Jungyo Newsreel – Day 15

🌐 Location: Ota ward, Tokyo

Today we are still in Tokyo, in a part that’s mostly known for the Haneda Airport which is located there. Indeed, the official name for today’s event is “Haneda International Basho”.

An update on the sick list: Chiyonoumi is once again off the Torikumi, Yoshikaze is back on it.

We have already seen rikishi arrive early in the morning, eyes blurry, getting off busses, etc. But who are these two elegant gentlemen showing up at the venue? Are they lawyers? Doctors?

No, those are in fact these two gentlemen and co-workers from Kokoknoe beya:

Namely, yobidashi Shigeru, and Gyoji Kimura Konosuke. And Konosuke looks spiffy in his usual red kimono, and… what’s this, a tantō?

We are always told that only a tate-gyoji (that is, either Kimura Shonosuke or Shikimori Inosuke) wear a tanto – the short sword tucked into the left side of the belt. This is a symbolic expression of the gyoji’s commitment to perform seppuku if he misjudges a bout. So what is Konosuke doing wearing one? He is a mere san-yaku gyoji, there is not a hint of purple in his laces!

The answer to that is that while san-yaku gyoji do not wear tanto during bouts, they do wear it when they accompany a Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And it’s Konosuke’s turn today to accompany Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind. Back to the hand-shaking corner of the venue, where the Iwasaki brothers are showing us their muscles:

At one side of the venue, Abi is working out with Shodai. Well, kind of:

Why is everybody after me? I don’t look anything like Enho!

Shohozan is doing suri-ashi and manages to frighten the NSK’s SNS team:

Kotoeko is also working on his lower body:

Enho is also near one of the walls, having a quiet morning workout with Tobizaru:

But Enho has got to be the most popular wrestler in the top two divisions, because we shortly find him also serving as Mitakeumi’s teppo pole:

The little teppo pole turns all rebellious all of a sudden.

Perhaps the most impressive Enho practice pic of the day is this one:

Is it Ichinojo who dwarfs Enho, or Enho who giants Ichinojo?

The size difference between these two is enormous. Ichinojo is slightly bigger than two Enhos combined.

Next to the dohyo, Takayasu decides to give Onosho some personal tutoring.

I mean, close personal tutoring:

That is, very close, and very personal tutoring:


OK, well, they actually were practicing sumo there. Suri-ashi, for example:

He was also teaching him his new move:

We will reveal to you in a day or two what the secret move is! But in the meantime, let’s look at some practice bouts: Ryuden-Aoiyama, Asanoyama-Hokutofuji. Followed by a short glimpse of Hakuho and Takayasu who are not doing any on-dohyo practice at the moment.

With practice over, the rikishi head for the showers, which happen to be on-location this time. This means a great line of fans waiting outside of the shower.

It’s… good to be the king?

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And this time Enho is on the East side (not that he participates in the torikumi or anything), which makes Chiyomaru on the West lonely. He has no one to bump into… except Daiamami:

By the way, this day is Chiyomaru’s birthday! This has to be the reason why the only bout I have is his bout with Kotoyuki:

Kotoyuki sends the birthday boy almost into the arms of the awaiting Makuuchi wrestlers down the hana-michi.

Chiyomaru hurries out to celebrate his birthday with some cake, which the reporters have promised him. And in his hurry, he doesn’t notice he has interrupted a significant moment:

“Hmm. I wonder why Kakuryu’s tsukebito is wearing an oicho-mage…”

That moment which he has interrupted is the moment in which Kasugaryu hands over his bow to Shohoryu, who is wearing an oicho-mage for the first time and is about to perform his first yumi-tori shiki.

But that let’s see what kind of birthday celebration Chiyomaru gets.

Ah, this kind:

Congratulations, round one! Now it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri and Yokozuna dohyo-iri.

But it’s hard to be a Yokozuna when everybody around you, including your tsukebito, tsuyuharai and tachi-mochi, exchange jokes and laugh out loud, and you are the only one who has to control his face:

A hint of a smile remains, though

Now all the Makuuchi wrestlers can get ready for their bouts. Like, for example, Nishikigi and Ryuden

Interesting way to pass the time. But not as interesting as Shodai’s way:

Poor Asakura.

The two clowns are everywhere. Ichinojo suddenly has a mind to get friendly with Shodai. Shodai is not in the mood to be crushed right before his bout:

Oy, hands off, get off of me!

Luckily for him, somebody calls out “Ichinojo zeki”. He immediately points out to Ichinojo that a fan of his has arrived:

Do your duty, man!

Ichinojo complies, and puts on his fansa face:

“I actually have a fan!”

We are not done with Nishikigi. He is still in the joi, so that means he waits for his bout a long time. And that means a lot of mischief. This time the victim is pretty Toshonishiki:

Again, recall that Nishikigi has the strongest armpits in Makuuchi. I wouldn’t want to trade places with poor Toshonishiki.

What does the expression on Onosho’s face mean? Is he admiring Abi’s shiko? Or is he preparing a salt-laden ladle? You be the judge.

Just to prove to you that Hakuho is not alone in being chased by the fans, here is Kakuryu on the way to his bout:

He certainly doesn’t need to find something to keep him busy during the wait.

Finally, as anticipated, let’s take a look at Shohoryu’s debut yumi-tori shiki:

Green, very green. He’ll need to learn how to wear a kesho-mawashi – his fundoshi is showing through. And he had a few mistakes here and there. But he is better than Kasugaryu at passing the bow behind his back.

And I leave off with the pin-up of the day – Asanoyama:

Haru Day 7 Preview

We have reached the middle weekend of the Haru basho, and I would like to remark that thus far, poor injured Chiyonokuni is the only kyujo. Everyone else, even the horrifically battered Ikioi, is holding tough and competing each day. This is in stark contrast to some of the tournaments in the past year that saw the carnage stack up the injured starting almost from the middle of act 1. With any luck, we will see a robust group make it into the final 5 days, and have a real battle for the cup.

What We Are Watching Day 7

Ishiura vs Toyonoshima – Ishiura is still at 4 wins (after back to back losses), and Toyonoshima is due to win one. Toyonoshima’s issue will be his limited mobility in the face of Ishiura’s tendency to not be where you think you saw him last.

Terutsuyoshi vs Takagenji – Takagenji visits from Juryo, and maybe he can bring a change of fortune for hapless Terutsuyoshi, who seems almost certain to be returned to Juryo for May. I would not dispair, as I am sure Terutsuyoshi is part of the future of the top division. This may not yet be his time.

Tomokaze vs Yutakayama – Both 3-3, both are very similar in size, build and approach to sumo. This is also their first time meeting. While Tomokaze can likely absorb a mild make-koshi if it comes to that, Yutakayama is on the bubble, and will need any win he can get in any way he can manufacture one.

Shohozan vs Yoshikaze – These two have 15 prior matches, which favor Yoshikaze 10-5. We saw a bit of a spark of Yoshikaze’s fighting spirit day 6, can he blow on that spark and finish Haru with a winning record?

Yago vs Kotoshogiku – This will be Yago’s first time to enjoy Kotoshogiku’s unique sumo style. Hopefully he keeps that washcloth handy.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Aoiyama only has 1 loss so far, and he holds a 17-3 career advantage over Takarafuji. If you think that through, he is very much in the hunt right now going into the middle weekend, and likely to still be viable come Monday.

Okinoumi vs Asanoyama – For whatever reason, Okinoumi has yet to beat Asanoyama in the 5 prior times they have fought. I also look at the gap between 4-2 Asanoyama, and 3-3 Yutakayama, 8 ranks lower on the banzuke, and remember that at this point last year, Yutakayama was the stronger rikishi.

Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Oh goodie – two rikishi who hit like a ton of bricks at the tachiai and are not afraid to deliver enough force in one blow to push over a typical Japanese work truck. If Onosho can keep the match going more than 10 seconds, he will have the upper hand.

Abi vs Ichinojo – I would recommend Konosuke visit the adjacent Edo museum prior to today’s top division bouts, and arrange to borrow some of the field armor on display, should Abi once again take to the air. Abi’s extreme mobility might pose a real problem for Ichinojo, so I am going to be curious to see if the big Mongolian can somehow limit his ability to escape.

Tochiozan vs Myogiryu – 27 lifetime matches between these two, split 14-13. So let’s just call it even and say that both of them are having terrible tournaments thus far.

Kaisei vs Tamawashi – At some point, Kaisei is going to start winning. But he needs to make it soon, as a loss on day 7 to the Hatsu yusho winner would reduce him to a 0-7 start.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – Takakeisho has only beaten Daieisho once in their 4 prior matches [but one of those was in Juryo, and the other 3 in 2017 -lksumo]. Takakeisho needs all of the wins he can gather prior to his second-week push for double digits. Right now he’s at a workable 4-2, but he has looked less dominant than his Hatsu basho form.

Tochinoshin vs Endo – Sure Endo only has one win, and I expect that Tochinoshin will find a way to take another white star from the man with a black eye.

Mitakeumi vs Goeido – Mitakeumi had such a strong start to this basho, folks may have forgotten that he had (and still has) a fairly serious knee injury. Now at 3-3, he’s going to try to blunt Goeido’s opening gambits, and stay in the match long enough to get a chance to win.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – The 4-2 career match record surprisingly favors Hokutofuji, but with good reason. The “Handshake Tachiai” is a perfect foil for Takayasu’s normal shoulder blast, as it will pin the Ozeki before he can follow through, and will switch Takayasu from an offensive to a defensive focus. I hope to see Takayasu use the same approach we saw days 5 and 6 here, and take another win from Hokutofuji, who seems to be a bit ragged and chaotic this basho.

Nishikigi vs Kakuryu – Nishikigi has zero wins for Haru. He has been shut down by every one of the san’yaku rikishi he has endured for the first 6 days, and his tour will feature Yokozuna Kakuryu today. He still might face both Komusubi later, so I am predicting a hearty make-koshi for sumo’s Cinderella man.

Hakuho vs Shodai – Shodai is also at 0-6, and I will be curious to see if he acquits himself at least as well as Nishikigi did on day 6. Shodai has looked worse this tournament than any prior time in the last year, so I am truly hoping this is a catalyst that drives him to higher performance in the remainder of 2019. The man has potential, but for some reason is not striving to unlock it.