Hot on the heels of Bruce’s One’s To Watch post, here are some low-division bouts, including many of the Ones To Watch and their wreckage.
Let’s start at Jonokuchi. Although I thought Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic recruit, would do well in Jonokuchi, simply on the merit of his combined weight and experience, he came into Nakabi with a 1-2 record. Here he is facing one of Futagoyama’s newbies, Denuma:
The boy has a lot of improvement to do despite this win here, if he is going to meet the standard set by all the other uchi-deshi recruited by the dai-yokozuna, namely, to become sekitori and hold that position (barring injury – poor Yamaguchi).
By the way, remember Ito, the guy thoroughly pancaked by Toma on day 3? Well, it seems that getting a 206kg cannonball may be good for your career – he is currently 4-0 with a chance at the Jonokuchi yusho.
Next we move to Sandanme, only stopping at Jonidan long enough to inform you that Toshonishiki is on fire this tournament with 4-0, and I really wish I could find some footage because the man is almost as thin as Hattorizakura. Maybe he charms his opponent with his pretty face.
Well, at the very bottom of Sandanme we have Shiraishi, the tsuke-dashi. That is, a wrestler who entered sumo as Sandanme 100 instead of going through Maezumo and Jonokuchi. This is a privilege you attain by being top 8 in one of the applicable amateur championships. And so far, he has justified it, arriving at Nakabi with a 3-0 record. Here he faces Kaiyuma, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s stable):
Our friend Yoshoyama is currently at Sandanme 9W, and has a straight win record. If he can keep it up and win the Yusho, he may land right very close to the Makushita “here be dragons” zone. He faces Fujita, who is rather bigger than he is:
This doesn’t stop the Mongolian from Tokitsukaze beya from keeping his straight record.
Next up in Sandanme – Amakaze, who can do the mean splits, and apparently, the mean sumo as well:
Don’t blink. Amakaze is on fire.
Finally, we arrive at the wreckage that is the Terunofuji vs. Daishosei bout. Both come into this bout lossless:
The former Ozeki makes an amateur mistake there, thinking that Daishosei’s foot went out and dropping his defenses as a result. Daishosei is not intimidated enough to miss the opportunity thus opened. Terunofuji goes down the hana-michi cussing (well, to the extent that you can cuss in Japanese – and Mongolian doesn’t even have cuss words).
We’re up to Makushita, and we have Musashikuni vs. Fukuyama. Musashikuni is not having a very good tournament and comes into this bout 1-2:
The American ends up sitting frustrated at the edge of the dohyo, needing to win all his bouts from this moment on.
Next we have Midorifuji vs. Asabenkei. They, too, are 1-2 each as they mount the dohyo. While Midorifuji is very talented, he is also very small. Asabenkei, on the other hand, has some Juryo experience, but seems rather worse for wear.
Midorifuji executes a rather nice katasukashi. You can’t see it in this footage, but Asabenkei has real trouble getting up and over to his position for the bow. Sigh.
So let’s take a look at Hoshoryu vs. Ryuko.
Hoshoryu can’t even cite his lack of weight in this bout. I guess lack of experience.
On a higher note, here is Naya vs. Kaito:
Typical Naya tsuppari, ending in a kachi-koshi and a chance at the Makushita yusho.
Finally, we are up to Juryo – where Kizakiumi is paying a visit, facing Arawashi. Kizakiumi is Churanoumi’s brother, and he is so fresh he can’t even get the oicho-mage that is usually granted to Makushita rikishi who have a Juryo bout.
I thought Arawashi was in a better state than this before the basho. But he may find himself saying goodbye to his kesho-mawashi for the first time since 2013.
My final bout for this report is Daishomaru vs. Aminishiki. Believe it or not, Aminishiki is in the picture for the Juryo yusho, trailing Takagenji by a mere 2 loss margin together with Toyonoshima.
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:
Here are some practice bouts. First, Shodai-Shohozan:
Hehehe… the guys really swamp Shodai there in an attempt to get his nod.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Today was the second day in Hyogo prefecture – but right on the opposite side of it than Day 4’s event. Early morning, the dohyo is already consecrated from the day before.
And… what’s this parking right in front of the entrance to the venue?
Why, it’s Ryota Hama’s Chanko Nabe bus!
While in Tokyo or Osaka honbasho you rely either on the food supply inside the venue or the regular restaurants around it, events in small towns rely on mobile stalls. So as yobidashi Hiromasa calls the townspeople with his drum, a little matsuri is being set up around the venue.
And early-bird Hama got the most lucrative location, right at the entrance! Mmmm… chanko!
But not yet, the stalls are just being set up. First, it’s time to shake hands with some favorite rikishi. For example, Hyogo local Terutsuyoshi.
Ah, the contrast between the beautiful kimono of those ladies gathering around him, and his own ratty yukata…
Yokozuna in the house!
Low-ranking rikishi practice on the dohyo, while around it some sekitori are starting to stretch and exercise:
Very entertaining squats on the left side there.
On the sidelines, Sadanoumi practices his oshi:
Ando is doing suri-ashi:
And so does Aoiyama, though in a totally different style:
It’s time for the Juryo rikishi’s practice on the dohyo. We have Kyokushuho with Wakamotoharu, then Kyokushuho with Azumaryu:
And in the session’s closure, Takakeisho gives butsukari to Wakamotoharu:
Then Makuuchi gets into the picture. Aoiyama faces Meisei, then Okinoumi, then Asanoyama, then the latter takes over and faces Ryuden.
This is not the end of the road for Ryuden, who later gets Mitakeumi (for some reason this bout appears twice in this video). Then we can see Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin:
Practice time is over, and we can relax and enjoy Shokkiri. Here is the full performance.
Apparently, in this Jungyo, the gyoji is getting creative. When the two performers fall down together, he leaves the dohyo, and consults with some spectator – preferably a child: “I should call that dotai, right?”.
“Dotai” is when both rikishi touch ground at the same time. In a normal bout, the gyoji doesn’t call it – the gyoji always has to point the gunbai one side or the other – and this is settled with a monoii and a torinaoshi. In shokkiri, of course, the gyoji makes all the decisions himself. Or with the help of a child, as it turns out.
Next up is the Jinku performance. And once again I have the full version:
But hey, aren’t you hungry? It’s nearly noon and we haven’t tasted that chanko, yet!
Apparently they also serve Udon. But who cares? Chanko!
There is also a mobile Takoyaki stall if you’re tired of Chanko, as some rikishi are
Both lunch and Jinku over, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And Sokokurai is arguing some point with Gagamaru:
Skipping the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri, right before Makuuchi, Takakeisho, the local hero, receives a bale of rice as a gift – and apparently, a large amount of beef.
The area of Toyooka is known for its stork-friendly rice. Apparently, Japanese storks have been on the decline, and the city of Toyooka is making an effort to bring them back, by raising rice that coexists with the creatures that storks feed on to sustain themselves. So Takakeisho got a bale of stork-friendly rice. I don’t know how stork-friendly the beef is, though.
So let’s see some bouts! Here we have a series of bouts from Juryo:
This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:
Tochiozan vs. Endo:
Sanyaku-soroi-bumi, and Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi
Tamawashi’s killer nodowa does it again.
Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:
I think Tochinoshin forgot that he was supposed to let the local boy win.
Finally, Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.
I think I have yet to see Kakuryu win a bout this basho.
Finishing with our pin-up… How about Nishikigi for a change?
Yes, we’re back with the series of Jungyo Newsreels that will try to keep your blood sumo levels above the emergency threshold until a new tournament is in site.
As a reminder – the Jungyo is a promotional tour in which the sekitori (Juryo and Makuuchi) participate. Each takes one tsukebito (manservant, a wrestler ranked between Jonidan and Makushita), except Yokozuna and Ozeki who get to have a “team”. Together with a bunch of shimpan, gyoji and yobidashi, and of course the big heads from the Jungyo department, they travel through small towns around Japan, performing from morning through the afternoon, and letting the locals get a bit of live sumo and sumo-related fun. For a fuller description, refer to the Introduction To The Jungyo I published a while back.
The winter Jungyo is supposed to be the shortest Jungyo of the year. However, with the rising popularity of sumo, it’s not that short any more. The 2013 Fuyu Jungyo included only six events. The 2018 Fuyu Jungyo includes 17 events spread over 21 days! In fact, there were more Jungyo days in 2018 than honbasho days!
So without further ado, let’s see what we had on day 1.
Nagasaki is a popular tourist destination in Japan. So some members of the entourage took time to explore. While Hakuho had a little excursion to the lighthouse to have some Champon (a Nagasaki noodle dish), Kokonoe oyakata decided to visit the famous Spectacles Bridge:
One rikishi was on the tour, who was neither sekitori nor tsukebito. Tachiai favorite Wakaichiro had a one-day adventure. The reason for this is that he is registered as coming from Nagasaki. His mother is from Nagasaki, and his grandparents came to this day’s event to watch him. As you all know, he actually grew up in Texas. He mostly spent summer vacations in Nagasaki. This being his first Jungyo, he had a bit of trouble getting the hang of things (remember, there are no sekitori in Musashigawa). The press was mostly amused that he decided a good place to camp in the shitaku-beya would be right between Takayasu and Tochinoshin. (Well, yeah, it is a good place!)
As a “local boy”, he received some kawaigari (TLC – the euphemism for butsukari, especially when used as a torture session) from Jokoryu. This was the effect:
Wakaichiro was not the only novice in the Jungyo – though the others have the advantage of traveling with familiar faces and being used to the company of sekitori. One new face in the Jungyo is Midorifuji, who is serving as Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (I’m getting worried about Terunohana, Terutsuyoshi’s long-time tsukebito, who has been kyujo for quite some time). Midorifuji is considered one of the most promising current talents at Isegahama beya, and I think they decided to send him on the Jungyo to get some “sekitori experience”. Here he is with Terutsuyoshi and Aminishiki’s tsukebito, Terumichi:
Another new face in the Jungyo is Wakamotoharu (though he had been on at least one event in the past). He is there as his little brother’s tsukebito – the little brother being Wakatakakage, of course.
The shimpan squad has also been refreshed. In the previous Jungyo we saw Futagoyama, Tomozuna and Furiwake. This tour we have Asakayama, Hanaregoma and, of course, Kokonoe.
And what are the rikishi up to? Well, it’s early morning, so Ichinojo demonstrates his ability to squat while sound asleep:
Then there are these inseparable two. Surprisingly, Terutsuyoshi is rather hands-off today:
But of course, most of the attention goes to one participant: Hakuho, back from his post-operative kyujo, and trying to regain some fitness. Here he is doing some shiko:
Mmmm… Hakuho said he can stomp with power now, but this seems to be very tentative shiko.
By the way, the Yokozuna also changed his seating arrangements in the Jungyo bus. Apparently, one of the reason his leg got worse in the previous Jungyo was sitting with cramped, bent knees for hours on end, while traveling. He used to sit in the front seat of the bus, but decided to change to the back seat, to allow himself to fully stretch his legs. I suppose that means he took the entire back bench to himself and stretches himself on it – he did mention something about getting some sleep. Maybe he should borrow one of Yoshikaze’s folding mattresses…
By the way, I did not mention this before, but there are several rikishi who are kyujo from this Jungyo – at least for the time being. Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Goeido, Kaisei and Arawashi from Makuuchi, and Kyokushuho, Kyokutaisei and Chiyonoo from Juryo. All Tomozuna sekitori are absent! Yoshikaze was also off the torikumi, but he is definitely in the Jungyo.
This also means that Hakuho is left with only one Makuuchi rikishi from his own ichimon for the dohyo-iri. Indeed, his tsuyuharai is Chiyoshoma:
The shiko here is stronger, of course.
Chiyoshoma looks a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. I predict that for the Meiji-Jingue dohyo iri of January 2019, we’ll see Terutsuyoshi as his tsuyuharai (this will be after the new banzuke is announced so Terutsuyoshi is expected to be in Makuuchi).
Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. First, Hakuyozan vs. Takagenji.
Then, Meisei and Aoiyama:
Aoiyama seems to be getting more and more confident lately. Here he is vs. the Yusho winner (that’s Takakeisho, if you have been on another planet last month).
Takayasu is saying he wants to work towards his first yusho, but he won’t get there if his keiko looks like this:
That’s Tochiozan – not exactly a semitrailer.
Here is todays full Sumo Jinku. Yes, that’s 15 minutes of Jinku. You are allowed to press stop only if you understand everything they say. 😛
The members of the Jinku team this Jungyo are:
It’s easy to recognize Mutsukaze by his prominent mutton chops. If you can’t recognize the others, here’s a little challenge: try to guess who is who by the kesho-mawashi they wear. It’s supposed to be borrowed from a sekitori in their heya (OK, so that won’t help you with the two Sadogatake guys…).
Going into the competition part of the event, the lower divisions each had its own elimination-format tournament, while the upper divisions had the traditional format torikumi. I’m sorry to say that Wakaichiro dropped in the first round of the Jonidan tournament. The winners got prizes – which is not an everyday occurrence for lower-division wrestlers.
Jonidan winner, Imafuku, won a bag of rice. At least, that’s what it looks like.
Sandanme winner, Wakanofuji, won a big bottle of saké.
Makushita winner, Obamaumi, won a… picture of rice crackers? Hey… It sucks to be in Makushita!
OK, so if you’re wondering about those two Goofometer points above, here is what was afoot between Juryo bouts:
Hidenoumi decides to tickle Terutsuyoshi with his sagari. Terutsuyoshi, in response, goes all “Oh yeah, baby, ooh, that’s good, give it to me, baby”.
Hidenoumi has an expression like “God, man, aren’t you enjoying this just a little bit too much?”, or maybe “Whoa… do I really want this guy hanging around anywhere near my little brother?”
Not that his little brother is any better…
OK, OK, so we have a few bouts to see! Here are the “Kore-yori-san-yaku”. Well, two of them. By the way, there was a slip in the torikumi program. They had Hakuho doing the musubi with Takayasu. Hakuho is not really dohyo-ready in any way, shape or form. So eventually Asanoyama was placed at the bottom of san-yaku for a second bout, and everybody else was shifted one space up, sort of.
And once again Takakeisho needs a mawashi adjustment right before the bout.
Asanoyama, of course, is no match for the mighty tadpole – who gets some kensho.
The Mitakeumi/Ichinojo bout is rather comical. I’m not sure Ichinojo actually intended to belly-bump Mitakeumi. That’s a funny tsukiotoshi.
OK, so who shall we put up as our pin-up boy this time? Maybe Terutsuyoshi?
Hey, what’s with the sour face? We know you are quite capable of a big smile. Especially if you’re looking at Enho. Anyway, that photo looks a bit like a Soviet propaganda poster, doesn’t it?
So maybe just revert to Enho:
Now we can all have a big smile! This commercial for “Macho” proteins brought to you by Ishiura, by the way.