Jungyo Newsreel – Day 20

🌐 Location: Sano, Tochigi

We have a small event today, with 1800 participants. Let’s start today with the consecration of the dohyo:

If you recall, at the Yasukuni event, the dohyo was consecrated with a full dohyo-matsuri, featuring high ranking gyoji and all that jazz. But since this is a temporary dohyo, it is consecrated by the local organizers. A bit of saké, and off we go.

Who are our home boys of today? Well, there are Dewanojo, Mitakeumi’s tsukebito, and the pretty Toshonishiki, Mitoryu’s tsukebito:

They would make a good shokkiri team

But the real pride and joy of the prefecture are the Taka twins:

Since I rarely write about the twins, this would be a good opportunity to remind you how to tell them apart. Little brother (by half an hour or so) Takagenji, when he smiles, has a gap between his front teeth. Big bully brother Takanofuji (formerly Takayoshitoshi) has a mole over his right lip. And he smiles a lot less than his little brother, probably because he knows that his days as a sekitori are numbered.

The twins were interviewed by the local papers and struggled to come up with memories of the prefecture, which they have left at a very young age – they grew up at Ibaraki. They did mention that their kindergarten teacher came to see them at the venue.

Turns out they are also a bit stung about the fact that their ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined more recently) has left them in the dust and made Ozeki. Takagenji says: “What’s important is what your rank is when your mage is shorn”. He has been told in the past that he is a future Yokozuna, and apparently believes he will be at that rank by the time he retires.

Meanwhile, though, Takakeisho is Ozeki, and they are not. Hence, kawaigari!

Takakeisho entertaining the crowd by torturing Takanofuji

Yeah, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. We were at the handshake stage, weren’t we? For some reason, it seems like they had the handshakes today in the toilets:

At least, for some reason, the outer corridors of this community hall are lined with sinks.

Takayasu enjoys the sunny day, and uses it for a bit of deep contemplation:

What rank will I be when I retire, I wonder?

Nishikigi wants to change from Clark Kent to Superman… or maybe just get on the dohyo:

We only have one practice video from the NSK, but this one is significant: Kakuryu starts on-dohyo training. We are officially at the last leg of the Jungyo, then.

His chosen opponent – and butsukari victim – is Daieisho.

So we are done with the practice part. It’s time for some shokkiri. Ebisumaru and Shobushi keep refining small points of their routine:

Ebisumaru lets Shobushi do his high kicks alone, and goes around encouraging the audience to clap.

Juryo dohyo-iri. Gagamaru and Sokokurai fool around happily:

Aminishiki seems not to think much of the behavior of these two kiddies.

Arawashi is about a meter ahead of them, busying himself, as always, with being dreamy:

Then they all wait for their turn to wrestle, as the Juryo bouts start with Shonannoumi, who is today’s “filler”:

Filler or not, he beats Daiseido.

And now, where are the aforesaid Gagamaru and Sokokurai?

Ah, right in the middle of the crowd. More specifically, right in the middle of a bunch of primary school kids:

Gagamaru tries to camouflage himself. For some reason «cough»212kg«cough», this doesn’t work all too well.

But the man is sure enjoying himself:

And so do the kids. His tactic works – when he goes on the dohyo, he is accompanied by many little voices calling “Gagamaru! Ganbare!”

Oh, you think this sort of foolish antics is solely the realm of the likes of Gagamaru or Shodai? I give you:

Prince Charming himself! The funny thing is, it looks like the hat actually fits him.

The Juryo bouts end with local boy Takagenji vs. Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru is showing us his prize winning… lunar aspects.

And I swear that Kotoyuki is showing much interest in the full moon that rises on the other side as well.

Ahem… let’s take a look at the three Yokozuna:

Hakuho and Kakuryu do their duty to the local sponsors – and the local mascot, who became a Yokozuna for a day.

On to the Makuuchi bouts, and here is Kagayaki’s shimekomi, sans kagayaki:

Ah, the duties of a tsukebito.

Here is a summary video of today’s event, which includes a few bouts:

Note the “gaijin-cam” there…

Our pin-up boy of the day is the slightly blurry Ryuden:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 17

🌐 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:

Whoa.

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:

One pixie, between two slices of Daishomaru and Daiamami

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.

Whoa, whoa, aren’t you overreacting just a bit?

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:

“Look over here, Ichinojo zeki!”

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:

With a shikona like “Foggy Horse Mountain”, can you guess where he is from?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 14

Guess who’s back?

🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.

As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.

The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 9

🌐 Location: Shizuoka, Shizuoka prefecture

The Jungyo arrives at what has become a regular stop in the Haru Jungyo – fifth time in a row – Shizuoka city, where they call this event “Mount Fuji Shizuoka basho”, no less.

Along the walls we can see rikishi exercising and stretching. Enho, for example, is both stretching and diving:

Ichinojo is stomping shiko together with his Tsukebito. I believe this is Oka, formerly known as Minatoryu:

Ichinojo is not getting anywhere near the dohyo at this stage, but he is more than happy to pose for photos for the fans:

Much the same can be said about Yoshikaze, come to think of it.

Wakamotoharu is making good use of his remaining time as sekitori, also posing with the fans with his tsukebito – who is actually his big brother Wakatakamoto. Yes, all three Onami brothers are together this Jungyo:

The dohyo being occupied, Yago and Daieisho do their sumo away from (most) of the public eye:

So what is it that occupies the dohyo? For example, Chiyomaru vs. Azumaryu and Chiyomaru vs. Wakamotoharu:

Abi giving butsukari to Takanosho:

Abi has such long legs… as he stands at the edge to take the blow, his supporting left leg reaches almost to the shikiri-sen…

Tochinoshin is not taking any prisoners. Here he is vs. Mitakeumi, Kagayaki and Asanoyama:

Asanoyama surprisingly got him there. But the soon-to-be Ozekiwake is full of energy.

Practice over, and it’s time to hit the bath. And of course, on the way back the fans demand attention. Toyonoshima is among those most sought after, though he is not a local man in any way:

Hakuho yukata, with “63” motif.

Dohyo-Iri in Jungyo is a lot more relaxed, even on the dohyo itself. Here is the Juryo dohyo-iri. Gagamaru is making faces at some kid in the crowd:

Makuuchi bouts about to start. Wrestlers waiting outside for their turn, practicing their favorite facial expressions:

Terutsuyoshi – his salty face. Daishoho – his kawaii face. Tomokaze – his puzzled face. And Ishiura just shows off his fine… traps. That’s it… traps…

So here is a summary video from the Japanese TV. You can see some of the local boy of the day, Tochikodai from Kasugano beya, in his bout vs. Tennozan. And there are the bouts between Takakeisho and Tochinoshin, and between Goeido and Kakuryu.

Finally we see the Yokozuna win.

As for that bout between Takakeisho and Tochinoshin… ahem… ahem. Takakeisho is still not practicing on the dohyo but he said he will start doing so soon.

And to seal this day, here is Asanoyama in the pin-up corner:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 8

Today’s report is going to be a little anticlimactic, compared to Day 7’s rich content. But let’s gambarize!

🌐 Location: Nishio, Aichi prefecture

Early morning, and groggy-eyed sekitori start arriving. Here we have Takarafuji in a drab kimono, a night-crumpled chon-mage, and eyes half-closed:

…which all stand in stark contrast with his spiffy fashionable orange Hermes bag.

Abi looks pretty surprised by half-asleep Enho.

My guess is it’s the first time he noticed Enho’s cauliflower ear.

The only one who seems to be a morning person is Kaisei:

“Hey, Aoiyama, pull my finger!”

So let’s get inside the venue. Kotoeko forces his knees together with rubber bands:

This seems to be quite an effort for him. In the hana-michi, Ishiura practices his tachiai:

What, no henka?

Hakuho practices his sonkyo:

Sonkyo is this crouching position which is performed during the shikiri (and also to accept the gunbai and possible kensho envelopes). It’s also quite useful to have a talk with someone sitting on the ground:

In this case a rather good-humored Kasugano oyakata. Hakuho also practices his shiko, as always:

And like a good Hitchhiker, he does it equipped with a towel. Which reminds me, here is Kakuryu again:

Silly though he may look, Kakuryu is very popular with the fans:

Kyokusoten, behind him, looks a bit taken aback by all the clamor.

Oyakata can be popular, too!

You have to admit Tomozuna oyakata looks quite nice in a mon-tsuki kimono.

There is a sekitori from Aichi prefecture – Akiseyama. Here he is practicing with Kyokutaisei:

But for some reason, he is not that popular in this event. This may be because there is a real home boy – one from the very city of Nishio: Kaisho, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s heya).

The thing is, Kaisho is not a sekitori. He is in Makushita. And the only reason he is wearing an oicho-mage in this picture is that the torikumi guys arranged a Juryo bout for him to please the spectators.

Being a member of Isegahama ichimon earns him the privilege of getting kawaigari from Aminishiki. The spectators really love this – Aminishiki seems to be popular all over Japan. And with their home boy, oh boy!

Even this little sliver of video is a good demonstration of Aminishiki’s showmanship.

Some Makuuchi practice bouts: Onosho vs. Kagayaki, Okinoumi vs. Ryuden:

And here are Kaisei vs. Mitakeumi, and Tochinoshin vs. Kaisei:

One gets the impression that winning 10 bouts might not be beyond Tochinoshin’s capabilities the next basho.

Practice over, and lower-ranked rikishi get their hair redone:

Imagine if these tokoyama could sing in harmony. They would be a real… wait for it… barbershop quartet! [crickets]

And here comes the big news of the day. Our big ice-cream man has joined the Jungyo, as his herniated disc improved. And he got teased quite a lot for cleverly joining it on his birthday, because that means he gets lots of free cake!

The cakes are from the reporters. And Ichinojo is a good boy. He blows away the candles, and then does it again just to please a cameraman who didn’t get a good shot the first take.

I suppose he was then given an instruction to eat his cake like a good hungry boulder:

Um… is he really going to eat it with the plastic collar still on? And the candles? But well, the reporters said “do it”, so…

Although he participated in the dohyo-iri this day, he did not participate in the bouts and apparently not in any keiko, either.

Here is the West Juryo dohyo-iri for you.

Note how much more popular Aminishiki and Enho are, compared to local-born Akiseyama.

Enho and Yoshikaze still don’t participate in any bouts.

Time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and someone asks Tamawashi to hold a baby. The baby is not very happy about this.

As the kid starts an air-raid siren going, Abi decides to match him note for note. Mwaaaaaa!

Takarafuji, if you note, is all like “I was hoping I’ll get a little peace and quiet from baby cries in the Jungyo. Sheesh…”

Hakuho is on his way to do his own dohyo-iri. He does that without that supporter on his arm – for aesthetic reasons, I guess. But this fan caught him feeling up his injured arm:

That torn muscle, it is not going away.

Finally, it’s time for the bouts… but I don’t have any bout footage, sorry. Instead, here is Aoiyama, who found a back room with basketball equipment:

And here is Takakeisho, who is way too happy about this ladle his giving to Tamawashi.

Could it possibly be… the shin-ozeki… is doing the salt trick? He must know that revenge will come – and rather swiftly, as they are doing their matches in the same order every day.

Here is the yumi-tori shiki from this day:

And for our pin-up corner, how about a rather puzzled Yoshoyama?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 7

🌐 Location: Tsu, Mie prefecture

The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.

There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 6

🌐 Location: Uji, Kyoto

The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:

Local boy Narutaki, pretty boy Toshonishiki, and maiko

These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.

There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:

Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.

They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:

Wakatakakage – Wakamotoharu

This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:

At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).

On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.

But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.

Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.

So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:

And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?

This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.

This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:

On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:

While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:

…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.

So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:

Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:

Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:

Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.

Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:

Yep, that nodowa again.

Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.

Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:

And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:

By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.

During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:

Imagine him with a Mohawk

I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:

Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.

The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:

Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.

So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho: