Yokozuna Kakuryu was in Minamisanrikyu to perform a dohyo-iri in remembrance of the Tohoku earthquake and continuing support of the hard hit community. The Yokozuna noted he had come eight years ago as the sword-bearer for Hakuho, who is still recovering from his arm injury.
Araiso oyakata, former Yokozuna Kisenosato, was also on hand and expressed his support for the community. Many are still in trouble and need support.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Tohoku. The quake and resulting tsunami killed more than 15,000 people and touched off a nuclear contamination disaster which the area has yet to recover from.
Let’s proceed with the past two days, which were full of events in the lower divisions. You have already seen Ura and Wakaichiro. Here are some others.
Tsukahara has won the Jonokuchi and the Jonidan yusho when he started out in Hatsu 2018 (Mae-zumo in 2017). But he got a little stuck in his next two basho. He is going for the Sandanme Yusho this time. In this bout he faces Seigo from Shikoroyama beya:
He also had a bout on day 7, and is currently 4-0.
Now we turn to the princes. First, the Duke of Tatsunami, Hoshoryu. Here facing Sasakiyama. At this point both are 2-0. Note that the torikumi committee regularly matches people with the same record – this helps separate the wheat from the chaff quickly and efficiently.
Sasakiyama returned after a long kyujo and went 6-1 in Jonidan and 7-0 in Sandanme (Jun-Yusho, with Kagamio winning the yusho).
Sasakiyama is not happy. But at least that kotenage left him in one piece.
The next is the Prince of Otake, scion of Taiho (and Takatoriki). He is already 1-1 at this point, and faces Sakigake with the same score.
Bad mistake there, and he finds himself facing outwards, and is respectfully led out. Serious setback, two losses in a row for a man with so many hopes pinned on him. If he doesn’t get a kachi-koshi, it’s back to Sandanme, as he is at the very bottom of Makushita.
I am not going to go through the entire Juryo, but I want you to watch two special bouts. The first is a mixed bout. Toyonoshima in Makushita is scheduled for a Juryo match. So he gets to wear an oicho-mage and throw some salt, which he hasn’t done for a while. It’s a bit unusual to be scheduled for the fourth time in six days, but hey, if he wants to be a sekitori, he has to be able to wrestle every day, right?
He is matched with Jokoryu – a former Sekiwake against a former komusubi. One striving to return to sekitori status, one just now having achieved that.
Since Toyonoshima is at Makushita #1, if he wins this bout, he is kachi-koshi and virtually ensures his return to Juryo for Kyushu.
With both falling about the same time, there is, of course a monoii. And a torinaoshi. Toyonoshima is full of fire. The second time around ends in a hearty uwatenage. Toyonoshima returns to Juryo.
The next interesting day 6 bout is not quite as emotional, but still brilliant. Enho – who else – meets Tokushoryu.
Enho goes for the Hakuho slap-and-grab. The grab doesn’t quite work, but Enho is unfazed. He finds Tokushoryu’s mae-mitsu, and at the same time secures a hold on Tokushoryu’s mawashi knot. The kimarite is shitatenage. But if you look at the replays, you’ll see that enho actually throws him with both arms – he needs a lot of leverage on that hefty guy. With this, Enho is level again, 3-3. His game is much improved over his first Juryo visit.
Oh, and there was something very odd going on in the Day 6 Juryo dohyo-iri. Take a look:
Three wrestlers are missing from the dohyo-iri, and come running in just in time to delay Aminishiki, who looks rather outraged. Perhaps because one of the delinquents is his own ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined at a later date) – Terutsuyoshi, accompanied by Tsurugisho and Daishoho. I’m pretty sure Aminishiki had a little talk with Terutsuyoshi after that.
The gyoji-announcer, however, smoothly adds the names of the three late joiners without pause.
Interestingly, despite being late for the dohyo-iri, Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (Midorifuji, in the top picture) seems to have retained all of his teeth. I guess there are ways of dealing with one’s own tardiness without spilling the blood of one’s subordinates.
(Yeah, I am referring to the Bakayoshitoshi incident).
Anyway, here is the day 6 full Juryo digest for your pleasure:
How can we pass up a Hattorizakura bout? Here vs. Kogitora:
In the previous basho it seemed that Hattorizakura has made a step forward, and started working on his staying power. Alas, this basho none of that seems to have remained. His stablemaster promised him a new shikona should he make kachi-koshi. I guess he likes “Hattorizakura”.
Let’s look at another Jonokuchi bout for a change. Here is one of the new recruits for Naruto beya, Oju, vs. Toya. Oju’s first basho in Jonokuchi has been a disaster, but take a look at this bout:
Oju looks pretty drained after the bout, but still goes over to try and help his opponent up (which Toya refuses). So he is a nice guy. But besides that, it was a good bout, and he kept his stance lower than his opponent and used his opening. He is now 2-2.
Tsushida, who was the Jonokuchi yusho winner in Nagoya, suffered a setback on day 6. So probably no Jonidan yusho. But can he come back? Here he is faced with Sakabayashi. Again, the torikumi masters match wrestlers with the same score:
So maybe no yusho, but Tsushida is still going strong.
Now, on day 1 I said Satonofuji looked tired and spent, and speculated that he may retire soon. But in fact he is having a lovely basho. And, oh, feast your eyes on this bout vs. Chiyotaiko:
In my opinion, that tachiai should have been a matta. But it wasn’t called, and Satonofuji finds himself in an awkward position. But if you think that the 41-years-old Isegahama man just accidentally came up with a clever kimarite, think again. This Izori is his 15th. The man has 36 distinct kimarite under his belt.
I still follow Torakio, but the man is starting to have a really disastrous basho, despite not being seriously injured this time. Take a look at this match vs. Yokoe. Both 1-2 coming into this match:
A lot of effort, but the Musashigawa man manages to unbalance the Bulgarian and Torakio is 1-3, very close to a make-koshi, and it’s not nakabi, yet!
At the bottom, the struggling Naya meets Shosei. Both 1-2 coming into the match. Shosei is a veteran and Makushita regular.
Naya recovers from his two losses and is now 2-2.
Now here is a familiar face we haven’t seen in a while. Yet another one trying to make a return to sekitori status, Chiyootori. Here he faces Koba from Kise beya, both 2-1 coming into this match.
Despite that huge brace on his leg, Chiyootori seems full of genki. Bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce until the tachiai, and a yorikiri soon after. Chiyootori is now 3-1, and at Makushita 25, still has a way to go before he can start throwing salt again.
Finally, here is Sokokurai, who wants the yusho very badly, facing Gokushindo, who wants it quite as much (and there are other people in Makushita aiming for it):
This kind of bout is the reason why they invented tsuppari. Guys, stop circling around and tring to find an opening that doesn’t exist. Show some initiative. Sokokurai is very careful, tries not to expose himself in any way. This could go on forever, but Sokokurai makes the first mistake and loses his chance of a yusho.
Chiyonoumi is having a real hard time this basho. His tsuppari attack is effective at first, but still, Hakuyozan is bigger and not easily moved by mere thrusts, and it’s the Kokonoe man who finds himself outside.
Akua with his back to the wall. His bouts in the past few days are very fierce, even desparate. Tokushoryu is the winner and Akua is 2-5.
Mitoryu started the basho strong, but weakened a bit as the days passed. Azumaryu wants to find his way back up.
Jokoryu manages to turn Tobizaru around, but the monkey somehow gets back around and they both fall outside. There is a monoii, but the decision holds – Jokoryu “nokotteori” – he still has a leg inside.
Enho tries to get inside, doesn’t find a way, but Seiro – back from kyujo – can’t unbalance the little pixie. Eventually, Enho achieves a straight oshi-dashi. This is the first time he manages two consecutive wins in Juryo.
Gagamaru lifts Tsurugisho easily over the bales.
Takekaze slams into Shimanoumi, but that doesn’t seem to impress his opponent much. He is soon sent out.
Terutsuyoshi – half henka, gets inside Hidenoumi’s belly, and sends him out. 5-2 for the Isegahama pixie.
Wakatakakage suffers a serious weight disadvantage in his bout with Takagenji. That was one fierce oshidashi.
Kotoeko requires some time before he succeeds in forcing Chiyonoo out.
Nice battle between Yago and Daishoho, which goes back and forth between the two. Daishoho tries a hatakikomi, but is driven out before Yago finds himself on his knees.
Akiseyama once again switches mawashi color to stop his losing streak. Alas, this time it doesn’t work. Meisei somehow manages to keep in the black, while Akiseyama is 1-6.
Kyokushuho doesn’t leave any opening for Uncle Sumo’s wiles. Aminishiki flies to the fourth row before the fans finish their first “Aminishiki” shout. Two consecutive losses for the Isegahama veteran, and he is now 4-3.
Finally, once again, Arawashi grabs the mawashi and throws at the edge. Daiamami is down before Arawashi’s legs leave ground.
Juryo is crazy this basho. It seems the level is very very even. No one is 7-0. No one is even 6-1. And there are four men with 5-2:
If Terutsuyoshi, the pixie with the sodium fixation, who only secured his kachi-koshi in the previos basho in the last day, is in the Yusho arasoi in this one, then as far as Juryo is concerned, we are in a Wacky Aki.
The Jungyo once again reached Tokyo – and not for the last time in this long trail. In Tokyo, there are all kinds of comforts. Like specially-branded ice cream (the blue lettering reads “Grand Sumo Tachikawa Tachihi Basho”):
❉ Not really. It’s a Joke. Fake news. Shame on me. Sad.
In Tokyo, apparently, you also get a full house even though it’s a Jungyo event.
And since it’s Tokyo, it’s a good opportunity for kyujo rikishi to join the Jungyo if they can. One who went a bit under the radar (his name was not in the original kyujo list in the papers) was Takagenji, the more self-possessed of the Taka twins.
Another, more high-profile comeback is this man:
Yes, King of the Hug, Prince of the Chug, Kotoshogiku, is doing his stretches.
One notable absence, on the other hand, is Takayasu. I have seen nothing about it in the newspapers, but he has been taken off the Torikumi, and I could spot him neither in the dohyo iri nor in any of the official and unofficial still photographs.
Tochinoshin was giving reverse butsukari to Kisenosato. The Yokozuna is a conservative type, so he insists on having the full monty, monkey walk, and “itten” at the end.
Kisenosato usually does this with Takayasu who obliges him on the “full treatment” part, but Takayasu is not around, so he had to settle for another Ozeki. Tochinoshin obliged, but reverse butsukari is still not anything like real butsukari/kawaigari. Just compare it to the short butsukari Tochinoshin gave Chiyonoumi:
During the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, Chiyomaru gave a good natured back shove. Onosho pushed back. Chiyomaru stood his ground. Yutakayama, sandwiched between them, was subjected to inhuman compression forces:
You can see the whole scene here in the full dohyo iri (also includes Kakuryu’s):
Also note Ikioi and Tamawashi pestering Shodai in the East part.
Speaking of Yokozuna dohyo-iri, I’ll go off at a bit of a tangent here. Some of you may remember the huge wave of anti-Hakuho sentiment that washed over the Fuyu Jungyo following Hakuho’s 40th Yusho, with complaints about Hakuho’s banzai, Hakuho’s sore loser behavior after his bout with Yoshikaze, and then complaints about his kachiage and harizashi, and even complaints about him wearing a “Mongolian Team” Jersey.
Hakuho has since regained his composure (the Kyushu basho was when the Harumafuji stuff broke out, and he lost his best friend and apparently his social bearings). He has been on his best behavior since, asking permission for anything, expressing gratitude for everything, doing charity work and whatnot. So what was there for the Hakuho haters to complain about?
Ah yes. His dohyo-iri is ugly. He is unworthy of being a Yokozuna.
They are complaining that he does not stretch his arms fully, and that he looks like a plucked chicken.
The thing is, Hakuho always had a style in which he stops short of stretching his arms, and then gives a sharp stretch, which has the effect emphasizing his moves. Only, it appears he is either getting lazy or simply can’t stretch his arms fully anymore.
Take a look at this dohyo-iri of his (from this event at Tachikawa) and see for yourself:
Compare to Kisenosato’s (and Kakuryu’s above). They are doing different styles, of course – Hakuho is Shiranui and therefore stretches both arms after the seriagari (rise). But there is still enough to compare:
Now compare to this dohyo-iri of his from 2016:
So, what do you think? Dai-yokozuna or plucked chicken?
OK, back to the Jungyo and its goofs. A little before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, the Juryo torikumi took place. You know that old prank in which the rikishi who hands chikara-mizu to the next one mixes in some of the dohyo salt?
Well, Chiyonoumi decided to go all the way on that and handed Mitoryu a very salty ladle:
Yesterday I gave you a video of the dohyo construction. Today, I’ll introduce the dohyo de-construction. How is the dohyo taken apart?
We start with a slightly used dohyo:
The padding boards around the dohyo are packed away and the tawara are dug out and put to one side:
Then the side panels are removed, and the packed dirt is broken and shovelled away (spaded away?):
As the clay is removed, the blocks of styrofoam are removed:
Finally, the matting is stripped off and we’re all done:
Can you tell which Yokozuna this is?
(A little space left here to avoid spoiling)
Well, even if you can’t recognize his backside quite the way that I can, the rope tie is a dead giveaway. With Harumafuji retired, the only Yokozuna wearing a Shiranui tie is Hakuho.
But there are other corroborating evidence in the picture. Take a look at the tsukebito to his right. He is wearing an oicho-mage. That means this is Kasugaryu, they yumi-tori performer. Other than the yumi-tori man, the only non-sekitori to wear an oicho-mage are the Shokkiri team, and they are not Yokozuna tsukebito (it’s not a rule, I suppose, but they just aren’t).
So if this is Kasugaryu, the Yokozuna is Hakuho.
And of course, the tsukebito closest to the camera. What do you mean, you don’t recognize him? I’ve been putting a picture of him in each and every one of these Jungyo newsreels. Well, at least when one was available. Can’t recognize Enho’s backside? How is that possible? :-)
Of course, Enho is only temporarily Hakuho’s tsukebito. He’ll soon be a sekitori again.
Today’s event… well, honestly, it’s not today’s event. It took place on the 12th. But anyway, day 15th event took place at Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Sendai has been one of the places hit most severely in the 2011 Tohoku disaster, and sever years later, it’s still seeking revival. Accordingly, two Yokozuna with their entourages reported in to perform a ceremonial dohyo-iri for the revival of Sendai:
If you’re wondering about the absence of Hakuho, just remember that in 2011 he did the rounds as lone Yokozuna to perform dohyo-iri all over Tohoku, including Sendai. The other Yokozuna get to be in the spotlight this time.
The event also included some solemn sumo jinku:
Back in the venue, Hakuho continued his off-dohyo workout routine. Though who knows what he was exercising here:
If you think that looks silly, that’s one Hakuho record easily broken by Kakuryu, who seems to be really creative when it comes to looking silly:
Other than that, most practice was sane. Takakeisho was doing butsukari with Daieisho:
And Takayasu was doing san-ban with Yutakayama:
Goeido also had gave butsukari, but was still off the torikumi. Apparently, he has an ear infection. Takekaze, by the way, is back in the bouts.
Just before the Juryo torikumi, a drum exhibition took place:
Here is another duty performed by gyoji: the announcer in the venue is always a gyoji. In this case, Kimura Ryosuke:
Here accompanied by Chiyootori, who seems never to let go of that portable mini-fan.
It’s the announcer’s duty to explain what is going on on the dohyo – who is coming up for sanban or butsukari, what performance is about to take place and what it means. He gives the audience the kimarite at the end of each bout, reads out the names of kensho sponsors, and also gives general guidelines such as what to do in case of earthquake.
Dohyo-iri time is goof time. Chiyomaru decided to make sure all the photos taken by the sumo ladies were decent:
Tamawashi and Chiyomaru bullied poor Shodai so badly he ran away:
Tamawashi didn’t settle just with that. He also pestered Ikioi:
…and bothered Kagayaki:
I guess somebody forgot his Ritalin today?
Alas, I do not have any torikumi videos. I can inform you that Aminishiki, who is very popular in Sendai, won his bout vs. Takanoiwa:
Apparently, Chiyomaru lost to Arawashi, while Mitakeumi beat Takayasu. And honestly, I don’t know who won, but Endo seems to be really enjoying his bouts:
Now, in our Enho corner, I wanted to give you yet another solo dreamy prince photo. Or maybe one of him doing his shiko. But I have been informed that there are still a few people not trained enough to recognize Yago on the spot. So I give you Enho – accompanied by Yago:
Easily recognizable by having his center of gravity in his jaw.
And so as not to diminish Enho, here is a little clip from Instagram, which shows you why people love the little prince to bits. He recognizes the lady fan who is filming this from a previous occasion, and turns to greet her. She: “Hey, you remember me?”, He: “Yes, I remember”. She “Oh… thank you!!!” 😍