Hatsu Day 1 – Lower division bouts

Join me as I dig through YouTube and Twitter for the bouts that never make it to the mainstream feeds.

Jonokuchi

Hattorizakura-Denpoya. Denpoya is the latest recruit at Isegahama, one of six men from Aomori prefecture. Unlike most of the recent recruits by that heya, he actually has the size for sumo. But he went 1-3 at maezumo and has a lot to learn. His lucky stars arranged for him to face Hattorizakura on the first day, after Watai from Chiganoura beya became a no-show.

Take a look at this rather amusing bout between the two:

What you see here is the bout begin in jikan-mae. That’s a rarity in itself. Looks like Denpoya is so green he doesn’t get the whole shikiri ritual yet. But Hattorizakura goes ahead and meets him, sort of. And so the gyoji starts conducting it as a bout – which, if this is indeed jikan-mae tachiai, is not a mistake. I suppose the shimpan considered this to be a matta rather than a jikan-mae with mutual consent. So they go at it again. No worries – Hattorizakura is there to dispense white stars for everybody.

Soon after this bout came one between two other beginners – Shimomura and Daitenma. I am keeping an eye on Daitenma as I always watch out for foreigners. But this bout (sorry, I don’t have footage) went to Shimomura. So Daitenma is not going to be the next Mongolian to enter the 21 club.

Jonidan

Apart from Wakaichiro’s bout, which you have already seen in Bruce’s post, there were several bouts that drew my eye. I give you the ever-popular Colin Powell Satonofuji vs. Azumaiwa. I’m glad to see Satonofuji still active. I thought he might decide to call it quits after Harumafuji’s retirement ceremony, where he performed what was probably his last yumi-tori shiki. However, I guess he likes his life just as it is:

Go Satonofuji! He even attempts a death-spin there.

Another veteran in Jonidan is Hanakaze, mostly famous for being the oldest active rikishi (aged 48). If he gets through Hatsu and Haru safely, he will be the first rikishi almost a century to do sumo over three different eras. However, this is not a good start:

Another match of interest in this division is the one between Takataisho and Miyakomotoharu. Takataisho is the tsukebito Takanoiwa has beaten up, buying himself a one-way ticket to the barber shop. On previous occasions (yes, I’m looking at you, Takanofuji, formerly Takayoshitoshi), the victims quickly found themselves out of the world of sumo, so I am keeping an eye on Takataisho, to see that he doesn’t suffer a similar fate. So far, he seems to be doing well. He now serves as Takakeisho’s tsukebito. And here is how he looks on the dohyo:

Whoa, Miyakomotoharu, you don’t have to take the winner down with you, you know. Takataisho seems to be genki. Good!

Makushita

Yes, I’m skipping Sandanme, as I haven’t found any footage from it. In Makushita, we open with Naya vs. Aomihama.

Straightforward oshi-zumo, and Naya gets his first gold star.

As we followed young Narutaki and his big brother Kyonosato through the Jungyo, I thought you may be interested in Narutaki‘s bout vs. Yokoe.

Unfortunately, Narutaki gets beaten rather spectacularly. He says he was very tense because this was his first Makushita bout.

And now we get into the “purgatory” part of Makushita, and we continue to follow Kototebakari as he takes on Tennozan.

A monoii is called. It takes Chiganoura oyakata quite some time to get up on the dohyo and he seems to be struggling with his link to the video room, but that’s his weapon of choice for the discussion. The video room says “dotai” – both down at the same time – so a torinaoshi it is, and this time Kototebakari gets a clean cut win.

Finally, we have a bout between two familiar names: Gokushindo, who had a very short visit to Juryo before dropping back to Makushita, and Wakamotoharu, also known as the second most gifted Onami brother

This is an entertaining bout between two rikishi who obviously have technique. But Gokushindo needs to work on his power.

Josh already gave you a wonderful summary of the day in Juryo, so all I have left to do is to give you the video to see for yourselves:

Now onward to Day 2, with Hoshoryu and Ura!

Hatsu Day 1 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

naya

As hopeless sumo fans, the crew at Tachiai are following many fine rikishi who are fighting their way through he lower divisions (yes, more than just Wakaichiro!). Out of more than a dozen “ones to watch”, only a handful are in action on day 1. Some notable matches

Wakamotoharu vs. Gokushindo – Another of the Waka* brothers takes on Gokushindo, as he battles to regain Sekitori status. This has the potential to be a real firecracker of a match.
Midorifuji vs. Sakigake – Midorifuji has certainly hit the Makushita “wall” and has found the competition thick and fierce. Today he takes on former Juryo man Sakigake.
Naya vs. Aomihama – Taiho’s grandson returns to Makushita, at the very last slot of the division. This time we look to see if he can hit and hold this highly competitive division. He faces off against veteran Aomihama, who suffered a disappointing 1-6 tournament in November.
Torakio vs. Taichiyama – Torakio is still working hard to escape Sandanme, and he starts Hatsu near his all time high rank of Sandanme 28. He seems to be an even match for Taichiyama, who is still struggling to recover from injuries.
Hattorizakura vs. Denpoya – In spite of his cringe worthy career record of 2-130 (no, not a typo), people love this skinny little guy, and always hope he can find enough genki to win something. His opponent, Denpoya, who is in his first tournament as a professional rikishi, is likely happy to have a nearly assured win for his first match as a pro.

Some notables that are not on the day 1 fight card: Kenho, Musashikuni, Ura, Shoji Hoshoryu and Akua.

A reminder that NHK World Japan will have the final hour of the top division live over their streaming service overnight US time. Work has it that Gunning will be doing the color commentary, and it’s never dull with him in the booth.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Final Day (Dec. 22)

🌐 Location: Tsuchiura/Ushiku, Ibaraki
😝 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽

It’s the end of the winter Jungo. The two towns of Tsuchiura and Ushiku probably planned this event with the intention of celebrating the return of Kisenosato. Takayasu comes from Tsuchiura, while Kisenosato comes from Ushiku. However, since the event was planned, Kisenosato had the disastrous Kyushu basho, followed by a long kyujo.

And so, Takayasu had to be the star of the day, all on his own.

Hey Takayasu! Today you are going to get so… loved… by the Yokozuna! Enjoy!

But there were other rikishi in the venue as well! There was Aminishiki, showing one of those rarer and rarer smiles:

I guess being around his heya’s yobidashi, Teruya, makes Uncle Sumo happy.

Ichinojo managed to convince Mitoryu to let him play a little

Mitoryu doesn’t seem to take this too seriously, though.

Kakuryu practiced with hand weights. In the past, this exercise was mostly associated with Harumafuji.

Shohoryu watches and learns.

Hakuho, on the other hand, was working mainly on his legs. He started with plain suri-ashi:

Then he did this… thing:

I’m rather amused by Nishikigi getting trapped in the hana-michi and not being able to escape. 🙂

Then the Yokozuna did this:

Hehe… Yokozuna, try the Abi shiko. It will do wonders for your thighs (and your dohyo-iri)!

I wonder if the reason they called this janitor was to clean up after him…

There’s something very familiar about this janitor, though…

On the dohyo, the usual moshi-ai sessions took place, and there were several lengthy kawaigari sessions for the spectators to enjoy. Kakuryu decided to give his former tsukebito, Gokushindo, some love

Hey, even the gentle Kakuryu kicks!

Gokushindo took this as an encouragement to get himself back to sekitori status as soon as possible. He is going to drop back to Makushita tomorrow when the Banzuke is published. “Get back to the white mawashi quickly and you’ll be able to practice with me again!”, so to speak.

Goeido once again took on Chiyonoumi. I’m not sure why exactly, but hey, as long as somebody loves my man from Kochi!

Even Hakuho stops to watch, and nods his head approvingly!

Then, of course, the highlight of the keiko part of the day, was Hakuho’s kawaigari for Takayasu. There was six minutes of this:

This:

“[Get on your] feet! feet! feet! feet!”. Then finally, this:

Among the encouragement calls for Takayasu were also shouts of “Thank you, Hakuho!” coming from the Ozeki’s townspeople. Hearing this, the Yokozuna reacted: “The people of Ibaraki know their sumo”.

Which tells me the Yokozuna is well aware of the latest outrage campaign against his “evil kawaigari” going through the social media.

Poor Takayasu had to go through a lot of adoring fans when he got finished with that lovemaking session:

The people of Ibaraki may know their sumo, but they sure don’t know when to back off and let a man breath…

It’s time for shower, lunch and hairdos. And I have another behind-the-scenes revelation for you today!

Well, no controversial, um, reading material today. Just an amusing Asanoyama moment captured by Wakamotoharu:

In the afternoon part, Hakuho was doing the rope tying demo:

Here is the East side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri:

Note Abi tugging at Kagayaki to get him to respond to some fans his eye caught. Kagayaki obliges. It seems he is softening a bit! He also had a lively chat with Abi while they were both at the side of the dohyo waiting for their respective bouts. Maybe it’s the effect of Tamawashi’s kiss! 😘

I have two bout clips today. Here is Endo vs. Chiyoshoma:

Endo quite happily allows himself to win for a change, as Chiyoshoma is not a local boy.

The local boy himself was matched with Hakuho. And there was a lot of kensho riding on this match!

That’s not exactly common for a Jungyo bout… So Hakuho made his salt throw:

And went on the attack!

How surprising! The local boy won!

And this is it. The last bout of the last Jungyo day of this year! Now let’s get on that banzuke!

Your final pin-up is here

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 15 (Dec 20)

Beam me up, Scotty… Oh damn, my communicator badge is on my yukata!

🌐 Location: Kumagaya, Saitama
😛 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️

Having completed the tour through the traditional region for the Fuyu Jungyo, that is, Kyushu and Okinawa, the rikishi returned to Tokyo. But the Jungyo is not ended yet – some towns in the Kanto region requested winter visits, and the NSK obliged. So we get to enjoy three additional events following a few days’ break.

That break didn’t include any particular plans at first, but the Takanoiwa scandal caused it to be a bit more eventful. First, Takakeisho had a yusho parade at his high school, which was put off and then moved ahead again. Then, the rikishi received a lecture about the treatment of tsukebito which was supposed to be given in February. And third, the NSK board had a meeting to set the standards of punishment for violence, and for some reason, focused on violent Yokozuna despite the fact that there were four known violent events in the past year that did not involve a Yokozuna in any way.

So I’m pretty sure the rikishi were really glad to get on their busses and get out of Tokyo again:

Indeed, that’s a lot of busses!

And we have two important faces show up again! First, there is this guy:

Yep, Goeido is back and giving butsukari to Chiyonoumi here.

Then, there is this guy:

“Oh, I’m on camera…”

Kakuryu is back! We’ve missed you!

One face that’s conspicuously still missing is that of Kisenosato, the third Yokozuna. All the signs are that he is in a bad state. The knee injury, which was the reason for him pulling out from the last basho, and not showing up for the Jungyo, is still bothering him. Most of the Japanese press interpreted the YDC’s “Encouragement” decision about him as meaning that he cannot go kyujo in Hatsu basho. So an injury that has not healed yet and reports that his practice so far includes only shiko and suri-ashi are not encouraging. He said at first that he will join the Jungyo at this stage, especially the event in his home turf of Ibaraki, but he can’t, and his fans have every reason to worry.

So we have a Jungyo day with three Ozeki and two Yokozuna. Who else showed up?

Takanosho sure did, and has pulling at a rubber tube held by a slightly anxious Taichiyama

The oyakata showed up together with their mini-brooms:

Kokonoe oyakata, who took this picture, informs us that the mini-brooms are there to shake off any dirt flying from the dohyo.

Takakeisho was there for the handshake part. He got to meet a baby. The baby was not so happy to meet him and expressed his opinion at a very high volume. So Takakeisho made this face:

I think somebody is absorbing the true Chiganoura spirit.

Don’t worry, unlike what your grandmother would tell you, he didn’t get stuck in with this face forever. Here he is a while later, with his bestie, Daieisho:

See? No long-term damage to facial features!

Another pair of besties were engaging in mock bouts in one of the corners:

That’s Abi and Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu was asked the other day what he would take with him to a desert island. His answer was “I guess I’d take Abi”. These two are pretty tight.

At the side of the dohyo, we once again have a line forming to greet the Yokozuna. Only, it’s another Yokozuna:

Note how Kakuryu takes care to acknowledge each one’s greeting.

And if that doesn’t give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, how about these two practicing together?

Yep, that’s Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima. And they seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Tochinoshin also received an occasional morning greeting:

Not the same thing as a Yokozuna, but it’s still good to be an Ozeki.

Here are a couple of practice bouts. We have Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo, and Chiyomaru vs. Azumaryu:

Chiyomaru definitely concentrates on practicing with Juryo wrestlers. He has no illusions about his position on the next banzuke.

As for Hakuho, he must have been very bored today. He took up both Takayasu and Tochinoshin for butsukari. There is not much about his session with Takayasu, but with Tochinoshin he had no less than 10 minutes of kawaigari:

Kaio enjoyed a good spectacle

Ten minutes! A six-minute kawaigari is considered tough. I have been covering Jungyo for almost two years and I don’t recall a 10 minute kawaigari.

I’m pretty sure Hakuho was giving him a repeat performance because last time he didn’t seem exhausted enough. So ten minutes this time. And yet the Ozeki rose again and again and kept going. I’m sure the Yokozuna took a mental note: “In a bout with Tochinoshin, don’t rely on being able to wear him down. Find a way to end it quickly”.

After practice, the usual shows took place. There was Shokkiri, with my favorite part in which a toothpick of a gyoji somehow overpowers a big rikishi who was trying to grab his gunbai:

That’s Shikimori Tomokazu rescuing his gunbai.

And there was an oicho-mage demonstration, with the Yusho winner as the model:

This was followed, as usual, with the Juryo dohyo-iri and bouts, and then we had Yokozuna dohyo-iri. So I give you one we haven’t seen for a while:

Yoisho!

The city of Kumagaya is supposed to host a rugby event next year. So they set up a contraption to take promotion pictures with rikishi. The concept was simple: a vertical piece of fake turf with a background that allows anybody who touches a rugby ball to the “grass” to look like he just scored a flying try… if the photo is rotated by 90º.


Good concept, but it had a few difficulties. For example, take a look at Tochiozan “scoring his try”:

Umm… besides the problems with the viewing angle, his sagari is a dead giveaway. Here is the much better actor, Abi:

He succeeds in working around the obvious issue of the yukata sleeves by pretending to hold his sleeve up. But the angle really kills the illusion.

Enho also got photographed. And they really tried their best here:

Yeah, cut away the pesky ceiling and avoid the sagari. If only there wasn’t a gap between the turf and the background panel… or the turf didn’t look like it was held by scaffolding… or the white line didn’t look like a piece of tape…

But hey, it’s the cutest try attempt ever.

So it seems I have more “rugby” photos than I have any sumo bouts. There is absolutely no material about the bouts in this event, other than a report on the musubi-no-ichiban: Hakuho beat Goeido by yori-kiri. Which tells us that Kakuryu was off the torikumi.

And so we arrive at the pin-up corner of this post, and I’ll bid you adieu with Tomokaze:

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 12 (Dec 13)

🌐 Location: Kitakyushu, Fukuoka
😝 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

In this event we get back to Fukuoka, but this is in fact the last event in Kyushu for this Jungyo. The next stop is far-away Okinawa, and then the rikishi go back to Tokyo, rest a while and finish with three additional days near home in the Kanto area.

Although Kotoshogiku is one of the Fukuoka locals, sadly, he is off the torikumi for the day, and Yutakayama also continues without participating in the bouts.

So lets start our day with handshakes. Here is Aminishiki, alongside his poor, freezing tsukebito, Terumichi:

It’s not that Aminishiki is better dressed than him. I guess it’s having grown in cold Aomori.

Around the walls we have practicing rikishi. Enho is doing his stretches:

…and signing autographs while he’s at it. But he is not the only stretchy rikishi. Here we have Kyonosato, who shows us that despite having a bigger chin than Chiyomaru and beer-storage flaps, he can do the splits like a pro:

Not impressed? How about this?

By the way, he is still being subjected to “Wiggle the Wattle”:

And not just by his brother (Narutaki).

For a 22 years old, he has the patience of a saint!

Along another wall, some low-rankers are doing the rikishi version of the Locomotion:

Mitoryu and Ichinojo are having a chat. Ichinojo wants to demonstrate one of his colt-tossing moves. Mitoryu will have none of that:

Rikishi around the passages and walls are, of course, fansa magnets. Especially when asked to pose with a cute kid (sorry for censoring the cute):

Even kids want to lay their hands on the pixie!

But this kid is not just a pixie fan. Apparently, he gets along with Americans, too:

Love the kid’s shirt!

The NSK even has an official kiddie photo-op:

But I feel it’s a poor replacement to the old “kiddie sumo” that used to be the highlight of the Jungyo day. At least the kiddie photo-op allows girls equal access to the rikishi.

At the dohyo, Wakatakakage decides to do some push-ups. Apparently, Mitoryu decides the load is too light:

A serious-faced Enho grabs a ladle of water. What is he going to do with it?

Ah, of course. Greet the Yokozuna:

When the greetings are over, the Yokozuna can practice away from the dohyo:

On the dohyo, we have practice bouts between Hakuyozan Takekaze, then Hakuyozan and Jokoryu:

Kagayaki seems to have enjoyed his practice with Onosho.

Maybe because he got to experience how it feels to be flat-chested for a few seconds there. Onosho completely eliminated his boob there! Not an easy task!

Then there was some sanban between Tochinoshin and Shodai:

And some butsukari between Takayasu and Hokutofuji, and Nishikigi and Aoiyama:

In fact, that is not just butsukari between Takayasu and Hokutofuji. It’s full-fledged kawaigari. Lots of dirt:

And lots of suffering:

Takayasu is no gentler than Hakuho, but well, Hakuho seems to enjoy it more:

If you’re wondering, the victim (“This will make him even stronger!”) today is Tochinoshin.


One thing Tochinoshin doesn’t lack is stamina. In fact, the Yokozuna ends up looking more tired than he is. But in any case, I’m sure it will motivate the Georgian to try for a rope. After all, nobody gives Kawaigari to a Yokozuna. Not even a dai-Yokozuna.

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And here, too, fans were asking for autographs. Wakatakakage wants to sign Terutsuyoshi while he’s at it:

Terutsuyoshi was known as a “Yanki” – a delinquent – when he was in school. So it’s no surprise he react with a prompt wedgie:

Keep your pen away from me, and I’ll keep away from your butt strap. Deal?

That same Terutsuyoshi, though, goes and buries his head in Hidenoumi’s chest.

Hidenoumi looks like he is considering a MeToo protest against the Isegahama homunculus.

The actual dohyo-iri ends up as a photo-op as well:

Imagine them doing that in honbasho…

In the Juryo bouts, Terutsuyoshi ends up frustrated after losing to Ishiura:

And Enho has no trouble showing Chiyonoumi the way off the dohyo:

I guess not enough weight-lifting, Chiyonoumi. Maybe instead of lifting Chiyomaru you should try Ichinojo!

I don’t really have any Makuuchi bout footage. But here is an awesome nodowa for you:

That’s Takanosho vs. Onosho. Twitter folks report that this was a stormy bout. Takanosho won it and was rather breathless as he stepped – with some kensho – off the dohyo.

Also, there was apparently something very funny about Shohozan’s bout:

Or maybe it’s the amount of kensho he finds amusing?

Between practice and dohyo-iri, Hakuho got himself photographed with his heya’s tokoyama.

The reason Tokohachi got this commemorative photo with the Yokozuna in his full regalia is that this is his last Fuyu Jungyo. He is supposed to retire next year.

I think when he shows this to his grandkids they won’t believe it’s the real Hakuho he was standing next to. “No, grandpa, that’s just one of those panels they put up everywhere there is a sumo event!”

Now, it’s time for our pin-up rikishi, but I had a hard time making a decision today! Lots of fans were in Kitakyushu and took pictures of gorgeous rikishi. Whom would you choose?

Asanoyama lovingly looking at the camera Takarafuji borrowed from a fan to take his picture? Or maybe…

Tough-looking Wakatakakage recovering from the wedgie incident? How about…

…the more mature-looking Tamawashi? He has been on his best behavior while in Fukuoka! But then, there is…

…Myogiryu going for a fashion statement and a manly pose. Meanwhile…

Tobizaru is outraged by the idea that he lost his exclusive hold on the pin-up position this Jungyo in general, and in this post in particular!

However, I think he’ll have a hard competition in Abi here:

Because apparently Abi is not just about shiko! He can also throw a nice handful of salt! (Though both Yobidashi seem a little critical of it. Maybe because they have to sweep the damn stuff all the time).

I leave it to the readers to decide which one is the most worthy of the pin-up section. Though I think we can fill up a whole calendar with these guys!


Note: there will not be a post tomorrow. I hope I’ll be able to catch up during the weekend.