The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.
There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!
The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:
These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.
There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:
Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.
They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:
This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:
At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).
On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.
But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.
Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.
So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:
And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?
This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.
This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:
On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:
While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:
…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.
So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:
Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:
Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:
Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.
Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:
Yep, that nodowa again.
Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.
Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:
And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:
By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.
During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:
I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:
Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.
The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:
Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.
So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho:
It’s Day 2, and here’s another wrap up from Juryo. This time we’ll throw in a couple bonus bouts from the Makushita promotion race, which is already shaping up to be a hot one.
Makushita Bonus Action
Akua defeats Chiyonoo – After his disastrous basho in Fukuoka, Chiyonoo doesn’t look like coming back up any time in the near future. Akua gives him the ol’ push and pull and he’s face flat on the dohyo. Woof. Akua looks the more likely to be back up in Juryo the soonest.
Takanofuji defeats Ryuko – Takanofuji nee Takayoshitoshi wins despite not having a solid grip for most of this match. Ryuko, a former Tachiai One to Watch who was surprisingly tipped by John Gunning as a future Ozeki, has got a left hand grip and gives a couple attempts at an uwatenage, but Takanofuji manoeuvres him close to the bales and crushes him down via yoritaoshi.
Chiyonoumi defeats Daiseido – Daiseido, having lost already, gets a visit to Juryo on day 2 against Chiyonoumi. After a matta, the Kokonoe man uses Daiseido’s inertia against him, steps to the side and thrusts him down to win by tsukiotoshi. Daiseido now has very little room for error with 13 days to go, if he’s going to make it to the penultimate division. Chiyonoumi now 2-0.
Sokokurai defeats Gagamaru – There’s a combined age of 66 on the dohyo with these two. You know that facebook meme going around right now where you’re meant to post your first profile picture from ten years ago and your most recent? Well if you’re feeling bad about how you’ve aged then bear in mind that Gagamaru is 31. Before this match starts, I notice that cool man Tomozuna is in the shimpan crew, which in fairness is a good distraction from some gnarly shiko. There’s another matta, and then Sokokurai pulls a planetary-orbit altering henka that sends the Georgian to the clay. Both men are now 1-1, and Gagamaru is not massively pleased.
Shimanoumi defeats Kyokushuho – Kyokushuho deploys some strong nodowa attempts in front of his stable master, but can’t find the killer move and as Shimanoumi gets him going backward, he pulls and it’s all over. Shimanoumi checks his balance, stays low, and shoves his man out.
Jokoryu defeats Tsurugisho – Jokoryu beats Tsurugisho with one of those throws that feels like it lasts an entire year. Jokoryu lands his left hand inside after the Tachiai, and then the entire rest of this match is him attempting to unload the throw. It looks like it may backfire but eventually he controls Tsurugisho’s momentum and executes a very satisfying shitatenage.
Tobizaru defeats Takekaze – Takekaze had a bad loss on Day 1 and needs to sort himself out if he isn’t going to suffer a potentially career-ending drop out of the professional ranks. This match is a slap-fest in which the veteran is determined to rough up Tobizaru’s face, much to the chagrin of the younger man’s fans. Takekaze unleashes about 13 slap and pull and poke and scratch attempts before Tobizaru is able to keep the wily elder statesman at arms length in order to set up the push and pull for the slap down. Takekaze is now 0-2, and Tobizaru is now 1-1.
Arawashi defeats Kyokutaisei – It’s not Tobizaru’s fault, but I could get behind his Tokyo banana mawashi if Kyokutaisei was still sporting the Hokkaido melon tinted belt. Arawashi’s sumo has been a mess lately but he executes a pretty solid tsuppari into mawashi grip transition and chaperones Kyokutaisei out. The best lead actor of any recent sumo film puts up a decent fight at the edge but there’s nothing he can do, and that’s the kind of match Kyokutaisei should probably be winning against a sekitori in freefall. Both men are now 1-1. Bring back the melon!
NHK cuts the feed at this point over from the broadcast satellite to NHK G and shows Kisenosato entering the Kokugikan, and the footage kind of looks like there’s going to be an intai announcement. But it turns out they’re just announcing that he takes on Ichinojo later.
Hidenoumi defeats Mitoryu – disappointing from Mitoryu as Hidenoumi tries and fails to get a mawashi grip, but doesn’t really need it to get the Mongolian high and escort him out in fairly short order. Disappointing match, and Mitoryu is getting a little inconsistent at this level. Both of these guys are now 1-1 as well.
Azumaryu defeats Enho – Ura had better hurry up, because here’s more incredible sumo involving Enho, who is turning into the can’t miss rikishi. Azumaryu’s ring demeanour is so much calmer and measured than the more frantic Enho. They take a while to get ready at the tachiai, but eventually this bout gets underway, and Enho gets in low. Azumaryu tries repeatedly to simply push him down, slap him down, as the smaller man buries his head into Azumaryu’s stomach. Eventually Enho tries to get a mawashi grip, but this doesn’t work and it looks like the Mongolian has him off balance. But the little guy recovers, tries a throw and can’t pull it off. Then he tries a sotogake leg trip and can’t pull that off, and Azumaryu now has Enho off balance and throws him to the dirt. Enho gets up with a bloodied face and nothing to show for his efforts but his fans. Both men are now 1-1.
Chiyomaru defeats Akiseyama – It’s the battle of the bulbous! Chiyomaru tries to hit a slap down and then the match looks like it’s turning into a yotsu-battle. The two men lock up in the middle of the dohyo and it’s possible one of them is about to fall asleep when Chiyomaru twists the awkward Kise-beya rikishi around and tosses him down with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyomaru heads to 2-0, with Akiseyama now 0-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Hakuyozan – Dominant performance from Wakatakakage. Hakuyozan gets the better of the tachiai, but once the smaller Arashio-beya man lands his grip, Hakuyozan is totally out of control of the match and Wakatakakage deposits him over the edge. Both of these young starlets are now 1-1 as well.
Toyonoshima defeats Tokushoryu – Here’s a match featuring an awful lot of belly. Toyonoshima puts his to good use as he takes control straight from the tachiai and wins with an insanely straightforward yorikiri. Tokushoryu tries to get his arm around the senior sumo citizen’s head and execute some kind of throw or slap down in desperation, but he’s got nothing. Everybody here is now 1-1 as well.
Aminishiki defeats Tomokaze – Old meets young in a generational battle. Uncle Sumo mounts the dohyo in an attempt to get something from the current division’s yusho holder. Tomokaze has his usual nonplussed expression as the two men get down for the tachiai. You’ll never guess what happens next: pusher-thruster Tomokaze has backwards-moving slap-down specialist Aminishiki going backwards. Aminishiki dances around the ring and hits the hikiotoshi as Tomokaze goes flying. It’s a good lesson for the youngster. It’s increasingly likely in 50 years we’ll still be watching them wheel the bones and bandages of Aminishiki onto the dohyo – he can still win at this level. He, like Tomokaze and just about everyone else, is 1-1.
Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Here’s the battle of salt vs protein. Terutsuyoshi deploys a sodium explosion that’s impressive even by his lofty standards. Ishiura takes charge of this match though – and it’s interesting to watch him when the opponent is also small – it’s a reminder he can do some great sumo when he goes head on. Despite Terutusyoshi being small, Ishiura does manage to get in a bit lower, grabs the Isegahama man, spin him around and throw him out. There may have been some discussion of a matta, but Ishiura’s already on his way back to the locker room to make a shake, with both men’s records now 1-1.
Daishoho defeats Takanosho – Daishoho and Takanosho are so close to makuuchi they can smell it. After some good old fashioned slapping, the Mongolian locks up Takanosho’s arm and the Chiganoura man simply can’t escape. Daishoho unloads a kotenage and it might not be surprisingly that Takanosho is in bad shape after the rough throw. Takanosho needs the help of multiple yobidashi to dismount the dohyo and this will put his attempt to gain promotion back to the top level in deep trouble. Both of these guys are also now 1-1. Despite a kotenage arm lock throw being notoriously harsh on the receiver’s arm and elbow, it seemed the injury was to his leg/thigh area.
It’s the end of the winter Jungo. The two towns of Tsuchiura and Ushiku probably planned this event with the intention of celebrating the return of Kisenosato. Takayasu comes from Tsuchiura, while Kisenosato comes from Ushiku. However, since the event was planned, Kisenosato had the disastrous Kyushu basho, followed by a long kyujo.
And so, Takayasu had to be the star of the day, all on his own.
But there were other rikishi in the venue as well! There was Aminishiki, showing one of those rarer and rarer smiles:
I guess being around his heya’s yobidashi, Teruya, makes Uncle Sumo happy.
Ichinojo managed to convince Mitoryu to let him play a little
Mitoryu doesn’t seem to take this too seriously, though.
Kakuryu practiced with hand weights. In the past, this exercise was mostly associated with Harumafuji.
Shohoryu watches and learns.
Hakuho, on the other hand, was working mainly on his legs. He started with plain suri-ashi:
Hehe… Yokozuna, try the Abi shiko. It will do wonders for your thighs (and your dohyo-iri)!
I wonder if the reason they called this janitor was to clean up after him…
On the dohyo, the usual moshi-ai sessions took place, and there were several lengthy kawaigari sessions for the spectators to enjoy. Kakuryu decided to give his former tsukebito, Gokushindo, some love
Hey, even the gentle Kakuryu kicks!
Gokushindo took this as an encouragement to get himself back to sekitori status as soon as possible. He is going to drop back to Makushita tomorrow when the Banzuke is published. “Get back to the white mawashi quickly and you’ll be able to practice with me again!”, so to speak.
Goeido once again took on Chiyonoumi. I’m not sure why exactly, but hey, as long as somebody loves my man from Kochi!
Even Hakuho stops to watch, and nods his head approvingly!
Then, of course, the highlight of the keiko part of the day, was Hakuho’s kawaigari for Takayasu. There was six minutes of this:
“[Get on your] feet! feet! feet! feet!”. Then finally, this:
Among the encouragement calls for Takayasu were also shouts of “Thank you, Hakuho!” coming from the Ozeki’s townspeople. Hearing this, the Yokozuna reacted: “The people of Ibaraki know their sumo”.
Which tells me the Yokozuna is well aware of the latest outrage campaign against his “evil kawaigari” going through the social media.
Poor Takayasu had to go through a lot of adoring fans when he got finished with that lovemaking session:
The people of Ibaraki may know their sumo, but they sure don’t know when to back off and let a man breath…
It’s time for shower, lunch and hairdos. And I have another behind-the-scenes revelation for you today!
Well, no controversial, um, reading material today. Just an amusing Asanoyama moment captured by Wakamotoharu:
In the afternoon part, Hakuho was doing the rope tying demo:
Here is the East side of the Makuuchi dohyo-iri:
Note Abi tugging at Kagayaki to get him to respond to some fans his eye caught. Kagayaki obliges. It seems he is softening a bit! He also had a lively chat with Abi while they were both at the side of the dohyo waiting for their respective bouts. Maybe it’s the effect of Tamawashi’s kiss! 😘
I have two bout clips today. Here is Endo vs. Chiyoshoma:
Endo quite happily allows himself to win for a change, as Chiyoshoma is not a local boy.
The local boy himself was matched with Hakuho. And there was a lot of kensho riding on this match!
That’s not exactly common for a Jungyo bout… So Hakuho made his salt throw: