Yes, it’s true – I did not catch that the NSK was holding back the Banzuke until Tuesday AM Japan time. You can understand given that tradition plays a strong role in most things they do, that a rabid sumo fan would assume it would be published on Monday.
While we wait for it to actually show up, here’s a fun little video clip shared by Nicola Hetherington – a wonderful person and friend of Tachiai (she shares many, many basho photos with us).
Unlike our previous location, which boasted a local sekitori, a local tsukebito, and a semi-local former Yokozuna’s nephew, Gunma prefecture is really short on famous or high-ranked local boys.
The local organizers gave Hikarifuji and Kayatoiwa their due glory, but their real pride and joy is not regularly a part of the jungyo anymore. He was brought in specifically for this event.
That, of course, is 42 years old Satonofuji, the grand master of the bow, who hails from Gunma prefecture. And while all the other low-ranked rikishi were working on the dohyo, Satonofuji was working with the struggling new performer, Shohoryu, giving him a master class.
This was just one of the various outdoor activities today. The weather was deemed warm enough to have the handshaking sessions outside:
Though the sky looks pretty gray, if you ask me. Not all the rikishi just stand for handshakes. Some famous veterans sit in a separate corners, and fans can go and have a photo taken with them:
But actual practice takes place inside the venue. The first sekitori arrive and pull their taping kits:
Others start stretching:
Some squatting and suri-ashi are in order:
Wakamotoharu works on his upper body:
But then he and Mitakeumi decide to gang up on poor Enho:
The Yokozuna synchronize:
But then each goes his own way. Kakuryu manages an exercise that doesn’t look ridiculous:
While Hakuho is doing suri-ashi in the hana-michi, and interacts with the spectators:
Near the wall, a group of lower-ranked rikishi prove to us that titty obsession is not just a Tamawashi thing:
What are you doing, guys?
Up on the dohyo, Ichinojo is giving butsukari:
While Terutsuyoshi seems to have… a toothache?
By now, you should know who it is who makes Takakeisho smile this wide:
Takayasu finishes stretching, has a bout with Mitakeumi, and butsukari with Onosho.
Some more practice bouts: Daieisho-Takakeisho, Myogiryu-Ichinojo, Kiribayama-Takanofuji:
Practice over. Lower-ranked rikishi get their hair done and go about their chores:
Some sekitori go out and enjoy the food stalls outside the venue. Namely, Terutsuyoshi, Chiyotairyu and Enho. Enho starts well with some yaki manju:
But seems to pick up something that doesn’t suit his dainty palate:
Or maybe it’s the camera crew that affect his apetite.
Terutsuyoshi and Chiyotairyu enjoy some yakisoba:
With everybody fed and in good order, it’s time for the afternoon part of the day. We begin with a Jonidan bout, because of course we don’t want to miss Satonofuji:
Nice throw. Next up, we have the Juryo dohyo-iri, or as Gagamaru calls it, “cheeky time”:
The cheeks in question being Takanosho’s of course.
Azumaryu and Akiseyama have a less painful way to enjoy the wait:
Next up, the Juryo bouts, and we have Aminishiki vs. Hidenoumi for you:
Nice effort from old Uncle there, but to no avail.
Chiyomaru makes short work of Daiamami:
And we are up in Makuuchi. And the dohyo-iri there is not free of sin, either:
For some reason, Chiyotairyu decides that facing the spectators is just too much for him and turns around in the middle of the dohyo-iri. Abi tries to argue with him.
Takakeisho, by now getting used to all the “shin-ozeki” stuff, receives gifts of local produce – rice, meat, etc.:
The bouts start, and Yoshikaze has a wardrobe malfunction:
Is it me or does Toyonoshima surreptitiously improve his mawashi hold during this matta? Zurui… he won this bout.
Next up, Terutsuyoshi throws his usual bucket load of salt… and seems to hit his own eye:
Typical Terutsuyoshi sumo. Sorry, Yago, maybe next time!
Next up, Ichinojo vs. Endo:
Ichinojo is not sleeping.
Kaisei is pitted with Nishikigi, and doesn’t let the green mawashi man set up any sort of defense:
Last before the san-yaku, Hokutofuji vs. Mitakeumi:
Takakeisho is up next vs. Tamawashi:
No rolling into the crowd today. The last bout whose footage I got is Goeido vs Tochinoshin:
And after Kakuryu beats Takayasu (sorry, no video), comes the part everybody has been waiting for – good old Satonofuji’s yumi-tori shiki. Watch it, then go back to previous reports and compare with Kasugaryu, never mind poor Shohoryu. This is the work of a true master:
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).
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:
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”:
And by now Takakeisho arrives at the dohyo, and greets his beloved 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!
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”.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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”).
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:
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:
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:
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?