The great thing is, that drama is over now. Kisenosato will continue his sumo career as coach, then as head of his own stable of wrestlers. And there really was no other way forward. If he had lost again, the howls would grow along with the discomfort of the Sumo Kyokai and Yokozuna Deliberation Council. If he won, the inevitable may be delayed by a day or two. But with more wins, or some dream (fantasy) comeback kachi-koshi record, surely questions would arise about their legitimacy given his recent poor results. Perhaps this is where the idea of yaocho, that it’s all fixed, can finally be put to bed.
The second thing that I hope comes out of this is a real reform within stables regarding the treatment of wrestlers’ injuries, if it hasn’t started to happen already. We’ve seen some chronic injuries rested, but others continue to come back, tournament after tournament, only to finish with 1, 2, or at max 4 wins and never really healing completely…I’m looking at you Ikioi…not to mention the entire Ozeki corps. It would be a slow change but hopefully the days are over where a shattered arm would be patched up with an expectation of continuing with keiko bright and early the next morning.
I look forward to seeing Kisenosato wearing a blue jumpsuit of the NSK during future basho, in a hakama and presiding over mono-ii as shinpan, or in jeans, laughing with fans during jungyo in Ibaraki as he guides his own deshi through their own careers. Undoubtedly, he’s now free from the pressure to perform that has been hanging over his every appearance over the past year.
And a final note: Kisenosato owes Nishikigi a beer. Odds of a second kinboshi have now surely plummeted. If Nishikigi gets a kinboshi against Hakuho this tournament, I’ll eat my hat — with a special wasabi marinade — during the next podcast.
I wish Kisenosato well as he begins the next chapter of his sumo career as Araiso oyakata (荒磯親方).
Here it is, the final chapter of this Jungyo series. I hope you have a lot of free time this weekend, because I stumbled across a treasure trove of raw footage. Usually I give you short bouts or scenes from the side lines. But this person has what seems like the entire event uploaded to YouTube, and that is bound to give you a whole different perspective of what going to a Jungyo event must be like.
I’m skipping the videos that show the venue from outside, the sekitori arriving and the concession stands. Also the handshake part. Let’s start with some still photos from the side lines instead. Here are Chiyonoumi, Hokutofuji and Tomokaze. All graduates of the Nippon Sports Science University. Which, apparently, has its own not-so-secret hand gesture. Demonstration:
And that’s the only wholesome sidelines picture you’ll see today. Because the Tamawashi bug seems to have taken in everybody. Here is Gokushindo with Dewanojo:
But Gokushindo himself does not escape abuse. From our university graduate, Tomokaze, both front:
Kagayaki is lifting his tsukebito as a form of weight. And that’s no problem. But what is Wakatakakage looking at?
OK, OK, better get on with those videos, shall I?
There aren’t any sekitori from Yamaguchi prefercture at the moment. So attention was focused on the lower-ranking wrestlers from that prefecture. This video starts with Harada, who is one of those Yamaguchi wrestlers, receiving butsukari. The chest is offered by none other than Enho.
The video then moves on to some moshi-ai among the Jonidan and Sandanme wrestlers.
I must say seeing Enho as the dominant in butsukari is rather comical. Harada is taller than him, and although light, Enho doesn’t seem to offer much of a stamina challenge for him.
No wonder, then, that the exercise is soon over. Moving on to the moshi-ai session. Remember, moshi-ai is a series of bouts in which the winner gets to stick around and chooses his next opponent. Therefore, the wrestlers who want to get some exercise vie for the winner’s attention as soon as the match is decided.
I didn’t like the first winner (sorry, at this level, I really can’t recall names from faces. If you know, please let me know) too much. He is prone to dame-oshi. The second one sticks around for quite a while – but you see his stamina seeping out with every bout until at last he is ousted.
I didn’t think that Mr. Huge there would be called by anybody, but I guess some rikishi like a challenge. So he was.
The attention wars are also quite amazing. Wrestlers are not shy of hanging on to the winner’s neck or poking his cheek or whatever it takes.
And all the while, Aoiyama and Tochiozan stand on the sides and do their shiko.
In the following video, the Sandanme-and-below moshi-ai continues, when sekitori start mounting the dohyo, and give short butsukari sessions to the low-ranking rikishi. You’ll see Akiseyama, Jokoryu, Enho (again) and Abi.
When no sekitori offers, the lower ranking wrestlers just continue on their own. Each butsukari session ends with a tap on the dominant’s chest and, answered with a throw for a korogari (roll).
In the next video, we start with some yobidashi activity on the dohyo – pouring new sand, watering, and sweeping. Then the moshi-ai starts again, with Makushita and some more rikishi joining in. You can see Kyokusoten and Musashikuni.
Kyokusoten is doing the typical Mongolian mawashi sumo. And despite winning, he just gives the right-of-way to a new pair and rests. Musashikuni’s koshi-daka is still unresolved and he isn’t likely to get a second chance quickly.
Apart from what’s going on on the dohyo, though, it’s interesting to watch the opposite corner where a little Mongolian clique is gathered to do some stretches, and apparently, joke around: Kyokushuho, Chiyoshoma and Azumaryu. Also, watch the lower left part of the screen for Tamawashi. Shodai shows something on his smartphone. Smartphone? In keiko? Anyway, that exchange of course evolves into Tamawashi slapping Shodai around.
Next vid. The moshi-ai continues, and then, once again, sekitori mount the dohyo, and we get a series of butsukari: Yago, Kotoshogiku, Jokoryu, Yoshikaze, Ichinojo, You can see how Ichinojo’s submissive actually asks him to do it. Some guys like challenges, as I said.
And now it’s time for the sekitori to start their own practice. The moshi-ai is more relaxed at this point. There are three men on the dohyo and when one of the two wrestlers loses, the third goes in.
We start with Meisei-Tochiozan-Takanosho. In the background you can see Kisenosato doing his wobble exercise, and various rikishi coming to hand him some water. I assure you, in this ladle there is not even a single grain of salt. Nobody is suicidal.
Kisenosato switches to Shiko. On the opposite side you can see Goeido doing the same. Takayasu is not far away from his Yokozuna. From time to time the wrestlers on the dohyo take a towel break.
It’s nice to see Aoiyama and Ryuden move to save Meisei from a bad fall.
After Tochiozan leaves the field and only Meisei and Takanosho are left, again, as if by magic, other sekitori get on the dohyo and a sequence of butsukari follows. If you notice, the first session is always with the winner of the last moshi-ai. Endo lends his chest to Takanosho. Then Aoiyama-Tochiozan, and finally, Ryuden takes Meisei.
The next video continues in the same pattern. This time we have four men on the dohyo – Aoiyama, Ryuden, Daieisho and Myogiryu. This means the two “free” wrestlers have to vie for the winner’s favors.
This session, too, ends with a series of butsukari, though curiously, the first two are between the same four wrestlers. We then switch to Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai.
I’m going to skip the next sequence, which is just a continuation of that trio, and go to the next one, which shows you a san-ban session. Goeido engages Shodai. Reminder: san-ban is a series of bouts between the same two wrestlers, who do as many bouts as the higher-ranked one wants.
As the session progresses, you can see the increasing frustration on Shodai’s face and in his body language. Goeido is relentless, and Shodai can’t stay in the ring for more than two seconds, let alone win.
Note how every time the Ozeki wants a rest he has his two tsukebito hurry up with a ladle of water and a couple of towels to service him. Shodai has to settle for Nishikigi-mama, who keeps handing him his towel, then folding it back neatly.
Eventually, after 16 minutes of this Goeido love, Shodai is saved by Tochinoshin. Again, the proper way to finish a session is with some butsukari, so poor Shodai, who is already out of juice, has to also push an ozeki for a while for his trouble. Tochinoshin doesn’t make a full-fledged kawaigari of this, though. So the nightmare is soon over.
What follows is reverse butsukari. Nishikigi offers his chest, Goeido pushes. But of course, Nishikigi runs around so as not to waste the Ozeki’s precious time, and there is no rolling in the mud. Finally, a short one between Onosho and Daieisho. Apparently, the etiquette here is that all participators in the moshi-ai or san-ban session (Remember this started with Nishikigi-Onosho-Shodai) get to do some butsukari.
This next one starts with a san-ban session between Asanoyama and Mitakeumi. Not as lengthy as the one between Goeido and Shodai, though. Then Asanoyama goes out and Tochinoshin engages Mitakeumi.
Earlier, in that butsukari session with Shodai, Tochinoshin only had taping on his knee. Now that he is about to engage in san-ban, he puts on his brace.
Of course, being Ozeki, he also gets serviced by his tsukebito. One for ladle, one for towels.
A few minutes later he switches to Asanoyama.
The session, of course, ends with butsukari. Reverse ones this time. Tochinoshin pushes Mitakeumi, and Mitakeumi pushes Tochiozan. Then, not to leave the third man out, Aoiyama takes Asanoyama.
In the background you can see Mitakeumi thanking Tochinoshin for his attention by offering him a ladle of chikara-mizu.
I’m going to skip the lower-ranks bouts, the Jinku, drum demo and shokkiri, and skip right to the Juryo bouts. By the way, here are Yago and Wakatakakage, waiting for their dohyo-iri. Yago seems to also be a man who loves to keep his hands on other people’s bodies:
But at least there doesn’t seem to be much fondling going on. So let’s see how these guys (and the rest of the rather miserable division) did in the bouts:
Enho is fast!
Watch out for the faces Tobizaru makes at Gagamaru. :-)
Note how the “fillers” from Makushita don’t have their rank called out. The gyoji announcer describes each Juryo wrestler by shikona, rank, shushin and heya. But the “fillers” only get shikona, shushin and heya.
Next we have Kisenosato’s rope tying demonstration, and then the rest of the Juryo bouts:
Ah, the look of frustration on Yago’s face.
In the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, of course we have the continuing Mitakeumi-Tamawashi saga:
Skipping the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, the Yokozuna dohyo-iri and the mayor’s speech video, we move straight to the Makuuchi bouts.
The first bout is missing a few seconds.
Takanosho gets a fast morozashi there, and Ryuden can’t make the makikae.
Daieisho rains tsuppari on Nishikigi. Nishikigi doesn’t lose his cool – saves himself at the edge with a nice utchari. Speaking of Nishikigi, where are his glasses today?
Apparently, right on Shohozan’s nose.
Onosho steals Aminishiki’s tokkurinage (“sake bottle throw”). But hey, Aminishiki does that in honbasho.
Continuing right from Abi’s shiko:
Chiyonokuni goes on a shiko match with Abi. He is a little shaky on the left side, but still pulls it off, much to the appreciation of the crowd. He also gives Abi a serious stare-down. All is well and good – but Abi finishes him off within half a second.
Kaisei yori-kiris Takakeisho, but has an inertia problem. Takakeisho flies off the dohyo straight onto Tomozuna oyakata (ouch), but then Kaisei falls on top of both of them. That’s… well, a real-life drop-bear (hi, Australians). He helps Takakeisho up, and poor Tomozuna oyakata also asks for a hand up. Everybody is still in one (albeit squashed) piece.
Finally, we have the last four Makuuchi bouts. This includes Tamawashi vs. Ichinojo. And of course, Goeido still has his tsukebito heckling Tamawashi:
Kakuryu doesn’t seem to approve. So what did Tamawashi (and Goeido, and Kakuryu) do?
Now, Tochinoshin’s leg has neither taping nor brace.
Tomozuna oyakata gets hit again! Luckily, Ichinojo’s brakes are better than Kaisei’s, so he didn’t get hit by yet another drop bear. And that is Ichinojo’s killer nodowa making an appearance again.
I have a feeling of déjà vu about Mitakeumi’s bout with Tochinoshin. Haven’t we seen this bout a few days ago? First Mitakeumi attacks, tries a couple of gaburi, then Tochinoshin takes over and forklifts him out?
Takayasu seems pretty amused about how his match turned out.
And Kakuryu’s left foot is once again doing circles in mid-air. I thought his problem was his right foot.
Here is a link to the complete YouTube playlist from which these clips were taken. It’s a bit of a mess, so if you want to watch in order, pay attention to the numbers.
And your final pin-up boy for this Jungyo, I give you Asanoyama:
The Jungyo is over. All the rikishi are gathered at Kyushu at their respective heya’s lodgings. The banzuke is out, some of the people you saw in the reports wearing a white sekitori’s mawashi have dropped to Makushita. And some of those you saw serving sekitori are now getting their own tsukebito. But I want to keep posting my Jungyo reports, and complete the journey – unless, of course, you think it’s a waste of bandwidth and sleep. Let me know in the comments!
We have a lot of video action today. But first, take a look at Umizaru (“Sea Monkey”):
He is from Miyagino beya, and serves as Enho’s tsukebito for this Jungyo (Enho’s regular tsukebito are Takemaru and Kenyu, but Umizaru is a native of Kyoto, one of this Jungyo’s locations, so he was assigned temporarily).
Umizaru’s main claim to fame is the gag that has been doing the rounds in the sumo world: he is said to be the third brother to Hidenoumi and Tobizaru, and thus his Shikona is a melding of theirs.
Even I fell for this story – mostly because Tobizaru is always happy to endorse it. In fact, it fooled even Abema TV, who put that little piece of fake news on their trivia blurb on Hidenoumi. Hidenoumi wasn’t impressed.
It’s a lie. The Iwasaki brothers – Hidenoumi and Tobizaru – come from Tokyo, and Umizaru, as we know, from Kyoto.
But don’t you think his eyes look a bit like Tobizaru’s?
Anyway, on to the action of the day:
On the side lines, Nishikigi uses Yutakayama for a teppo pole:
Gagamaru is goofing around excessively. He interferes with Rikishi going down the hana-michi. He leans on Tobizaru – waiting to give him his water – as he goes up the dohyo, and then instead of throwing the salt on the dohyo, throws it at Tobizaru. Also does a tachiai in jikan-mae. Then he has this exchange with his opponent, Wakatakakage:
First Mitakeumi kisses Tamawashi’s back, no less. Then proceeds to caress it, then gets down to Tamawashi’s tush. At some point Tamawashi warns him off, but he still messes with the Eagle’s mawashi knot, and so on, and so forth.
Once again, Abi is doing Mawashi sumo, although I feel like diving through my screen, going through the Intertubes, and getting to that dohyo only to shout at Abi to get his freaking ass down. It looks like he is trying to keep it as high as possible. Why?
I often show you photos of this or that rikishi in a corner of the venue. This may give the impression that most rikishi are on the dohyo, and a few are lurking on the edges. The truth is – there simply isn’t enough room for everybody on or around a single dohyo. When the makushita-and-below rikishi train, the sekitori hang around the walls, and only later they get to the dohyo.
Some sekitori, by the way, are “kamaboko”, which is the sumo term for someone who avoids practice though present in the keiko-ba.
Kamaboko is this fish-paste, round at the top, flat at the bottom. The sumo term derives from rikishi whose back is pressed so hard against the keiko-ba’s walls to avoid the dohyo and the attention of the stablemaster, that it becomes flat.
The Yokozuna tsukebito wars continue. But what is this? Is there a new-found love between Gokushindo and Arikawa?
Err… not exactly.
Don’t worry, Arikawa gets his revenge:
Did I mention “Ewwwww!!!”?
Apropos Arikawa, here is a selfie he took with Awajiumi.
And this selfie is significant because it tells us that Awajiumi did the bow twirling ceremony again today. Impressive oicho-mage there.
Some practice footage:
Some reverse butsukari between Kakuryu and Ryuden. “Reverse” meaning the higher ranking guy pushes and the lower-ranking guy lends his chest. It also means that none of the rolling around in the mud is to be expected:
Kochi prefecture boasts three sekitori. Well, two sekitori (Tochiozan and Chiyonoumi) and one on his way to gaining sekitori status again: Toyonoshima.
The two latter ones were the darlings of today’s event. In the previous Kochi event, two years ago, Chiyonoumi was in Sandanme. Now he is well-established in Juryo:
Two years ago
Toyonoshima was not part of the Jungyo so far. He is not officially sekitori as the Jungyo follows the previous basho’s banzuke. And he is married and well respected, so they wouldn’t just assign him as some youngster’s tsukebito. However, there was a special request for him to be present in this event, and he did show up.
Tochinoshin doesn’t give autographs easily out of the designated fansa time. But you might get lucky if you are young enough:
I’m impressed with Tobizaru. He may not be the strongest pusher ever to mount a dohyo, but he sure gets up fast whenever he is thrown.
Back in the shitaku-beya, Teraoumi takes a picture. Haruminato tries to strike a cool pose. He ends up looking like he is totally checking out Ichinojo’s hefty backside:
Of course, the sekiwake himself is totally oblivious to all this.
Time for dohyo-iri. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but when Shohozan went off the torikumi for a few days in the middle of the Jungyo, Yoshikaze took his place as Kisenosato’s tsuyuharai. And Yoshikaze is still doing that duty, despite Shohozan being back and active:
By the way, do you see a difference between the Yokozuna’s kesho-mawashi and his two assistants’? The Yokozuna’s kesho mawashi is worn differently, with the top tucked into the mawashi. They design them with that in mind. Here is the designer‘s sketch of this set of kesho-mawashi:
The design, by the way, is intended to express the spirit of the warrior (bu), as well as a dragon in the clouds (the meaning of the word “Unryu”, which is Kisenosato’s chosen style).
Personally, I think this set is one of the coolest I have seen.
Here is the Toyonoshima bout with Azumaryu. There is a monoii. And a kyogi. And then Furuwake oyakata tries to explain the kyogi. He is not exactly the best explainer in the world, but of course, the result is a torinaoshi:
And the result of the rematch is… wow, what did Toyonoshima just do?
The town of Takamatsu prepared for the sumo event, after two years of wait, hanging nobori and preparing the venue:
But alas, two years ago, when the previous Jungyo took place here, the prefecture boasted two sekitori: Kotoyuki and Amakaze. Amakaze is no longer among the sekitori ranks, and Kotoyuki is unfortunately kyujo.
Although he didn’t participate in the torikumi due to an unspecified injury, Takayasu was present at the practice session:
Tochinoshin, still no brace but with elaborate taping, did some suri-ashi in the hana-michi:
Time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and Takakeisho once again shows that his face is capable of more than just a pouting frown:
But of course, he is no competition to his new heya-mate:
This is from earlier in the day, of course. If you wonder why rikishi are so often photographed with kids, well, there is a belief in Japan that if a rikishi carries your child she will grow up healthy and strong. This one took a long stare at Onigiri-kun, I mean, Takanosho. I guess trying to decide whether he was edible or not.
Waiting for the Yokozuna dohyo-iri, Nishikigi and Shodai exchange – let’s call it an elaborate handshake?
Feast your eyes on that salt throw by Terutsuyoshi, because after this event, he goes off the radar.
Well, not before he manages to join the list of rikishi with a moob fixation. But while Tamawashi at least chooses fine-chested harassment objects, Terutsuyoshi is going for one who is not really known for his good build.
And while he does this, he continues to talk to Wakatakakage, completely ignoring his squeezy toy. No wonder Akiseyama looks sad. Eventually he fends off the groping pixie and covers his chest with his arms defensively.
Tamawashi gives Chiyotairyu a command: fetch Enho. Enho arrives at the dohyo at the komusubi’s request, and Don Tamawashi takes him a side for a little conversation:
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like Enho is twice trying to escape. I can only imagine the conversation:
“Hello, little one. I hear a lot of good things about you lately, you know. We were in Kanazawa the other day. You have family in Kanazawa, right? Well, I sent some people to pay them a visit, see that they are alright. You know, family is important. Your brother seems like a nice guy. I’d hate to see anything bad happen to any of them. So now, half pint, I have something to tell you. I’m sure you’re not going to be impolite and not listen”
[gulp] “Um, yes, sir?”
“Happy birthday! Many happy returns!”
Yes, yes, this was Enho’s birthday. And that’s what Tamawashi wanted him for, apparently. Well, I’m sure it is. Positive.
Everybody knows that Ichinojo and Tottori are synonymous. Well, in a world in which he is not a Mongolian giant specializing in shepherding and wolf avoidance, that is.
Having graduated from the famous Tottori Johoku high school – and also worked there after graduation – the locals consider him a home boy. Especially when all the other home boys, like Ishiura, Takanoiwa and Terunofuji are MIA. He has managed to stay away from last year’s scandal by being kyujo due to hernia, so this year, he is the subject of adoration. Sought after when he is in his practice mawashi:
Which he obviously doesn’t need because as soon as Ichinojo leaves, everybody is running to Abi.
Speaking of Abi and attention-seeking, here is how he avoids stopping for autographs:
“Oh, my shoulder hurts! Ow, it hurts terribly! Oh, woe is me!”
Five minutes later he was signing autographs with a totally straight face, of course.
Right outside the venue a great board was set up, for people to write encouragements following the Chubu Earthquake. Some space was allocated for the rikishi to put in their tegata, autograph and words of encouragement. Here is Takanosho applying his:
Ichinojo chose this spot for todays fashion statement:
I want a towel that’s big enough to wrap around a whole Ichinojo!
Here is a part of the board:
Ichinojo’s message is the one without a Tegata, right below the 回. He wrote in shaky Hiragana “All Tottori people, gambarize! I love Tottori! Please support me.”
By the way, the tegata marked with that triangle is Takakeisho. The tweet author noticed that he has a much smaller hand than most other rikishi. It’s a real mystery how this man is the level he is, given his short arms, tiny hands, and severe respiration issue. I guess he has serious gambarization skills.
I can’t pretend to be able to read the rikishi signatures, but I can recognize Tochinoshin (to the right of Ichinojo’s spot), and Nishikigi (below Takakeisho’s).
Back inside the venue, Chiyonokuni once again demonstrates his superb flexibility:
While Shodai is harrassed again – but not by Tamawashi, but by Kaisei:
Shodai was doing his stretches, when out of nowhere Kaisei appeared, declared “You are not flexible enough”, and proceeded to apply pressure to Shodai’s legs to make them more like Chiyonokuni’s above. This was countered by cries of “Ouch! It hurts! It hurts! Stop forcing it! You are the sumo world’s dark side!”
On a brighter note, remember the new yumitori performer, Awajiumi? Well, today was his debut. This doesn’t mean Kasugaryu has been deposed, yet, though I’ve seen many on the net wishing for that to happen… Guess why…