Hatsu Day 6 Highlights

Act Two opens in dramatic fashion. There are great bouts today but tears will be shed and hopes dashed before the day is out. Let’s just get started.

Yutakayama and Daishomaru get the makuuchi bouts rolling for us. Two oshi wrestlers start things off…by quickly getting a grip? It looked like Yutakayama wanted to grapple since Daishomaru is much worse on the belt, losing almost 4x more often to yorikiri than he wins while Yutakayama is about 50-50 in those belt battles. Daishomaru was having none of it, batted Yutakayama’s arms away and circled in full retreat. This gave Yutakayama a chance for a hatakikomi pull down attempt but Daishomaru plowed through. Yutakayama decided enough is enough, held his ground, and pushed forward, forcing Daishomaru out. Wouldn’t you guess it? Oshidashi. Yutakayama improves to 4-2, Daishomaru still winless.

Ishiura channels Enho for his bout against Chiyoshoma. Ishiura has been regrouping nicely in Juryo, sitting on a 4-1 record to start the day. Rather than having a double henka, both wrestlers get straight to business with Ishiura going low. Chiyoshoma first establishes a two-handed belt grip but then uses his left to grab under Ishiura’s arm, initiating a throw attempt. Ishiura counters by driving into Chiyoshoma as they spin around. It looked for a second like Ishiura reached out to grab his opponent’s left knee which causes Chiyoshoma to stumble. Thus off balance, Ishiura continues to circle into Chiyoshoma whose feet no longer have traction in the clay, falling to shitatehineri. Ishiura improves to 5-1 and takes home some spending money while Chiyoshoma is 3-3.

Yago was just too big for Kotoeko, who’s still trying to find his way in the top division. Nominally, both men are relatively balanced with the belt or in pusher/thruster mode but Yago established a strong belt grip early and forced the much smaller man out. Yago remains in the hunt group at 5-1, looking for a prize and even further advancement, while Kotoeko is even at 3-3.

Chiyonokuni had a plan for Kotoyuki. 1) Stand your ground at the tachiai, 2) Unleash tsuppari to counter The Penguin, 3) Side-step. The critical piece is when to deploy the side step, which he did perfectly as the over-committed Kotoyuki flew off the dohyo and landed in amongst the crowd. Kotoyuki’s lost to hatakikomi nearly 60 times now, so you’d think he’d try to work out a solution. Chiyonokuni’s in the hunt at 5-1, while Kotoyuki’s 3-3.

Daiamami came in to this bout with Meisei wanting to grapple. Meisei was having none of it, however, and fought to keep Daiamami’s mitts off his belt while trying to establish his own belt grip. The fatal mistake for Daiamami appears to be when he gave up the belt and tried to go for a hatakikomi attempt. Meisei used the momentum shift to blast Daiamami into the crowd. Meisei’s 4-2 and may be hitting his stride and establishing himself as a makuuchi regular, while Daiamami’s 2-4 with a precarious hold on his position.

Kagayaki started out with his usual head-down pushing attack but Takarafuji got an early left-handed grip of his gold mawashi. A belt battle seems to favor the trapezius muscles of Takarafuji, who circled and executed an over-arm throw before both men tumbled out in a heap. Uwatenage. Takarafuji is 3-3 while Kagayaki’s 1-5.

Ikioi showed Kagayaki how to make the Pamplona bull thing work. Use it against a belt guy and drive with the shoulder. Ikioi is a balanced wrestler while Endo is much more comfortable with a grapple than slap fest. Today, Ikioi followed Kagayaki’s lead – stitches be damned – and led with the ole noggin…though that shoulder was there not just for backup but as the real driving force. Endo had no time to regroup as he found himself on his butt, at the base of the dohyo. Both are 3-3.

Sadanoumi got the jump on Kaisei. The much quicker tachiai helped establish a firm, two-handed belt grip put Kaisei on the retreat. However, he appeared to be hopping, favoring that left leg as if he couldn’t really put much weight on the right. Sadanoumi let him pogo himself out. Kaisei falls off the lead and into the hunt group at 5-1. Sadanoumi is 3-3. Kaisei appeared to walk back as if he was unhindered so hopefully the pogo-ing was more of a balance thing than a “my knee hurts” thing.

The next bout gave us a real clash of styles as a solid belt man Asanoyama takes on the long arms of Abi. Abi seemed to be the driving force here, keeping Asanoyama off his belt from the tachiai. He went into full retreat looking for a hatakikomi slapdown win but Asanoyama kept his balance while moving forward. Oshidashi win goes to Asanoyama who picks up his first of the tournament while Abi falls to 3-3.

If Abi wants to be a hatakikomi master, he needs to watch Aoiyama. The Bulgarian took on solid oshi battler, Daieisho. That nodowa on the tachiai nearly snapped Daieisho in two but Daieisho weathered the storm and evaded to the left. The damage was done, though, as Aoiyama had the clear initiative. Effective tsuppari let him try one hatakikomi pull which failed but he cycled around with more slaps to Daieisho’s face. This time, as Daieisho’s resistance brought his momentum forward, Aoiyama pulled and Daieisho went down. Hatakikomi. Personally, I think the difference is Aoiyama’s tsuppari works his opponent back to the opposite edge, giving him adequate space for the pull. Abi, on the other hand, seems to fly off the dohyo a lot. Aoiyama stays in the hunt at 5-1 while Daieisho falls to 2-4

Yoshikaze picked up his first win today against Ryuden. Ryuden had tried to get a good early tachiai but was thrown off by the gyoji who called him for two false starts. Yoshikaze followed through on the third tachiai putting his head right into Ryuden’s chin, driving him back and out. This means Daishomaru is left as the last makuuchi wrestler still in the tournament with 0 wins. Ryuden is 2-4.

Kotoshogiku drove Chiyotairyu straight back like a blocking sled and used that hip action to push Elvis out. Kotoshogiku is 4-2 while Chiyotairyu is 2-4. Onosho made quick work of Okinoumi, who prefers a belt battle, by staying low and fighting this bout his way, as a pushing-thrusting match. Onosho stays in the lead, 6-0, while Okinoumi falls to 3-3.

Now, for the bad news. Mitakeumi injured his left knee or ankle against Myogiryu. He could not make it back up to the dohyo and was carted out and taken to the hospital. It’s an innocuous injury. I thought it may have come when he tried to brace his weight against the tawara but now I think he rolled his ankle when he stepped off the dohyo. Both men prefer an oshi bout, so they came out guns blazing. Mitakeumi pulled but ran out of real estate and Myogiryu kept his balance, forcing Mitakeumi out. If it’s a sprain, we may see Mitakeumi again before the end of the tournament. Mitakeumi falls to 5-1 and Myogiryu climbs to 2-4. A bitter, disappointing day for Mitakeumi fans.

Tochiozan neutralized the Takakeisho thrusting from the word, “Go,” quickly establishing a grip of Takakeisho’s grey mawashi. Takakeisho’s fingers struggled to find purchase on Tochiozan’s belt so he had to satisfy himself with a hold of the Kochi native’s arm. It would have been a rather spectacular ipponzeoi but Takakeisho lacked the strength and leverage to pull Tochiozan over his back. The position gave Tochiozan a decisive advantage with Takakeisho’s back to him, so he pushed through, driving Takakeisho forward over the edge. Takakeisho falls out of the hunt group to 4-2 while Tochiozan improves to 2-4.

Tamawashi’s not pulling in enough kensho for Ichinojo bother with beast mode, instead reverting to boulder mode on the tachiai. Tamawashi blasts the boulder off with a few strong shoulder thrusts. Both men are 4-2.

Goeido pissed of Shohozan with his slow-roll tachiai. Shohozan wasn’t having any of it, so he blasted off in his face like, “Let’s go already!” Goeido commits a bit quicker this time and bulls forward like a battleship under full steam. Shohozan slips to the side a beat early as Goeido had room to plot a course correction. Goeido adjusts, homes in on Shohozan, and picks up the yorikiri win. Both are 2-4.

With Kakuryu kyujo, and now Mitakeumi likely following him to the couch, Hokutofuji may now pick up a couple of fusen wins, today’s moves him to 4-2. Nishikigi hoped to regroup after yesterday’s dramatic but disappointing loss to The Boss. Takayasu’s a tough one to regroup against, though. And today, Takayasu did not want Nishikigi anywhere near his belt. With Nishikigi’s right arm containing the Ozeki’s left, Nishikigi’s fingers sought out a left-hand grip of the mawashi but Takayasu wasn’t having any of it. With Takayasu’s attention diverted, Nishikigi thought it would be a good time to try a pull but Takayasu read it and drove through the maegashira, ushering him out for the yorikiri win. Takayasu improves to 3-3 while Nishikigi slips out of the hunt to 4-2.

Hakuho closed things out today with Shodai at the musubi-no-ichiban. At the tachiai, both men seek out and quickly get one-handed belt grips. When things settle in the middle of the ring, Shodai tries to adjust his grip but Hakuho uses that time to strike, grabs the other side of Shodai’s mawashi and walks him back and out. Yorikiri. Hakuho remains tied for the lead with Onosho while Shodai slips to 2-4.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 16 (Dec 21)

🌐 Location: Kawagoe, Saitama
😝 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◾️◽️

This is the penultimate day of the 2018 Fuyu Jungyo. Before we begin, a health check:

  • Absence since mid-Jungyo: Yutakayama, Kotoyuki
  • Off the torikumi but present: Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu
  • Started off the torikumi but now participating: Hakuho, Goeido, Yoshikaze.
Hey, have we started already? God, what’s the time? Where are we, anyway?

While Terutsuyoshi gets over his morning blues, rikishi are already exercising with vigor around the venue. Asanoyama is stretching:

And Takayasu is stretching while trimming his fingernails:

Who said men can’t do two things at the same time?

Takayasu doesn’t settle for just the pedicure and flex. He also lifts his weight – Tagonofuji.

OK, I’ll go off at a tangent here for a second. There are lots of fujis in the sumo world. We are used to seeing fujis at Isegahama beya, but they don’t have an exclusive hold on that suffix. Hokutofuji is from Hakkaku beya, for example. Most of those fujis end with 富士 – the same as the kanji for Mt. Fuji. Many of them are “no-fuji”. The “no” is a particle that indicates possession or characterization. The most common ways to write the “no” are の, ノ and 乃. So the other day, it was announced that Takayoshitoshi, Takagenji’s more evil twin, is going to be renamed “Takanofuji”, and some Terunofuji fans got really pissed off, because that name was chosen by Takanohana, and he used the same “no” as “Terunofuji” – ノ- and they really don’t want the unfortunate former Ozeki from Isegahama to have anything in common with the tsukebito-beating brat from Takanohana beya (now Chiganoura).

But not all fujis are even 富士. In this case, the “fuji” in “Tagonofuji” is 藤 – “Wisteria”, which is a lovely plant with lilac-colored flowers. He also has that ノ – but nobody seems to have any issue with that.

OK, back from our tangent, let’s continue our round around the walls. Ikioi and Chiyoshoma want to have a practice bout, and go for the full monty, including the sonkyo (ceremonial crouch):

But the actual execution is a little less impressive:

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast Of Traal must be roaming the Jungyo grounds again, because Aoiyama is doing his best to hide from it:

See how useful towels are?

Guess who the rikishi stretching near the wall is?

Hint: he is considered about as ravenous as that beast of Traal. Look at those thighs!

And I can’t really move on to the on-dohyo exercise without showing you Takanosho and his Mickey-Mouse towel:

Now that Kakuryu has joined the Jungyo, he also practices with his tsukebito. So we can get reacquainted with Shohoryu. Who is not Hoshoryu.

Looks like Shohoryu’s servitude is rather intense. I assure you, though – Kakuryu is not the type to give his tsukebito bitter memories. Hard work – sure. In fact, the one who gets to practice in this photo is the tsukebito, not the Yokozuna:

His former tsukebita all respect the Yokozuna very much.

Another tsukebito who is being respectful is the American delegate to the Jungyo, Musashikuni:

Actually, judging from their positions, Takayasu is on the dohyo. So I’m guessing this is not just a show of respect, but the cup of water Ozeki enjoy when they do san-ban. There is probably another tsukebito with some towels around as well.

At one corner, we have a nice show of rhythmic gymnastics:

These guys take their exercise seriously. Here is Tobizaru doing a wheelbarrow exercise:

Enho is not allowing himself to trail behind:

It’s actually very rare to see Enho practice together with his heya-mate, Ishiura, in Jungyo.

So here is some on-dohyo practice. We have Azumaryu with Chiyomaru and with Ishiura:

Jokoryu with Akiseyama, then Jokoryu with Hakuyozan:

The on-dohyo exercise that really drew attention this day was this:

Yes, for the first time in this Jungyo, Yokozuna Hakuho is practicing actual sumo, not just giving butsukari/kawaigari. In fact, it’s the first time in the past 3 months!

Hakuho took Shodai for 8 san-ban matches, and won all of them.

He said at first he was a bit hesitant about doing actual sumo (interestingly, he doesn’t consider the “wari” bouts to be actual sumo), but as the bouts flowed, he was relieved to find himself in satisfactory shape.

The practice part of the day gone, the sekitori went to shower and have their hair done. Then some relaxed in the shitaku-beya and… what are you reading, exactly, Mitakeumi?

It’s a magzine. And it appears that it’s a magazine about very poor women, who can’t afford to buy much in the way of clothing. I’m sure he is reading this magazine out of warm empathy with the poor women who need to go through the winter wearing no more than three square centimeters of cloth each.

OK… outside the shitakubeya, Juryo wrestlers were getting ready for their dohyo-iri. And that means Enho. And that means a bunch of guys vying for Enho skin:

In this very short clip we have Terutsuyoshi who, as usual, has the pixie in his arms. Then as the pixie cuts loose, it gets groped by Jokoryu, and then, although Terutsuyoshi tries to get some attention, Tobizaru also lays a paw on the tiny Miyagino man. Twice! And how about that hand fan the fan hands him? It’s bigger than his head! And it has “Enho” on one side and an element from his Kesho-mawashi on the other.

Seriously, everybody loves Enho.

Juryo bouts are performed, Kakuryu demonstrates rope tying, and so Yago has to wait his turn patiently (when there is a rope tying demonstration, it takes place before the last three Juryo bouts). Yago is lonely, and needs a hug:

That’s what tsukebito are for, isn’t it?

And then it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And of course… it’s boring to wait for dohyo-iri… so let’s play a game!

For those who have not seen it in previous Jungyo, this game is a Japanese children’s game called Atchi-Muite-Hoi. The two players do rock-papers-scissors. The one who wins moves his finger in any of four directions – up, down, left or right, and the loser has to move his head in one of the same four directions. If he moves his head in a different direction than the winner’s finger, he is safe, and the game begins again. But if he moves his head in the same direction – he loses the game. And in this case, he receives a punishment – a dekopin. The second dekopin is so painful, that Tamawashi immediately decides he wants to play, too. 🙄

The dohyo-iri is followed by the Yokozuna dohyo-iri. It seems Hakuho is working on straightening his arms:

Shiranui Dohyo-iri, Hakuho

But Kakuryu’s are still straighter:

Unryu Dohyo-iri, Kakuryu

And then it’s time for Makuuchi bouts. And if you thought for a second that Tamawashi would leave off at the dohyo-iri, you are dead wrong:

Poor Kagayaki. Definitely got the cooties there

Tamawashi has been on his best behavior as long as he was on the Island of Kyushu. He has a reputation to maintain in Fukuoka. But as soon as he is back in Honshu… rikishi beware!

Later (because Nishikigi is in a surprisingly high position on the banzuke) we also get the good old “where are Nishikigi’s glasses?” game:


Glasses make you look smarter!

Well… unless you’re Shodai. In his case, glasses make him look ridiculous. But then, many things tend to make Shodai look ridiculous.

Eventually Nishikigi gets back from his bout and wins his glasses back:

Ooh, somebody is getting confident (much to the amusement of Narutaki).

Ah, yes. I have no bouts whatsoever. Sorry… Here is a cogitating monkey for you instead:

“Damn, no. That would be contradictory to Einstein’s General Relativity. So we have to check our results from Quantum Field Theory. Back to the drawing board…”

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Days 13 and 14 (Dec 15-16)

It’s that time of the year again – Sumo swim-suit edition!

🌐 Location: Ginowan, Okinawa
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◽️◽

We left off with the sekitori completing their Kyushu rounds. Next stop is Okinawa – for two consecutive days at Ginowan. But not everybody is participating. The Juryo wrestlers – with the exception of Yago and Kotoeko – left for Tokyo with their tsukebito. The Makuuchi wrestlers remained at Fukuoka, and boarded a plane for Okinawa the next day:

I think this plane has a bit of an overweight issue

When they landed in Okinawa, the traditional welcome ceremony with Miss Okinawa was held:

I’m reporting both days together because, frankly, it was hard to tell which image came from which day. In any case, we don’t have many practice photos – even the NSK didn’t post any keiko videos. I do have Tochiozan practicing near the dohyo:

The conscientious Kasugano man was dripping with sweat by the end of his practice, and so he took care to clean up after himself:

How typically Japanese.

The more famous Kasugano man was also practicing on the dohyo. Quite seriously. But he must have thought he was underwater. Why else would he raise his periscope?

I meant his chon-mage, people. 😝

With all Juryo rikishi away, including all pixies, kawaii levels were threatening to go below the su-jo survival threshold. But fear not, when they need to, Makuuchi wrestlers can generate enough kawaii for everybody. There is the reliable Takarafuji:

The self-confident Asanoyama:

And the military-grade cute Takanosho:

Hold on, that’s from the dohyo-iri. Let’s back up a little, because before the dohyo-iri, the rikishi were still in their mawashi, and then started the part of the day for which every sports reporter in Japan came to Okinawa: the beach party! Everybody’s at the beach – tsukebito and sekitori:

Some are even playing beach volleyball!

And these three guys are attracted to a drone flown by one of the photographers:

Hokutofuji • Ichinojo • Yago

It’s nice to see Ichinojo smile from time to time!

My personal favorite of all the beach-boy photos is this one, though

Watch out! A swimming bear!

The Sekitori then had to go get their baths and do their hair. But some lucky people got to linger on until sunset:

It’s Narutaki’s first visit to Okinawa!

The only rikishi who couldn’t enjoy the beach were the poor shokkiri and Jinku performers who were entertaining the audience at this time. Here is the full Jinku performance, for those who have not yet seen one:

Back in the venue, Hakuho had a busy day. There was the official photo with the local dignitaries:

And then his dohyo-iri:

On both days, the top 16 Makuuchi wrestlers had bouts in an elimination tournament format. Here is a summary of the first day:

There is only one sekitori from Okinawa, Chiyonoo, but unfortunately, he is kyujo from this Jungyo. Therefore, the report concentrates on Makushita Chiyonokatsu. You could see his bout with Takakento there. He said in his interview: “It would have been a shame to lose the bout here with all the support I was given from the audience”. Indeed, a nice throw!

And as you could see, the tournament final was between Mitakeumi and Tochinoshin, with the latter winning. Here is another angle on this bout:

In the second day, the “local boy” focus was more on the local Yobidashi, Shigejiro (Kokonoe beya):

In the Makuuchi tournament, Tochinoshin was dominant enough to reach the semi-final against Ichinojo:

But it was the Mongolian Boulder who won this match of thick thighs. Apparently, there was a prize for the winners of the semi-finals? A… tyre?

Or maybe he just thought it was a donut.

In the final, Ichinojo met Ryuden:

No match, really. I guess all that jumping and swimming did good for the colt-tossing glacier. He won the tournament yusho:

And also enough rice to last… a day?

A larger-than-usual rikishi with a larger-than-usual tawara

And this concluded the visit to Okinawa this time. The Jungyo went into a hiatus, to be renewed on December 20th back in the main island of Honshu.

To bid goodbye, once again I present an “I can’t believe this is a former rikishi” oyakata:

Hanaregoma oyakata

No, seriously, can you believe this is the same person?

Tamanoshima (currently Hanaregome oyakata)

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 11 (Dec 12)

Dirty Mawashi drying – The Jungyo is here!

🌐 Location: Kagoshima, Kagoshima
😝 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We are still in Kagoshima. Our local heros are Chiyomaru, Meisei and Daiamami. Today’s event is held in a bigger city and a bigger venue in front of 4000 spectators. So what do our heros do?

Daiamami is doing his shiko:

Are you serious, Daiamami? You call that Shiko? Last year in the Jungyo, Kakuryu gave him serious kawaigari, and Daiamami actually ended it unconscious, which infuriated the Yokozuna: “Not enough stamina! You should be diligent about your keiko”. I guess the lesson has not been learned.

Meisei is trying to teach Tennozan something:

Umm… apparently the Boogie-Woogie?

The Yokozuna is in the house, and everybody is coming to say their good-mornings:

Mitoryu is obsequious to the point of embarrassment.

Did Ikioi slip away? No, he didn’t. He went to get a ladle of water for a more serious greeting. And got poked in the belly in exchange.

But note Kotoshogiku greeting the Yokozuna’s back and going away. As long as he is seen greeting, that’s good enough, I guess.

Last one there is Takarafuji, also greeting the Yokozuna with a respectful ladle of power-water.

Sekitori around the venue practice with their tsukebito. And, well, they all have their different styles:

Ichinojo, Daiamami, spot the different styles

On the dohyo, Chiyonoumi practices with Jokoryu:

While Azumaryu takes on both Chiyomaru and Chiyonoumi:

Practice over, and Takayasu feels he has not had enough. He finds a public park outside the venue, and just keeps on practicing – much to the delight of the neighbors who get a free show:

Here Takayasu and Mitakeumi continue bout from Kyushu senshuraku. But Takayasu also took on Ryuden in this improvised keiko session.

Inside, Meisei was doing his “local boy” duties being the model of the oicho-mage demonstration:

The time comes for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Notice something strange?

The local boys, Meisei and Daiamami, get a lot less love from the audience than, say, Endo or Yoshikaze. My guess is that this is because, although they are from Kagoshima prefecture, they are actually from Amami-Oshima, an island much closer to Okinawa than it is to mainland Kagoshima.

So my guess is that there weren’t many people from their actual home town in this Jungyo event.

Here is Takayasu getting ready for his turn in the sanyaku-soroi-bumi. On the other side you can see Hakuho waiting for the same:

Finally, here is a video from NHK summing up the events of the day, including the bouts of the three local – or not so local – rikishi:

To wrap up, in our pin-up corner, today we feature an oyakata!

From the “I can’t believe this is a former rikishi” department: Tatsunami oyakata

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 9 (Dec 10)

Wear your sunglasses and prepare your insulin shots – we have a lot of kawaii today!

Shodai, Shodai, Shodai, Ryuko

🌐 Location: Uto, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◽️◽️

We complete our journey through Kumamoto in Uto, home to two active rikishi. One is Ryuko, a Makushita wrestler who did well this basho and will be in the race for sekitori status in the next basho:

Narutaki, Asakura, Ryuko

Um, Narutaki. What are you doing? I thought we were done with this stuff last jungyo. Anyway, you’re drawing attention away from the local boy!

So, in yesterday’s post’s comments, I was asked whether these tsukebito actually get any practice. Well, yes they do:

Midorifuji tsupparis, Daieisho and Akiseyama look on

The practice session is more or less the same as that of the sekitori, only held earlier. It consists mostly of moshi-ai sessions, punctuated by quick butsukari for the participants. At the later stages, that butsukari is offered by sekitori:

Not that Enho is much of a pushing challenge. In Midorifuji’s case, it seems he got his butsukari from Tamawashi. At least, the mud on his back says he got rolled.

That’s a bit more of a challenge, and apparently Tamawashi makes sure that he didn’t hurt the micro-rikishi.

While the low-ranking wrestlers have their time on the dohyo, the sekitori are either outside in the corridors doing handshakes, or finding themselves quiet spots for some exercise. Meisei, who is out doing handshake, is so cold, he starts laughing uncontrollably:

Ishiura is all like “Who put me next to Crazy here”?

Which may be the reason why later Meisei had to settle for an isolated spot between a stroller and some derelict equipment:

Don’t worry, he didn’t stay alone for long:

A bit earlier, near the dohyo, just as yesterday, the Kokonoe guys do their morning workouts in front of their oyakata. This includes not just the sekitori but also Chiyosakae, who does this:

This seems to embarrass Kokonoe oyakata, whose voice you can hear in the background “take it seriously, will you?”. He also assures us in the tweet that Chiyosakae actually does take it seriously.

Around that same time, Akiseyama arrives at the dohyo and greets Kasugano, the Jungyo master.

I have a feeling Kasugano wishes he didn’t.

In some corner of the venue, Toyonoshima works out with a piece of rubber, assisted by his loyal Miyazaki:

The Juryo men start their own practice on the dohyo. Here is some butsukari between Chiyonoumi and Hakuyozan:

Jokoryu gets to have Ikioi’s chest:

And Enho… well, Enho is everywhere and practices with everybody. That is, anybody who can possibly find an excuse to lay his hands on the pixie:

Even the Yokozuna smiles when his little uchi-deshi greets him with a respectful ladle of water:

You’d think that Enho is the star of the show rather than Shodai. But actually, Shodai got a lot of attention. Some keiko with Asanoyama:

And some with Tochinoshin:

To which Tochinoshin also adds a hearty Kawaigari:

Whoa, I thought military-grade guns were forbidden in Japan!

Practice part over, everybody gets cleaned, have their oicho-mage started, and have lunch. There are food stalls outside, and… it’s the perfect oportunity to grab Enho and ask him for a pic:

Hey, is that a way to start a conversation with a sekitori? Is there a single rikishi in the whole sumo world who doesn’t think the Japanese National Sport is actually “grab the pixie”?

As practice mawashi dry in the sun…

Remember, these things are never washed…

Inside the venue it still seems pretty cold. Take a look at Terutsuyoshi, all bundled into his… is that a kimono or a Mongolian Deel?

Sure looks like a Deel to me, but Terutsuyoshi is not Mongolian.

Nishikigi, on the other hand, gets warm by pestering his tsukebito:

In the entrance, however, Shodai was being photographed with his grandmother:

The Japanese press love Shodai’s grandmother, because of her name. Shodai is one of the wrestlers, like Takayasu, Endo and Yago, who wrestle under their own name. His grandmother’s name is 正代正代 – yes, twice the same pair of kanji, two completely different readings: Masayo Shodai.

It’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri, and Enho is turning up the kawaii level:

That can’t be a rikishi. It’s a china doll for sure!

Gokushindo is doing the same thing on the East side:

Those two are supposed to face each other this day. And they both exude kawaii like two idol group members on a save-the-cute-bunnies campaign. Enho signals to Gokushindo across the dohyo as they wait their turn:

When Gokushindo gets up on the dohyo, Chiyonoumi gives him the good old salted ladle routine:

Which you can’t blame him for doing, when that’s the reaction he gets. Then the two kings of cute battle in the cutest sumo bout you have ever seen:

I did warn you to prepare the insulin in advance, didn’t I? And those two kept it up even after the bout was over!

Hey! Isn’t sumo fun?

Well, Toyonoshima and Tomokaze were a little more serious about it:

But then came the Makuuchi dohyo-iri and of course, the usual suspects were goofing around. Abi had an arm-wrestling contest with Chiyotairyu:

And Nishikigi was still looking for somebody to bother, and found Shodai:

Shodai: “Come on, my grandma is here!”.

Looks like a little bit of cute rubbed off even on Takarafuji and Asanoyama:

But if you want to see a little actual sumo, here is this short video:

Shodai was paired, unsurprisingly, with Endo, who must be rather frustrated at having to constantly lose to local boys. Utchari, no less!

And how about that tsuridashi Hakuho did on Takayasu? It’s very encouraging to see him do that. Remember, Jungyo bouts are not something anybody is advised to put money on. There are lots of “gentlemen’s agreements” there, and at the very least, nobody is going to risk injury to win. But still, you can draw some conclusions about wrestlers’ health, and if Hakuho can do something like picking Takayasu up, it means his legs are up to the extra load.

By the way, Yoshikaze was back on the torikumi this day for the first time since the Jungyo began – while Yutakayama dropped off it.

With the sun setting, everybody’s Akeni was packed and wrapped and loaded onto the truck (the side-loading Japanese trucks are very clever):

The Akeni and their wraps carry the names of the sekitori. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many names as possible. Try to learn the kanji for the wrestlers names!

During this visit to Uto, the Yokozuna paid a visit to the grave of Shiranui Nageimon, the 8th Yokozuna, performing his Shiranui dohyo-iri in front of the grave:

Shiranui Nageimon was actually the master of the 11th Yokozuna Shiranui Kotsuemon to whom that dohyo-iri style is (mistakenly) attributed.

And with this, we wrap up the day, tying it all up with Tobizaru:

That lovely Tobizaru really needs to be credited, so here is the Tweet from which he was taken: