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 smil 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 siddenly 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:

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 13

🌐 Location: Hitachinomiya, Ibaraki prefecture

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:

Seriously, who came up with the idea that he is anything like Chiyoshoma?

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:

Terutsuyoshi!

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 8

Today’s report is going to be a little anticlimactic, compared to Day 7’s rich content. But let’s gambarize!

🌐 Location: Nishio, Aichi prefecture

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:

“Hey, Aoiyama, pull my finger!”

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?