Tokyo July Basho Day 2 Highlights

Well, after the big news of today, Kakuryu kyujo, the landscape has changed. Senshuraku will not be a Yokozuna showdown. The tournament is already down to Hakuho, who will now host the musubi-no-ichiban for a solid fortnight. His fellow yokozuna have all abandoned him. Retirement for Hakuho? No way. The NSK can’t afford to lose him anytime soon.

Sadly, Josh’s pick made a quick exit and one wonders whether that’s his career. After that long layoff, to make one appearance on the dohyo — against a maegashira — before bowing out? Ouch. If word comes in that his citizenship has been granted, I think that may be the last time we saw Kakuryu as a wrestler.

Day Two Highlights

Nishikigi defeated Kotoyuki: Nishikigi let Kotoyuki slap all he wanted and lulled the Penguin into a false sense of security. His passiveness had me real worried. There was no counter-attack, our near-sighted friend just slid backwards until his leg found purchase on the tawara. I’m thinking, “Yet another kyujo coming?” Then he struck with a quick twist and the Penguin was vanquished. Tsukiotoshi

Terunofuji defeated Kotoeko: Terunofuji impressed me with this win. He was pitched far forward trying to get Kotoeko’s belt. As he was reaching, Kotoeko knew the situation was dire if Terunofuji could get a firm grip so he twisted and turned backwards like a bucking bronco. That mawashi may have been tied a bit loose because Terunofuji pulled it up over Kotoeko’s belly, regained control and drove through his opponent, right up toward the top of the ring. Yorikiri.

Kotoshogiku defeated Chiyomaru: Kotoshogiku retreated at the tachiai. His left foot was out a bit wide and Chiyomaru drove him backwards. However, the former Ozeki regained the advantage at the edge and swiftly pushed Chiyomaru out back over on the right side. Chiyomaru may be Juryo bound if he can’t turn things around. Yorikiri.

Kotoshoho defeated Wakatakakage: Kotoshoho wrapped up Wakatakakage pretty quickly, controlling the smaller rikishi with the left. However, Wakatakakage secured a belt grip, twisting to gain an advantage. Kotoshoho twisted at the edge forcing Wakatakakage into the dirt. Tsukiotoshi

Kotonowaka defeated Sadanoumi: Kotonowaka dominated Sadanoumi from the tachiai. He forced Sadanoumi backwards and pressed forward. Sadanoumi twisted left to try a change of direction but Kotonowaka just followed and ushered him out over the edge. “You’re not welcome at this club, Sir.” I’ve been there, too, Sadanoumi. It’s lonely sitting on the curb when your friends are inside. Yorikiri.

Takayasu defeated Shohozan: Takayasu’s lefthanded grip was even less effective today against Shohozan. For a minute he completely disengaged and it looked like we’d have a bar brawl, but the two came together for another clench in the center of the ring, Shohozan seemingly content to try to counter-attack. But no attack seemed forthcoming. Then, just ask Shohozan started to nod off, Takayasu struck, bringing the right hand down on Shohozan’s back and driving him down. Shitatedashinage

Kaisei defeated Tochinoshin: Kaisei brought the sky-crane to Tochinoshin. Both big men had firm two-handed belt grips and Kaisei was determined to beat Tochinoshin at his own game. I was more surprised to see Tochinoshin oblige and try the crane himself…and fail. Kaisei was the stronger man today and walked Tochinoshin over the edge. Yorikiri.

Myogiryu defeated Shimanoumi: Some straightforward sumo from Myogiryu today. Great tachiai. Get your man going backwards. Dominate. Win. Shimanoumi tried one turn to try to change things up but Myogiryu was in great form and stands 2-0. Oshidashi.

Ikioi defeated Ishiura. Let me rephrase. Ikioi owned Ishiura. The taller Ikioi drove his forearm into Ishiura, driving him backwards like the Refrigerator Perry using a pee-wee football blocking sled. It wasn’t until the edge that Ishiura tried to counter…by falling forward. Your gearshift is stuck in reverse. Time for a visit to the mechanic. Ikioi picks up his first win. Hikiotoshi

Tamawashi defeated Chiyotairyu: Tamawashi retreated and dancing a little jig on the tawara, sent Chiyotairyu belly-first into the clay. Our first makuuchi mono-ii of the tournament confirms the victory for Tamawashi. A quick one. Kotenage.

The momentum carried Tamawashi off into the crowd…except there is no ringside crowd. So rather than landing on soft pensioners, he landed hard on the platform below, checking his elbow. Slow to get up but seemingly okay during the mono-ii. Hopefully he’s fine. Off to a good start this tournament at 2-0. It would be a shame for another injury so soon after Kakuryu’s kyujo. Chiyotairyu picks up his first loss.

Enho defeated Tokushoryu: Enho effectively demonstrated for Ishiura how a smaller rikishi can defeat a bigger man with straightforward sumo. He quickly secured a lefthanded belt grip and drove forward at the right time to use Tokushoryu’s momentum against him. Tokyshoryu was just trying to keep from falling over backwards. Tokushoryu falls to 0-2 while Enho picks up his first win. Yorikiri.

Terutsuyoshi defeated Ryuden: Terutsuyoshi picks up the upset AND Ryuden. Strong, straight-forward win from the smaller rikishi. Yorikiri.

Kagayaki defeated Hokutofuji and the gyoji: Kagayaki drove forward into Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji slid backwards and tried to regain his footing. But Kagayaki continued his attack and drove his arm into the back of the off-balance Hokutofuji. Hatakikomi.

Aoiyama defeated Abi: To call Abi a pusher-thruster is a bit generous. He’s a hopper. Aoiyama, on the otherhand, is a textbook pusher-thruster. Today, he chased the hopper around the tawara until he caught him and thrust him out. Tsukidashi.

Okinoumi defeated Kiribayama: Strong sumo from Okinoumi today. Okinomi’s forearm drove Kiribayama back at the tachiai. Kiribayama decided to hang on for the ride as Okinoumi walked him around the dohyo and over the bales to the right. Yorikiri.

Sanyaku

Shodai defeated Takarafuji: Wow. A strong tachiai from Shodai!! A bewildered Takarafuji was far too high to offer resistance. The momentum of the pair brought Takarafuji over the edge. He tried a last gasp twist at the tawara to no avail. If there’s a time to wake up and start an Ozeki run, the time is now. Yorikiri.

Mitakeumi defeated Takanosho: Mitakeumi absorbed Takanofuji’s strong charge and slid back to the edge. With the aid of the tawara, he shifted to the side and drove Takanofuji down for the win. Mitakeumi’s strong 2-0 start. Takanosho falls to 0-2. Hatakikomi.

Takakeisho defeated Onosho: Takakeisho failed to really get the wave action going as Onosho was head down, bulling forward. Reading the situation, Takakeisho quickly changed tack and slipped to the side, slapping down Onosho.

Daieisho goes to 2-0 with Kakuryu’s sudden withdrawal.

Asanoyama defeated Endo.

Andy: “Don’t go for the belt. Endo’s dangerous, especially with that confidence-building win yesterday. But he’s vulnerable to thrusting attacks. So, keep him off your belt, keep him at arm’s length, and you’ve got him for sure.”

Asanoyama: “Shut up.”

Announcer: ただ今の決まりては “Yorikiri.”

Andy: <sheepishly> “Well, you kept him off your belt.”

The strong tachiai…a dominant performance from the shin-Ozeki. A shoulder-shrug to keep Endo from getting a grip, and then a strong, dominant yorikiri win. I can hear my grandma, “What a nice young man. Showing that boy back to his seat.” When you take on your opponent at his strength, and win, you have thoroughly destroyed him. Show’s over.

Oh, wait…

Hakuho dismissed Yutakayama: “Next.” Uwatenage

Now the show’s over. Herouth sums it up better with a Japanese language lesson:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 11

Isn’t that a punch, boss?

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

After a day of hiatus spent in their homes or heyas, the rikishi get back together for an event at Kawasaki. The locals have used that day to prepare the dohyo:

Interestingly, this video shows the venue with normal lighting, but for some reason, on the day itself, the lighting was changed such that most of the stadium was shrouded in darkness, with spotlights on the dohyo. Although perfectly normal for performances, this is a bit unusual for a Jungyo event, and it caused sideline photos to come out… not exactly pleasing:

Hey Wilt, pass me the ball, I’m open!

On the other hand, photos taken on or around the dohyo tended to be artistic or dramatic, like this Abi shot, showing him preparing for Showdown:

Draw!

Still, there was action both near and away from the dohyo. Shohozan was trying to do suri-ashi, and got a bit flustered by the presence of the NSK camera:

Enho was trying to help Onosho with his seiza.

But it seems like this drove Onosho to stop doing seiza and do something to the poor suddenly alarmed pixie. I’m not sure whatever follows is fit for the consumption of children.

Off to the side Nishikigi is doing Nishikigi things to a low-ranked rikishi.

I would feel a lot more sympathy for his victim, if that victim wasn’t Hikarugenji, Arawashi’s tsukebito, who has beaten up a younger rikishi in his heya last year, who left the world of sumo because of that. So go right ahead, yay Nishikigi!

Not far away from them, Ichinojo is practicing with Chiyoshoma (and yes, it’s the lighting again):

Quite brave of Chiyoshoma to attempt that.

Gagamaru was wrapping himself up:

Every sekitori has a taping kit. Some of them need quite a lot.

Kakuryu… is upgrading from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Alien:

Still a little low on the fangs, though.

At the dohyo, Toyonoshima and Goeido are enjoying each other’s company:

Tomokaze is preparing for a big day. He is the local boy here at Kawasaki. And this means lots of butsukari, and a special extra bout (we’ll get to that).

Endo is doing proper suri-ashi:

Ichinojo gets up on the dohyo:

Though he seems a bit puzzled as to what he is supposed to do on it. We’ll, he’ll remember eventually. Oh yes, Ichinojo and Takakeisho both resumed on-dohyo practice.

In fact, both Ichinojo and Yoshikaze are back on the torikumi as of today. On the other hand, Chiyonoumi is off the Torikumi. I don’t know what the nature of his injury is, though.

Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. Here are Mitoryu and Takanosho:

Kiribayama vs. Daiseido:

Nice leg muscles, Daiseido.

Okinoumi vs. Meisei:

Meisei and local-boy Tomokaze:

Kaisei and Asanoyama:

Practice over! The sekitori hit the baths, and only a lonely mawashi and lonelier leg brace remain at the venue to tell the tale:

But of course, they’ll be back. In fact, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And guess who is being bumped from behind?

Enho is getting groped and rubbed against so much in this Jungyo, I heard that JR East is preparing a specially designated “Enho Car” on applicable train lines, as part of its harassment prevention efforts.

Chiyomaru is using his belly to great effect, also to get attention from the ladies as he awaits his bout:

“I’m due around August. Ooh, did she just kick? Did you feel that?”

With the Juryo bouts in the background, a Yokozuna prepares for his rope-tying demonstration, just like yesterday. Today it’s Hakuho’s turn:

Note that a Yokozuna wears his kesho-mawashi differently than other rikishi – the top of the apron is tucked into the mawashi rather than covering the Yokozuna’s belly.

By the way, Hakuho was asked what he thought about the US President’s plan to come watch sumo on Senshuraku of the Natsu basho. He said “I’m grateful. It’s still not clear if it will happen or not, but I plan to do my best”.

Time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and Yago is using Ryuden as a sock-puppet:

“See, Ryuden is happily waving at you, dear fans”

Terutsuyoshi and Shohozan are practicing their nirami-ai. That is, the dreaded stare-down. And those two are really good at it. You’d think they are actually angry at each other:

Following the dohyo-iri, but before the regular Makuuchi matches, a very special match took place – one that you’re probably never going to see in honbasho.

Yoshikaze vs. Tomokaze.

The two are holding a gift of snacks from the city. Tomokaze was born is Kawasaki, as I mentioned. The reason that you are not going to see this in honbasho is that they are from the same heya (and very unlikely to be in a yusho playoff together). In fact, Tomokaze served as Yoshikaze’s tsukebito, and out of respect, continued to do so even when he became sekitori, only quitting once he reached Makuuchi.

So these two are very tight, in a mentor-apprentice kind of way. And they also swore they will do this bout completely “gachinko” (“honest”).

Another angle:

Time for the regular bouts. I do not have much in the way of video, but here is Hokutofuji who adopted Nishikigi and Shohozan’s idea of becoming a spectator:

With the lighting in the venue being what it is, you’d think somebody would take an artistic photo of Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw… ah… here it is:

Ryuden seems to enjoy his match with Shohozan, the other starer, quite a lot:

Also, it appears that Abi’s watch has made it to 5 minutes to 6!

But as for his bout itself… he must be the world’s worst yotsu wrestler. Get that ass down, Abi-long-legs!

Well, that’s Tomokaze he is engaging there. So maybe he knows he shouldn’t beat the local boy. Tomokaze wins this one, and marks his victory to all as he goes back to the dressing room:

Here is some news footage from this event, showing mostly Takakeisho – including his daily Tochinoshin bluff match.

As the sekitori all go home, we stop and admire Tsurugisho’s purse:

And while Ichinojo’s bag is rather plain, his weapon of choice is…

…a very stressed water bottle?

See you tomorrow, big boulder! And in our pin-up corner today, we have:

Chiyomaru! Because all body types are welcome!

❉ Except Akiseyama’s

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”?

Haru Day 5 Recap

We had an interesting day today at the EDION arena in Osaka. Before I dive into the Makunouchi bouts, I’m sure the fans will be happy to see this:

Aminishiki finally lands a win

Aminishiki is in dire straits down at the bottom of Juryo, but he managed to get his first win today vs. Akiseyama – and do that moving forward!

So, fast forward through Juryo (Arawashi doing well this basho, Enho gets his second loss in a row), we begin with Yutakayama vs. Kotoeko. Kotoeko looking good this basho, and may just be able to get that Makunouchi kachi-koshi which has eluded him so far. He attacks Yutakayama with a harizashi, lifts his arm high, and sends him off to the arms of the time shimpan.

Due to Chiyonokuni’s injury, we have a visitor from Juryo every day, and today it was 0-4 Hakuyozan facing Ishihenka, I mean, Ishiura, who was 4-0. Ishiura tried to get under Hakuyozan’s attack, but as he pulls, his knee folds below him and he finds himself rolling. His first loss, Hakuyozan’s first win.

Toyonoshima slammed into Chiyoshoma and intended to railroad him with his bulk, as he is wont. But the nimble Mongolian freed himself, stepped sideways, and left the veteran to ponder the difficulties of age and sumo.

Kagayaki launches himself head-first into newbie Daishoho‘s chest, keeps himself low, keeps his opponent upright, and clears him from the dohyo. Basic and clean.

The TomokazeTerutsuyoshi bout ended almost as soon as it started, with a plain, almost dismissive, hatakikomi. I believe something is wrong with Terutsuyoshi’s legs. He keeps ending up with his center of gravity way ahead of his feet. There is an expression used for this state: “ashi ga nagaremashita” – “his feet have flowed away”. His legs don’t work as fast as he needs to support his lunge.

And the Isegahama pixie is not the only one in trouble. Yoshikaze also didn’t show up for today’s bout. He leads head-first into the tachiai, but Ryuden immediately lands a morozashi – two arms under the opponent’s arms – and Yoshikaze just goes limp. Ryuden is haveng a good basho with 4-1.

Meisei tries to take the initiative against Yago. Doesn’t quite land a grip. Short tsuppari ensues, and then the two engage in migi-yotsu. Meisei only has one layer of Yago’s mawashi, and the Oguruma man patiently maneuvers into a better grip and leads Meisei out.

An impressive Shohozan showed up today to face Sadanoumi. Starting his bout with a harizashi, he lands a grip, and then throws Sadanoumi in a beautiful uwatenage. I want more of this Shohozan.

Ikioi tries hard to keep Kotoshogiku‘s pelvis as far away from him as possible. But eventually the former Ozeki decides to use the pressure against him, moves, and shows him out. Ikioi limps back to his spot to give the bow.

Asanoyama has a good tactic against Aoiyama. Since he is a yotsu man and Aoiyama is known for his fierce tsuppari and soft knees, Asanoyama quickly drives in and gets a fistful of mawashi. But Aoiyama shows versatility, uses a kotenage to release himself from the Takasago man, complements that with a nodowa, and hands Asanoyama his second loss.

Abi starts his bout with Takarafuji, as usual, with that morotezuki and follows with tsuppari. Takarafuji is quite ready for that, patiently weathers it, moves slightly to the left and grabs Abi’s mawashi. Abi manages to release himself, tries a half-hearted hikiotoshi, and fails. Instead, the Isegahama man slaps hard, and Abi rolls all the way to the other side of the dohyo. Olé!

The next bout, Chiyotairyu vs. Okinoumi. Chiyotairyu does his locomotive tachiai. Okinoumi backs up and sidesteps. Chiyotairyu dives into the janome, hands first. And Kimura Konosuke calls it Chiyotairyu’s win! No monoii. I guess the shimpan trust Chiyotairyu’s heya-mate, Konosuke, too much. The replay clearly shows this was a mistake. Okinoumi’s feet are firmly on the tawara, so he is very much alive when Chiyotairyu hits the dirt.

Ichinojo starts off with a harite – it’s not a harizashi as there was no attempt to go for the belt – then follows with a kachiage, and finally paws Onosho down with both arms. Scary. Onosho finds himself in a heap as Ichinojo, as usual, worriedly checks if he hasn’t overdone things. I guess Ichinojo left his sleepy secret twin in Tokyo.

Endo gets a grip on Tochiozan‘s belt right off the tachiai, and rolls him like his favorite barrel of beer. Makiotoshi, Endo’s first win this basho.

Mitakeumi and Hokutofuji clash head-to-head. Mitakeumi leads at first, but Hokutofuji manages to stop the pressure, and it’s Mitakeumi who starts pulling back. Maybe it’s the knee, but whatever it is, the Mitakeumi magic is not working against his fellow komusubi, and after a short halt, again he pulls and finds himself below the dohyo.

After three losses, Tamawashi vindicates himself somewhat in this fierce battle with Takakeisho. Takakeisho leads at first and nearly bounces Tamawashi out the front side of the dohyo, but Tamawashi takes it in his stride, and returns with his own windmill. Tamawashi proves that even in oshi, Takakeisho is not invincible. With two losses in the first trimester, Takakeisho’s Ozeki run seems less certain than it looked before the basho started.

Nishikigi has run out of luck this basho. Takayasu slams into him with all his bear-power. Nishikigi tries an arm lock on the Ozeki’s left arm, but to no avail. Nishikigi is 0-5.

Kaisei and Tochinoshin lock into a “gappuri” stance – firm yotsu. Tochinoshin’s first attempt doesn’t work. There is a short impasse, and then Kaisei makes a mistake and tries to gaburi him, or at least, that’s how it looked. As a result, his center of gravity ends up just where the Ozeki wants it, and he actually lifts the heavy Brazilian – though he quickly abandons the idea. He then adds a couple of pelvis thrusts of his own, to bring his thick opponent across the tawara. 3-2, and his chances of clearing kadoban look slightly brighter.

Goeido treats Shodai like a ragdoll, and the Tokitsukaze man finds himself out of the dohyo almost straight out of the tachiai. What version of Goeido is this? Has his kernel been replaced?

Kakuryu butts heads with Daieisho (not a smart move in the long run, Yokozuna), then immediately pulls. Hatakikomi, and Kakuryu is visibly annoyed with himself. Trouble always begins when Kakuryu pulls. But the win is a win.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Hakuho. The bout itself looked fine. No dominance, but the Yokozuna leading with a kachiage, Myogiryu fending him off, and the Yokozuna coming in again and slapping his opponent to the ground. But like yesterday, he couldn’t quite stop his own movement after finishing his work. Yesterday he ended up in the crowd, and took quite a while to get up from there, and today he ended up doing the splits on top of myogiryu. Control of legs? Dizziness? We won’t know unless he goes kyujo and needs to publish yet another public proof of injury

So that’s the end of Act 1, and we have four men in the leader group – Hakuho, Goeido, Ichinojo and Kotoshogiku. Let’s see what the second trimester brings!