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.

Continue reading

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 11

Isn’t that a punch, boss?

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

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:

Hey Wilt, pass me the ball, I’m open!

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:

Draw!

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:

“I’m due around August. Ooh, did she just kick? Did you feel that?”

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:

“See, Ryuden is happily waving at you, dear fans”

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”).

Another angle:

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:

Chiyomaru! Because all body types are welcome!

❉ Except Akiseyama’s

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

Heya Power Rankings: Hatsu-Haru 19

Tamawashi Yusho Parade
Riding on the back of glory

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Tachiai Heya Power Rankings! The exciting news is that we’re rethinking the way that we do this ranking system. Andy has really pushed things forward in terms of data vizualisation on the site in recent weeks and we are thinking about how we can apply those features to give more detailed information not only about stables but about their performance.

Since we started the ranking system, we’ve been looking primarily at – and scoring – the stables based on performance by sekitori (those rikishi competing in the top two, salaried, ranks). But I think perhaps there are ways we can expand this, especially if we’re using bigger data sets. What do you think, Tachiai readers of this feature? Should we expand beyond the top two divisions? We’ve done this feature for two years now, so it’s right that we should continually try to make it better.

That’s a whole lot of talking without a whole lot of chart action. Here’s the chart following Hatsu 2019 and going into the Haru basho:

Heya Power Rankings - Post-Hatsu 2019

This is the first chart that doesn’t reference Takanohana-beya in any capacity since we started. Here’s the breakdown in the ever popular Billboard-style Top 20 format:

  1. (+17) Kataonami. 95 points (+80)
  2. (+-) Tagonoura. 70 points (-25)
  3. (-2) Chiganoura. 63 points (-45)
  4. (+-) Sakaigawa. 60 points (+7)
  5. (+1) Miyagino. 49 points (+10)
  6. (-1) Oitekaze. 46 points (+3)
  7. (-4) Kasugano. 45 points (-15)
  8. (+-) Izutsu. 35 points (+5)
  9. (+-) Kokonoe. 31 points (+4)
  10. (**) Kise. 28 points (+17)
  11. (-4) Oguruma. 25 points (-10)
  12. (+2) Dewanoumi. 25 points (+5)
  13. (+3) Hakkaku. 25 points (+5)
  14. (-4) Tokitsukaze. 20 points (-7)
  15. (-3) Isenoumi. 20 points (-3)
  16. (+3) Isegahama. 20 points (+5)
  17. (-6) Takadagawa. 18 points (-5)
  18. (+2) Tomozuna. 18 points (+5)
  19. (-6) Sadogatake. 15 points (-8)
  20. (-3) Onomatsu. 13 points (-7)

(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, tiebreaker 1: higher position in the previous chart, tiebreaker 2: highest ranked rikishi on the banzuke)

Analysis

The one-sekitori stables are subject to more profound swings owing to the consistency of their single salaried rikishi. Before the promotion of the Onami brothers, Arashio-beya was a stable that would bounce all over the rankings owing to Sokokurai’s wildly variant top division performances. Kataonami, meanwhile, has always been a typically consistent stable as Tamawashi has put up consistently good-not-great records around the lower-san’yaku and topmost Maegashira ranks. That obviously all changed with his first yusho, which ultimately vaults the stable for the first time to the top of our charts. It’s an almost completely dormant stable but for the culinarily-talented Mongolian pusher-thruster, strangely having produced about as many oyakata as active rikishi.

Chiganoura-beya is relieved of top spot, but holds 3rd position on the back of Takakeisho‘s jun-yusho, as well as the number of rikishi still with the stable following the zero-scoring retirement of Takanoiwa. Takanofuji‘s promotion to Juryo next time out will make up the numbers, and should Takakeisho complete his Ozeki push, the stable will remain a dominant force among our rankings (as currently composed).

One Ozeki-led stable which may be set for a tumble from its usual place around the summit will be Tagonoura-beya. Our model gives credit for banzuke placement and only gives partial docked points for going kyujo mid-tourney, so Kisenosato‘s retirement will be reflected in the next version of the rankings when the stable is no longer fielding a Yokozuna. That said, Takayasu has done his level-best to consistently grab Kisenosato’s old jun-yusho “bridesmaid” mantle. With little hope of sekitori reinforcements at the stable in the near term, Tagonoura likely becomes a Top 5 or 7 rather than Top 3 heya by our figures from here on out.

Let’s have a shout for Kise-beya, which, owing to Shimanoumi‘s Juryo yusho finds itself back up in mid-table. It’s long been a perplexing stable, as they’ve fielded by the largest number of sekitori in the history of this rankings rundown (ten), yet never seem to have any rikishi capable of mounting a prolonged run in the points-grabbing realms of makuuchi, especially since the downfall of Ura. Still, the stable – as ever – has a number of rikishi not only in Juryo (including the bizarrely resurgent Gagamaru) but also in the makushita joi. While Shimanoumi will be the best placed of the six Kise-sekitori to make the move to Makuuchi owing to his position at J1, the stable has no fewer than sixteen makushita rikishi this time out (including the Sandanme-bound Ura), including six ranked Ms10 or higher. All rikishi obviously come with different ability levels and pedigrees, but if the stable can’t see their Juryo rikishi up into Makuuchi and their Makushita class further up the promotion chain this year, it would be awfully perplexing.

Will brighter days be ahead for Isegahama-beya, which now starts to move back up the listings in a meaningful way? It’s tough to say. Old man Aminishiki has taken a nasty fall down the banzuke and it’s yet to be seen whether he can – against all odds again – get up. At Juryo 11 it would be easy to predict that like many before him, a significant make-koshi would send him into the barber’s chair. However, Terutsuyoshi will look to consolidate a place in Makuuchi this basho, and with Takarafuji having grabbed his first kachi-koshi in yonks, and reinforcements on the way from Makushita soon, the stable may yet return to its powerhouse days as a top 10 (or better) heya by our reckoning soon.

One thing that made this rundown a bit more unique is that usually we see quite a bit of turnover, especially between places 7-20, but this time out, the chart stayed – with the notable exception of Tamawashi’s Kataonami-beya – remarkably stable. This echoed my initial gut feeling that there weren’t too many shocks in the new banzuke. As for the next rundown, should Juryo newcomer Kiribayama stay on the dohyo for 15 days, then Michinoku-beya will score their first ever points in our tally. But, as stated above, we’ll be having a look at how to revamp and improve the rankings after the Haru basho.