Jungyo Tour: Ibaraki


 

Fukuroda Falls

Kisenosato and Takayasu had a bit of a homecoming today as the Fall Jungyo made a stop in their home prefecture of Ibaraki. Ibaraki is to the north-east of Tokyo and lies along the Pacific Ocean, south of Fukushima. The Fukuroda Falls are located in the Northern Ibaraki town of Daigo. The capital city is Mito. For those who like natto, Mito natto is supposedly “the bomb”. There’s a mountain called Tsukuba-san and one of the major cities is Tsukuba, home of the well-known University of Tsukuba.

There are two big lakes in Ibaraki called Kasumigaura and Kitaura. Ura means lake and you will recognize it from one famous shikona — no, not Ura (宇良). Ishiura’s “ura” (石) means “lake”.

The site of the Jungyo event was in Chikusei city. Chikusei City was created by the merger of several smaller towns with the city of Shimodate. The area is famous for its agriculture and produce, particularly watermelons, pears and strawberries. Chikusei’s website features a mascot (Chikkun) whose body is a watermelon and he has a pear and strawberry in his hat. For example, Tochiotome strawberries come from Ibaraki, as well as neighboring Tochigi and Aichi.

The more I read about Chikusei, the more I want to go. Unfortunately, the website is not really optimized for English. There’s a Google Translate dropdown menu at the top of the page. Look for the kanji for “translate” (翻訳). Hover over it and you’ll see many language options. So, basically you need to recognize the kanji before you can see the translation in your language.

Hi from Chikkun!

 

They have some great looking festivals and spas. There’s a summer festival where they take one of those big palanquins into a river that looks like a lot of fun. But for our rikishi, it’s quite a jaunt from Shizuoka, where they just had their Fuji jungyo and where they will return on the 11th for the Hamamatsu jungyo event.

On a tip from Nicolaah, I checked out Kyokara’s Instagram where he shared a map of their trip. お疲れ様です。I hope they’re able to spend tomorrow enjoying the sights and food. Ibaraki is on my list for places to go next time I am in Japan! It’s not far from Tokyo and there are JR Line trains that go out there. I don’t think it will be a little day trip, though.

 

富士山場所、お疲れ様でした。 気を付けてお帰りください。 、 、 、 、 、 巡業に参加されるお客様へ。 自分の立場で考えてください。 自分本意のノリと勢いで大切にしている物を汚されたりして何も思いませんか。 巡業は良くも悪くもお客さんとの距離が近くサインや写真を求めるのは当然だと思いますが、もう少し節度ある行動をよろしくお願いいたします。 あなただけが写真を撮りたい訳じゃないんです。 あなただけがサインを書いてもらいたい訳じゃないんです。 ここまでにしてくれと言われたらそれ以上求めないでください。 切に切に、誠に、何卒、よろしくお願いいたします。

A post shared by 寺尾綱剛#飯ペロ(´,,・з・,,`)ノ (@kyoukara_terao) on

Hakuho – Onosho Butsukari


Found in the depths of YouTube, some kindly fan shot a rather excellent butsukari session during the jungyo sumo PR tour last week. It appears to show Yokozuna Hakuho in an extended butsukari session with rising star Onosho.

Onosho has turned in back to back 10-5 records in his first two tournaments in Makuuchi, and it’s clear he is a young man driven to succeed. If you have the patience to watch the whole thing, Hakuho is really working him to exhaustion (the point of butsukari). At the end, its awesome to see Onosho rally and really push with renewed vigor.

Note as Onosho reaches exhaustion and wants to give up, Hakuho first taunts him, then gets the crowd to cheer him on.

For those not used to sumo training, this interaction may seem odd or even somewhat like hazing, which it is not. I also note that Hakuho really seeks out the hard-charging young rikishi who are working to make the best of their sumo career, and works them hard.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Resumes Training


Kise-Jungyo-Aug-15

Word from the summer jugyo that Yokozuna Kisenosato resumed some sumo keiko (training) during the tour’s stop in Aomori Prefecture. The Yokozuna was seen engaging in butsukari with former sekitori Takagenji, which would indicate that Kisenosato now feels strong and healthy enough to resume practice.

Of course this sparked a great deal of discussion in the sumo fan world, with many fans taking exception with a declaration that “Kisenosato’s Recovery Is Complete” drawing great skepticism. An article from Yahoo Japan points out, the chances that all of his various injuries are repaired enough for him to compete are a long shot. The article even quotes someone from a Tokyo hospital that frequently treats sumotori, who cautions that Kisenosato has been urged by the YDC to not participate in Aki, and to ensure that his health is excellent and his damage to his chest and foot are completely healed before he resumes competition.

「3月場所で左上腕と左胸の筋肉を損傷したが、とっくに治っているそうですよ。左足も表向きは『左足関節靱帯損傷』となっているが、いくら負け越しが許されない横綱といっても『負け越しそうなんで休みます』とは言えない。ケガを大袈裟に発表して途中休場するのは、昔から多くの横綱がよくやってきたことです。稀勢の里はこれまでケガについては具体的なことは明言していないが、これは周囲に口止めされているからのようです。ケガが完治しているなら、成績が振るわないのは実力ということになってしまいますからね」

As for myself, I suspect Kisenosato joined the jungyo to re-assure the fans, and to test out his recovery and readiness for Aki prior to making some manner of go/no-go call within 2 weeks. While the entire sumo world wants to see Kisenosato back on the dohyo, we are all looking for him to return strong, powerful and ready to challenge Hakuho for dominance in the ring.

Summer Jungyo Hightlight Reel


Shamelessly stolen from a twitter post, because I could not find it on YouTube. Some highlights of the kinds of things going on during the summer jungyo, including shokkiri (aka you can’t do that in sumo), Kisenosato toting a baby to the dohyo for his dohyo-iri, and Goeido taking a practice match from Harumafuji. Oh yeah, and Onosho!

Remaining August Jungyo Schedule


Hakkiyoi KITTE Sumo event in Japan Post building

The sumotori are still out on their PR tour of central, and soon, northern Japan. The summer tour is important as it brings sumo to the fans, and has done a great job of boosting the appeal of sumo across Japan.

With the Aki basho kicking off on September 10th (count down in the sidebar on the right), there are only a few stops left on the summer tour. This includes

Today – August 14th: Off
August 15th – 20th: Aomori & Hokkaido
August 21st – 22nd: Break & return to Tokyo
August 23rd – 24th: Tokyo, Odaiba mini tournament
August 24th & 25th: Kanagawa & Saitama
August 27th – KITTE exhibition in Tokyo / Banzuke Day

The KITTE exhibition is held in a the JP tower in Marunouchi, Tokyo. Just a note – some really fantastic Okonomiyaki is available nearby. It also happens on the day that the banzuke is published for the upcoming Aki basho.

Never fear sumo fans, the next basho is only 4 weeks away!

Yokozuna Hakuho Withdraws From Summer Jungyo


Hakuho-Jungyo

Reports from the summer sumo PR tour in central Japan are that Yokozuna Hakuho has withdrawn. Complaining for persistant and increasing pain in his left knee, Hakuho has returned to Tokyo to rest prior to the Aki basho in just one month.

Fans have greatly enjoyed seeing “The Boss” back in fighting form for the past two tournaments, but as we have cautioned, he is one injury away from having to struggle to make it through a basho. Like any combat sport, the mechanical injuries sustained by the athletes never really go away, you can only get them so that you can continue to compete. In the case of this injury, the Yokozuna declared that this had been troubling him since before Nagoya.

This leaves only an injured Harumafuji and an injured Kisenosato remaining with the tour. Fans might infer from this that the roster for Aki could in fact be rather light at the top ranks if none of sumo’s grand champions are fit to fight.

The Return of Kisenosato


Kisenosato Natsu Banzuke

It is reported (via Yahoo Japan) that on Thursday, August 10th, Yokozuna Kisenosato will join the summer jungyo, as the sumo PR tour makes a stop in his home ground in Ibaraki, where he is a local hero.

Readers will recall that it is the opinion of the Tachiai team that Kisenosato should have already undergone reconstructive surgery to repair damage to his left pectoral muscle in March. But clearly the first Japanese born Yokozuna in a generation wants no part of that, and instead will work with what he has and do his best.

His stable master is cited as saying that Kisenosato has limited training opportunities in Tokyo more or less alone when most of the sekitori are out on the PR tour. Therefore, in order to train and condition for the upcoming Aki basho in 4 weeks, he must go out on tour.

While I am sure sumo fans worldwide will be thrilled to see Kisenosato back in action, we all recognize that he is still hurt, and likely has no path to recovery short of a protracted medical intervention. We all wish him the best of luck and the greatest possible health.