During the week after a tournament, sumo withdrawal symptoms usually begin to set in. Goeido’s retirement has dampened that a bit with his dramatic impacts on the March banzuke. Takekaze’s intai and the Hakuho Cup will give us a bit of a fix this weekend.
Well, mark another sumo event on your calendars! The Kokugikan will host Fiji TV’s 44th Annual Sumo Tournament on February 9. This tournament is a one day, single-elimination tournament, featuring our top Makuuchi and Juryo wrestlers. If you’re planning to be in Tokyo that Sunday, tickets are available at this site. Tickets in the upper deck start at about $10 and run upwards of $400+ for a box of four cushions down in front. Zabuton Naganaide Kudasai! Enjoy chanko and Shokkiri, as well!
Takayasu won last year’s event and Tochinoshin won the year before though I will be surprised if either participates. It will be interesting to see how well our Ozeki prospects perform as a warm up for Osaka. In the Juryo event, Azumaryu beat out Tokushoryu and Daieisho.
Tokushoryu will obviously be eligible for the Makuuchi tournament this time around. Participation in this event, and no Jungyo tour may help keep him focused, but some yusho winners have done poorly in the subsequent tournaments, like Tamawashi’s 5-10 last March. Tamawashi defeated Kaisei but lost to Ryuden in the third round. Might Tokushoryu pull off another yusho? (No, this will not make him a Yokozuna.)
It’s that time of the year again. It’s February, and there is no Jungyo. If you take a look at the Grand Sumo Calendar, though, you’ll see that there are always two hana-zumo events in this month: The NHK charity event, and Fuji TV’s Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hana-Zumo is exhibition sumo. The name literally means “flowor sumo”. This is because in the Heian era, events like that took place in the Imperial Palace, and there were no “East” and “West” then. So the rikishi were distinguished by flowers they wore in their hair.
NHK’s #52 Charity Sumo Event
The special feature of this event is the song contest at the end. One side of the Kokugikan is fenced off, and set up as a huge stage.
The event includes extras such as Jinku, drum demonstration, Shokkiri, and Yokozuna rope tying demonstration.
There is also what the Japanese call “A talk show”, which is actually an on-stage interview with some celebrity. In this event, they interviewed the former Takekaze, now Oshiogawa oyakata.
In fact, we had several new oyakata faces in the blue NSK jackets.
Here is a short video report about this event from NHK:
The former Takekaze says: “I didn’t imagine I’ll get to age 39, nearly 40, in any shape. If someone like me can do it, than anybody can!”
This is a “regular” sumo event in that bouts are more or less by ascending banzuke order ending with the san-yaku members doing san-yaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko). As always, Hakuho awaits his turn to do the soroi-bumi leaning on the shoulders of a Yobidashi:
And I also have a bout for you from this event – the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Hakuho (bonus bow twirling ceremony):
You may notice that Hakuho is far from being in shape for sumo. He does this bout with his right leg mostly floating up in the air. There are several rikishi who are kyujo from this event, but Hakuho is not one of them, as absenting himself from the hana-zumo event would prevent him from participating in any events – such as weddings, and the Hakuho Cup, which of course he doesn’t want to miss. So he participates on one leg.
The Fuji TV event comes the day after the NHK event. It includes sumo in elimnation format – both Juryo and Makuuchi. The special feature of this event is the veteran bouts – with oyakata putting on their shimekomi and doing sumo.
Refer to the link at the end of this post for the veteran bouts themselves.
The former Kisenosato had his debut as a commentator in this event. He readily speaks, but I think they should leave commenting to someone who speaks more clearly.
Since the active rikishi bouts are arranged in elimination format, it means there are winners in this event. Much like a honbasho yusho, winning this tournament means receiving many prizes. There is a trophy:
And there is an air-conditioner:
There are also a bale of rice, a lot of beef, a 10-day cruise around Japan. All went to Takayasu, who had to earn them by going through a very genki Yoshikaze. Take a look at Yoshikaze vs. Shohozan:
Hakuho, again, doing his sumo on one leg and getting eliminated in his first round.
The veteran bouts. The most impressive one is Kyokutenho. Robocop does a lot of pre-bout robot stuff, but Inagawa oyakata eliminates him rather easily. The most balanced bout is the one between Magaki and Kumagatani.
Azumaryu wins the Juryo tournament. This was done in such a way that the final was held between three wrestlers – like a three-way playoff. In Japanese you’ll heard the word “Tomoe Ketteisen”. This alludes to a mitsu-domoe:
Ryuden’s matta. And another matta.
Yoshikaze vs. Abi – continuing his genki performance.
Araiso oyakata in his role as a commentator. He is mostly asked to comment about Takayasu.