Summary of the Meeting of the Board of Directors of the NSK, Nov. 30


Yesterday, Nov. 30, the NSK Board of Directors held its regular meeting. In addition to run-of-the-mill stuff like the creation of a new heya, much of the discussion was around matters related to the Harumafuji scandal.

press-conference-nov-30

The board of directors finally succeeded in securing Takanohana’s cooperation with the crisis committee’s investigation. Takanohana claimed that cooperating with them will interfere with the police investigation. The board contacted the Tottori police by phone, and were told that the matter is left to their discretion. Eventually Takanohana agreed to cooperate once the police investigation is complete. The police is expected to hand its report to the prosecutor in mid-December. So the crisis committee expects to interview Takanoiwa and prepare a final report by December 20th. At that time, irregular meetings of both the YDC and the NSK board will be held, and further decisions will be made.

The decisions are not expected to relate to Harumafuji himself, as he is no longer an employee of the NSK.

Hakuho and his stablemaster, Miyagino oyakata, were called in to the meeting, and reprimanded severely for Hakuho’s conduct – the “matta” protest, the contents of his yusho speech, and the “banzai”.

Another decision was related to a publication in Shukkan Shincho (a weekly magazine) which claimed that Mongolian rikishi were exchanging Yaocho among themselves. The NSK will file a complaint against the magazine.

It was decided that since Takanohana is deeply involved in the current issue, he will sit out the Winter Jungyo, and Kasugano oyakata will take his place.

The crisis committee presented an interim report. They still need to interview Takanoiwa, but having interviewed everybody else involved, they believe the content is pretty much established. Following the board meeting, a press conference was held and the details of the interim report were presented.

Details of the assault

  • On October 25th, a dinner party was held by associates of the Tottori Johoku High School, to support their graduates. The dinner party included Hakhuo, Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takanoiwa, Ishiura, and people from Tottory Johoku high. This was not a Mongolian-only meeting nor was it intended as such.
  • In the dinner party itself, Hakuho took issue with Takanoiwa regarding rude behavior he exhibited in September at some restaurant in Tokyo. In this instance, Harumafuji defended Takanoiwa and the matter was dropped.
  • Harumafuji usually had a soft spot for Takanoiwa, who has lost both his parents, because he himself lost his father. He would give him advice, buy him meals etc.
  • The after-party, which took place in another venue – a private room in a lounge bar – included most of the participants in the dinner party.
  • At the after-party, Hakuho started lecturing to Terunofuji and Takanoiwa that they should be dutifully thankful to their high school for their ability to do sumo.
  • Takanoiwa began fiddling with his smartphone. Harumafuji berated him for doing that in the middle of Hakuho’s speech. Takanoiwa answered “It’s mail from my girlfriend” with a wry smile. This angered Harumafuji, and he slapped Takanoiwa on his face once.
  • Takanoiwa returned a defiant stare and did not apologize. At this point Harumafuji proceeded to slap him about 10 times, and added a few hits to the head with the karaoke remote control, demanding the apology.
  • Harumafuji picked up a bottle of champagne and raised it above his head, but it slipped and fell. He did not hit Takanoiwa with a bottle,  did not attempt to throw any other object at him, and did not straddle him at any point.
  • Hakuho stepped in, and the beating stopped.
  • Harumafuji drank sake on that occasion, but was not heavily drunk, and has full memory of the entire affair. There is no evidence of bad drunken behavior on his part on previous occasions.
  • The result of the beating was an injury which required the use of a skin stapler.
  • According to the hospital that issued the medical certificate, it is doubtful that there was a skull fracture or a leakage of cranial fluid. [Note: this could also be translated as “there was a suspicion of fracture/leakage”. Choose your version.]
  • The medical certificate included a rest period of two weeks which was supposed to be from October 26th through November 8th, and he was released on November 9th after the hospital was satisfied with his state of health.

This summary is based on several news outlets, primarily:

Don’t Pin The Blame On Alcohol


On the third day of the Kyushu basho, when the news hit us that Harumafuji had beaten up Takanoiwa, I – like many sumo fans around the world – was shocked to the core.

harumafuji-press-conference

There are not many rikishi at the top of the sport whose perceived character is so far away from “violent drunkard” as Harumafuji’s was. This man was known for helping old ladies with their baggage, for being nice to children, for making himself available to fans. He was known for his habit of embracing his opponents after a yori-kiri, to prevent them from injuring themselves falling off the dohyo, and for being generous with his advice to young wrestlers as well as tough opponents. And he was also known for his responsibility to his rank, as demonstrated when he persisted in the Aki basho despite injuries and serial losses, because he was the sole Yokozuna in attendance.

How does one reconcile this image with that of a violent rampage in a bar? Many of us assumed that it was the alcohol. It’s not unheard of for people with good self-control to become violent under the influence. In one of my comments, I compared Harumafuji to Hercules: Hercules, who was a strong but gentle person, was struck by madness and killed his wife and kids. When the madness left him, he had to face what his own hands had wrought.

This was a fine picture to paint, but it left us with the puzzle of why the Yokozuna did nothing once the hangover was gone. Where was that famous sense of responsibility? How could he proceed in doing Yokozuna dohyo-iri while he knew that he committed an act of violence that was no less severe than the one that caused Asashoryu to retire? Was Harumafuji really such a cynical hypocrite?

Bruce suggested that the Yokozuna offered to resign but was denied until the NSK could think of the best solution. This, too, didn’t feel right to me. The worst time for any scandal to break is in the middle of a basho. If he had reported it at the end of the Jungyo, I would have expected the NSK to handle matters at least partially before the basho, and to at least instruct him to go kyujo and make himself scarce from the beginning to the end of the basho.

Another puzzling aspect was that it seems his answers to the police questioning were detailed and coherent. To me that seemed beyond the capability of a brain soaked in so much alcohol as to cause a man to entirely forget his values.

Earlier today, the Yokozuna and his visibly weeping stablemaster held a press conference, which shed some light on some of these questions.

When asked about the reason for the violence, Harumafuji said: “I feel that it is the duty of a sempai and a Yokozuna to correct low-ranking rikishi’s manners and conduct. In scolding him, I injured him, and this brought mayhem and trouble for everybody involved.”

When asked why he then continued in his daily life as if nothing has happened, he replied “I didn’t know that this would get to the papers. Takanoiwa came later to apologize. I told him to be thankful he has a big brother to guide him, and told him to take care and work hard, and we parted with a handshake. I didn’t think the matter would go any further than that.”

Both Isegahama and Harumafuji stressed that this was not caused by drunkenness. Isegahama said that he has never seen or heard rumor of Harumafuji being violent when drinking. Harumafuji repeated the same: “I have never hurt anybody or acted violently when I drank, and I have never been told that I act badly when drunk.”

Later the same day, Demon Kakka was asked to comment to the press about the Harumafuji resignation.

demon-kakka

Demon Kakka (formerly Demon Kogure) is this flamboyant rocker, who is known for always being in character, and for being a huge sumo fan. He is a popular sumo commentator. Some of you may have seen him in various sumo TV shows, including the “Sunday Sports” program in which he interviewed Harumafuji after the yusho he won in the last Aki basho.

Kakka gave the press the straight dope:  After saying that in his personal opinion, he would have preferred Harumafuji not to retire, he then continued: “In the sumo world the tradition of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ is still entrenched. Harumafuji must be thinking: ‘Why am I being singled out about something everybody is doing’? The fact that this tradition is considered obvious in the sumo world makes the current problem a structural issue. Times have changed. The Yokozuna’s retirement is not going to solve the problem. The sumo world needs to think up ways to bring up its rikishi other than the current merciless system”.

Kakka has a point there. Take the case of Kasugano oyakata, who disciplined Tochinoshin and two other wrestlers by beating them with golf club in October 2011, for repeated violations of the dress and curfew code. After matters became public (because of an anonymous tip to the police), he admitted to “going to far”, apologized, got severely reprimanded by the NSK… And Tochinoshin and the two others apologized and were disciplined (in a more humane manner). He now serves as the head of the NSK public relations department.

Why should Harumafuji have thought that he would end up any differently? The picture now becomes much clearer. He didn’t actually think he did something as bad as Asashoryu. Asashoryu attacked a man who was not related to the sumo world. This is something that Harumafuji would never do. But Harumafuji thought that he was “doing it for Takanoiwa’s own good”. It’s not violence if it’s education, and it’s not education without violence, as Kakka said. And apparently Takanoiwa also accepted those terms. The Yokozuna did not think he did something a Yokozuna shouldn’t do until the matter hit the papers. Even after that, he was quoted as saying that “the one thing that he didn’t want to do was to retire”, continued to practice every day, and even announced that he will be kyujo for the jungyo. These are the acts of someone who believes he has at least some hope of keeping his rope and his hairdo.

It was not until the YDC made its “dealt with with utmost severity” statement that the Yokozuna realized that his act is not going to be treated like the Kasugano case, and had to offer his resignation hurriedly before the deliberations of the Banzuke committee.


Details of the press conference: NHK (Japanese)

Demon Kakka interview: Sponichi

 

Harumafuji Scandal Development


Hakuho

There has been another development in the Harumafuji scandal today. While speaking to the press, key witness Yokozuna Hakuho stated that there was a bottle involved in the incident, but it was not used in the assault on Takanoiwa.

横綱・白鵬が取材に応じ、「やってはいけないことで、手を出したのは事実です。私もその場にいたわけだし、相撲界として世間に本当に申し訳ない気持ちでいっぱいだ。報道されているようにビール瓶で殴っていたわけではありません。ビール瓶は持ちましたが、手から滑り落ちそのあとに私が間に入って部屋から連れ出しました」

Hakuho noted that Harumafuji had been holding a beer bottle before the altercation, but it slipped from his hand before Hakuho separated him from Takanoiwa. The Dai-Yokozuna also expressed his sorrow for not stepping in and breaking up the fight sooner, and apologized to sumo fans for the entire incident.

Former Yokozuna Asashoryu has also remarked on the incident and stated via his Twitter account that there was no bottle involved in the conflict.

モンゴル出身の元横綱朝青龍もツイッターで「ビール瓶で殴ってないらしいよ」

Despite this claim, there has yet to be any proof that Asashoryu was present at the scene of the event on October 26th, and could be basing his opinion on second-hand knowledge.

This development raises the question of how Takanoiwa could have been seriously injured without the use of a weapon. Hakuho’s word is highly respected in the sumo world, but should evidence come forward that the night’s events were drastically different than how he described them he could find himself in hot water as well. Tachiai will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Link to the NHK article:

Day 2 – Slip Slidin’ Away


aminishiki-2017-11-day-02
The Battle of the Tsuyuharai

Before we turn to Aminishiki, who is still carrying Isegahama beya on his shoulders all alone (well, Homarefuji also won today), let’s drop and visit one of our favorites down in Makushita.

Yes. Unfortunately, Tokoryu was not letting the boy wonder outdo him. Hakuho’s pretty uchi-deshi tastes his first defeat.

In my personal watch list of Naruto beya – Torakio wins, Sumidagawa lost yesterday to Ezuka, who is a third of his size. Gap starts to open?


So, back up to Makuuchi. Nishikigi shows good fighting spirit and pushes Ishiura’s face with his lower arm several times. Ishiura, on the other hand, shows why he is in Juryo. Something is not working there.

Takekaze gets Kotoyuki down, stumbles over him, and both fall awkwardly below the dohyo. Takekaze seems to be OK, but Kotoyuki limping. Unfortunately, it’s not the worst injury of the day. Following the Aminishiki-Kagayaki bout, we have Aoiyama vs. Okinoumi. Aoiyama somehow damages his foot against the tawara, and ends up in the dreaded giant wheelchair. Following the doctor’s check, his stablemaster says that he hurt his heel, and that there was a “snapping sound”. This does not bode well for the Bulgarian.

This is not basho-related, but if we’re in the hospital already, the NSK finally released the reason for Takanoiwa’s kyujo, and it sounds very unpleasant: Concussion, ear canal inflammation, skull fracture, and a suspicion of cranial fluid leakage. For some unfathomable reason, the press says the expected recovery time is two weeks. From a skull fracture? Hmmm. Wishes of health go out to Kotoyuki, Aoiyama and Takanoiwa.

So, rewind a bit to the battle of the Tsuyuharai. That is, Kagayaki is Kisenosato’s tsuyuharai, whereas Aminishiki continues to serve as Harumafuji’s tsuyuharai, despite the fact that it strains his knees and ankles, and that it leaves him precious little time to get ready for his bouts. An honor is an honor. And anyway, he doesn’t seem to be affected by it too much, and might be running out of Yokozuna pretty soon the way things look up the banzuke. The torikumi itself was pretty short: Uncle chose to rise high at the tachiai to match Kagayaki’s height, and already had a grip in preparation whilst rising. Then it was left, down, and 2-0.

Endo and Kaisei take some time to fight over their mawashi grips, when Endo decides he has had enough, pulls on the one side of Kaisei’s mawashi he has a firm grip on, and twists him down. Shitatehineri. Nice!

Chiyomaru seems to have had a good night sleep, and came back with his usual genki today. Slap-slappity-slap, grab, push, and out with Daieisho.

Chiyoshoma on the other hand, makes the mistake of retreating after a good tachiai vs. Shodai, tries to grab something for one of his throws, but runs out of dohyo doing so.

Chiyonokuni loses by slippiotoshi – not the last one of the day – to Arawashi. Today was not a very good day for Kokonoe, either. But really, their fare is better than Isegahama…

What mode did Ichinojo boot up in for this basho? What a lovely bout against Takarafuji. Shoulder blast at the tachiai, a combination of oshi and yotsu zumo, some patience, and a couple of gaburi to put the Isegahama man out. As a general Isegahama fan this makes me a bit sad, but on the other hand, I really like Ichinojo. Especially when he’s wide awake.

OK, we’re up in the sanyaku. Hokutofuji looks convincing vs. Mitakeumi. Or is it that Mitakeumi is all… fishy…? Sorry, but that man’s face…

The ghost of Terunofuji tries to do all sorts of things with Shohozan, but, quite expectedly, fails. Shohozan is kind enough not to push the ailing Kaiju off the dohyo.

Chiyotairyu drops the lid on Yoshikaze‘s hopes to make an Ozeki run.

Goeido. Well, Goeido. That is, Goeido. He does to Kotoshogiku exactly what Harumafuji did to him in the playoff match in Aki. Simply prevents the henka and pushes the local man out so quickly he doesn’t know what hit him. Well, it was Goeido, Giku-zeki. He studied the monitor well and probably watched that match dozens of times since. The way Goeido looks right now, Hakhuo can start worrying.

Takayasu is back. Blast, push, and Tochiozan learns the pain of the joi. So, you’re saying the man from Tagonoura was injured? When was that?

And now we’re into the Yokozuna. And… when was the last time Harumafuji had two black stars from day one? The answer is Natsu 2010. Never as a Yokozuna, of course. He tried to tackle Takakeisho. Once. Didn’t work. Twice. Didn’t work. Third time… and he ran out of clay. Takakeisho was benevolent enough to pull him in so he will not roll off the dohyo (this is the real meaning of karma, by the way). The Yokozuna has as much chance of becoming a dai-yokozuna as I have of becoming a Japanese…

The bout between Kisenosato and Onosho was, in Onosho’s words, “Not what I thought it would be”. It looked a bit like a cartoon character starting to run, with feet shuffling but no forward motion. Big, big, slippiotoshi, and all Kisenosato had to do was let him fall in a way that could be called a kimarite.

kisenosato-2017-11-day-02
Slippiotoshi, reverse angle

The Japanese broadcaster said he did a “left ottsuke”. Anybody see an ottsuke there? Because I don’t. I see a man falling down.

Finally, Hakuho back in the musubi-no-ichiban. Slips in his usual face slap. Disengages for a second, and before Tamawashi can think of anything, shows him the way out.

hakuho-2017-11-day-02
Get out, trespasser!

So, two days go by. Maybe we’ll see a yusho playoff between Hakuho, Goeido, and, er… Aminishiki? Nah, I’m just jinxing him talking like that. Seriously, though, Hakuho, Goeido and Takayasu are currently the only dominant-looking rikishi on the clay.

 

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who Is The Genkiest Of Them All?


I had a feeling of déjà vu as I watched the opening day today. It looked like the Nagoya basho all over again. Yokozuna falling left and right, Terunofuji looking like a ghost. And one Lord of the Ring.

hakuho-2017-11-day-01
The boss, under pressure

But do I detect a worried look on the face of the King of Kings?

Hakuho was very careful and kept his pelvis about a meter away from Kotoshogiku’s. The man in the blue mawashi did try one gaburi before he realized that he had nothing but Hakuho’s classical Mongolian wrestling grip – all upper body – and from there it was only a matter of hakuho getting his hands sorted for a throw.

What pain in his body has given him that worried look, we’ll never know.

Moving to the less pleasant yokozuna stories. It was every bit as painful to see Harumafuji as I thought it would be. His shikiri/salt throwing routine was slow, heavy and stiff. His tachiai was slow, heavy and stiff. If it was just his elbow that didn’t work, well, an injury is an injury. But my favorite Yokozuna’s whole body is screaming for retirement. Onosho, of course, is not taking any prisoners. The only positive thing that can be said about this bout from the Yokozuna’s perspective is that it was short.

Kisenosato’s bout, with all its mattas, was pretty strange. I would have thought that the big, experienced man would have at least the same composure as Takayasu has shown, but his nerves were all over the dohyo.

At some point in the bout Kisenosato pushed Tamawashi away, and then seemed to be surprised that Tamawashi came back as strong as he did. In fact, as soon as they re-engaged Kisenosato didn’t stand a chance. What the injured Yokozuna has going for him at the moment is a great angle on the Tachiai (which was somewhat neutralized by all the mattas and nerves), and excellent balance. But at the point they re-engaged, it was in a standing position with no angle of attack advantage, and Tamawashi wasn’t going for anything that would require unbalancing the Yokozuna. Just applying power where the Yokozuna couldn’t answer.

Bruce has already said all that there was to say about the Goeido bout. I still maintain that in their Aki bout, Goeido lost by slippiotoshi and bad state of mind. Takakeisho is not a quick thinker or a sly planner. Goeido simply used him as a slider today.

Takayasu is one guy who doesn’t just say that he’s cool. When he says it, he means it. He simply doesn’t stress too much about his kadoban. He opened with his signature shoulder blast, and once he got that out of the way he didn’t shy away from a sidestep and an easy win.

On to Terunofuji. Well no, on second thought, let’s pretend that Terunofuji is not in this basho. How did that man succeed in damaging his knees that thoroughly in less than a month? When he joined the jungyo he looked sharp and strong. That Utchari! And then he managed to overdo it so badly that he is hardly able to move, much less threaten his opponents.

It really was a bad day for Isegahama. With the exception of Uncle “Who Needs Ligaments Or Tendons” Aminishiki, not a single sekitori from that heya won. At least most of their lower-level rikishi won, including our favorite Shunba:

shunba
Obamaumi rising after Shunba’s Tsukiotoshi

The situation is very similar for Kokonoe. With the exception of Chiyoshoma’s excellent katasukashi, all their sekitori lost their bouts. It was Chiyoshoma’s 8th katasukashi, by the way. The thin thewy thug thrives on thrilling throws.

Poor Chiyonokuni was just unlucky to face Ichinojo on one of the rare occasions he comes out of hibernation. But what happened to Chiyomaru? The fire in his eyes seems to have gone out. Yes, it’s lovely that Endo is back, but at least give the man a fight!

Now, what about the Yokozuna’s favorite toy, Asanoyama? One thing that I noticed about his rather quick bout today was that he used hidari-yotsu. That’s not his favorite grip. But he did get to practice it a lot in his bouts with Kisenosato during the Jungyo. The fruits of Yokozuna love?

I liked Nishikigi’s bout with Daiamami. It’s not often that you get to see a good mawashi fight that low down the banzuke.

Here are a couple of Makuuchi dropouts. I mean, potential come-back men. Start with Ishiura. Um, forget about the comeback. But at least he didn’t try a henka.

And here’s Yutakayama. He is said to be Asanoyama’s rival, but despite the win, what a difference of level:

Now, who will get an oicho-mage first? Asanoyama or Yutakayama? That’s a point on which Yutakayama may actually stand a chance…


In news unrelated to the basho: Ura’s “people in charge” officially made it known that he’ll have his operation and rehabilitation.

Ura Gets The Chair
No more of this, please.

As it turned out, during the pre-basho practice, he tried to practice with a brace etc., and caused himself serious damage including an internal hemorrhage, and couldn’t even walk. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way, I guess. They are optimistic about his recovery chances after that operation. Go Ura! Listen to the doctors!

Final Jungyo Newsreel – October 29th


🌐 Location: Fukuyama

Today we bid farewell to the 2017 Aki Jungyo!

Aminishiki's Akeni
Aminishiki’s Akeni. It has seen some history, and will see more.

The event at Fukuyama has been the last of the Aki Jungyo, and now the (about) 160 participating rikishi are heading straight to Fukuoka, where they’ll join the waiting low division rikishi who were busy preparing lodgings and equipment for the past week or so.

The Jungyo day itself started with heavy rain, carried over by the most recent typhoon. Despite the rain, the local fans filled the venue:

(NHK)

They got to see some very energetic practices, including Hakuho doing both reverse and straight butsukari (and getting pushed off the dohyo, much to his embarrassment).

All Yokozuna were eager to leave a strong impression, and made statements to the press either yesterday or today.

Harumafuji

In yesterday’s practice session, Harumafuji was working on his Tachiai with Chiyoshoma, launching himself at his fellow Mongolian partner 11 times. The next one was so powerful, Chiyoshoma was blown away and nearly fell off the dohyo.

haruma-saves-chiyoshoma
Typical Harumafuji reaction

But Harumafuji doesn’t like to see people hurt, so he grabbed Chiyoshoma by the arm before he started to take off, and made sure he stayed put.

“Just practicing the basics,” said the Yokozuna.

Nobody can overlook the fact that the Yusho winner, although he clocked in every day, did not participate in the bouts and did very little on-dohyo practice during the Jungyo. “I’m concentrating on the Kyushu basho,” was the Yokozuna’s response.

Kakuryu

“Yes, of course I’ll fully participate,” answered Kakuryu decisively when asked about the Kyushu basho.

kakuryu-butsukari
Kakuryu doing butsukari

The Yokozuna who has been vigorously practicing since the beginning of the Jungyo says he is feeling positive about the state of his health. He intends to engage in degeiko with some of his potential rivals before the honbasho. “I’ll do what I have to do. The important thing is to get into the right flow in the basho”.

Kisenosato

“I’ll be in the basho from day 1. That’s obvious,” was Kisenosato’s statement.

kise-no-practice

The newest Yokozuna did not practice on the dohyo every day of the Jungyo, but on the days he did, he showed signs of improvement both to his upper left side and to his left ankle. But his own statement was (as usually, I must say) somewhat vague: “A lot has happened in the past month. There were typhoons. And I got called to do dohyo-iri in various places, which is something I can’t always do. It was very different from the previous Jungyos I participated in.” More specifically about his health and participation in the basho: “I have been able to work my entire body patiently. As a rikishi, it’s obvious I have to participate in the basho, and I want to get results.”

Hakuho

hakuho-salting
Sodium Chloride Galore

“Be sure to remind me every 50 days!” reacted the dai-yokozuna when told yesterday that the Olympic games start in 1000 days. He reasserted his wish to perform a dohyo-iri in the Tokyo games. When asked about the next basho and his chances for his 40th yusho, he replied brightly “I’m doing swimmingly”.

Today he toned down his replies a little bit. “I joined the jungyo in the middle, and gradually improved my body and my dohyo-sense. My wish was to end the Jungyo in the best shape. I’d like to mark myself a 100, but I can only give myself 50.”

“As the senior yokozuna, I felt sometimes that I was able to lead and pull my convalescent junior fellow yokozuna forward,” he added with satisfaction.


Regarding his recent sodium habit, watch Goeido cover his head as Hakuho rains fire and brimstone – OK, just salt – all over the place:


Bouts

As they have done before in Tokyo, today the Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita rikishi wrestled in elimination format rather than the usual torikumi.

In Jonidan, Teraoumi (Of Shikoroyama beya) won, beating Motokiyama (Tamanoi) in the final.

For Sandanme, the winner was Takatenshu (Takanohana), who beat Kotodairyu (Sadogatake) in the final.

And the Makushita winner was Akinohana (Takadagawa), who beat Terao (Shikoroyama) in the final.

Of the sekitori bouts, all I have is, as usual, the musubi:

Hakuho 10 – Kisenosato 4. Trust Hakuho to reach double figures in two weeks.

Jungyo Newsreel – October 26th


🌐 Location: Tottori

Limelight bathing Ishiura and Terunofuji

Today the Jungyo landed in the one prefecture in Japan where nobody is going to tell Terunofuji to “Go back to Mongolia”.

The true Tottori Shushin is, of course, Ishiura. And the official news sources (such as there were) gave him preference, as you can see in this video:

(Asahi shimbun)

Ishiura: “The last time I was on a Jungyo in the Tottory prefecture, I was in the Juryo division. I’m happy to be here now as a Makuuchi wrestler. I felt invigorated here today, and I repaid by doing good sumo”.

As you can see in this video, there are some serious wanpaku wrestlers (child wrestlers – these were all primary or secondary school children, so no more than 15 years old!) in Tottori. I think it actually wasn’t fair to counter by tsuppari to the face, because that’s forbidden in wanpaku sumo (only allowed to professionals).

Ishiura wasn’t taking any risks wrestling with those kids himself, and left the hard work to a sekiwake, opting to play the gyoji:

ishiura-not-taking-risks

Whoa.

But he did win his bout with Takekaze today by Okuridashi.

Edit: A video with some bouts materialized! Ishiura cleared of henka charges!

This also allows us to keep up the tally: Hakuho 7 : Kisenosato 4!

Edit2: A full video of the Kisenosato/Hakuho bout, full version including chikara-mizu and full shikiri, plus yumitori at the end:

The chikara-mizu also tells us that Kakuryu has beaten Goeido (and that Terunofuji also won, but we knew that from the previous video).

Ishiura-Takekaze including tachiai (different angle):


So why did I open with Terunofuji? While the official channels celebrated Ishiura, most tweets I found were more around the theme of “Terunofuji is back! And he’s genki!”. “It was great to see Teru again!” and so on.

The Tottori crowd considers Terunofuji to be a local, as he started his career in the famous sumo program of the Tottori Johoku high school, headed by none other than Ishiura’s father. It was Ishiura senior who noticed the young kaiju’s unbelievable strength, and advised him “If your opponents get a grip on your mawashi, bear-hug them”.

Terunofuji was in a bright mood, and practiced with Shodai and Daieisho. Here you can see him in a reverse butsukari:

terunofuji-reverse-butsukari

And here, in what seems to be a rather painful (for Daieisho) uwatenage. Notice the rapt attention on the faces of Takarafuji and Onosho:

terunofuji-uwatenage

His bout of the day is also included in the second video above, as is Takanoiwa’s, who was also in the same school (Ichinojo, too, but he is currently off the Jungyo).

Interviews

To compensate for the complete lack of bout information (in the first version of this post), here are some Jungyo interviews (these are from the beginning of the Jungyo, but surfaced on Twitter only today):

Kisenosato

Q: Do you feel pride for being the only Japanese-born Yokozuna?

A: Being a Yokozuna, one usually has both self-awareness and self-confidence to wrestle steadfastly and produce results.

Q: You won the All-Japan Rikishi Championship tournament on October 2nd. What is your response?

A: It was only hana-zumo, but I am happy I produced a good result. I want to steadily develop a winning habit.

Q: You had to go kyujo in the middle of the Nagoya basho, and did not participate in the Aki basho at all. What are your feeling as you head towards the Kyushu basho?

A: I want to take the challenge of the honbasho by working on tuning my condition and my rhythm, and increasing my power during the Jungyo.

Harumafuji

haruma-interview
There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is!

(I think he’s the only Yokozuna ever to have his interview accompanied by a picture with a towel on his head. To compare, Kisenosato’s picture was one with his oicho-mage)

Q: You were the only Yokozuna to ascend the dohyo in the Aki basho. Did you feel any pressure?

A: I concentrated on doing my bouts one at a time. During the playoff bout I felt nothing but fighting spirit.

Q: Tell us about about your readiness for the Kyushu basho

A: There is still some time before the basho, and my wish is to work slowly and diligently, listening to my body, towards the basho.

Q: Do you enjoy anything about the Jungyo?

A: It’s a good opportunity to raise the knowledge of sumo among the fans. I would like everybody to enjoy the atmosphere of the Jungyo where, unlike honbasho, you can take pictures and get in contact with the wrestlers.

Asanoyama

Q: The Aki basho was your 10th straight kachi-koshi. What were your feelings as you faced it?

A: As always, I faced is as a challenger. I think that may have brought me the special prize.

Q: Aren’t you under pressure to improve your kachi-koshi record in the kyushu basho?

A: I intend to face the challenge with all my heart, not giving up regardless of the results.

Endo

Q: After having undergone surgery in July in your left ankle, you ended up with a double-figure winning record in the Aki basho. How did you control your feelings?

A: I did not recover completely before the basho. I am glad that I could relax well enough to be able to wrestle without worsening my condition.

Q: Are you aware of the common opinion that you have a beautiful shiko?

A: I don’t try to perform it in an especially pretty way. My shiko now is the same as I was taught when I was a boy.

Chiyomaru

Q: Your little brother is also an active rikishi. What kind of an influence does that have on you?

A: I want to be better than my little brother, so I regard him as a rival.

Q: Do you feel the weight of the “Chiyo” in your shikona?

A: I was very happy when I was given my shikona. I finally felt that I was truly a member of the Kokonoe beya, and this motivated me.

Onosho

Q: How do you feel about having the Jungyo in Chiba, where your heya is located?

A: I feel stimulated by the support of the local people.

Q: Many people don’t know how to pronounce your shikona. What do you feel about that name?

A: I feel I was given a good name. I’ll gambarize to make more people remember my name.