jungyo. Time for lunch! And Abi is looking for something nicer than a cold bento:

This looks like a mobile stall offering various types of “don” (a bowl of rice topped with something, like curry, chicken, pork, beef, etc.).

I don’t have much from the second part of the day. But here is Takanosho before his bout, having a smiling conversation with his heya-mate, young yobidashi Hiroshi:

And the important news of the day. Do you know what this photo means?

It means Enho is finally back on the torikumi list, doing sumo!

Unfortunately, it looks like he is being yori-kiried by Daiamami here.

No pin-up photo for you today. Instead, here is a video with some comments by Hakuho and Takakeisho. Hakuho responds to questions about his naturalization process. That is, he is not responding to questions about it:

Hakuho: “Nothing is decided yet. I was surprised this made such a splash in the news. There are many supporters, family, relatives I have yet to inform about this. For the time being, all there is to do is wait for the results”.

He says he wants to “Start Reiwa well, following the good closure of Heisei”. The reporters take it as a wish to win his 43rd yusho in May. Of course, there’s that pesky injury.

Takakeisho says he has all but gotten used to his new Ozeki status, and that he wants to work on the fundamentals, because “An Ozeki needs to have a body”.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 13

🌐 Location: Hitachinomiya, Ibaraki prefecture

We have a short one today. The Jungyo temporarily leaves the vicinity of Tokyo and goes north to Ibaraki. Ibaraki is the former Kisenosato’s home turf, and indeed, the main attraction in this Jungyo event seems to be a visit from Araiso oyakata.

But let’s start with the beginning, as rikishi alight from the buses:

Akiseyama, that is – lovingly known among Japanese sumo fans as “Mountain of Bread”. Seriously, it’s amazing that he has such serious mobility issues and still manages to hold a pretty secure position in Juryo.

At the entrance, Yobidashi Hiromasa beckons us in with his drum roll:

This is, of course, the official photo, and in it Hiromasa is serious and dedicated. There is also an unofficial photo, though:

And in that, we see that he keeps his smartphone at hand, probably because drumming is awfully boring, and he also having relaxed chats with the incoming customers.

Since he persuaded us so nicely to come inside, let’s go and shake hands with a dreamy Arawashi:

Seriously, who came up with the idea that he is anything like Chiyoshoma?

And proceed into the venue to see some of the rikishi practicing along the walls. Takakeisho and Daieisho play drill sergeants to their tsukebito:

One, two! One, two! Though I have to say that any real drill sergeant would laugh at these push-ups.

Then it’s time for Daieisho himself to explain to Takakeisho what he has been doing wrong in his weight lifting:

Oopsie-daisy. Funny little misfire there by Daieisho. But then he goes on to show some real leg exercise. Yes, Takakeisho, you are supposed to lift with your legs, not with your back. Daieisho has mighty strong legs.

In the hana-michi, Enho kind of practices with Onosho. Those two have been goofing together almost every day of this Jungyo.

But you can see that Enho is favoring his right shoulder. That’s still not in working order, apparently, though he did say to the press that he intends to go berserk in Makuuchi next basho. If he doesn’t get to do keiko, no berserking is going to cut it.

On the dohyo, we have Kaisei and Meisei. It’s not the same “sei”:

At this point, official practice is over, and the dohyo is vacated in favor of the usual shows. Some rikishi linger outside. This far north, the sakura is in full bloom, and what’s better than some keiko under the beautiful blossoms?

Indeed, Kotoeko and Kotorikisen look like they enjoy themselves thoroughly.

The Yokozuna put on their ropes to prepare for dohyo-iri and also to get a photo with the local sponsor:

In the past, I have heard some sumo fans who thought this formal kimono was something unique to sumo. It isn’t. This a mon-tsuki kimono set, which includes a kimono, a hakama (the gray semi-skirt thing worn over the kimono), and a haori (jacket, held together with a fine pom-pom). It’s Japanese traditional formal wear, and anybody in Japan may wear it on festive or formal occasions.

Anyway, the Yokozuna are back in the venue, and as Hakuho awaits his turn, he still signs autographs. Nobody is supposed to get near him when he wears the tsuna, and so his tsukebito keep a large buffer zone around him, but one of them brings the shikishi over to for him to sign:

Then, right before the Makuuchi bouts start, it’s time for the special guest star to make his appearance. And his popularity has not lost an iota:

The former Yokozuna comes inside to make a speech and thank his fellow Ibaraki people for their support throughout his career. As he ascends the dohyo, you can hear shouts like “Why did you quit?!”, “You look great in a suit!” etc.

He says that now without the pressure he can practice a lot more easily than he used to. “I never get tired”

The whole speech scene really entertains some of the sekitori waiting for their bouts. Especially the part you don’t see in the above video, in which he receives a large portion of the local delicacy… natto…

And… that’s it. I could find no hint of a bout nor even the list of matches of the day. So I have to leave off with the pin-up corner, today featuring:

Terutsuyoshi!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 9

🌐 Location: Shizuoka, Shizuoka prefecture

The Jungyo arrives at what has become a regular stop in the Haru Jungyo – fifth time in a row – Shizuoka city, where they call this event “Mount Fuji Shizuoka basho”, no less.

Along the walls we can see rikishi exercising and stretching. Enho, for example, is both stretching and diving:

Ichinojo is stomping shiko together with his Tsukebito. I believe this is Oka, formerly known as Minatoryu:

Ichinojo is not getting anywhere near the dohyo at this stage, but he is more than happy to pose for photos for the fans:

Much the same can be said about Yoshikaze, come to think of it.

Wakamotoharu is making good use of his remaining time as sekitori, also posing with the fans with his tsukebito – who is actually his big brother Wakatakamoto. Yes, all three Onami brothers are together this Jungyo:

The dohyo being occupied, Yago and Daieisho do their sumo away from (most) of the public eye:

So what is it that occupies the dohyo? For example, Chiyomaru vs. Azumaryu and Chiyomaru vs. Wakamotoharu:

Abi giving butsukari to Takanosho:

Abi has such long legs… as he stands at the edge to take the blow, his supporting left leg reaches almost to the shikiri-sen…

Tochinoshin is not taking any prisoners. Here he is vs. Mitakeumi, Kagayaki and Asanoyama:

Asanoyama surprisingly got him there. But the soon-to-be Ozekiwake is full of energy.

Practice over, and it’s time to hit the bath. And of course, on the way back the fans demand attention. Toyonoshima is among those most sought after, though he is not a local man in any way:

Hakuho yukata, with “63” motif.

Dohyo-Iri in Jungyo is a lot more relaxed, even on the dohyo itself. Here is the Juryo dohyo-iri. Gagamaru is making faces at some kid in the crowd:

Makuuchi bouts about to start. Wrestlers waiting outside for their turn, practicing their favorite facial expressions:

Terutsuyoshi – his salty face. Daishoho – his kawaii face. Tomokaze – his puzzled face. And Ishiura just shows off his fine… traps. That’s it… traps…

So here is a summary video from the Japanese TV. You can see some of the local boy of the day, Tochikodai from Kasugano beya, in his bout vs. Tennozan. And there are the bouts between Takakeisho and Tochinoshin, and between Goeido and Kakuryu.

Finally we see the Yokozuna win.

As for that bout between Takakeisho and Tochinoshin… ahem… ahem. Takakeisho is still not practicing on the dohyo but he said he will start doing so soon.

And to seal this day, here is Asanoyama in the pin-up corner:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 6

🌐 Location: Uji, Kyoto

The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:

Local boy Narutaki, pretty boy Toshonishiki, and maiko

These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.

There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:

Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.

They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:

Wakatakakage – Wakamotoharu

This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:

At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).

On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.

But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.

Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.

So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:

And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?

This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.

This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:

On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:

While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:

…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.

So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:

Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:

Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:

Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.

Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:

Yep, that nodowa again.

Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.

Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:

And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:

By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.

During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:

Imagine him with a Mohawk

I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:

Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.

The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:

Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.

So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho: