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.
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:
After a day of hiatus spent in their homes or heyas, the rikishi get back together for an event at Kawasaki. The locals have used that day to prepare the dohyo:
Interestingly, this video shows the venue with normal lighting, but for some reason, on the day itself, the lighting was changed such that most of the stadium was shrouded in darkness, with spotlights on the dohyo. Although perfectly normal for performances, this is a bit unusual for a Jungyo event, and it caused sideline photos to come out… not exactly pleasing:
On the other hand, photos taken on or around the dohyo tended to be artistic or dramatic, like this Abi shot, showing him preparing for Showdown:
Still, there was action both near and away from the dohyo. Shohozan was trying to do suri-ashi, and got a bit flustered by the presence of the NSK camera:
Enho was trying to help Onosho with his seiza.
But it seems like this drove Onosho to stop doing seiza and do something to the poor suddenly alarmed pixie. I’m not sure whatever follows is fit for the consumption of children.
Off to the side Nishikigi is doing Nishikigi things to a low-ranked rikishi.
I would feel a lot more sympathy for his victim, if that victim wasn’t Hikarugenji, Arawashi’s tsukebito, who has beaten up a younger rikishi in his heya last year, who left the world of sumo because of that. So go right ahead, yay Nishikigi!
Not far away from them, Ichinojo is practicing with Chiyoshoma (and yes, it’s the lighting again):
Quite brave of Chiyoshoma to attempt that.
Gagamaru was wrapping himself up:
Every sekitori has a taping kit. Some of them need quite a lot.
Kakuryu… is upgrading from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Alien:
Still a little low on the fangs, though.
At the dohyo, Toyonoshima and Goeido are enjoying each other’s company:
Tomokaze is preparing for a big day. He is the local boy here at Kawasaki. And this means lots of butsukari, and a special extra bout (we’ll get to that).
Endo is doing proper suri-ashi:
Ichinojo gets up on the dohyo:
Though he seems a bit puzzled as to what he is supposed to do on it. We’ll, he’ll remember eventually. Oh yes, Ichinojo and Takakeisho both resumed on-dohyo practice.
In fact, both Ichinojo and Yoshikaze are back on the torikumi as of today. On the other hand, Chiyonoumi is off the Torikumi. I don’t know what the nature of his injury is, though.
Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. Here are Mitoryu and Takanosho:
Kiribayama vs. Daiseido:
Nice leg muscles, Daiseido.
Okinoumi vs. Meisei:
Meisei and local-boy Tomokaze:
Kaisei and Asanoyama:
Practice over! The sekitori hit the baths, and only a lonely mawashi and lonelier leg brace remain at the venue to tell the tale:
But of course, they’ll be back. In fact, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And guess who is being bumped from behind?
Enho is getting groped and rubbed against so much in this Jungyo, I heard that JR East is preparing a specially designated “Enho Car” on applicable train lines, as part of its harassment prevention efforts.
Chiyomaru is using his belly to great effect, also to get attention from the ladies as he awaits his bout:
With the Juryo bouts in the background, a Yokozuna prepares for his rope-tying demonstration, just like yesterday. Today it’s Hakuho’s turn:
Note that a Yokozuna wears his kesho-mawashi differently than other rikishi – the top of the apron is tucked into the mawashi rather than covering the Yokozuna’s belly.
By the way, Hakuho was asked what he thought about the US President’s plan to come watch sumo on Senshuraku of the Natsu basho. He said “I’m grateful. It’s still not clear if it will happen or not, but I plan to do my best”.
Time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and Yago is using Ryuden as a sock-puppet:
Terutsuyoshi and Shohozan are practicing their nirami-ai. That is, the dreaded stare-down. And those two are really good at it. You’d think they are actually angry at each other:
Following the dohyo-iri, but before the regular Makuuchi matches, a very special match took place – one that you’re probably never going to see in honbasho.
Yoshikaze vs. Tomokaze.
The two are holding a gift of snacks from the city. Tomokaze was born is Kawasaki, as I mentioned. The reason that you are not going to see this in honbasho is that they are from the same heya (and very unlikely to be in a yusho playoff together). In fact, Tomokaze served as Yoshikaze’s tsukebito, and out of respect, continued to do so even when he became sekitori, only quitting once he reached Makuuchi.
So these two are very tight, in a mentor-apprentice kind of way. And they also swore they will do this bout completely “gachinko” (“honest”).
Time for the regular bouts. I do not have much in the way of video, but here is Hokutofuji who adopted Nishikigi and Shohozan’s idea of becoming a spectator:
With the lighting in the venue being what it is, you’d think somebody would take an artistic photo of Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw… ah… here it is:
Ryuden seems to enjoy his match with Shohozan, the other starer, quite a lot:
Also, it appears that Abi’s watch has made it to 5 minutes to 6!
But as for his bout itself… he must be the world’s worst yotsu wrestler. Get that ass down, Abi-long-legs!
Well, that’s Tomokaze he is engaging there. So maybe he knows he shouldn’t beat the local boy. Tomokaze wins this one, and marks his victory to all as he goes back to the dressing room:
Here is some news footage from this event, showing mostly Takakeisho – including his daily Tochinoshin bluff match.
As the sekitori all go home, we stop and admire Tsurugisho’s purse:
And while Ichinojo’s bag is rather plain, his weapon of choice is…
…a very stressed water bottle?
See you tomorrow, big boulder! And in our pin-up corner today, we have:
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!”. Hakuho: 😆 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:
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:
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?