🌐 Location: Kashiwa, Chiba prefercture
Another lengthy one today. Make some coffee, feed the baby, here we go:Continue reading
🌐 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:
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: Hitachinomiya, Ibaraki prefecture
We have a short one today. The Jungyo temporarily leaves the vicinity of Tokyo and goes north to Ibaraki. Ibaraki is the former Kisenosato’s home turf, and indeed, the main attraction in this Jungyo event seems to be a visit from Araiso oyakata.
But let’s start with the beginning, as rikishi alight from the buses:
Akiseyama, that is – lovingly known among Japanese sumo fans as “Mountain of Bread”. Seriously, it’s amazing that he has such serious mobility issues and still manages to hold a pretty secure position in Juryo.
At the entrance, Yobidashi Hiromasa beckons us in with his drum roll:
This is, of course, the official photo, and in it Hiromasa is serious and dedicated. There is also an unofficial photo, though:
And in that, we see that he keeps his smartphone at hand, probably because drumming is awfully boring, and he also having relaxed chats with the incoming customers.
Since he persuaded us so nicely to come inside, let’s go and shake hands with a dreamy Arawashi:
And proceed into the venue to see some of the rikishi practicing along the walls. Takakeisho and Daieisho play drill sergeants to their tsukebito:
One, two! One, two! Though I have to say that any real drill sergeant would laugh at these push-ups.
Then it’s time for Daieisho himself to explain to Takakeisho what he has been doing wrong in his weight lifting:
Oopsie-daisy. Funny little misfire there by Daieisho. But then he goes on to show some real leg exercise. Yes, Takakeisho, you are supposed to lift with your legs, not with your back. Daieisho has mighty strong legs.
In the hana-michi, Enho kind of practices with Onosho. Those two have been goofing together almost every day of this Jungyo.
But you can see that Enho is favoring his right shoulder. That’s still not in working order, apparently, though he did say to the press that he intends to go berserk in Makuuchi next basho. If he doesn’t get to do keiko, no berserking is going to cut it.
On the dohyo, we have Kaisei and Meisei. It’s not the same “sei”:
At this point, official practice is over, and the dohyo is vacated in favor of the usual shows. Some rikishi linger outside. This far north, the sakura is in full bloom, and what’s better than some keiko under the beautiful blossoms?
Indeed, Kotoeko and Kotorikisen look like they enjoy themselves thoroughly.
The Yokozuna put on their ropes to prepare for dohyo-iri and also to get a photo with the local sponsor:
In the past, I have heard some sumo fans who thought this formal kimono was something unique to sumo. It isn’t. This a mon-tsuki kimono set, which includes a kimono, a hakama (the gray semi-skirt thing worn over the kimono), and a haori (jacket, held together with a fine pom-pom). It’s Japanese traditional formal wear, and anybody in Japan may wear it on festive or formal occasions.
Anyway, the Yokozuna are back in the venue, and as Hakuho awaits his turn, he still signs autographs. Nobody is supposed to get near him when he wears the tsuna, and so his tsukebito keep a large buffer zone around him, but one of them brings the shikishi over to for him to sign:
Then, right before the Makuuchi bouts start, it’s time for the special guest star to make his appearance. And his popularity has not lost an iota:
The former Yokozuna comes inside to make a speech and thank his fellow Ibaraki people for their support throughout his career. As he ascends the dohyo, you can hear shouts like “Why did you quit?!”, “You look great in a suit!” etc.
He says that now without the pressure he can practice a lot more easily than he used to. “I never get tired”
The whole speech scene really entertains some of the sekitori waiting for their bouts. Especially the part you don’t see in the above video, in which he receives a large portion of the local delicacy… natto…
And… that’s it. I could find no hint of a bout nor even the list of matches of the day. So I have to leave off with the pin-up corner, today featuring:
🌐 Location: Hachioji, Tokyo
The Jungyo completes its Kansai and Tokai leg, and heads back home to Tokyo. Well, Tokyo is a big city, and Hachioji is further from the Tokyo city center than Yokohama. And while it was merely a cold day in central Tokyo, at Hachioji, it was snowing.
Snowing so much that one of the fans coming to watch the sumo filmed this as they reached the nearby Otsuki station:
Near the venue the snow was not as heavy, but still, we had a freezing Yokozuna:
Why is he going barefoot in such weather?
We also had a freezing oyakata, who was looking enthusiastic about it for two seconds:
And if these two hardy Mongolians freeze…
So, let’s go inside the warm arena, and say our hellos to the Iwasaki brothers at their handshake stations:
Smiles are contagious today, and we have this big, wide one from Aminishiki. They are becoming rarer!
What’s our big beloved boulder doing today? Well, first, he stretches by the wall, accompanied by his loyal Oka:
Then, he goes over to the side of the dohyo to do some squats:
And finally, he finds a practice buddy – Mitoryu:
Hokutofuji stomps his shiko by the wall. And I do mean stomps:
All evil spirits in Hachioji ground pack up and go to the nearest UN office to apply for refugee status.
Abi practices his yotsu-zumo with Nishikigi:
Nishikigi is not easily moved, certainly not with this weak technique. Somebody please give Abi the basics. Maybe he should go back to the Kakuryu academy.
Toyonoshima works on his arm muscles with weights:
Hakuho arrives at the dohyo. Is greeted as usual. Somebody from his ichimon giving him a respectful ladle? You bet!
Despite being questioned by the Compliance Committee two days before, and that not-too-good-looking arm, Hakuho seems to be in a good mood.
According to this tweet, Tamawashi professes his love to Kotoyuki:
Whereupon Kotoyuki sends him to hell. The poor jilted sekiwake tries to evoke guilt. Kotoyuki unmoved.
Kakuryu diligently does his shiko. This time manages to not smile bashfully doing it.
OK, some practice bouts: Hokutofuji vs. Okinoumi, Tomokaze vs. Meisei:
I wonder who won that last one.
Next, Mitakeumi vs. Asanoyama, then Mitakeumi vs. Ryuden:
Ryuden, I believe, was underranked at M11, and it will be interesting to see him in the upper part of Makuuchi in Natsu.
Practice over, and as Kakuryu leaves he is enveloped by fans asking for autographs:
While he is doing his fansa duty diligently and seriously, Hakuho is doing the same, but in a much lighter atmosphere:
Now, the story behind this picture is as follows:
Tsukebito (I think that’s Umizaru): “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it marked the Yokozuna’s Yukata!”
Hakuho: “I think if we washed it it would be fine”.
Everybody around chuckling. Tsukebito thinks for a while.
Tsukebito: “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it poked the Yokozuna in the eye!”.
Tsukebito: “Now, wouldn’t it?”
Hakuho: “I don’t think it’s going to poke me in the eye.”
Everybody around bursts out laughing.
And that’s what they call “Fansa kami-sama” (Fan interaction god). I’m positive nobody who ever went to one of those Jungyo event and interacted with the Yokozuna would be sending the NSK angry letters about the propriety of clapping during yusho speeches.
It’s time for the Juryo bouts. But Wakamotoharu’s oicho-mage is lopsided. Akiseyama offers help:
Akiseyama may be the ugly duckling of the rikishi corps, but he is a good guy.
As Juryo bouts near their end, Kakuryu awaits his cue to demonstrate rope tying:
Nice kesho-mawashi. Too bad it’s always hidden. It’s relatively rare to see a Yokozuna in kesho-mawashi and no rope.
And it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Most rikishi are busy goofing around. Even usually-serious Hokutofuji finds a target for a goof:
Amidst all the lively hustle and bustle, sits a lonely Ozeki:
I guess this is why Goeido rarely makes an appearance in these reports. He usually keeps to himself, away from the clicking phone cameras.
Let’s take a look at the dohyo-iri. First, the East:
Of course, Mitakeumi “accidentally” bumps into Kaisei.
And did you spot Terutsuyoshi standing on tiptoes to match Ishiura’s height? 😏
On to the West:
The Shodai-Nishikigi duo keeps at it. Shodai: “Stop waving”. Nishikigi: “Why not”. Starts waving again. Shodai stops him. You get dohyo-iri and Shokkiri for the price of one.
And as the time comes for the bouts, the same Nishikigi, but this time with Shohozan, sit themselves among the spectators:
I guess they don’t want to miss Kagayaki’s match.
As for the matches themselves, I have Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:
Wait, haven’t we seen this bout before? This is so obviously yaocho, you can’t be surprised at Tochinoshin’s face as he returns to his seat (the winner and loser in the penultimate bouts don’t leave the dohyo until the musubi is done):
We also have Kakuryu vs. Goeido:
Once again, Goeido wins. I think he is 9-1 by now.
A summary video:
The video mentions that Takakeisho has yet to do any on-dohyo practice. His “opponent” Tochinoshin, on the other hand, though I didn’t get a photo or video of it, did 11 practice bouts and won all. “I just do my usual – whatever I can at any given moment”.
As the bouts end, the rikishi pack up and leave – but not on their busses this time. It’s Tokyo, and they are going home – by train, of course.
Our pin-up boy today is Enho, because this photo was not to be overlooked:
Totally photobombed by Kotoyuki!