Jungyo Newsreel – Day 5

🌐 Location: Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture

Today was the second day in Hyogo prefecture – but right on the opposite side of it than Day 4’s event. Early morning, the dohyo is already consecrated from the day before.

And… what’s this parking right in front of the entrance to the venue?

Why, it’s Ryota Hama’s Chanko Nabe bus!

While in Tokyo or Osaka honbasho you rely either on the food supply inside the venue or the regular restaurants around it, events in small towns rely on mobile stalls. So as yobidashi Hiromasa calls the townspeople with his drum, a little matsuri is being set up around the venue.

And early-bird Hama got the most lucrative location, right at the entrance! Mmmm… chanko!

But not yet, the stalls are just being set up. First, it’s time to shake hands with some favorite rikishi. For example, Hyogo local Terutsuyoshi.

Ah, the contrast between the beautiful kimono of those ladies gathering around him, and his own ratty yukata…

Yokozuna in the house!

Low-ranking rikishi practice on the dohyo, while around it some sekitori are starting to stretch and exercise:

Very entertaining squats on the left side there.

On the sidelines, Sadanoumi practices his oshi:

Ando is doing suri-ashi:

And so does Aoiyama, though in a totally different style:

It’s time for the Juryo rikishi’s practice on the dohyo. We have Kyokushuho with Wakamotoharu, then Kyokushuho with Azumaryu:

And in the session’s closure, Takakeisho gives butsukari to Wakamotoharu:

Then Makuuchi gets into the picture. Aoiyama faces Meisei, then Okinoumi, then Asanoyama, then the latter takes over and faces Ryuden.

This is not the end of the road for Ryuden, who later gets Mitakeumi (for some reason this bout appears twice in this video). Then we can see Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin:

Practice time is over, and we can relax and enjoy Shokkiri. Here is the full performance.

Apparently, in this Jungyo, the gyoji is getting creative. When the two performers fall down together, he leaves the dohyo, and consults with some spectator – preferably a child: “I should call that dotai, right?”.

“Dotai” is when both rikishi touch ground at the same time. In a normal bout, the gyoji doesn’t call it – the gyoji always has to point the gunbai one side or the other – and this is settled with a monoii and a torinaoshi. In shokkiri, of course, the gyoji makes all the decisions himself. Or with the help of a child, as it turns out.

Next up is the Jinku performance. And once again I have the full version:

But hey, aren’t you hungry? It’s nearly noon and we haven’t tasted that chanko, yet!

Apparently they also serve Udon. But who cares? Chanko!

There is also a mobile Takoyaki stall if you’re tired of Chanko, as some rikishi are

Both lunch and Jinku over, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And Sokokurai is arguing some point with Gagamaru:

Skipping the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri, right before Makuuchi, Takakeisho, the local hero, receives a bale of rice as a gift – and apparently, a large amount of beef.

The area of Toyooka is known for its stork-friendly rice. Apparently, Japanese storks have been on the decline, and the city of Toyooka is making an effort to bring them back, by raising rice that coexists with the creatures that storks feed on to sustain themselves. So Takakeisho got a bale of stork-friendly rice. I don’t know how stork-friendly the beef is, though.

So let’s see some bouts! Here we have a series of bouts from Juryo:

  • Daiseido-Kiribayama
  • Kyokushuho-Azumaryu
  • Daishomaru-Tokushoryu
  • Daiamami-Chiyomaru
  • Shimanoumi-Kotoyuki

This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:

  • Ishiura-Yutakayama
  • Kotoeko-Toyonoshima
  • Tomokaze-Kagayaki
  • Shohozan-Yago
  • Sadanoumi-Terutsuyoshi
  • Aoiyama-Asanoyama
  • Chiyotairyu-Okinoumi
  • Kaisei-Nishikigi

Tochiozan vs. Endo:

Sanyaku-soroi-bumi, and Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi

Tamawashi’s killer nodowa does it again.

Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:

I think Tochinoshin forgot that he was supposed to let the local boy win.

Finally, Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.

I think I have yet to see Kakuryu win a bout this basho.

Finishing with our pin-up… How about Nishikigi for a change?

The arms are strong with this one

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 12 (Oct 14)

this-year-kanazawa

🌐 Location: Kanazawa, Ishikawa
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The reason I decided to use the NSK’s official Yokozuna photo as my header is that last year, the 2017 Aki Jungyo passed through exactly the same city and the same venue, and I used that same photo as my header:

Four Of A Kind
K♣️ • K♥️ • K♠️ • K♦️

Alas, what a difference a year makes. It’s the same place and the same season, but the King of Hearts has broken our hearts, and the King of Spades is spading bone fragments out of his knee. They had to substitute Hiyonoyama for them this year.

But at least Kisenosato seems happier.

In fact, I think Kisenosato has a thing with Hiyonoyama, the lead mascot. Here he is leading him down the aisle:

kisenosato-leads-hiyonoyama-to-the-altar
Is the yokozuna… skipping…?

Well, there’s no accounting for taste. And it’s about time the Yokozuna settled down, isn’t it?

Last year, Hakuho joined the Jungyo at Kanazawa, having been kyujo when it started. The reason he chose Kanazawa as his point of rendezvous is probably that there was a special request for Enho, who at the time wasn’t a sekitori, so he arrived as Hakuho’s tsukebito (Chief Holder of Threads, later promoted to #5 VP of Rope Pulling).

You see, Ishikawa is blessed with no less than three popular rikishi who call it home:

three-stars-of-the-day
Slash, Slash and Backslash

It seems the lesson has been learned. This time they provided the rikishi with rikishi-sized sashes. Ones big enough to wrap even around Kagayaki’s big… tracts of land.

And while Endo merely came from a small town in Ishikawa, Enho and Kagayaki are both from Kanazawa itself. So they had their traditional photo together:

enho-with-kagayaki
\ & \

And when I say “traditional”, I mean these two are always photographed together. They are from the same town, have been doing sumo in the same competitions.

enho-kagayaki-2005
Enho and Kagayaki, that is, Nakamura and Tatsu, 2005

And Kagayaki is only 4 months older than Enho. They were even team mates in middle school, until Kagayaki decided to join the world of professional sumo:

enho-kagayaki-2010
Enho participating in Kagayaki’s “Nyumon” (joining a heya) announcement event.

Enho didn’t have plans to be a professional sumo wrestler, until Hakuho convinced him to do so despite his obvious height disadvantage. And thus, they find themselves in that same pose once again. And Again. And again.

All three Ishikawa men had a very busy day. In fact, Enho had an especially busy day, as he had no less than three bouts in the official part of the evening. The torikumi today had extra bouts that were specifically added to feature the local boys: Enho vs. Jokoryu before the official Juryo matches, then (for some reason) Yutakayama-Asanoyama, Abi-Kagayaki, Mitakeumi-Endo – preceding the official Makuuchi bouts.

So Enho had this bout with Jokoryu, then the “official” bout vs. Daiamami, and then he had to fill in for Aminishiki, as the veteran’s knee’s condition has worsened.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that Aminishiki has left the Jungyo as of the next day, to try to nurse his knee back to health.

So, as I said, busy day. Enho also helped Kototsurugy promote his Enho goods:

enho-promoting-enho-goods

Kagayaki was busy outside promoting Ishikawa’s new rice crop:

kagayaki-promotes-ishikawa-rice

And Endo was doing the oicho-mage tying demonstration:

endo-oicho-demonstration
Mmm… I love it when my hair is pulled taut. Give it to me, tokoyama!

They were also attacked from all sides by fans demanding that their baby be held or that their hand fan be signed:

enho-fansa
No resting when you’re about to have a match

kagayaki-right-off-the-dohyo
No resting after a hard session of keiko

endo-fansa
And certainly no rest for Endo

But hey, there are also other rikishi in this Jungyo. And they seem to be enjoying themselves:

chiyonokuni-and-shodai
Shodai and Chiyonokuni seem to be happy. Maybe because Tamawashi is far away.

Kotoshogiku also seems to be in a good mood:

kotoshogiku-enjoying-himself

Goeido seems to be having an especially good time:

goeido-enjoying-himself

It’s not really clear from this photo, but with Kyokusoten laughing behing him, this may be related to his recent running gag: he makes his tsukebito heckle Tamawashi during his bouts.

Abi was having a good time with a little friend:

abi-with-baby

Which is remarkable, because usually those tykes scream their heads off when held by even the most charming rikishi.

Abi was also having his photo taken in a sexy pose:

abi-and-mystery-bump

Ah, erm, er… OK, I declare a competition in the comments: who can come up with the most hilarious explanation for that bulge in Abi’s towel, but keeping it strictly family-safe?

I’m sure you’re feeling an Enho overdose by now, but I just couldn’t skip this one of him returning from the bath. We know Kakuryu has a funny towel wrapped on his head, while Kisenosato prefers the lopsided Mickey-Mouse look. So here is what Enho does with his washed hair:

enho-the-teletubby
His real identity exposed: He is Po from the Teletubbies!

Chiyoshoma decided to apply for assistant announcer:

chiyoshoma-as-backup-announcer

But I think it won’t work well with a Mongolian accent.

And Kisenosato somehow lost the good mood he had earlier:

kisenosato-in-a-bad-mood

What is he so angry about? I hope he didn’t discover Arikawa’s little mime act.

OK, let’s watch some practice sessions:

Jokoryu vs. Chiyonoumi:

Azumaryu vs. Meisei:

Strange tachiai.

Shohozan vs. Tamawashi:

That looked like a continuation of the basho.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama:

The local boys don’t get any gifts in keiko sessions.

And I have a couple of official bouts:

Endo vs. Mitakeumi. OK, it’s an extra-curricular official bout:

And the end of the musubi-no-ichiban. The tweet author says the actual bout took about a minute:

So here is your daily Tobizaru. Accompanied by Enho, because of course he is, and Tsurugisho. What do you think about this outfit combo? Oicho-mage, hoodie, and towel?

everybody-wears-a-hoodie-with-an-oicho

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 6 (Oct 8)

🌐 Location: Minamiashigara, Kanagawa
🚫 Scandal level: 1

The day dawns on Kanagawa. People gather in for some sumo.

Abi and Tsurugisho are still off the torikumi, but Tsurugisho participates in the fansa part of the event.

I suppose it’s a rarity for both sides: there aren’t many black kids in Japan, and I’m sure the kid hasn’t seen many people Tsurugisho’s size, either.

Kagayaki lifted some weights. I mean, lifted the weight of Shonannoumi.

Shonannoumi is a local boy, but I don’t think this activity was exactly front and center.

Hakuho, as usual, was at the foot of the dohyo, exercising:

And Kisenosato… was doing his “dance”:

I still don’t know what this is, really. An attempt to stretch the scar tissue in his chest?

Tochinoshin, being Tochinoshin, was on the dohyo, giving some love to Shodai:

I’m not sure the kawaigari was Shodai’s biggest torture this day, though. Here is a very suspicious game some of the rikishi invented. Do rock-paper-scissors. The loser gets one of his nipples busted. Serious ouch. The first victim is Yutakayama.

First, I would think this is the last game Kagayaki would want to get involved in. Second, from the way they arrange a barrier of rikishi when they do the deed, I think they know they are over the line.

Next victim is Shodai:

Now Yutakayama is doing the barrier thing – but that doesn’t stop him from signing an autograph while Shodai learns the meaning of pain.

In the next exchange, Yutakayama has a very worried face and very defensive stance. I wonder how many of those he lost. But this time, the head criminal, Tamawashi, is the one who loses. And he doesn’t take that very well.

Eventually, though, he straightens up and growls at Shodai: “Do it. Do it already!”, and Yutakayama turns around and guards the scene.

Mmm… I wouldn’t recommend showing any of this to your kindergarten kids. They may get ideas.

Rikishi abuse didn’t end at the dohyo-iri, though. Here is Ryuden pinning Arikawa to the wall. The other day I thought that Arikawa was Shohozan’s tsukebito, but as it turns out, he is Kisenosato’s. Hence the white gloves.

This must be right after or right before Kisenosato’s dohyo-iri. Ryuden is already in his fighting mawashi as his torikumi was the second. Kagayaki seems to be still in his kesho-mawashi (he is Kisenosato’s tachimochi).

The only bout I have is this rather low-quality video of Onosho vs. Shohozan.

The first time I watched it I thought I was watching a bit of shokkiri. Only after the announcer calls the kimarite and says it’s Onosho’s win that I became somewhat convinced that this was an actual match.

Here is your Tobizaru.

Tobizaru in a bona-fide sumo moment on the dohyo.

Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

Hakuho Dohyo Iri Day 2

The fans were out in force today in Nagoya, and I mean everyone was far too warm and fanning themselves with vigor. Parts of Japan are facing a very moist and hot summer this year, which is natural for that part of the world. While it may be uncomfortable for the fans sitting near the dohyo, it’s brutal on the clay, under the hot lights and struggling to out muscle a 400 pound opponent. Worse still is the lot of the gyoji. Not only do they have to stay up there for a series of matches, as the day wears on (and the temperatures rise), the regalia the gyojis wear increases in layers, accessories and complexities. One has to assume that during the Makuuchi matches, the poor gyoji is drenched in his own broth.

Highlight Matches

Hokutofuji defeats Akiseyama – Hokutofuji looking decidedly less awesome today in his win over Juryo visitor Akiseyama.

Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – Ishiura delivers some decent sumo today, stays mobile and keeps Kotoeko off balance. As a result he is able to stick the uwatedashinage for a respectable win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – The only thing more impressive than the way that Okinoumi was able to keep Asanoyama away form his belt was the moment Asanoyama says, “To hell with it”, and just rolls Okinoumi over and thrusts him down.

Onosho defeats Arawashi – Nice tachiai from Arawashi, who worked to get a right hand on the mawashi from the start, but Onosho overpowered every attempt and controlled the match. The end features a classic Arawashi cartwheel / tumble.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji never really was able to generate much offense against Endo, who absorbed the tachiai and turned the Isegahama man, then stepped out of the way when Takarafuji pressed forward.

Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – Big Chiyotairyu unleashes denshamichi-sumo (railroad sumo) on Yoshikaze and derails any hope the berserker might have had for a day 2 win.

Kaisei defeats Daishomaru – Its hard to describe a giant, lumbering rikishi as genki, but so far Kaisei is really looking dialed into his sumo. He made quick work of Daishomaru.

Takakeisho defeats Kagayaki – This was always going to be an odd match. Takakeisho got the better of the tachiai, but Kagayaki set up the oshi attack first, and best by getting inside. There were a couple of kinetic slaps that really rang out during the match, at one point the crowd gasps, as these two held nothing back. Then Kagayaki decided to go for a haymaker aimed at Takakeisho’s face, and lost focus. Sad mistake, Mr Fundamentals, as Takakeisho dropped his hips and gave him one blast of the “wave action tsuppari” and that was all it took to send Kagayaki clear of the tawara. This was the first time that Takakeisho was able to beat Kagayaki.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – As we previewed, Abi’s reach advantage is meaningless against Ichinojo. But Abi’s extreme maneuverability nearly carried the day, as he circled to his left and got behind the Mongolian, and nearly shoved him out. To his credit, Ichinojo recovered rapidly. The near loss clearly energized him and he attacked with purpose, getting a mawashi grip and finishing Abi in seconds. I do like Abi, but I pray he expands his sumo before everyone figures out how to shut down his only effective attack.

Mitakeumi defeats Ikioi – Great effort from both men, a solid tachiai followed by decision to go for the belt. Sadly it looks like Ikioi went too far forward reaching down to Mitakeumi’s hips, and Mitakeumi deftly encouraged him to follow through and hit the clay. Will Mitakeumi finally hit double digits?

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – They had a tough time getting this one started, but the actual match featured a Goeido hit and shift, so lksumo was nearly correct (he was expecting a Goeido henka). Tamawashi sailed past Goeido and into Shohozan’s ringside lap.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyonokuni – Tochinoshin likely knew going into this one that he would never get a hand on Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and might very well injure himself if he tried too hard. So he chose to meet Chiyonokuni with his own brand of flailing oshi-zumo that included a couple of half hearted attempts at the mawashi. Just to be clear, when you have someone that strong putting his elbow into your face, that’s going to be a big deal. He overwhelmed the faster, more mobile Chiyonokuni and it was over in a hurry.

Takayasu wins against Shohozan – Takayasu gets a freebee as Shohozan absorbs a pride-obliterating slipiotoshi and falls down on the dohyo after he clearly established the upper hand in the match. Officially recorded as a tsukihiza (knee touch down), it’s one of the non-winning moves (more or less, a losing move). Takayasu looks quite iffy right now. At least he can bank 2 wins in 2 days, but his fans all need to hope he’s not too hurt, and can get his sumo together.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Wow, Kakuryu is looking very solid right now. He accepted Kotoshogiku’s invitation to go chest to chest, and Kotoshogiku engaged in as much hug-n-chug as he could muster. But in true Kakuryu form, he kept shifting his weight from foot to foot, preventing Kotoshogiku from pumping with both legs. As his rocking motion increased, he danced Kotoshogiku to the tawara and followed through with a classic uwatenage. Excellent form by Kakuryu today.

Hakuho defeats Shodai – No cartoon sumo for Shodai today. No anvils, Acme brand giant magnets or pianos dropping from the sky. The first time through, Hakuho launches for the kill straight off the line, with the gyoji screaming matta and chasing him down. Hakuho follows through and puts Shodai out (that’s how you do it), but they are going to try again. What was fun about the second match was it was more or less identical to the first. Hakuho wins, and looked quite solid doing it.

Natsu Day 12 Preview

Natsu Day 12

The yusho race is down to Ozeki hopeful Tochinoshin, and both Yokozuna. Faced with a lack of San’yaku rikishi, and possibly a desire to have a three way yusho race going into the final weekend of the basho, the planned match between Hakuho and Tochinoshin has been scheduled for day 12. Sure we can talk about other matches of note, but this one is going to be pivotal for several reasons.

Firstly, we can think of it as Tochinoshin’s final exam for his Ozeki bid. Many would successfully argue that he is the only rikishi in this tournament who is performing and Ozeki levels, and they would certainly not be wrong. But beating the dai-Yokozuna would dismiss even the most negative decision maker’s concern.

We can also consider that a loss by Hakuho here would possibly knock him out of the yusho race, and it would be the strongest signal yet that his days are waning. Given how fierce a competitor Hakuho is, and how ruthless he is when the chips are down, I think he will bring everything he has to this day 12 match.

At this point, the topic of a Tochinoshin yusho is front of mind as well. He is looking as least as good as he did in January when he took the Hatsu yusho, and many of the weakness in the upper San’yaku ranks persist today. Simply put, the promotion lanes are wide open. Some rikishi who have been wanting to get in position for some time, Mitakeumi and Tamawashi, appear to be missing their chance as a tougher, stronger, more dedicated man beats them to the prize.

In the rest of the matches, the schedulers are starting to give us huge leaps in the banzuke, with mid-Maegashira taking on men at the bottom of the roster. Many of these are simple “gimme” matches, others are fun examples of testing out the lower ranked men against their possible slots in Nagoya. Others represent the problems in the torikumi due to kyujo, dominant heya and other factors that impinge on rank-appropriate matches.

Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Tochinoshin
Chasers – Kakuryu, Hakuho

4 Matches Remain.

What We Are Watching Day 12

Daishomaru vs Nishikigi – Daishomaru has a legitimate chance to pick up kachi-koshi, as it’s possible that Nishikigi will succumb to the 9-2 career advantage, and huge difference in the banzuke between M9 Daishomaru and M17 Nishikigi.

Takekaze vs Kagayaki – M14 vs M8 with Kagayaki needing 2 more wins for kachi-koshi. Takekaze in converse is 1 loss away from make-koshi. The career records favors Kagayaki 5-2.

Ryuden vs Sadanoumi – M7 vs M14, with Ryuden already make-koshi and Sadanoumi having a legitimate shot at kachi-koshi. They have fought 3 times before, with Ryuden taking 2 of them. Having watched Ryuden the last few days, he seems genuinely dispirited at this point, so the outcome is very much in play.

Aoiyama vs Chiyomaru – A battle of the big’uns, we get M13 Aoiyama vs M7 Chiyomaru, both of whom are within reach of a kachi-koshi. Chiyomaru has shown some glimpses of sharp sumo in the last few days, including his day 11 match with Asanoyama.

Chiyoshoma vs Takakeisho – M10 Takakeisho is a fierce competitor who has displayed overwhelming tenacity thus far. His sumo may appear to some as “run around crazy and get the other guy to fall down”, but his oshi-style sumo is quite distinct, and in some ways more effective than the rest of the army of pusher-thruster rikishi. He holds a 4-2 career advantage over M6 Chiyoshoma.

Shohozan vs Shodai – Even though Shodai lost his day 11 match with Yokozuna Hakuho, he once again produced a slapstick result, with Hakuho somehow bumbling his face into Shodai’s shoulder. This leads me to consider if Shodai is actually some kind of cartoon character, and will manage to drop an anvil on Shohozan. Surprisingly, out of their 9 prior matches, Shodai has won 6 of them.

Daieisho vs Abi – Abi’s day 11 match was a fine example of how to dismantle his offense, and if Daieisho was watching, I hope he spends the morning practicing with his tsukebito. Otherwise his short reach may be to Abi’s advantage.

Mitakeumi vs Chiyotairyu – A Mitakeumi win here would give him a kachi-koshi and Chiyotairyu a make-koshi at the same time. Chiyotairyu is looking dispirited in the past few days, as it seems everyone has his number right now. His biggest issue is lateral movement. He’s very strong forward. His balance is also hampered by his belly.

Kaisei vs Endo – Now that he is make-koshi, perhaps Endo will win a few to cushion his fall down the Banzuke. I am sure the NSK would like Endo healthy, genki and back in the San’yaku for September in Tokyo. So I am going to guess they want him as close to 7-8 as he can manage.

Kotoshogiku vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo pushing for kachi-koshi here. Kotoshogiku will try to go chest to chest right away, and I am sure that Ichinojo will give it to him for the asking. The Kyushu Bulldozer holds a slight 5-4 advantage over The Boulder, so this match is far from certain.

Kakuryu vs Ikioi – Ikioi limps around and is in pain, but he’s also kachi-koshi now. Kakuryu needs to dispatch him to keep 1 behind Tochinoshin. Ikioi has won 3 of their 11 career matches, but with his injuries and Kakuryu’s focus on staying in range for the yusho weekend barnyard brawl, I am guessing Ikioi is going down.

Tochinoshin vs Hakuho – Tochinoshin has never beaten Hakuho. If that changes today, it will (as described above) mark a fundamental shift in sumo. Welcome to the final exam, Tochinoshin. We are eagerly waiting your outcome.