Day 2 – lower division summary

Despite the many high-profile bouts today, there were fewer videos to present. Let’s look at what we have:

Ura, watched by yusho winners past

Here is a collection of bouts from Jonokuchi. The most notable one is the second bout, featuring Roga, the new Mongolian recruit of Futagoyama beya, vs. Yuriki. It’s worth looking from the beginning, just to compare him to the very, very green Hamasu (left side) who is also participating in his first ranked basho. Hamasu gets corrected when he tries to perform his shikiri outside the ring. And he is soon beaten by the more experienced Narumi.

Roga is a totally different story. Although it’s his debut bout, and his rival has the body mass and chon-mage to attest his experience, Roga is the more skilled rikishi on the dohyo. This one will be wearing a kesho-mawashi in 2020 (barring injury, of course).

Sandanme

Yesterday I gave you Satonofuji, and today, his heir to the bow, Kasugaryu, going vs. a bigger Koshinoryu:

I think there is something extra nimble about those yumi-tori rikishi. They need to keep themselves flexible and mobile. This has some effect on their sumo as well.

Makushita

The only official American rikishi, Musashikuni, faced Kototsubasa in his first bout of the hatsu basho.

But oy, that koshi-daka. Unfortunately, despite being assigned to an Ozeki as tsukebito, Musashikuni’s stance is not improving. Maybe because Takayasu is currently the wrong Ozeki to emulate. Kototsubasa is smaller, and has an advantage from the get go attacking from below.

Here is Wakatakamoto, the eldest of the Onami brothers, and the lowest ranked, vs. Ryuseio:

The two elder brothers are dying to catch up with their younger brother. Wakatakamoto attacks Ryuseio with much genki, envelopes and leads him out in the blink of an eye.

I have been waiting for Hoshoryu’s performance this basho. In my mind’s eye, I saw him meeting Ura… maybe in the second week, preferably in the yusho playoff.

Alas, this was not to be. Kizakiumi made short work of the famous nephew, and Hoshoryu is out of the yusho race as early as day 2, and will only meet Ura if the latter drops a match – which we all, of course, hope he doesn’t.

Speaking of whom, here is Pretty-in-Pink, back in action. For the time being, only his sagari is pink. He faces the very populare Takakento (former Takanohana beya, currently Chiganoura), who is one of Takakeisho’s tsukebito together with Takataisho. Let’s watch:

Seriously, Musashikuni should have stayed to watch after his own bout, to see what a proper stance was. Ura is so low that it’s lucky his sagari is not stiffened or the rods would be bent.

Here is Tomisakae. Two basho ago, he had an excellent basho but last basho he hit the upper Makushita wall and dropped a bit. Here he is against the much bigger Tokushinho, trying to recapture that magic.

SumoSoul said it… Against Tokushinho’s big weight, came Tomisakae’s attack from down below. And like Musashikuni, Tokushinho yields with little resistance.

I have added the Juryo digest to Josh’s excellent recap, be sure to visit it!

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 10 (Dec 11)

🌐 Location: Fukiagecho, Hioki, Kagoshima
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We now move to the Kagoshima prefecture, which boasts several rikishi of fame. There are the Kinoshita brothers, Chiyomaru and Chiyootori, Meisei and Daiamami. There is even a rikishi who is from Hioki city itself, though admittedly, a less well-known one:

Kiseoka of Kise beya, local boy

Early morning, and in the handshake corner, we finally get to see Yoshikaze in his mawashi rather than yukata:

Rash or no rash? Maybe the aftermath of rash?

Inside, as usual, the Kokonoe rikishi are diligently working out around the dohyo. Kokonoe oyakata assures us that Chiyosakae is, in fact, serious:

As you know, the rikishi don’t have commercial weights available during the Jungyo, so they lift each other. Chiyomaru starts by lifting up Chiyonoumi, a reasonable 140kg weight. But then Chiyonoumi starts lifting Chiyomaru:

Now, that’s a 140kg rikishi lifting 191kg… 😨

By the way, notice those zabuton (sitting cushions) laid down on the floor? Take a look at one close-up:

The organizers of the event commissioned the design for these cushions from Kototsurugi. And Kototsurugi did a wonderful job – the light reflecting off Hakuho’s eyes! The shadow of the oicho-mage on the reflective, oiled hair! It’s a wonderful memento to take home with you… only… sitting on a Yokozuna’s face?

Some fans did sit on these zabuton. Not Hakuho fans, I guess. Others preferred sitting on zabuton they brought with them and holding the gift ones in their hands (“I hugged it and watched sumo!” said one of the spectators). The next day, when Asashoryu saw this he tweeted his indignation in two separate outraged tweets and even tried to get a reaction from Hakuho. Hakuho is not an idiot, of course, and didn’t react. At least not in public. He just kept on doing his thing:

I’m betting he got to sign a lot of those cushions at the end of the day.

His little pixie uchi-deshi also did his thing. That is, turned on the kawaii production to max:

Standing up, cute. Crouching down, also cute:

Tochinoshin was doing his shiko below the dohyo:

And Juryo rikishi were practicing on the dohyo:

I’m not sure when Chiyomaru had time to interview for the local news:

Maybe during the Makuuchi practice?

I guess he is getting himself used to being in Juryo.

Here is Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:

Tochinoshin doesn’t like to lose.

In the afternoon part of the event, Daiamami took the opportunity to get a photo with the sumo club of his alma mater, the Kagoshima Commercial Senior High School:

Enho was taking a stroll through the concession stand, where some fan sneaked in some unspecified unlicensed cheeky merchandise that managed to make Enho gasp, laugh, and apparently, feign anger:

Hey, calm down, pixie! Don’t beat up the customers!

No, I really have no idea what the fake merchandise was. The tweets I read that in had that part intentionally redacted. All we are left with is a pixie who is cute even when he tries to look fierce. And of course, Tomokaze who gets his share of pixie skin.

You can catch some glimpses of bouts in this video. Yes, it’s a video of a TV set showing a news segment. What you see are the local stars:

Also, enjoy Abi’s shiko:

And here is an expression you’ll never, ever see on the Yokozuna’s face when he gets ready to throw his salt in honbasho. Jungyo exclusive face here:

The day ends with Kasugaryu twirling his bow:

And this post ends with a double header in the pin-up corner:

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 7 (Dec 8)

🌐 Location: Takamori, Aso District, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We have a short one today, as few fans blessed us with photographs or videos from this town by Mount Aso in Kumamoto.

There are two sekitori from Kumamoto prefecture, so they starred today, and will be celebrated in the next two days as well. I give you Sadanoumi, in a Myogiryu Paisley yukata, and Shodai, in a dragonfly motif.

You’ll note that everybody was wearing yukata for their handshake this time. The temperature was 0ºC in the morning, and I guess the strict oyakata felt a little guilty going around in their own warm Uniqlo padded vests and having the rikishi freeze. You may also notice that they are not wearing any obi – my guess is that they have their mawashi on under the yukata.

Inside the main hall, though, the rikishi are in their mawashi, and keep warm by doing exercise. Here is Asanoyama doing his suri-ashi:

What does “suri-ashi” mean? Listen to the sound track. It means “sliding feet”. The feet are supposed to slide along the ground when you do suri-ashi, rather than be lifted.

Chiyomanu, on the other hand, was doing… what is he doing?

He was doing this repeatedly. It must be practice! Practice for… er… some father-son day in the distant future, where there will be sack racing?

On the dohyo, Nishikigi was giving butsukari to Onosho:

Easy. Abi giving butsukari to Endo:

Note that if the submissive is too successful and gives the dominant no opportunity to roll him, the dominant will sometimes signal for an itten – in which the submissive symbolically hits his chest, and is then rolled immediately. An itten is also how a butsukari session ends – and sometimes there may be more than one to finish the session (especially in kawaigari sessions).

Tochinoshin offers his chest to Daieisho:

Here is some moshi-ai:

Is that Endo again? Not sure. Meisei beats him, and Abi as well – and Abi is definitely practicing yotsu again.

Tochinoshin takes up Chiyotairyu:

Time to go away and take a relaxing bath. Coming back – in his own van – is the dai-Yokozuna, already in full regalia. And Mongolian though he is, the cold is getting to him, too:

So Kasugaryu wraps him up with his yukata. It’s good to be the king!

I do not have any bouts or even bout photos from this day’s event, but here is a video of the san-yaku soroi-bumi (“kore yori sanyaku”):

What this video tells us is that, for the first time in this Jungyo, Hakuho is participating in the bouts!

Indeed, according to the press, this was the first bout he had since leaving the Aki Jungyo and having his surgery. He beats Takayasu by yori-kiri, to much applause.

And today’s pin-up boy is:

One of the spectators asked him to hold her boy in his arms (dakko – the Japanese believe that if a rikishi holds your child he or she will grow up strong and healthy). After letting him down, he keeps patting the child’s head and talking to him. The kid seems to be interested in his sagari!

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 2 (Dec 3)

Nice, fluffy zabuton… Too bad there is no chance of kinboshi

🌐 Location: Nogata, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

So, having only left it a few days ago, the rikishi find themselves back in Fukuoka. Well, not in the city of Fukuoka, but in the prefecture. Today’s event in Nogata is sponsored by Mochikichi, a long-time sponsor. So the event is called “Mochikichi basho”, and in exchange, the spectators get fluffier zabuton, yay!

A day before the event, while the rikishi were still in Nagasaki, two yobidashi were already in Nogata, to let everybody know that Grand Sumo is in town:

The sign reads “Coming up – Nihon Sumo Kyokai – Tomorrow”

This is called “furedaiko”. The yobidashi also stopped and let people know what important torikumi to expect.

This tradition comes from the Edo period – when they would do these rounds from morning till evening on the day before the competition. Too bad they are doing it in front of a virtually empty mall here.

The next day, rikishi arrive at the venue – including one king and his entourage (Yokozuna frequently have special accommodation arrangements so they arrive separately from the buses).

Note that the impressive regal arrival is somewhat marred by the fact that the royal person has to lean on Kasugaryu’s arm to walk to the venue. Hakuho is certainly not in a good condition. Take a look at the scars from his operation. The leg doesn’t look swollen or anything – but still, he leans on Kasugaryu.

“Ooh, amusing salt!” (He is actually talking to Kokonoe oyakata)

Hakuho took time to practice as much as he could, though.

Of course you know that the poor tsukebito on the bottom right is going to be in serious pain in a minute or so.

There were people other than Hakuho around the dohyo, though. For example, one smiling Yusho winner:

If you want to get a big smile from Takakeisho, just put him next to Daieisho.

Hakuho and Takakeisho also paid a visit to a shrine earlier on, and poured water on a “Jizou” – a protector Bodhisattva – for good fortune:

Back in the venue, here is shodai with a group of future rikishi:

The spectators seem to be younger and younger each Jungyo.

Let’s look at some practice bouts, shall we? Starting with Ishiura vs. Wakatakakage:

I guess he saves the henka for torikumi time. Next up – Nishikigi vs. Shohozan:

You’ll notice the bout is over before it’s technically over. This is part of moshi-ai, and I guess nobody wants to waste time on nearly-hopeless tawara dances. Shohozan had him in a very firm morozashi.

Up next, the tadpole buddies, Takakeisho and Onosho:

Remember when Onosho was the stronger one of the two?

It’s lunch time, and we have Wakamotoharu in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Chanko.

I wonder if those are for him, or if he’s taking one for his brother. Or maybe, both are for Wakatakakage. After all – sekitori eat first.

Dohyo-iri time, and Tamawashi, as usual, can’t keep his hands to himself:

Surprisingly, this gives Hokutofuji, who is right behind him, an idea what to do with his own arms:

Aha, Tamawashi! See how that feels?

Moving on to bout time, and here are a couple of diligent emergency rescue team members:

OK, maybe not so diligent. But the sign behind them definitely says they are the emergency rescue team members. Anybody feels like being rescued by Abi (わら)?

I have a couple of half-bouts to share. Sorry, apparently this sumo fan doesn’t think a tachiai is an important part of a sumo bout. 🙁

Kotoshogiku vs. Endo:

Once again, Endo gets to face the local favorite. Kotoshogiku doesn’t even have to engage in chug mode.

Shohozan vs. Takakeisho:

Hey, isn’t that the same morozashi Shohozan practice in that keiko match vs. Nishikigi earlier? Takakeisho tries the arm lock, but to no avail.

This next one is actually a Juryo bout, but I saved it for last, because, well, wow. Presenting Enho vs. Takekaze:

Wow. Just, Wow. In the last measurement, Enho weighed 97kg. Takekaze was 150kg.

And so, the Nogata event ends, and all the rikishi go back on their buses:

What, did you think I’d leave you without any pin-up rikishi for the day? That wouldn’t do. Here is Tobizaru, and he is, apparently, hot.

Note: My schedule has been taken over by, well, life. So don’t expect the next installment before Friday. Thank you for your patience!

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 12

Terutsuyoshi’s has been called “salty” in the past, but…

Today I have few bouts for you from the black cotton mawashi divisions for you, as the interesting yusho-related bouts start tomorrow. Er… in about an hour or so. We’ll get to that shortly.

Let’s start with a Jonidan bout. I picked this one up for the big name. Well, not that big, but familiar: Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito and the current official performer of the Yumitori-shiki. At this level, I wasn’t quite ready for the excellent sumo.

The rival is Chura, from Miyagino beya, which means he and Kasugaryu probably know each other quite well. But although Kasugaryu is Hakuho’s tsukebito, he is from Nakagawa beya rather than Miyagino, and so they are eligible for a match. (The video includes two additional matches – Tamanoryu/Okunisato, Dewanosora/Ezuka).

Wasn’t that lovely? Both sides have good control of their feet and balance, and so recover several times before the deciding move. I guess Kasugaryu’s age is one of the deciding factors. If Kasugaryu was Chura’s age, we might have ended up with a…

Niban-go torinaoshi

Here is a little gem for you. Sumo is not a sport of stamina. When the bout is long, the wrestlers lose much of their power. This, in turn, may prolong it further as they go into a leaning contest which is hard for either to break.

Therefore, there is a limit to the length of the bout. In the top two divisions, after four minutes of wrestling with the bout in a stalemate, a procedure called “Mizu-iri” (water break) takes place. This involves the gyoji (at a signal from the shimpan) tapping the wrestlers’ backs (much like when he needs to retie a mawashi). He then memorizes the positions of their feet and grips, and then they get a short break, after which they assume the same position, based on the gyoji’s memory and help from the video room if needed.

That’s a complex procedure, and in Makushita and below they have a simpler one. As the time limit is reached, again, the timekeeping shimpan signals to the head shimpan, who in turn raises a hand to attract the gyoji’s attention. But in this case, the bout is simply stopped, and a torinaoshi is called. The torinaoshi, unlike one that comes after a monoii resolution, doesn’t take place immediately, but rather, after the next two bouts. This allows the participants to rest a while.

Here is what it looks like, in today’s Jonidan bout between Kototaiko and Mori:

The video title says it’s a mizu-iri, but it isn’t one. The gyoji, it appears, is inexperienced, and the shimpan have to remind him what to do.

By the way, I should mention that although there are four sides to the dohyo, there are five shimpan sitting around it. The one sitting closest to the red tassel is the time-keeping shimpan (left hand ref in the video above).

For comparison, I’m adding a video of a mizu-iri, in the bout between Terunofuji and Ichinojo, Haru 2015. The video is timed just before the break.


Here is a Makushita bout between Ryuko and Ichiyamamoto. Ichiyamamoto has reached as far as Makushita 3 in the past year, but has struggled to survive in the Heaven/Hell interface area with his light frame. Ryuko is also a young up-and-comer, but also suffered a slump as he hit mid-Makushita – from which he seems to have recovered. They are both 4-1 coming into this bout.

Very nice ashitori there. Ryuko is the winner, and will continue his climb up the banzuke and into the purgatory area.

State of the Yusho races Makushita and below

In Jonokuchi, the only lossless rikishi, with 6-0, is Hatooka. Today he is facing Kojikara, who is 5-1. Besides Kojikara, four more wrestlers are 5-1. So if Hatooka wins, it’s his yusho, and if he loses, there will be an interesting playoff situation, where it’s still unclear how many will participate – between 3 and 5. This is because two of the wrestlers who are 5-1 (Yuma and Kokuryunami) have already faced each other, so they are scheduled for their last bout against wrestlers who are not in the yusho race, so both, either or neither may win. In short – ask me tomorrow!

The situation in Jonidan and Sandanme is slightly less confusing. Both of these divisions have three remaining 6-0 wrestlers. So the lowest ranked of the Sandanme 6-0 men, Fukunofuji, is scheduled against the highest ranked of the Jonidan 6-0 men, Mitsuuchi. Also scheduled tomorrow are Ura vs. Hikarifuji (the remaining Sandanme 6-0 men), and Kenho vs. Kotourasaki.

Thus, if Mitsuuchi wins, there will be a playoff in Jonidan on Senshuraku, whereas Sandanme will be decided today. If Fukunofuji wins, there will be a playoff in Sandame on Senshuraku, and Jonidan will be decided today. So anybody hoping to see Ura on Senshuraku should cheer for Fukunofuji.

The simplest situation is in Makushita – we have Sokokurai vs. Takaryu today. Winner is yusho, no playoff possible.

Juryo recap

  • Irodori is brought up from Makushita, perhaps as a test case to see if he should be promoted to Juryo from his Ms2 position. Jokoryu doesn’t waste much time taking him down. Irodori is make-koshi, and will not advance to Juryo this basho. Jokoryu still needs to win through to get his kachi-koshi.
  • Tobizaru is back to himself. A bit of a cautious start on the part of Azumaryu, and the monkey kicks his legs from under him. Yes, low kicks are a perfectly legitimate sumo technique. The monkey needs one more win for a kachi-koshi, Azumaryu will need to get two in the next three days.
  • Takekaze doesn’t seem to be able to do anything against Mitoryu, and is easily swept away. He cannot afford to lose any of the three remaining bouts or his drop down the banzuke will continue. Mitoryu in no danger, and seems to have finally overcome that injury he suffered in Haru.
  • Gokushindo faces Chiyonoo, and will probably face him again in Makushita next basho. Chiyonoo tries everything he can to avoid the double-digit make-koshi, but to no avail. Gokushindo finds an opening for a drop, and keeps his own make-koshi at a minimum for the time being.
  • Tsurugisho does not henka Shimanoumi, but still his sumo is a backward-moving one, and that doesn’t end well for him. He is nearing make-koshi land, and can’t afford a single loss, whereas Shimanoumi needs a single win in three days.
  • In an interview after this bout with Ishiura, Toyonoshima said that he is just no good at fighting with small rikishi. He is used to fighting taller rikishi and using his lower center of gravity to his advantage, but this is nullified when the opponent is short and low. Good sumo on Ishiura’s part today. He has a good chance at a kachi-koshi.
  • Highlight bout of the day – Terutsuyoshi, the leader, vs. Tomokaze, the newcomer. Terutsuyoshi does have a good mawashi hold, but that fatigue I mentioned yesterday shows. His feet remain on the tawara – Terutsuyoshi is nothing if not tenacious – but his body topples over, dipping his hair straight into the salt basket. The salt sticks to the suki-abura (the pomade used to keep the hairdo stiff) dying half of Terutsuyoshi’s hair white. Well, Terutsuyoshi is a sodium fan, so why not have some in his hair? Terutsuyoshi loses the lead.
  • Chiyonoumi is not a mawashi wrestler, but he hangs on to Takagenji for dear life. Eventually, the twin, who is more experienced in belt battles, gets a good hold on Chiyonoumi’s mawashi knot and rolls him. The knot is undone, and so is Chiyonoumi. He is make-koshi and should be very careful not to lose more because he is in the danger zone for demotion. Takagenji still needs to win out to avoid a make-koshi.
  • This bout between Enho and Kotoyuki was a really sad one. As a result of being locked yesterday by Mitoryu, Enho has lost his confidence in the technique that brought him all the way to the top of the leaderboard. Or perhaps it’s the remembered pain and being afraid Kotoyuki will do the same, as that arm lock seemed rather painful. Whichever, Enho tries to circle around Kotoyuki rather than getting inside, has no real plan, and his sumo is all the way back to what it was in his first Juryo visit. I hope he got some guidance from Hakuho about that (I’m assuming that Hakuho is still with his heya in Fukuoka), because although I don’t think he can contribute any of his own techniques to a deshi so different than him in body type, I’m sure he could teach him a river of knowledge about resilience and maintaining his self  confidence through difficulty. Enho drops to the chaser group.
  • Kyokushuho aggressive out of the Tachiai, but Tokushoryu twists himself and lets him drop down. Kyokushuho make-koshi, Tokushoryu staving off the make-koshi for the time being.
  • Not sure what to say about the Kyokutaisei-Daishoho bout. It just looked too easy. Daishoho suffers some unseen injury? Kyokutaisei needs one more win for a kachi-koshi.
  • Aminishiki getting dangerously close to make-koshi zone, again. He starts by pulling, rallies a bit and sticks his head into Hakuyozan’s chest. But he makes an untypical mistake by trying to drag Hakuyozan to the tawara and show him out. Hakuyozan keeps on his feet, but now Aminishiki is too close to the edge and easy to topple himself. Uncle Sumo usually has better dohyo sense than that.
  • Akiseyama starts the bout vs. Yago with a clear advantage and nearly manages to get him out. Yago can’t get a grip while Akiseyama has a good one. But then it seems that Yago simply doubles the output of power and Akiseyama suddenly moves backwards and out. Yago kachi-koshi, and we’ll see him in Kintamayama’s reel every day next basho.
  • Kotoeko makes good use of his weight advantage against Wakatakakage. It seems all the light-weight rikishi have started to flag towards the end of the basho – except Ishiura, who has been, er, preserving his strength. Ahem.

For the time being, Gokushindo and Chiyonoo seem certain to drop to Makushita in the next banzuke. They will be replaced by the top two wrestlers in Makushita, Daiseido and Gagamaru, who are both kachi-koshi. If a third rikishi drops – Gokushindo or Chiyonoumi – the most likely replacement is Sokokurai.