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 14

Guess who’s back?

🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.

As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.

The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.

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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 7

🌐 Location: Tsu, Mie prefecture

The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.

There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

Venue at Gojo. A scrolling display is set up to show news of the new era name

🌐 Location: Gojo, Nara prefecture

Today the Jungyo hit the first of two stops at Nara prefecture – in the small town named Gojo, population 35,000 or so.

Early morning, and the sekitori started arriving at the venue through the cold weather:

You can see Yoshikaze and Enho there, but they are still not participating in any bouts. Yokozuna and Ozeki, by the way, may sleep separately from the rest, and therefore also arrive separately:

So let’s go around the venue and see what kind of practice the sekitori are having. Sadanoumi is giving his tsukebito some light butsukari practice:

And Daishoho is… what is Daishoho doing, exactly?

Maybe we shouldn’t show this video to anybody under 18.

At the Dohyo, Goeido is doing push-ups. Sort of:

If you recall, practice sessions on the dohyo consist mostly of moshi-ai sessions (winner decides who to call next), interspersed with higher-ranking rikishi going on the dohyo and giving all those who practiced in the most recent session some butsukari. So here are Mitakeumi and Shodai in one of those butsukari intermissions:

After the low-ranking rikishi finish their practice, it’s time for the sekitori to take the dohyo. Again, moshi-ai sessions commence – and Takagenji takes his (evil) twin.

…and this is exactly why Takanofuji is going to be out of that white Mawashi come Natsu.

The sekitori moshi-ai sessions are also punctuated by butsukari sessions. Today’s star is Tokushoryu, a native of Nara prefecture. He therefore gets treated to some Yokozuna butsukari. Kakuryu does the honors:

And here is the moshi-ai session between Tochiozan and Okinoumi, then Tochiozan and Aoiyama, then Aoiyama and Kagayaki:

Eventually, noon arrived, and with it the message to the Japanese nation: the new era that starts May 1st will be called “Reiwa” (令和). The whole nation is very excited about it, and head gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke, sets out to write the auspicious characters on a couple of large signs.

Gyoji serve as clerks when they are off the dohyo and out of their shiny outfits and headgear. They practice calligraphy from the moment they enter the sumo world (which, like rikishi, can be as early as age 15). Gyoji are in charge of writing all those signs with rikishi names on them, writing the banzuke, and so on. And of course, the head gyoji is also the head calligrapher.

And so, the Yokozuna were able to pay their respects to the name of the new era:

Kakuryu, “Reiwa”, Hakuho

By the way, the sharp-eyed kanji readers among you may notice that the nobori behind Kakuryu still has “Kisenosato” on it.

The sign (I think actually a second sign) ended up being hung inside the venue in time for the Makuuchi bouts.

Back to sumo activity, it was time for dohyo-iri. And Nishikigi was pestering Shodai incessantly:

Can’t exactly fathom why the old ladies believe that Shodai screaming is “kawaii!”.

Nishikigi wouldn’t let go of Shodai even after dohyo-iri:

Nor just before the bouts:

Literally, not letting the man go:

So here is a summary video with some actual bouts:

That is, Ishiura getting a mighty wedgie from Toyonoshima, Tokushoryu showing Takagenji why he may not yet make it to Makuuchi this time, and Takakeisho repeating his senshuraku performance with Tochinoshin.

Finally, how about a pin-up boy? I give you… Endo!

What do you mean “how do you know this is really Endo”?