It’s the last few days before the basho, and I thought our readers would like a few insights, based on news reports of practice sessions, of who is genki and who is not.Continue reading
🌐 Location: Ome, Tokyo
Although today’s event takes place in a town that’s part of the greater Tokyo, it seems most Tokyoite fans are actually waiting for the bigger event the next day at Yokohama. So we have another short report for you today – but use the time to buy some popcorn and find a babysitter – because the next installment will be a lengthy one.
First, I want to update the sick list. Unfortunately, Kagayaki came up with a rather late case of the flu, and departed from the Jungyo together with his tsukebito.
OK, so in the hand-shake corner, Tsurugisho decides to simulate a crucifix. Shimanoumi is amused:
There are not many people who can dwarf Mitakeumi, but his tsukebito, Dewanojo, certainly seems to have the knack:
Inside the main hall, Abi gets ready to stretch his fine legs, and Daieisho is doing his shiko, and searches for Takakeisho with his eyes:
Up on the dohyo, Takakeisho has some practice with Onosho:
He had seven of these bouts, won 4-3.
Onosho was then given some butsukari by Kakuryu:
Takayasu took Ichinojo for a spin, and as is usual with him, destroyed the boulder 7-1.
This completed the practice part. Everybody hurries to the shower. Apparently, it’s Takakeisho’s shampoo day:
The photographer who took this then found the special Ozeki-and-Yokozuna-only shower room, and set up camp there in hope of capturing the shin-Ozeki when he goes in and out of the shower.
However, the shin-Ozeki is probably still not used to the idea of Ozeki privilege, or maybe he doesn’t want Hakuho to stare at him in the shower… whatever the reason, he failed to show up, much to the lady’s disappointment.
The only bout I got any record of was this Abi-Onosho one. Onosho seems to be really fascinated with Abi’s shiko – despite having seen it many, many times already:
In that bout, Abi proceeded, as usual during the Jungyo, by attacking Onosho’s mawashi:
Hmm… where did the gyoji go?
Anyway, Abi won this bout.
And yes, that’s my report for today. I couldn’t even find a decent photo of Enho for the pin-up corner. So instead, though I can’t in good conscience call a Yokozuna a “pin-up boy”, I give you a photo of Kakuryu being nice to kids although it’s time for his bout soon:
🌐 Location: Takasaki, Gunma prefecture
Unlike our previous location, which boasted a local sekitori, a local tsukebito, and a semi-local former Yokozuna’s nephew, Gunma prefecture is really short on famous or high-ranked local boys.
The local organizers gave Hikarifuji and Kayatoiwa their due glory, but their real pride and joy is not regularly a part of the jungyo anymore. He was brought in specifically for this event.
That, of course, is 42 years old Satonofuji, the grand master of the bow, who hails from Gunma prefecture. And while all the other low-ranked rikishi were working on the dohyo, Satonofuji was working with the struggling new performer, Shohoryu, giving him a master class.
This was just one of the various outdoor activities today. The weather was deemed warm enough to have the handshaking sessions outside:
Though the sky looks pretty gray, if you ask me. Not all the rikishi just stand for handshakes. Some famous veterans sit in a separate corners, and fans can go and have a photo taken with them:
But actual practice takes place inside the venue. The first sekitori arrive and pull their taping kits:
Others start stretching:
Some squatting and suri-ashi are in order:
Wakamotoharu works on his upper body:
But then he and Mitakeumi decide to gang up on poor Enho:
The Yokozuna synchronize:
But then each goes his own way. Kakuryu manages an exercise that doesn’t look ridiculous:
While Hakuho is doing suri-ashi in the hana-michi, and interacts with the spectators:
Near the wall, a group of lower-ranked rikishi prove to us that titty obsession is not just a Tamawashi thing:
What are you doing, guys?
Up on the dohyo, Ichinojo is giving butsukari:
While Terutsuyoshi seems to have… a toothache?
By now, you should know who it is who makes Takakeisho smile this wide:
Takayasu finishes stretching, has a bout with Mitakeumi, and butsukari with Onosho.
Some more practice bouts: Daieisho-Takakeisho, Myogiryu-Ichinojo, Kiribayama-Takanofuji:
Practice over. Lower-ranked rikishi get their hair done and go about their chores:
Some sekitori go out and enjoy the food stalls outside the venue. Namely, Terutsuyoshi, Chiyotairyu and Enho. Enho starts well with some yaki manju:
But seems to pick up something that doesn’t suit his dainty palate:
Or maybe it’s the camera crew that affect his apetite.
Terutsuyoshi and Chiyotairyu enjoy some yakisoba:
With everybody fed and in good order, it’s time for the afternoon part of the day. We begin with a Jonidan bout, because of course we don’t want to miss Satonofuji:
Nice throw. Next up, we have the Juryo dohyo-iri, or as Gagamaru calls it, “cheeky time”:
The cheeks in question being Takanosho’s of course.
Azumaryu and Akiseyama have a less painful way to enjoy the wait:
Next up, the Juryo bouts, and we have Aminishiki vs. Hidenoumi for you:
Nice effort from old Uncle there, but to no avail.
Chiyomaru makes short work of Daiamami:
And we are up in Makuuchi. And the dohyo-iri there is not free of sin, either:
For some reason, Chiyotairyu decides that facing the spectators is just too much for him and turns around in the middle of the dohyo-iri. Abi tries to argue with him.
Takakeisho, by now getting used to all the “shin-ozeki” stuff, receives gifts of local produce – rice, meat, etc.:
The bouts start, and Yoshikaze has a wardrobe malfunction:
Is it me or does Toyonoshima surreptitiously improve his mawashi hold during this matta? Zurui… he won this bout.
Next up, Terutsuyoshi throws his usual bucket load of salt… and seems to hit his own eye:
Typical Terutsuyoshi sumo. Sorry, Yago, maybe next time!
Next up, Ichinojo vs. Endo:
Ichinojo is not sleeping.
Kaisei is pitted with Nishikigi, and doesn’t let the green mawashi man set up any sort of defense:
Last before the san-yaku, Hokutofuji vs. Mitakeumi:
Takakeisho is up next vs. Tamawashi:
No rolling into the crowd today. The last bout whose footage I got is Goeido vs Tochinoshin:
And after Kakuryu beats Takayasu (sorry, no video), comes the part everybody has been waiting for – good old Satonofuji’s yumi-tori shiki. Watch it, then go back to previous reports and compare with Kasugaryu, never mind poor Shohoryu. This is the work of a true master:
Our pin-up of the day is Wakamotoharu. Adieu!
🌐 Location: Gyoda, Saitama prefecture
Today the Jungyo lands in Saitama. The prefecture boasts one of the finest high-school sumo departments at Saitamasakae high, and accordingly, also boasts many rikishi who call it home. In fact, two top-notch sekitori are in the home-boy position today: Abi and Hokutofuji.
And while Abi has a long line for photos and handshakes inside, Hokutofuji distributes safety pamphlets and shakes hands outside the venue:
Inside the venue, Ichinojo is practicing his shot put. The one tiny thing missing is the shot, of course:
In the “Everybody loves Enho” series, today it’s Kagayaki’s turn to play:
Finally, a video has turned up which will show us what it is that Kakuryu is doing with that strange combination of rubber tube and a towel. I’m sure it will make perfect sense once we watch it:
Errr…. no. It still looks absolutely ridiculous.
The other Yokozuna is getting his morning greetings while Goeido is smearing someone on the dohyo.
It occurs to me that by the time the good mornings are over, the spittoon at the corner of the dohyo is probably full to the brim. Poor yobidashi.
The kawaigari session there doesn’t seem to be related to this short one Goeido is having with Takanosho:
Takayasu is in a mentoring mood this Jungyo. A couple of days ago he tutored Onosho. Today he is giving a proper class to his army of tsukebito. And we finally get to see what the mystery move he was teaching Onosho was:
Why, he is teaching them how to dance like Cossacks!
If you’re wondering, normal sekitori only get to bring one tsukebito to Jungyo. But Ozeki may bring five, and Yokozuna, eight.
This is Tatsunami oyakata:
Aside from being a good-looking fella, he has also been in charge of preparing some of the events – interacting with the sponsors and the like.
Tatsunami oyakata runs a modest heya up in Ibaraki, far away from the sumo hub at Ryogoku. And in that modest heya, he has acquired a gem not long ago. Namely, this guy:
This is, of course, Asashoryu’s nephew, Hoshoryu. Tatsunami oyakata knows quite well this one has a huge potential, and he is doing everything he can to get the boy the best environment in which to develop. That includes apprenticing him to his only sekitori, Meisei, and sending him off to practice at Miyagino and at Isegahama, outside his own ichimon.
I’m pretty sure the plan when setting him as Meisei’s tsukebito was for Hoshoryu to do the Jungyo as early as possible and hobnob with sekitori as much as possible. But the problem is that the NSK introduced a new rule recently, that minors are not to join the Jungyo unless invited by the sponsors. And Hoshoryu is not 20 yet.
So Tatsunami somehow brought him along with him to this event. Not sure exactly what the pretext was, but bottom line, Hoshoryu got to participate in his first Jungyo today. This included all sorts of good stuff like a butsukari session with Tochinoshin. “Wow, Ozeki are that heavy” commented the youngster.
Now, Hoshoryu was only 4-3 last basho, but that doesn’t mean anybody should dismiss him as too weak for the top of Makushita. Take a look at this practice – apparently with Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi):
Oh, did he just beat a sekitori? But you may notice Tochinoshin watching him from the side lines. He told him his wrestling style invites his opponent in, and is also dangerous for his knees. “Be careful not to be injured!” admonished the still-Ozeki, who knows what he’s talking about.
Hoshoryu also got workout advice from Kotoshogiku:
Jumping ahead a little, here is his bout with Ichiyamamoto:
Here are some practice bouts. First, Shodai-Shohozan:
Hehehe… the guys really swamp Shodai there in an attempt to get his nod.
Ichinojo-Ryuden, Endo-Takarafuji, Aoiyama-Takayasu:
Practice time over, let’s move on to the afternoon part. Today the Makushita bouts were in the form of “kessho-gonin-nuki”. This means five rikishi on the West face five rikishi on the East. Each takes his turn, and if he wins, he stays on the dohyo with the next opponent from the opposite side. The winner is the first who beats all five opponents. I don’t have the bouts themselves, except the one we have seen with Hoshoryu above. But I do have the gonin-soroi-bumi. That is, the five wrestlers on each side go up on the dohyo and perform synchronized shiko, similar to the san-yaku-soroi-bumi we see at the end of events just before the last three bouts:
Next was the Juryo dohyo-iri. And of course we get an Enho sandwich:
In the dohyo-iri itself, Akiseyama completely breaks the Japanese stand-in-line etiquette.
And Chiyomaru also looks like he is getting ahead of his turn.
The Juryo members change and wait for their bouts, and Chiyomaru decides to tickle Daishomaru in the ass a bit with one of his sagari rods.
I think Chiyomaru may think again before he tries a prank on Daishomaru next time, as he finds himself slammed against the wall.
It’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And just a reminder, the one who announces what’s going on is always a gyoji.
In this case, a rather casually seated Shikimori Kinosuke, from Sadogatake beya.
While the Makuuchi rikishi show off their kesho-mawashi, the Yokozuna’s tsukebito work hard at making him pretty for his own dohyo-iri:
Shame on you if you don’t know which Yokozuna that is…
OK, with all dohyo-iri done, it’s time for… what, you thought it’s time for bouts? As far as the Makuuchi rikishi are concerned, it’s time for playing games and goofing around, that’s what it is.
You know sumo wrestlers love sumo when they opt to do sumo to pass the time before they do sumo:
On the other side, four rikishi play rock-papers-scissors. Daieisho is mightily relieved when he wins it. It’s probably another one of the “lose and you get… pain” games that rikishi love so well:
Looks like a group version of atchi-muite-hoi, but I can’t imagine what the rules are when there are three fingers pointing.
Ichinojo checks the order of matches but the fans call from behind. The big man seems to be a bit bewildered by all the attention. Look, there’s even some grandpa aiming a phone at him from the second floor:
That’s what happens when you win too many bouts in honbasho, dear boulder.
Of course we can’t do without our favorite pair of clowns, Nishikigi and Shodai. This time they find a back room in this sports facility, and strain a poor vaulting box that never thought it would have to take that much weight:
The goofy mood spreads all the way to the top, as Takayasu gives Tochinoshin a hearty massage:
Takayasu is generally in a good mood today:
This seems to be post-bout, so he must have beaten Kakuryu in their daily match.
The only match I have today is an “off the list” – an extra bout between local boy Abi and Meisei. Why Meisei? I guess the sponsors wanted a duel of pretty shiko:
I think Meisei didn’t get the memo about letting the local boy win, though.
And I leave you with today’s pin-up rikishi, Kiribayama:
🌐 Location: Adachi ward, Tokyo
Today’s event is really close to home – at Adachi ward, just north of Sumida, where the majority of sumo stables are located.
And yet, equipment still needs to be delivered and carried into the venue.
That is yobidashi Hiromasa, proving to us that yobidashi is physical work, not just singing and drumming.
Here is Chiyoraizan from Kokonoe beya. Whose baggage is he carrying?
This is Kimura Konosuke’s stuff. Gyoji need their outfits and paraphernalia, too.
The equipment comes from side-opening trucks like this one, which you can see is loaded with sekitori’s akeni:
Akeni are the green-red-black boxes that each sekitori receives upon promotion to Juryo, where he stores stuff like his kesho-mawashi, shimekomi (silk mawashi) and sagari. During transit, akeni are wrapped in plastic or tarp. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many of the Akeni as I can. If you read kanji, or at least memorize shikona, try that yourself. I’ll give you two hints:
- The ones wrapped in gray are not rikishi’s, but rather gyoji’s.
- While the name on the Akeni itself matches the sekitori’s current shikona, they rarely replace the tarp. Thus, there are two akeni in the bottom row labeled “Takayoshitoshi” (now called Takanofuji), and “Oyanagi” (now called Yutakayama).
So let’s go inside the venue and see what everybody is doing. Kakuryu seems to be very tired:
Aw, Yokozuna. Why don’t you find something soft to rest your head against and get some shut-eye?
Um… not exactly what I had in mind. But if it works for you…
This early in the morning, Takakeisho is trying to find an out-of-the-way corner where he can work out properly without being disturbed.
It’s not working.
Nishikigi is working out his already formidable arms:
Wakamotoharu and Ishiura are doing their shiko.
Between the two of them, I’m sure there is not a single evil spirit in the ground anywhere in Adachi.
Ichinojo is working with hand weights:
Later, after he does some on-dohyo training, Hakuho calls him over and gives him a private lesson. “Insert your right arm deeper!” and the like:
When reporters ask the Yokozuna about this, he says “I felt I wanted to do some teaching this Jungyo. Every day I take one man and guide him”.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I am imagining a baton being passed here.
Here are the three top contenders for “kawaii rikishi of the late Heisei era”:
And by now Takakeisho arrives at the dohyo, and greets his beloved Daieisho:
The reason these two have been called a “couple” throughout this Jungyo is apparently because they were caught in the shitakubeya sleeping wrapped in one towel. If a photo ever turns up…
Hokutofuji, look behind you!
The bear, I mean, the Ozeki, started actual on-dohyo practice today:
This included, for example, this practice bout with Tochiozan:
Up on that same dohyo, Mitakeumi is giving butsukari to Wakatakakage:
This apparently gets carried beyond the standard end-of-moshiai-session butsukari and into the realm of kawaigari:
Goeido is doing the same for Takanosho:
This session is definitely kawaigari rather than plain butsukari:
Here are a couple of practice bouts: Gagamaru vs. Takanosho, a short interlude showing Tochinoshin working out, then Meisei vs. Kaisei.
This concludes the practice part of the Jungyo. Time for lunch! And Abi is looking for something nicer than a cold bento:
This looks like a mobile stall offering various types of “don” (a bowl of rice topped with something, like curry, chicken, pork, beef, etc.).
I don’t have much from the second part of the day. But here is Takanosho before his bout, having a smiling conversation with his heya-mate, young yobidashi Hiroshi:
And the important news of the day. Do you know what this photo means?
It means Enho is finally back on the torikumi list, doing sumo!
Unfortunately, it looks like he is being yori-kiried by Daiamami here.
No pin-up photo for you today. Instead, here is a video with some comments by Hakuho and Takakeisho. Hakuho responds to questions about his naturalization process. That is, he is not responding to questions about it:
Hakuho: “Nothing is decided yet. I was surprised this made such a splash in the news. There are many supporters, family, relatives I have yet to inform about this. For the time being, all there is to do is wait for the results”.
He says he wants to “Start Reiwa well, following the good closure of Heisei”. The reporters take it as a wish to win his 43rd yusho in May. Of course, there’s that pesky injury.
Takakeisho says he has all but gotten used to his new Ozeki status, and that he wants to work on the fundamentals, because “An Ozeki needs to have a body”.
🌐 Location: Ota ward, Tokyo
Today we are still in Tokyo, in a part that’s mostly known for the Haneda Airport which is located there. Indeed, the official name for today’s event is “Haneda International Basho”.
An update on the sick list: Chiyonoumi is once again off the Torikumi, Yoshikaze is back on it.
We have already seen rikishi arrive early in the morning, eyes blurry, getting off busses, etc. But who are these two elegant gentlemen showing up at the venue? Are they lawyers? Doctors?
No, those are in fact these two gentlemen and co-workers from Kokoknoe beya:
Namely, yobidashi Shigeru, and Gyoji Kimura Konosuke. And Konosuke looks spiffy in his usual red kimono, and… what’s this, a tantō?
We are always told that only a tate-gyoji (that is, either Kimura Shonosuke or Shikimori Inosuke) wear a tanto – the short sword tucked into the left side of the belt. This is a symbolic expression of the gyoji’s commitment to perform seppuku if he misjudges a bout. So what is Konosuke doing wearing one? He is a mere san-yaku gyoji, there is not a hint of purple in his laces!
The answer to that is that while san-yaku gyoji do not wear tanto during bouts, they do wear it when they accompany a Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And it’s Konosuke’s turn today to accompany Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind. Back to the hand-shaking corner of the venue, where the Iwasaki brothers are showing us their muscles:
At one side of the venue, Abi is working out with Shodai. Well, kind of:
Shohozan is doing suri-ashi and manages to frighten the NSK’s SNS team:
Kotoeko is also working on his lower body:
Enho is also near one of the walls, having a quiet morning workout with Tobizaru:
But Enho has got to be the most popular wrestler in the top two divisions, because we shortly find him also serving as Mitakeumi’s teppo pole:
The little teppo pole turns all rebellious all of a sudden.
Perhaps the most impressive Enho practice pic of the day is this one:
The size difference between these two is enormous. Ichinojo is slightly bigger than two Enhos combined.
Next to the dohyo, Takayasu decides to give Onosho some personal tutoring.
I mean, close personal tutoring:
That is, very close, and very personal tutoring:
OK, well, they actually were practicing sumo there. Suri-ashi, for example:
He was also teaching him his new move:
We will reveal to you in a day or two what the secret move is! But in the meantime, let’s look at some practice bouts: Ryuden-Aoiyama, Asanoyama-Hokutofuji. Followed by a short glimpse of Hakuho and Takayasu who are not doing any on-dohyo practice at the moment.
With practice over, the rikishi head for the showers, which happen to be on-location this time. This means a great line of fans waiting outside of the shower.
Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And this time Enho is on the East side (not that he participates in the torikumi or anything), which makes Chiyomaru on the West lonely. He has no one to bump into… except Daiamami:
By the way, this day is Chiyomaru’s birthday! This has to be the reason why the only bout I have is his bout with Kotoyuki:
Kotoyuki sends the birthday boy almost into the arms of the awaiting Makuuchi wrestlers down the hana-michi.
Chiyomaru hurries out to celebrate his birthday with some cake, which the reporters have promised him. And in his hurry, he doesn’t notice he has interrupted a significant moment:
That moment which he has interrupted is the moment in which Kasugaryu hands over his bow to Shohoryu, who is wearing an oicho-mage for the first time and is about to perform his first yumi-tori shiki.
But that let’s see what kind of birthday celebration Chiyomaru gets.
Ah, this kind:
Congratulations, round one! Now it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri and Yokozuna dohyo-iri.
But it’s hard to be a Yokozuna when everybody around you, including your tsukebito, tsuyuharai and tachi-mochi, exchange jokes and laugh out loud, and you are the only one who has to control his face:
Now all the Makuuchi wrestlers can get ready for their bouts. Like, for example, Nishikigi and Ryuden
Interesting way to pass the time. But not as interesting as Shodai’s way:
The two clowns are everywhere. Ichinojo suddenly has a mind to get friendly with Shodai. Shodai is not in the mood to be crushed right before his bout:
Luckily for him, somebody calls out “Ichinojo zeki”. He immediately points out to Ichinojo that a fan of his has arrived:
Ichinojo complies, and puts on his fansa face:
We are not done with Nishikigi. He is still in the joi, so that means he waits for his bout a long time. And that means a lot of mischief. This time the victim is pretty Toshonishiki:
Again, recall that Nishikigi has the strongest armpits in Makuuchi. I wouldn’t want to trade places with poor Toshonishiki.
What does the expression on Onosho’s face mean? Is he admiring Abi’s shiko? Or is he preparing a salt-laden ladle? You be the judge.
Just to prove to you that Hakuho is not alone in being chased by the fans, here is Kakuryu on the way to his bout:
He certainly doesn’t need to find something to keep him busy during the wait.
Finally, as anticipated, let’s take a look at Shohoryu’s debut yumi-tori shiki:
Green, very green. He’ll need to learn how to wear a kesho-mawashi – his fundoshi is showing through. And he had a few mistakes here and there. But he is better than Kasugaryu at passing the bow behind his back.
And I leave off with the pin-up of the day – Asanoyama: