Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 6 (Dec 7)

🌐 Location: Nobeoka, Miyazaki
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

Nobeoka is a small town in Miyazaki. But it boasts a sekitori! Today was Kotoeko day. Most of the nobori you see in the photo bear the name “Kotoeko”, with a few “Yoshikaze” (he is from the neighboring Oita prefecture).

So naturally the crowds gathered around a rather overwhelmed Kotoeko:

Inside the venue, Hakuho was doing some teppo. And you know what happens when there is no teppo pole in site:

Somebody’s neck becomes very very red.

Hakuho also did shiko on the dohyo:

The other day some fan on Twitter asked Daishowaka what it takes to get a nice, tight rikishi butt. The answer was “Do shiko”. So now you know.

Hero of the day, Kotoeko, practiced with Hakuyozan:

Here’s Aoiyama vs. Yutakayama and then Myogiryu.

Hakuho keeps that shiko going in the background.

Meisei practices with Shodai:

He is very active, and seems to have the upper hand, until Shodai just pulls him down. Meisei seems pretty frustrated at all that hard work going nowhere.

Takayasu does reverse butsukari with Nishikigi.

Reverse butsukari means no rolls. Nishikigi is actually very daring in that he takes Takayasu on a quick monkey walk there.

Takayasu practices with Shodai:

The same Shodai who frustrated Meisei earlier now takes his turn to be frustrated. Shodai has this problem in bouts with high-rankers. He is just not quite up to that level, and I think that frustrates him because he feels he should have been there by now.

Today’s lucky target of kawaigari is Asanoyama. I do not have footage of the kawaigari itself – but here is how Asanoyama looks at the end of it:

He takes a sip of water and a couple of breaths – and back he goes to the dohyo. Rest after a kawaigari? Not unless you passed out.

Fast-forward, and everybody gets cleaned and put on their best clothing. The top echelon get their picture taken in front of the venue:

Hakuho’s guest – the elderly man in the kimono – is Kimura Shonosuke the 35th, who retired in 2011 (and at the time, Hakuho invited him to sit in the yusho parade car). He is also a resident of Nobeoka.

Back inside, and we have the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And unsurprisingly, Shodai is being pushed around:

Looks like Takakeisho also got the Mitakeumi treatment. Mitakeumi is careful, though. Next basho they will be trading places. You don’t get on the bad side of someone who has a reasonable chance to be Ozeki in a couple of basho.

Bouts! Here is Daieisho vs. Aoiyama:

Aoiyama doesn’t waste time. BTW, take a look at that gyoji’s gunbai!

Yutakayama vs. Abi:

Boom! And Abi is not the sort of rikishi who hides his pain. 😝

Here is a summary of the day, including the special bout Kotoeko had with Endo. He also had an “official” bout with Daiamami a few moments later.

Endo is the king of Jungyo yaocho. He takes care to entertain the spectators, but never fails to lose to the local man.

Note Kotoeko’s tearful parents thanking everybody for coming to see their son. The Jungyo passed through this city 10 years ago, and at the time Kotoeko was just in Sandanme. So this time, returning as a sekitori was a big deal for both himself and his parents.

This is it. I’ll just pause to notice that Kotoeko’s heya mate, Kotoyuki, has been missing from the torikumi for the past couple of days. Yoshikaze is still not putting on his mawashi, and Hakuho still not doing torikumi.

So off we go to Kumamoto!

But didn’t I tell you that Hakuho chose to be in the back seat of the bus? What are they doing there, you may ask?

Well, there’s more than one bus. There are around 270 participants in an average Jungyo. And these Juryo guys are unlikely to be in the same bus as the boss.

So…. who shall we pick as our pin-up rikishi of the day? I couldn’t find a trace of Tobizaru. So how about his brother? Hidenoumi, your turn to shine!

OK, so maybe his little brother is a little prettier.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 5 (Dec 6)

🌐 Location: Beppu, Oita
😛 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We have only a short report today, and less goofy than the usual. But those who are new here are going to learn about kawaigari. Learning is a good thing, isn’t it?

So, let’s start in the morning. The first activity of the day is handshakes with the fans. Yoshikaze participates.

But notice that he does it in a yukata, which is rather unusual. Most of the rikishi do the handshakes in their practice mawashi. This tells us that not only is Yoshikaze off the torikumi, he is also not doing any keiko. One has to wonder what ails him, or rather, what is it that ails him enough not to do keiko, but still not enough to excuse himself from part or all of the Jungyo.

On the sidelines, we have Okinoumi doing some push-ups:

I think he is not quite up to par by military standards.

Next we have some moshi-ai bouts. First, Takakeisho vs. Daieisho, followed by Takakeisho vs. Onosho:

I wonder who it was who got tossed off the dohyo.

Next we have Abi vs. Onosho, followed by Abi vs. Ichinojo.

A direct push doesn’t work against the boulder, so Abi goes for a (somewhat crude) death spin.

Next up, Takayasu vs. Endo, then Takayasu vs. Tochiozan:

Tochinoshin with Ichinojo:

Oof, Ichinojo’s legs don’t look very pretty.

And neither does his sumo. 😩

Finally, the Yokozuna gets on the dohyo. This is significant, as up till now he didn’t do any on-dohyo activity. Well, technically he did some stretches and shiko at the corner of the dohyo, but that’s not something he really needs a dohyo for.

The Yokozuna – all of them – tend to scale their activity up through the Jungyo. There are different degrees of intensity. Doing basics is ground level. Then you have butsukari geiko (where you are the dominant), which is slightly higher (you have to use your feet and you get smashed in the chest). Then there is doing your own butsukari, and doing bouts with low and high ranking rikishi.

The Yokozuna is not yet on the torikumi list – the Musubi is between the two participating Ozeki – but he did start giving butsukari today. The pushing partner was Takakeisho.

Butsukari is a drill in which one side – usually higher-ranked – offers his chest, and the other side has to push him, again and again, all the way to the edge of the dohyo. If you succeed, you do a squat, and continue until the high-ranker decides you’ve had enough. If you fail, the dominant throws you on the floor, or he may choose to get you to walk around in what I call a “monkey walk” – it’s not exactly the same as suri-ashi, and the dominant usually has his hand on your neck to bend you down.

That’s the basics. But then there is kawaigari. Now, you wouldn’t know it from the NSK video above, but this was actually a kawaigari session.

A kawaigari session is butsukari with extra testosterone. On the dominant’s part, that is. It’s a show of dominance, and a serious challenge for the submissive. You get shouted at. And kicked. And your hair may be pulled, or your ass slapped. And all you can do is go “yes, sir”, “yes, sir”, and keep up. At some point you get exhausted. But you have to get up and keep going. You are not supposed to waste the time of the high-ranking rikishi who is giving you his precious attention.

This is a well known ritual in the sumo world. And watching it is not easy for newcomers. Though the original version is worse – it includes spits and hard beating with a bamboo stick. I’m told this still goes on today – though not in public. The public version is not really hazardous to one’s health.

Hakuho loves kawaigari. Having been a Yokozuna so long, nobody can give him one. But he can sure give it to others, they can’t refuse, and it’s considered an honor – while it makes it very clear who’s boss, which is exactly how the Yokozuna likes it. And so, you won a Yusho, young man? Get some “TLC” (that’s what “kawaigari” means) from the Yokozuna. Here is the extended version:

Hakuho is an excellent performer. He makes sure all of the spectators get a good view – standing at different edges of the dohyo each time. He gets more laughs than the shokkiri team – but also signals to the audience when to applaud the exhausted Komusubi. He kicks and growls – and makes sure that Takakeisho’s mawashi knot doesn’t come undone.

But this performance caused quite a stir with one faction of sumo fans – the so-called “Takanohana cultists” (not all Takanohana fans belong to this category). They – or rather, some of them, because I don’t believe anybody who has been a sumo fan for any serious length of time would be – were outraged by Hakuho’s “hideous” treatment of Takakeisho. “That man does not deserve to be a Yokozuna!”. “Why did the NSK censor all the kicking and hair pulling?”. “I really hope Takakeisho makes it through this Jungyo uninjured”. “Hakuho makes sure no young talent can rise in the sumo world”. Some even searched the Internet and found evidence that Harumafuji used to do the same! Those awful Mongolians!

That, my friends, is called “cherry picking”. Because the practice is quite widespread, and no, it’s not restricted to awful Mongolians. Here we have some kawaigari Goeido gave Hokutofuji in 2016.

I think Goeido has never been in Mongolia. Here is one Takayasu gave a youngster from his heya a few years back in a public training:

OK. Lesson over. Now, unlike those cultists, you’ll know a kawaigari when you see one.

I do not have much from the latter part of the day. I do have these two serious, stern-faced sekitori doing their dohyo-iri:

Who are we kidding? You think Abi can stay serious for more than two seconds?

Hey, concentrate on the dohyo-iri, Daddy-Long-Legs.

To wrap up, here is a pixie:

Enho is giving butsukari to one of the low-rankers. Thing is, Hakuho is on the dohyo, and seems to be saying something to his wee uchi-deshi, which gives Enho an expression which is completely incompatible with butsukari or sekitori dominance in general. 🤗

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 4 (Dec 5)

🌐 Location: Yukuhashi, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◽️◽️◽️

At this point in the Jungyo journey, all hell breaks loose as hitherto fairly unknown Sandanme rikishi Takataisho fails to arrive in the morning, and when his friends convince him to come, the chaperones notice, start questioning him, and… Takanoiwa exits the world of sumo, stage left.

Maybe that is the reason why social media coverage of this day is limited. Or maybe the fact that Yukuhashi is a fairly small town, but today’s event coverage will mostly be in photos rather than videos.

So, rikishi practice along the walls. Here is Ichinojo making a rubber strap wish it has never been born:

On day 3, we had ryuden princess-lifting Shobushi. Now the portable weight is utilized by Kagayaki – who prefers piggyback.

“Relax, will you? I’m just a 193cm tall rikishi, not the Tokyo Skytree!”

Well, riding piggyback on the back of one of the tallest rikishi seems to give Shobushi a serious fear of heights.

The previous day, we learned that Asakayama oyakata only accepts greetings from rikishi after they do some squatting with his favorite sack of salt. But apparently, some rikishi get a free pass:

“I’m sure I had a bag of salt here somewhere”
“I’m going to regard that as a joke… oyakata”

Gee, I wonder why that is.

Another person who exchanged greetings with the brass was Gokushindo.

If you’re wondering why Gokushindo would be all chummy with Izutsu oyakata, it’s probably to do with the fact that he was a longtime tsukebito of Kakuryu’s.

By the way, Izutsu is the only oyakata who sits in a chair in Jungyo. My guess is that this has to do with that hip he fractured after Hakuho dame-oshied Yoshikaze on top of him in 2016.

Speaking of Gokushindo, he, Nishikigi and Wakatakakage were all checking the torikumi plan for the day in peace and harmony…

…when all of a sudden Abi burst onto the scene.

Hey guys! Wassup? Whatcha’ll looking at? I wanna see!

Abi merely laid his dainty bear paws hands on Nishikigi’s back, and Gokushindo suddenly found himself splat against the wall.

Meanwhile, in the shitakubeya:

Kyonosato: “There is no possible way you can make me look more ridiculous after that silly ‘Wiggle the Wattle’ routine yesterday”

Narutaki: “Hold my beer”

“No, I mean literally, hold my beer. Now, you were saying?”

Here are some moshi-ai bouts:

And two Ozeki engaging in san-ban:

Hakuho keeps practicing below the dohyo. A middle-aged man in the crowd calls out “Hakuho, Gambare!…”

The Yokozuna turns around and shoots a smile at him. And that’s how you become a fansa-kami-sama (“God of fan service”).

As the sekitori get ready for their bouts, Enho seems to be deeply cogitating:

“So, this proves that f is differentiable at every point in this domain, so to calculate ∇f, let’s first do the partial derivative w.r.t. x₁. Good, now…”

In the previous report, I received complaints about the dearth of Abi. So, here you go. One high shiko coming up:

This preceded Abi’s bout with Nishikigi, a bout from which I only have this tantalizing photo:

From which we can draw two conclusions

  • Kimura Konosuke is diligent even in Jungyo events.
  • Abi is trying up Yotsu again.

Another tantalizing glimpse of a bout:

Tochinoshin is doing the Tochinoshin. Man, this is the musubi-no-ichiban. That’s a full sized bear Ozeki you have there, not a five-year-old playing Upsy-daisy!

So, let’s say our goodbyes to Yukuhashi. Our pinup rikishi is, once again, Wakatakakage:

Because even when he covers his freezing nipples, he manages to look totally cool.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 3 (Dec 4)

We interrupt the scandal to bring you some relaxing Jungyo stories.

🌐 Location: Kurume, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◾️◽️

The Jungyo continues its trail through Fukuoka. The rikishi start practicing around the venue. We have Ryuden pumping iron:

Or in this case, pumping Shobushi. The tweet, by the way, says “Oh, I want to be hugged by Ryuden princess-style!” – carrying a person in this position is called “Ohime-sama dakko” – “Princess-style hug”. Shobushi is the princess in this case.

On the first day, Terutsuyoshi was a good boy and didn’t touch Enho at all! But it seems that the phase of the moon changed, the monster is out and about:

Eventually, of course, Terutsuyoshi does end up with at least one hand on his favorite pixie:

Enho doesn’t seem to mind it too much, though. By the way, I was surprised to realize that Takarafuji is taller than Chiyoshoma. Proportions can be misleading. Of course, both look like giants next to the pixie pair.

Rikishi come to greet Asakayama oyakata (the oyakata formerly known as Kaio). He seems to have a little rule: You want to talk to me? Talk to that salt bag first!

Terutsuyoshi as all like “Are you kidding me? All I want is to say my greeting!”. Nevertheless…

Pump that salt! Mission accomplished, Terutsuyoshi can have a few words with the former Ozeki, and make his bow. All the while, Enho is waiting for his turn.

That is to say, he’s pumping that bag as well.

Many photos and videos we share with you actually come from the NSK’s social media. They get ther via the lovely NSK social media ladies:

Bearing in mind that these PR people are, indeed, ladies, there is no wonder we end up with the following Yokozuna practice video:

I’m sure videos like this increase the sales of hand fans at the concession stands at least threefold – even though it’s mid-winter.

Speaking of the Yokozuna, he and Takayasu were comparing their tegata print skills:

One set of paw prints, coming up!
You finished a stack? Hold my beer…

While the Yokozuna wins in the speed and quantity categories, Takayasu totally nails the cool category by getting retweeted by…

And Ms. Rowling wins by having Takayasu retweeting her, of course!

The participants in the Jungyo are the sekitori and their tsukebito. Now, the on-going scandals may make you think that being a tsukebito sucks rocks. The truth is, though, that it all depends on the master you serve. Some are abusive. Aminishiki was asked today (Dec. 7) about the Takanoiwa scandal, and said, among other things: “Your tsukebito is not your plaything. In exchange for helping you with the daily necessities of your career, you are supposed to guide and sort of ‘raise’ him”. Apparently, Aminishiki is not the only one in Isegahama who believes sekitori owe their tsukebito some coaching:

Takarafuji’s tsukebito is Sakurafuji. And Takarafuji gives him both some general tips:

…and actual hands-on practice:

Sakurafuji doesn’t look too miserable being Takarafuji’s tsukebito.

Meanwhile, on the dohyo, there’s some butsukari taking place between moshi-ai sessions:

Here is some Juryo moshi-ai:

Hakuyozan • Kotoeko • Daishoho • Shimanoumi • Wakatakakage

Interesting to note that they have a short shikiri between the bouts. They don’t just go down and tachiai. So here is some Makuuchi moshi-ai:

Takakeisho • Myogiryu • Yutakayama • Kagayaki

Practice time over, the Yokozuna leaves the building, but doesn’t forget his fansa:

Before we turn to the dohyo-iri, let’s take a look at one of the back rooms. Apparently, the rikishi have changed their favorite game this Jungyo.

Narutaki, Mutsukaze, Kyonosato

In the previous Jungyo, it was “Nip the Nipple”. This Jungyo they have switch to the less-painful “Wiggle the Wattle”.

And Kyonosato does have a considerable wattle.

And this leads us right to the dohyo-iri, where Onosho decides to play “Wiggle the Wattle” with Chiyomaru:

Last chance to see Takanoiwa signing autographs.

Dohyo-iri over, and the Yokozuna is also done with his.

I dunno. Takarafuji looks completely out of place in that scene.

It’s bout time. I don’t have many bouts, but I do have this:

Apparently, in Jungyo, Kotoshogiku still entertains the spectators with his back bend.

Shohozan, at this point sitting beside the dohyo as his turn is two bouts later, is apparently impressed, because…

…he totally steals the move.

The only bout of which I have footage is… guess… Enho! He is facing Chiyonoumi.

And Enho does his famous… tsuppari? Tsuppari? Enho?

Well, the Jungyo is the right place to try new stuff, I guess. But Chiyonoumi is all like “Thanks for the gift, man. You do know that tsuki-oshi is my specialty, right?” – and unceremoniously tosses the pixie off the dohyo.

Practice makes perfect, though, Enho.

Time for our pin-up rikishi of the day. And by special request…

Shucks. Golly. Am I on camera?

Um, nope. I’m not going to close a post with Akiseyama. Un-uh.

Now that’s more like it.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 2 (Dec 3)

Nice, fluffy zabuton… Too bad there is no chance of kinboshi

🌐 Location: Nogata, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

So, having only left it a few days ago, the rikishi find themselves back in Fukuoka. Well, not in the city of Fukuoka, but in the prefecture. Today’s event in Nogata is sponsored by Mochikichi, a long-time sponsor. So the event is called “Mochikichi basho”, and in exchange, the spectators get fluffier zabuton, yay!

A day before the event, while the rikishi were still in Nagasaki, two yobidashi were already in Nogata, to let everybody know that Grand Sumo is in town:

The sign reads “Coming up – Nihon Sumo Kyokai – Tomorrow”

This is called “furedaiko”. The yobidashi also stopped and let people know what important torikumi to expect.

This tradition comes from the Edo period – when they would do these rounds from morning till evening on the day before the competition. Too bad they are doing it in front of a virtually empty mall here.

The next day, rikishi arrive at the venue – including one king and his entourage (Yokozuna frequently have special accommodation arrangements so they arrive separately from the buses).

Note that the impressive regal arrival is somewhat marred by the fact that the royal person has to lean on Kasugaryu’s arm to walk to the venue. Hakuho is certainly not in a good condition. Take a look at the scars from his operation. The leg doesn’t look swollen or anything – but still, he leans on Kasugaryu.

“Ooh, amusing salt!” (He is actually talking to Kokonoe oyakata)

Hakuho took time to practice as much as he could, though.

Of course you know that the poor tsukebito on the bottom right is going to be in serious pain in a minute or so.

There were people other than Hakuho around the dohyo, though. For example, one smiling Yusho winner:

If you want to get a big smile from Takakeisho, just put him next to Daieisho.

Hakuho and Takakeisho also paid a visit to a shrine earlier on, and poured water on a “Jizou” – a protector Bodhisattva – for good fortune:

Back in the venue, here is shodai with a group of future rikishi:

The spectators seem to be younger and younger each Jungyo.

Let’s look at some practice bouts, shall we? Starting with Ishiura vs. Wakatakakage:

I guess he saves the henka for torikumi time. Next up – Nishikigi vs. Shohozan:

You’ll notice the bout is over before it’s technically over. This is part of moshi-ai, and I guess nobody wants to waste time on nearly-hopeless tawara dances. Shohozan had him in a very firm morozashi.

Up next, the tadpole buddies, Takakeisho and Onosho:

Remember when Onosho was the stronger one of the two?

It’s lunch time, and we have Wakamotoharu in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Chanko.

I wonder if those are for him, or if he’s taking one for his brother. Or maybe, both are for Wakatakakage. After all – sekitori eat first.

Dohyo-iri time, and Tamawashi, as usual, can’t keep his hands to himself:

Surprisingly, this gives Hokutofuji, who is right behind him, an idea what to do with his own arms:

Aha, Tamawashi! See how that feels?

Moving on to bout time, and here are a couple of diligent emergency rescue team members:

OK, maybe not so diligent. But the sign behind them definitely says they are the emergency rescue team members. Anybody feels like being rescued by Abi (わら)?

I have a couple of half-bouts to share. Sorry, apparently this sumo fan doesn’t think a tachiai is an important part of a sumo bout. 🙁

Kotoshogiku vs. Endo:

Once again, Endo gets to face the local favorite. Kotoshogiku doesn’t even have to engage in chug mode.

Shohozan vs. Takakeisho:

Hey, isn’t that the same morozashi Shohozan practice in that keiko match vs. Nishikigi earlier? Takakeisho tries the arm lock, but to no avail.

This next one is actually a Juryo bout, but I saved it for last, because, well, wow. Presenting Enho vs. Takekaze:

Wow. Just, Wow. In the last measurement, Enho weighed 97kg. Takekaze was 150kg.

And so, the Nogata event ends, and all the rikishi go back on their buses:

What, did you think I’d leave you without any pin-up rikishi for the day? That wouldn’t do. Here is Tobizaru, and he is, apparently, hot.

Note: My schedule has been taken over by, well, life. So don’t expect the next installment before Friday. Thank you for your patience!