Jungyo Newsreel – Days 15 and 16

Day 15

return-of-the-satonofuji-2
Ohisashiburi, Yumi-chan

🌐 Location: Takasaki, Gunma prefecture

Kiddie sumo – Abi purifies a scalp:

abi-purifies-boys-head

Trust Abi to be more childish than his child rival.

Shodai had to go kyujo due to an inflammation. This meant Kakuryu was a tachimochi short. So, for the first time in his life, Yutakayama bore the sword for the Yokozuna dohyo-iri.

yutakayama-the-tachimochi

In his bout with Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi had a wardrobe malfunction:

You can see the two in a mawashi-matta. Explanation to newcomers: if a mawashi knot comes undone and reveals the wrestler’s family jewels, he loses immediately by disqualification. For this reason, if the gyoji or someone around the ring spots an undone knot, the gyoji calls a “mawashi-matta”, signals the rikishi to freeze, ties back the naughty knot, then slaps the backs of both rikishi to signal them to continue from the same position.

The only bout I have is actually Takayasu vs. Goeido, but I warn you in advance that you probably want to silence your speakers. This was shot by a very enthusiastic Philipino patriot who seems bent on embarrassing Takayasu very loudly:

The Gunma prefecture locals who came to watch this day’s event got a rare treat – they got to see Satonofuji perform the yumitori-shiki again. Satonofuji is a Gunma native.

Satonofuji also got many requests for photographs and autographs from his enthusiastic neighbors.

Day 16

 

three-yokozuna-backs
Unryu, Shiranui, Unryu

🌐 Location: Yasukuni shrine, Tokyo

Today’s honozumo event (a sumo event performed in the precincts of a shrine) marked the rikishi’s return to Tokyo after a very long while – those who participate in the Jungyo have been on the road since before the Haru basho.

Here come the entire Makuuchi – gathering at the main yard for a purification ceremony.

It’s really hard to have an elegant walk in a kesho-mawashi, isn’t it? Myogiryu manages it quite well, though.

This event marked the return of Hakuho to the Jungyo. The Yokozuna reported to the NSK board and expressed his appreciation for receiving permission to participate in his father’s funeral.

I’m not really sure what that new adornment to his right ankle is supposed to mean.

The main event took place at an outdoors, permanent dohyo by the side of the shrine. As usual, they started with some keiko. Enho got lots of wedgies practice.

enho-wedgie

Especially from this guy:

Looks like despite his recent kyujo, Terunofuji is gaining some of his physical strength back. Aminishiki, by the way, is still MIA.

Kakuryu performed his dohyo-iri accompanied by a mini-yokozuna with a perfect little Unryu-style rope. The little tyke was none other than Kakuryu’s own son. Pay attention to Nishikigi-mama.

Please excuse the quality. The video shows the dohyo-iri of all three Yokozuna. I think both Hakuho and Kisenosato improved their shiko recently.

This has been Kisenosato’s first dohyo-iri at Yasukuni shrine.

This time I have several bouts to show you.

A few seconds of Enho vs. Akiseyama:

I guess all that practice pays.

Here – with a couple of glitches – is the Ichinojo-Tochinoshin bout, followed by the san-yaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko stomps – though the west side is a little disappointing):

Here is the Kisenosato-Goeido bout. What is Goeido doing there, exactly?

And here is the full Hakuho vs. Kakuryu bout.

Note how Hakuho, fresh off the dohyo, immediately switches to fansa mode.

Jungyo Newsreel – Catching up at Kanagawa

Hello again, Jungyo enthusiasts. I have strayed off the trail after day 6. Let’s try to do some catching up and join the sekitori again at Kanagawa, where they have been spending days 13 and 14.

So what happened during that interval?

Little girls can no longer participate in kiddie sumo

Despite public outcry, the NSK is asking each hosting town not to send little girls to the kiddie sumo events of the Jungyo. The reason given “Safety first”. When various outlets pointed out that boys and girls are equally susceptible to injury on the dohyo, the answer was “We don’t want to risk girls sustaining permanent injuries to the face”.

Hakuho’s father passed away

On April 9th, Hakuho’s father, Mönkhbat, the former Olympic medalist in wrestling, and the equivalent of Dai-Yokozuna in Mongolian Wrestling, passed away at the age of 76 of liver cancer.

Hakuho fully participated in the event in Ina, Nagano prefecture, but asked for – and received – a leave of absence to attend his father’s funeral in Mongolia starting from April 11th. He will re-join the Jungyo for the Honozumo event at Yasukuni shrine on April 16th.

hakuho-funeral

The late Mönkhbat has been a national hero in Mongolia, and his funeral drew much attention and included military escort.

hakuho-funeral-son

Hakuho has always been very strongly connected to his father and looked up to him. When the father was diagnosed with liver cancer, Hakuho had him flown to Japan for treatment, then back to the comfort of his own home in Mongolia. Of course, even the best modern medical intervention has its limitations.

Kisenosato joins the Jungyo

Kisenosato announced that he will re-join the Jungyo. His return was planned for the 13th, but he joined one day earlier – may be to avoid Friday the 13th, or maybe to cover up for Hakuho’s absence.

kisenosato-tsuna-shime

In the couple of days he’s been participating he has been showing mixed results. I’d warn you against developing high hopes hearing reports that he wins his Jungyo bouts. We’ve been here before – Kisenosato managing to win bouts and elimination tournaments in Jungyo, getting breathless coverage from the press, then hitting a wall in honbasho. That injury is not going away any time soon.

Terunofuji and Aminishiki absent

I reported in my Day 6 coverage that Terunofuji was absent from the torikumi. The next day he was joined by his stablemate, Aminishiki. Terunofuji was reportedly back on duty today (April 14th) at the Fujisawa event, but Aminishiki is still out.

Birthdays

Goeido had a birthday on April  6th – day 6 of the Jungyo – and is now 32. The following day, Ichinojo celebrated his 25th birthday.

ichinojo-25

Today, although he is never again going to be on any Jungyo, many sumo fans celebrated Harumafuji’s 34th birthday.


So let’s now proceed to the daily coverage.

Day 13

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

Here is Chiyomaru’s version of kiddie sumo:

Ahaha… poor kids.

Tochinoshin offered his chest for some butsukari to Tobizaru and Takanosho. Bigger men have failed to move the Georgian Cliff:

Things look a little different when it’s reverse butsukari (the higher ranking guy is the pusher). You just let the Wookiee win:

Endo is getting a lot of high-rank attention this Jungyo. Apparently that’s because he is going to make san-yaku in the Natsu basho. Previously he got juiced by Takayasu. This time, Kakuryu invited him to san-ban (practice form in which the same two wrestlers go through full bouts repeatedly until the higher ranking one calls it off).

kakuryu-vs-endo

This one consisted of 13 bouts, all won by the Yokozuna. Rather than counting wins, the Yokozuna concentrated on adjusting his own movement and building up his body.

After practice, the Yokozuna was seen having a talk with Endo. It turned out that they were exchanging injury-related experience.

Kakuryu’s finger injury lingers on. He seems able to use his grip, but says that after applying sudden force, when he lets go of the opponent’s mawashi, the pain hits. “But it’s not preventing me from doing sumo”.

Kisenosato engaged Meisei from Juryo for a 9-bout sanban, and won them all. Also watch for the bout vs. Kakuryu at the musubi-no-ichiban. Just remember my warning above.

Day 14

🌐 Location: Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture

Help, a group of fierce robbers has taken to the streets of Fujisawa!

fierce-robbers

(A word of advice to Kyokushuho: your highwayman career is going to be very short if you wear kimono with your name (and those of current and former stable mates) splashed all over it).

The spectators got to enjoy double bills, both in the oicho construction performance:

And in the tsuna-shime performance, where the two Yokozuna present showed off their ropes. I think this was originally planned to include Hakuho, which would have given the spectators both Shiranui and Unryu style rope tying, but unfortunately Hakuho is in Mongolia, and so they got a double Unryu.

The top 16 members of Makuuchi participated in an elimination tournament. So here is Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi:

Kisenosato vs. Shodai (who has beaten Tochinoshin in the first round):

Kisenosato vs. Kaisei:

And finally, the final, Kisenosato vs. Takayasu. When playing in elimination format, the restriction against matching rikishi from the same stable does not apply:

Kisenosato wins today’s yusho.

Jungyo Newsreel – Days 2 through 4

Before I fall into too much of a backlog, here is a selection of events from the days 2 through 4. If you’re dying to read about the scandal of day 4, jump right ahead. Just remember, we’re here for the sumo, not for the sensation.

Nobori flags for a Jungyo event. Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takayasu, Goeido.

Day 2

🌐 Location: Nakatsugawa, Gifu prefecture

About 3000 people came to watch the event at Nakatsugawa. There were handshakes and fansa (Japanese shortcut for “Fan Service”).

The center of attention was Mitakeumi. Although he is not from Nakatsugawa or even from Gifu, he hails from the close-by Agematsu in the adjacent Nagano prefecture. So the locals were rooting for him.

Practices around the dohyo also included a komusubi doing stretches:

Ichinojo, and Ichinojo’s thighs, stretching

Day 3

🌐 Location: Sakai, Osaka prefecture

In this Jungyo tour, the shokkiri team consists of Kotoryusei and Kotorikuzan from Sadogatake. Every different shokkiri team changes the details of the shokkiri routine a bit and makes it its own. Notable elements – Gyoji very much a part of the show, and Kotoryusei doing the Kotoshogiku stretch. I guess he got permission from his senior heya mate.

Hakuho performed his dohyo-iri with a toddler:

You can almost hear the “there, there” (or “yosh-yosh” in Japanese). The toddler is the son of the leader of Japanese pop group ET-King, the late Itokin, who died in January of lung cancer at the age of 38. Hakuho promised him he’ll put his boy on the dohyo and this was the fulfillment of that promise.

Takayasu is aiming for the yusho in the next basho. He said that he doesn’t get enough practice, and accordingly, invited Abi, Shodai and Mitakeumi for san-ban – a series of bouts between the same rikishi – in which he won 11 of the 12 bouts. He followed that with butsukari-geiko for Mitakeumi, who himself aims to re-establish himself at the sekiwake position which he is certainly going to lose in the coming basho. Mitakeumi said Takayasu “was heavy”, but was thankful for the exercise.

As always in Osaka, Goeido is king, and participates in the kiddie sumo, something Ozeki only do if they choose.

Here is a rather shaky video of the musubi-no-ichiban, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu:

Day 4

🌐 Location: Maizuru, Kyoto prefecture

Jungyo tours are usually done by invitation from the town being visited. The town’s mayor usually opens the festivities with a speech. It so happened that the mayor of Maizuru (“Dancing Crane” – it could make a good shikona), who is 67 years old, suddenly dropped in the middle of his speech with his hands shaking.

A number of people, including yobidashi and people from the audience gathered around him, when a medical professional – first said to be a doctor, later a nurse – who clearly had experience in CPR climbed up the dohyo and gave the man a heart massage. She happened to be a woman. Women are not allowed on the dohyo, but the men on the dohyo gave way and let her do her thing. Another similar professional joined her. More people gathered, including a few other women, when the PA started calling “Ladies, please leave the dohyo”.

The additional women who came confusedly left the scene. The original professional stayed until the paramedics arrived. There is a fully staffed and ready ambulance in every Jungyo event, and the paramedics came in rather quickly. By this time a female usher was tugging at the lady professional to get off the dohyo. She only left when the paramedics took over.

The PA is always handled by a gyoji. His part usually comes down to announcements such as “On the west, Maegashira Kaisei, from Brasil, Tomozuna beya. On the east, Maegashira Takarafuji, from Aomori, Isegahama beya”, and “The kimarite is yori-kiri, Kaisei performs a yori-kiri and wins”. The standard formulae are always the same, occasionally peppered by kensho messages, requests from the audience not to throw zabuton and safety procedures.

The gyoji with the mike, shocked and confused by the emergency situation on the dohyo, for which he did not have a manual, reverted to first principles, and did what he knows best: stick to tradition. Unfortunately, this was the wrong choice, further complicated by being made in an age in which everything is being captured and uploaded within seconds.

Twitter basically burst into flames. “How can you put tradition ahead of human life?” was the main theme. Some, of course, blamed the NSK as a whole for this, as if this was done by official sanction. The situation reached such proportions that the chairman of the NSK, Hakkaku, had to issue a written press statement back in Tokyo. He said that the gyoji’s response was an inappropriate response when human life was at stake. He apologized to the women involved and thanked them for coming to the mayor’s rescue.

The next day the new Jungyo master, Kasugano – who, I believe, was in the restroom when the whole thing happened – also made a statement. He said that this was an unforeseen occurrence, and that since it may also happen during honbasho, the NSK will have to come up with a procedure for dealing with it.

So next time, the gyoji will have it in his manual.

The mayor, by the way, was diagnosed with a haemorrhage from a cranial blood vessel. So in fact the CPR was not pertinent to his situation. He is currently stable, and will need a month of hospitalization to fully recover.

Unfortunately, this event overshadowed the rest of the day. I could not find any photos of wrestlers or bouts. If any turn up, I’ll be sure to include them here.

A Weekend of Hana-Zumo

There is no Jungyo in February. Hence no Jungyo coverage. But luckily, the world of sumo takes pity on sumo-starved fans, and spices this cold month with exhibition events, called “hana-zumo”.

These events generally take place in the Kokugikan in Tokyo, meaning they are much easier on the wrestlers than Jungyo events – no traveling, practicing in their own heya, eating the chanko they are accustomed to, and so on.

This weekend included two back-to-back hana-zumo events. On Saturady, as Bruce already mentioned, there was the NHK charity event, which has been held for 51 years now. The most startling news item from this event has been this:

chiyotairyu
Elvis has left the building

This, my friends, is Chiyotairyu. Sans sideburns. Rumor has it that Ichinojo heard that Chiyotairyu had mutton chops, and just ate them.

I don’t know how I’ll recognize him from now on.

There was sumo jinku:

And kiddie sumo:

kiddie-sumo
Sumo in Neverland

And of course, there were bouts. Here is the Makushita “yusho” bout (Makushita was in elimination form). Enho…

…may eat a lot of similar crow up in Juryo. I hope he (or Hakuho, his master) finds a solution for this soon.

And between the bouts, it’s not hana-zumo  (or Jungyo) if you don’t get this scene:

hakuho-and-yobidashi.jpg

What you see here is Hakuho waiting his turn in the kore-yori-san-yaku. That’s when the participants in the last three bouts go on the dohyo and perform synchronized shiko.

In honbasho, this happens only on senshuraku. And in any case, there’s no fooling around in honbasho. But in Hana-zumo and Jungyo, there’s a kore-yori-san-yaku every day. And Hakuho always finds himself a comfortable yobidashi to lean on. Sometimes the bored Yokozuna goes a bit too far:

The sumo events of the day ended with the superb Satonofuji. Can’t get enough of him:

Sunday, and switching channels to Fuji TV. And here, some familiar faces stripped down and wore their old mawashi:

old-boys

Thought you’ll never get to see this again?

Damn, Kotooshu!

Kyokutenho – Tomozuna oyakata – also has nothing to be ashamed of. Asasekiryu (Nishikijima oyakata) fresh out of his chon-mage:

Kitataiki (Onogawa oyakata) is still wearing his chon-mage. Wakakoyu (Shiranui oyakata) nearly got him there:

There was also kiddie sumo. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these kiddies do not look Japanese.

You may notice two differences from kiddie sumo in Jungyo:

  • The Ozeki participate. This is very rare in Jungyo. And both of them together is even rarer.
  • In Jungyo the kiddie sumo is part of keiko. Hana zumo doesn’t include keiko, and the wrestlers do their kiddie sumo in their shime-komi (silk mawashi) and oicho-mage.

In this event, both Juryo and Makuuchi were in elimination format. The championship bout:

Tochinoshin didn’t get that yusho by a bracket fluke. He had to get there through Hakuho:

He got the cup from his stablemaster (Kasugano oyakata):

And from Fuji TV… a cardboard cow?

More bouts:

Hakuho vs. Endo:

Takayasu vs. Tamawashi:

The complete set of Tochinoshin bouts plus interview and cup ceremony:

Juryo tournament:

Final Jungyo Newsreel – December 17th

🌐 Location: Ginowan, Okinawa

Today was the second day at Ginowan, but the last day of the Jungyo. Today’s newsreel centers on bouts, bouts, bouts!

hakuho-takayasu
Hakuho vs. Takayasu

Before we sit back to enjoy our sumo, it should be mentioned that Kakuryu’s health took a turn for the worse in the past couple of days, as he developed an inflammation in his left foot (or leg – the word in Japanese is the same). He says that once everybody returns to Tokyo, he’ll be able to get care for it, but nevertheless, this is a source for worry. Remember, Kakuryu has to participate in Hatsu, and have a good showing. Having been kyujo from Aki with a problem in his right foot, in the preparations for Kyushu he got his lower back in trouble again, and was kyujo from Kyushu as well. He is running out of body parts to spare.

He did participate in today’s tournament, and did a dohyo iri-with a baby, but Hakuho was the one doing the tsuna-shime ceremony today.

tsuna-shime-enho

Those who followed the Jungyo reports diligently will notice that Enho has been promoted from “thread bearer” to “rope puller #5”, an important position that comes with white gloves!

OK, so let’s finish this Jungyo with a bit of sumo. As in the previous 3 days, the top 16 Makuuchi (which is basically Ichinojo and up on the Kyushu banzuke, deducting Harumafuji, Kisenosato and Chiyonokuni) competed in elimination format. Below that, the torikumi went the usual way.

The Makuuchi bouts started with Aminishiki vs. Yutakayama. Yutakayama won – and the audience let out a sigh. Poor Yutakayama! It’s not his fault that Aminishiki is the most popular rikishi in Japan!

No visuals from that torikumi, I’m sorry to say, but here is the Maru bout, Chiyomaru vs. Daishomaru:

Arawashi vs. Ikioi:

Now let’s move to the tournement part. Hakuho starts with Onosho:

…and makes short work of it. Onosho, where is your red mawashi?

Mitakeumi takes on Tochiozan:

Nexw was the battle of the Fujis – Hokutofuji vs. Terunofuji. No video for that, but Terunofuji wins. So did Goeido vs. Takakeisho. So the two top tadpoles were eliminated in the first round already.

Takayasu took on Chiyotairyu in the first round. Remember Takayasu took the title yesterday:

Sorry for the lack of Tachiai. Next was Ichinojo vs. Tamawashi. Ichinojo wins.

Now Yoshikaze vs. Shohozan:

And the end of the first round is Kakuryu vs. Kotoshogiku:

This, despite the left foot issue…

Next round. Hakuho vs. Mitakeumi:

No repeat of Nagoya basho… And also no video of the Terunofuji-Goeido bout. But Terunofuji won. Terunofuji actually able to beat both Hokutofuji and Goeido is great news. Please don’t let him find a new way to ruin his knees in January.

Next was Takayasu vs. Ichinojo.

I do wish Ichinojo would not give up so easily at the tawara. 🙁

To finish this second round, Kakuryu vs. Yoshikaze:

Yori-no-questions-about-it-kiri!

Semifinals. Hakuho wants to finish this Jungyo with a freaking yusho. Terunofuji hung on for about 20 seconds:

Takayasu got the other Yokozuna and won. No video.

And so we come to the final: Hakuho vs. Takayasu:

And here is a different angle with better video quality but poorer view:

Okinawa Jungyo day 2 - tournament brackets

Hakuho was, of course, delighted, and felt that he has tied up the Jungyo in a satisfactory way, giving the audience something to enjoy.

Now everybody has already landed back in Tokyo, having been absent since September. And this is the end of this newsreel series, see you in the next Jungyo!

 

Short Jungyo Newsreel – December 14-15

🌐 Location: Miyakojima, Okinawa

The second day of the Jungyo at Miyakojima continued pretty much the same as the first day.

venue
Venue filling up in the early afternoon

Hakuho still didn’t practice on the dohyo, and opted for practicing with low-rank partners in what was at first a quiet corner:

hakuho-practicing-off-dohyo

Ikioi joined the Jinku team again, once again singing the part dedicated to Yuho. He commented later “Yuho has always been kind to me and cared about my well-being. I put my soul into the song and I believe it has reached him in Heaven”.

ikioi-doing-jinku-again
Ikioi in the Jinku finale. Note the fan with the lyrics stuck in his mawashi.

Kakuryu did the tsuna-shime ceremony again. On his way back down the hana-michi, still wearing his rope, he high-fived a kid who stood on the sidelines with his hand extended (this used to be a Harumafuji specialty).

The main difference between yesterday and today was that Hakuho found motivation enough to want to win the Yusho on the second day. Remember, the top 16 rikishi were competing in elimination format.

Hakuho beat Onosho in the first bout. In the second, he defeated Tochiozan. In the semifinal, he met Terunofuji (back on the torikumi, apparently, and able to win two bouts!), and passed him as well. In the final bout, he faced Chiyotairyu – but lost, and the yusho slipped away.

“Aaagh… I wanted that yusho!” he lamented in the shitakubeya.

The day ended in dance again. Note Homarefuji dancing like a boss, hand motions and all:


Today (December 15th) the Jungyo was on hiatus again, as the rikishi took flights back north to the main island of Okinawa. The first plane that landed included Kakuryu and Takayasu, and a few other sekitori, and they ended up participating in a welcome party at the Naha airport, in the company of the lovely Miss Okinawa.

arrival

A while later Hakuho and Goeido arrived as well, and the two Yokozuna and two Ozeki, together with Kasugano oyakata, went to lay flowers at the Cemetery for the Fallen in the Battle of Okinawa in Itoman, and also had a moment of silence at the Cornerstone of Peace.

Tomorrow the Jungyo renews, for the final two days in Ginowan.

Jungyo Newsreel – December 10th

🌐 Location: Kagoshima, Kagoshima

Today’s location was Kagoshima, where 4500 fans came to cheer for the rikishi, particularly the Kagoshima-born Chiyomaru and Daiamami. Daiamami, as a freshman, drew most of the attention. Accordingly, Kakuryu invited him to san-ban and butsukari.

kakuryu-butsukari-daiamami

The san-ban part consisted of 9 bouts, and as would be expected, Kakuryu won them all. This was followed by butsukari, but at this point Daiamami somehow came to admit that he “wasn’t doing enough keiko”.

The butsukari that followed turned out to be rather punishing for the local. Despite much support from the spectators, he hardly had any pushing power, and found himself rolling frequently:

Kakuryu was relentless, and after about 10 minutes, the session ended like this:

Daiamami did come to, and went through the thank-you ceremony at the end, albeit in a bit of a hazy state:

“This is all because you don’t do keiko”, scolded the Yokozuna after the keiko session was over. “I didn’t work you out that hard. You shouldn’t be exhausted by that much. You should do keiko every day.” Kasugano oyakata, who sat on the sidelines during the session, added his own voice to the scolding. “Both veterans and youngsters should go up the dohyo with vigor. It’s your job. There are fans watching.”

Kakuryu added: “The butsukari is not over. When we get to a warmer place, I’ll continue it”, hinting that when the Jungyo gets to its Okinawa leg he is going to be grilling Daiamami again.

By the way, did you notice Nishikigi hovering worried over Daiamami in the video above? This is typical of Nishikigi, who has earned the nickname “Mommy Nishikigi” for caring for rikishi during keiko, wiping sweat, etc.


OK, switching to the light side of the day’s event. First, Halt! Yokozuna aboard!

Enho works out in what seems to be a rather painful way:

Tobizaru, the Flying Monkey, tries to imitate him…

Er, no banana for you…

Isegahama beya took up the kiddie sumo as a team today:

isegahama-kiddies
Takarafuji, Terutsuyoshi, Aminishiki exchanging tykes

Where’s Homarefuji? Well, funny that you should ask!

Sumo with the older, more serious young sumo hopefuls was taken up by Kokonoe. Specifically, Chiyomaru, the other local.

Yep, that’s a big kid. But Chiyomaru is not Hikarugenji, either, if you catch my drift.

Here is the NHK coverage for the day, in which you’ll see Daiamami having recovered from the morning’s troubles, and beating Okinoumi in their torikumi.

You’ll also see Hakuho doing a baby dohyo-iri. This time we get to see the excited parents at the end. “He passed near us, and I asked if he’ll give the child a ‘dakko’. And he said a good-natured ‘yes’, so I quickly undressed her and handed her over” said mom.

More torikumi:

Takayasu vs. Goiedo

Takayasu complains about his lack of practice, but somehow ends up with the kensho-kin. Goeido having trouble with his ankle again?

Note Mitakeumi rising at the end to give the chikara-mizu on the opposite side. This means he has won his own torikumi (vs. Yoshikaze).

Musubi-no-ichiban:

Hakuho 4 – Kakuryu 3. Close call, there?

Again, note the applause Satonofuji gets when he arrives at the side of the dohyo. Very popular, that man.

satonofuji-popular
Also popular as a picture subject

 

Everything You Need to Know After Act Two

Sumo wrestlers line up as they pray before the start of the annual 'Honozumo' ceremonial sumo tournament dedicated to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan

The curtain has dropped on act two. The stage is now set, and the actors are ready for the grand finale of the Kyushu basho. While the early days of this tournament were overshadowed by scandal, the sumo took center stage in act two. So far we’ve seen triumph, defeat, skill and and even a little luck. But the best is yet to come! Here is a quick run down of everything you need to know going into the last five days of sumo in 2017.

Yusho Race

After two acts, only one man remains lord on high in the yusho race: Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho. With a 10-0 record and a two-win cushion separating him from second place, this is truly Hakuho’s yusho to lose. The story is not over yet, however, as two men are trailing Hakuho, just waiting for him to make one crucial mistake that will bring them closer to yusho contention. These rikishi are Okinoumi and Hokutofuji, who both ended day 10 with eight wins apiece. Should he keep his record spotless, Hakuho can clinch the yusho with a win on day 14, if not sooner.

Kachi Koshi and Make Koshi

There were only three men who secured their kachi koshi by the end of act two. In addition to Hakuho, only Okinoumi and Hokutofuji have earned a winning record so far, and are safe from demotion for the New Year Tournament. Conversely, there are three rikishi with make koshi losing records, beginning with Tochiozan who went winless in his first eight bouts. Chiyonokuni and Kotoshogiku also have losing records and can expect to move down the banzuke for January. For a closer look at the kachi koshi and make koshi  projections, please see this article by fellow Tachiai authour lksumo.

Kinboshi

Yokozuna Kisenosato surrendered three more kinboshi during the second act of the kyusho basho, bringing the overall total to six. These kinboshi were claimed by Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, and Takarafuji respectively. Having lost to five Maegashira rikishi, Kisenosato tied the record for the most kinboshi given up in a single basho since 1949.

Kyujo and Absences

On day 3 it was announced that Aoiyama had withdrawn from competition due to issues with his ankle. He returned to action on day 8 in what many believe to be a desperate attempt to stave off a major demotion down the banzuke. Since the end of act one, only one more rikishi has joined those who have pulled out of the Kyushu basho. Early in day 10, Kisenosato withdrew from the competition due to ankle and lower back issues. This marks the third time he has had to end a tournament prematurely this year. The kyujo and Absentee list so far includes Kakuryu, Ura, Takanoiwa, Harumafuji, Terunofuji, and Kisenosato.

Tozai-Sei

After ten days, the West now leads the East by a score of 104-85. The West side of the banzuke is really beginning to pull away from the East, mostly due to Hakuho, Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, and Arawashi, who have all won seven or more matches. That being said, the East has been far more affected by injuries and has lost many top point-earners this basho. The next five days will see the crowning of the first unofficial Tozai-sei championship.

Like a play, each act of the Kyushu basho has been better than the last. There’s still so much fantastic sumo that awaits us as we head into the final days of competition. So with that, let’s open the curtain on act 3. Let the finale begin!

Everything You Need to Know After Act One

 

With the first act of the Kyushu basho coming to an end, here is a quick rundown of everything you need to know to get all caught up.

Yusho Race

Five days in and the leaderboard has already dwindled down to three men, all with perfect records. Maegashira 13 Aminishiki, Ozeki Goeido, and a very genki Yokozuna Hakuho have five wins each and are neck and neck in the yusho race. Behind them with four wins are Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, Arawashi, and surprisingly, Okinoumi. I expect this group to be much smaller by the end of act two.

Kinboshi

So far, there have been three kinboshi surrendered this basho. Tamawashi earned the first of these gold star victories on day 1 when he defeated Yokozuna Kisenosato. Up and comer Takakeisho claimed the other two when he beat Harumafuji on day 2 and Kisenosato on day 4.

Kyujo and Absences

There are currently six men on the banzuke who have pulled out of the competition. Ura, Takanoiwa and Yokozuna Kakuryu withdrew citing health issues before the start of the basho. Aoiyama joined them on day 3 after sustaining an ankle injury in his match with Okinoumi. Day 3 would also see Yokozuna Harumafuji pull out of the competition following accusations of an assault on Takanoiwa during the October jungyo tour. After four straight losses, former Ozeki Terunofuji withdrew on day 5 to address the multiple health issues that have been plaguing him as of late.

Tozai-Sei

On day 1, I mentioned that I would be keeping track of the unofficial Tozai-sei Championship going on between the East and West sides of the banzuke. The Tozai-sei was an award used in the early 20th century and was given to the side of the banzuke with the most wins, and I’ve decided to resurrect it for a bit of added fun this basho. The rules are simple: for every win a rikishi gets, his side receives a point. After five days, the West leads the East with a record of 53 to 46. This lead is no doubt thanks to Aminishiki, Ichinojo, Takayasu, and Hakuho, who have a combined 18 points thus far. The top point earners on the East side are Okinoumi, Mitakeumi, and Goeido, who have 14 points between them.

With day 6 set to start in just a few short hours, there are still so many great sumo highlights to look forward to as the Kyushu basho rolls on.

Blast From The Past

I’ve been positively giddy with excitement these last few days with the Fukuoka Basho approaching. Now that it’s here, I’m scouring the web for insight into who will win. My pick: Goeido. Why? Okay, follow me down the rabbit hole:

I’ve created a spreadsheet to track Josh’s “Ones To Watch” and populated it with data on the 21 rikishi and the match-ups of the 10 fighting on Day 1. Sadly, no Wakaichiro, Jokoryu, or Enho. Hattorizakura is fighting in the first bout of the tournament. Can we invent some ceremony? Maybe I’ll just drink a beer in a few hours, at 6:30pm Eastern, to commemorate Hattorizakura opening the basho, hopefully with a win!

So, who else am I going to watch on Day 1? Let’s see… Oh, what about our good friend Shunba? He’ll likely post footage on his blog afterward so we’ll be able to see it. Who’s he fighting? Obamaumi? Obama-umi. For real? That’s an interesting name. Obamaumi. I like it. Let’s take a quick check of the SumoDB and see his stats. He’s a Sakaigawa boy there with Goeido, Myogiryu, Sadanoumi, and Toyohibiki. Funny. He actually started sumo as President Obama was taking office. There’s got to be more to this story.

Googling the kanji for Obamaumi in Japanese (小浜海) yields a bunch of articles but one thing catches my eye immediately: Geocities. WTF? There’s a Geocities site still active on the web in 2017? Click. Up pops some amazing data, only overshadowed by the fantastic 1990s background and web design. What is this? Some random Sakaigawa fan site? This is great! My terrible Japanese picks up the fact that he has an O blood type, his favorite food is curry, and his brother is the recently retired Sadanofuji who he followed into the sumo world.

I click to the homepage and a realization hits me… This is the official site for the Sakaigawa stable. Half of me is tempted to pass around a hat to solicit donations to bring this site into the 21st Century. With my vinyl copy of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits playing in the background, nostalgia started to kick in hard. Flashbacks are now pouring back, including my first website – which was populated by pictures I had stored on floppy discs.

“…this time the hurting won’t heal. You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille…”

Nostalgia aside, the Hakuho era is coming to a close. His reign on top of the sport has peaked as injuries begin to pile up. For years the movers-and-shakers in the sport were looking for a worthy rival. Harumafuji, while certainly worthy of the title yokozuna, was never quite able to be a consistent threat as Hakuho’s mantle overflowed with macarons. So as they scanned the next plateau, they found Kakuryu, swiftly hit with the injury bug. Kisenosato bobs up – and before he can lift his second cup, he falls to injury. There will be a changing of the guard and the moves will be swift. Who will be there to start mopping up? Goeido 2.0

Nishonoseki Ichimon Joint Practice

In what has become a tradition, the Nishinoseki Ichimon gathered on the 6th and 7th of November for a joint practice, held at Tagonoura’s practice hall in Fukuoka.

In addition to the Ichimon rikishi, other rikishi visited for degeiko, including, most notably, Goeido.

goeido-takayasu

The first day was undoubtably Kisenosato’s day. He practiced with Yoshikaze, and beat him 8:2.

On the other hand, Takayasu faced Goeido. He managed to scrape one win, but the Aki yusho finalist overwhelmed him.

The second day looked less bright for Kisenosato, who took up the very very genki Goeido this time.

Out of 7 bouts, Goeido won 4 and Kisenosato merely 3. Furthermore, after adding two more bouts with Takayasu, the Yokozuna then left the dohyo and did not participate even in lighter practices. His stablemaster admitted that he was “exhausted”.

Goeido continued to practice with Takayasu, and again, had the clear upper hand with 9 wins and 3 losses.

I believe Takayasu would be the perfect candidate for Kosho-seido if it was reinstated. You can see that he can do his Tachiai well enough, meaning that his muscle is on the mend. But he hasn’t been practicing enough and doesn’t have the stamina. He would clearly benefit from a rest and some gradual practice.

If Goeido boots up in the correct mode, he’s definitely in the yusho-arasoi for this basho. I’ve seldom seen a genkier rikishi. He also repeated his intention to redeem his honor in the basho.

I strongly recommend setting up a Japanese proxy (or using a VPN service like TunnelBear) and watching the following Sports Navi videos (unless you’re in Japan, in which case I still recommend watching them, but you’re off the hook regarding the VPN). They contain much longer practice sessions than the above Youtube shorts.

 

Jungyo Newsreel – October 20th

🌐 Location: Hirakata

Terunofuji sweats his heart out

The media continues to follow the ozekiwake’s recovery in his second Jungyo day.

terunofuji-shodai

As he promised yesterday, Terunofuji followed his extensive workout below the dohyo with some real keiko. He invited Shodai to sanban. His first bout was a total mess, possibly due to nerves, but he followed that with seven wins. Then he invited Yago and Meisei of the Juryo division to one bout each, winning those as well.

“I felt like even my heart was sweating. It was very tiring, as I have been away so long” commented the Isegahama man. “I’ll increase the number of bouts from day to day. Tomorrow I hope to do 20 bouts. I have to do twice as much as any other guy.”

Say what we may about the advisability of the kaiju’s return, Asahifuji is not raising any sloths in his stable, that’s for sure.

Goeido enjoys some kiddie sumo

Hirakata, today’s location, is five kilometers away from the Ozeki’s home town of Neyagawa. So on this occasion, the usually severe-looking Goeido decided to let loose a little bit, and engaged in some wanpaku-zumo:

goeido-with-kid

Later, it was time for the local man to do his official bout against Yokozuna Kakuryu. The bout was preceded by kensho-kin banners. One of them for some local project. You don’t see that in a honbasho:

strange-sponsorship-banner

As for the bout itself, it was described as an “amazing victory for Goeido”. So either the Ozeki got super motivated playing on his home turf, or Kakuryu really knows how to sell a Yaocho. 🙂

Musubi of the day

Kisenosato and Hakuho continue to give the spectators their money’s worth.

Hakuho sacrifices a few meters for a grip change, and, well, 4:2 to the dai-yokozuna.

More things you see only in the Jungyo

Ever heard of “sumo-jinku” (相撲甚句)?

It’s a traditional song form performed by rikishi dressed in kesho-mawashi. 5-7 rikishi stand in a circle, and one in the middle sings. This is not your 3-minute standard western jingle, either. As you can see in this video, the soloist changes every few minutes. The songs are in the theme of sumo, but not necessarily very serious. The other day I heard one whose general lyrics went “A pumpkin and a cucumber went to see some sumo”. It seems, though, that the score includes some greetings to the audience and wishes for support in the coming honbasho.

These songs (and the accompanying dance moves etc.) are a mandatory subject at the sumo academy (which every rikishi has to attend at some point). Of the current sekitori, Ikioi is considered a very talented jinku performer, but unfortunately, he is not participating in this Jungyo. The ones who are are not half bad, though!

Notice how towards the end the circle turns to the audience, and the rikishi start waving back at any members of the audience who try to get their attention.

What, another Yokozuna+baby dohyo iri?

Yes, but this one is different. Pay attention to the tsuyuharai. Yes. It’s Kotoshogiku. It should be noted that the general rule is that the higher-ranked rikishi is supposed to be the tachi-mochi. But there is a reason why Giku is doing the part that has two free arms to hold the baby: that is his own son!

The last time that Kotoshogiku participated in a Yokozuna dohyo-iri was when Hakuho went to Tohoku after the 2011 tsunami disaster, to encourage the disaster-stricken population the way only a Yokozuna can. Kotoshogiku said at the time that the experience inspired him to strive for that rank as well, which is how he succeeded in achieving Ozeki status. It may be that he repeated the experience today to motivate himself to return to that rank once more.

Jungyo Newsreel – October 17th

🌐 Location: Takayama

takanohana-meisei
Takanohana still in professor mode, this time with Meisei

Today the Jungyo arrived at Takayama after a day’s hiatus the rikishi spent quietly in Nagoya. So quietly, that there was nothing in the news yesterday, and barely anything today…

Musubi of the day

So far there seemed to be a gentlemen’s agreement between the Yokozuna. Kakuryu and Kisenosato, while they were at it, basically split the spoils between them. But with Hakuho back, the excited Kisenosato informed the press that he is going to take the bouts seriously now until the end of the tournament.

I kind of raised an eyebrow, and wondered whether Hakuho will decide, in return, to just wipe Kisenosato off the Dohyo, or still let him have 50/50. But after Hakuho’s win on the 14th, Kisenosato actually won the next two bouts. BTW, if you have missed it, I edited in the musubi for the 15th.

While that one could be interpreted as Hakuho letting Kisenosato have one on the house, today’s musubi was quite a protracted affair:

So it seems that Kisenosato really is taking this seriously. But what’s up with Hakuho?

Earlier in the day he was practicing his Tachiai. Take a look at this. Is he favoring a leg?

In the penultimate bout, Kakuryu beat Goeido again.

Here is a video from Nagoya TV, with a summary of the day, including some wanpaku keiko (practice with kids), some Shokkiri, and a bit of the musubi from a different angle:

This just in: Goeido vows to clear his honor in Kyushu

“If I forget what happened, it will all come to nothing. I have to use the painful feeling as a springboard for a comeback”, said the Ozeki who let the yusho slip between his fingers in the Aki basho.

goeido-yago-butsukari

Today he took up his high-school kohai (lower class student) Yago for a round of butsukari-geiko. “He uses only his upper body, so I told him to use his knees”, said the Ozeki.

(From Sponichi)

More things you only see in the Jungyo

And today, let’s discuss workouts. Specifically, strength training. Back home, the rikishi have access to proper gyms with all kinds of weight machines. But when you go on the road, you can’t take a gym with you. So we get to see a lot of rubber tubes, rubber bands and hand weights.

And then, of course, there is the water bag:

water-bag
C’mon, Takekaze, you can do better than that. Fill ‘er up!

But what if you want to pump something that weighs more than 20kg? Something more in the area of 100kg and above? Turns out that there are plenty of weights to lift around the shitaku-beya:

kotoshogiku-weightlifting

Yep, that’s Kotoshogiku doing squats shouldering 113kg Kotodairyu.

It’s better that my speculations as to how he practices his hip-pumps remain unwritten.

Kyushu schedule published

This is not really Jungyo-related, but there’s a shortage of sumo news… so…

October 29th Rikishi arrive in Fukuoka
October 30th Banzuke announcement
October 31st Rikishi convention
November 1st Medical exams of new rikishi
November 2nd Yokozuna dohyo-iri at Sumiyoshi shrine
November 10th Torikumi meeting
November 11th Dedication of the dohyo
November 12th Shonichi (Tournament Day 1)
November 26th Senshuraku (Tournament Day 15)
November 29th Banzuke meeting for Hatsu

 

Jungyo Newsreel – October 6th

🌐 Location: Yokohama

Kakuryu takes san-ban with Makuuchi-level wrestler

Yesterday Kakuryu settled for butsukari, but today, for the first time in a long while, he took san-ban with Maegashira Chiyonokuni for 10 bouts, of which he won 8 and lost 2.

kakuryu-chiyonokuni

The Yokozuna tested both his oshi-zumo and his yotsu-zumo. “I don’t feel any pains. If I can keep up this pace feeling the same, no worries” he said with a smile.

Regarding his time away from the dohyo, he said “Watching sumo on TV made me gloomy at first. Then gradually I became angered with myself. I was especially frustrated when three Yokozuna were absent. ‘Damn’, I thought, ‘I want to be out there and do sumo'”. He intends to make a few suggestions at the next meeting of the rikishi union, including re-instating the kosho-seido system.

Aminishiki puts his muscles where his mouth is

As the sekitori were engaged in moshiai-geiko (a series of bouts in which the winner decides who his next rival will be), Daieisho named Aminishiki as his next rival. Aminishiki ascended the dohyo, grabbed Daieisho under his armpits and pushed him out and away in one go. He then proceeded to wrestle with 21 year olds, taking a low stance and burying his head in their chests.

aminishiki-daieisho
Daieisho thinks he can easily beat the nearly mummified Aminishiki, proven wrong.

In all, he wrestled 9 bouts, winning 6. “Oh, just 9? Double figures and 9 are completely different things”, he joked (a hint to Harumafuji?). When asked about wrestling with his head (a basic technique usually used by weaker rikishi against stronger opponents) he said “Well, that’s the only kind of sumo I can do now. I aim to enter the dohyo every day, but preparing my legs takes time… I wrestle taking the length of tape I have left into consideration.”

Kisenosato continues to train with Asanoyama

For the second day in a row, Kisenosato invited Asanoyama to san-ban. This time 18 bouts, of which he won 12 and lost 6.

All in all, Asanoyama, whose favorite grip, right-hand-inside, is the opposite of Kisenosato’s, did not just go for a simple frontal attack-and-retreat vs. the Yokozuna, but tried various techniques and tactics, like ottsuke and makikaeshi, which pleased the Yokozuna very much: “That’s exactly what I wished for”.

Goeido offers chest to Yago

The lonely Ozeki offered butsukari to Yago

goeido-yago

But later pictures show Yago clean at the end, so either this was very, very short, or Yago simply succeeded in pushing the Ozeki out of the ring every time. If so, then it wasn’t Goeido’s last time of the day:

goeido

(Sorry, I’m not sure who that is. I’d say Mitakeumi, but doesn’t he wear a wine-colored mawashi?)

This just in – Harumafuji update

Apparently, Harumafuji did not participate in the torikumi. The only Yokuzuna bout was Kakuryu-Kisenosato.

From what I can gather, he also did not participate in any on-dohyo activity, and settled for stretches and advice to youngsters.

🤕😕

Kyushu Day 3 Preview: A Tale of Two Goeidos

If there have been two phases to Goeido’s ozeki-dom, no matchup exemplifies the shift better than his record against Yoshikaze (who he faces tomorrow). Upon promotion, Goeido was quite shaky in his performance, only achieving 8 wins thanks to a fusen win on Day 2. His loss to Yoshikaze on Day 3 by komatasukui, fairly demonstrated that there was a long road ahead. Goeido and Yoshikaze had eachother on the edge but neither had the upper body strength to make a throw. When Goeido went for an ill-timed kick, Yoshikaze pushed him over backwards.

Goeido continued to struggle for about a year and a half, going kadoban 3 times and losing to Yoshikaze in each of their next three bouts. During this time, he managed 9 wins one time, generally barely able to manage 8.

However, between January and March of this year, Goeido’s career shifted.  He must have conquered his demons because he won 12 matches back home in Osaka, including his first against Yoshikaze in nearly two years. Since, the ozeki has come out on top against Tazzy in each bout. I wonder if there was a change to his training or his upper body strength that helped him over the edge. The key is, can he keep it up? Forget yokozuna-hood. The Goeido of the last 6 months is the ozeki we’ve been expecting.