Haru Day 5 Recap

We had an interesting day today at the EDION arena in Osaka. Before I dive into the Makunouchi bouts, I’m sure the fans will be happy to see this:

Aminishiki finally lands a win

Aminishiki is in dire straits down at the bottom of Juryo, but he managed to get his first win today vs. Akiseyama – and do that moving forward!

So, fast forward through Juryo (Arawashi doing well this basho, Enho gets his second loss in a row), we begin with Yutakayama vs. Kotoeko. Kotoeko looking good this basho, and may just be able to get that Makunouchi kachi-koshi which has eluded him so far. He attacks Yutakayama with a harizashi, lifts his arm high, and sends him off to the arms of the time shimpan.

Due to Chiyonokuni’s injury, we have a visitor from Juryo every day, and today it was 0-4 Hakuyozan facing Ishihenka, I mean, Ishiura, who was 4-0. Ishiura tried to get under Hakuyozan’s attack, but as he pulls, his knee folds below him and he finds himself rolling. His first loss, Hakuyozan’s first win.

Toyonoshima slammed into Chiyoshoma and intended to railroad him with his bulk, as he is wont. But the nimble Mongolian freed himself, stepped sideways, and left the veteran to ponder the difficulties of age and sumo.

Kagayaki launches himself head-first into newbie Daishoho‘s chest, keeps himself low, keeps his opponent upright, and clears him from the dohyo. Basic and clean.

The TomokazeTerutsuyoshi bout ended almost as soon as it started, with a plain, almost dismissive, hatakikomi. I believe something is wrong with Terutsuyoshi’s legs. He keeps ending up with his center of gravity way ahead of his feet. There is an expression used for this state: “ashi ga nagaremashita” – “his feet have flowed away”. His legs don’t work as fast as he needs to support his lunge.

And the Isegahama pixie is not the only one in trouble. Yoshikaze also didn’t show up for today’s bout. He leads head-first into the tachiai, but Ryuden immediately lands a morozashi – two arms under the opponent’s arms – and Yoshikaze just goes limp. Ryuden is haveng a good basho with 4-1.

Meisei tries to take the initiative against Yago. Doesn’t quite land a grip. Short tsuppari ensues, and then the two engage in migi-yotsu. Meisei only has one layer of Yago’s mawashi, and the Oguruma man patiently maneuvers into a better grip and leads Meisei out.

An impressive Shohozan showed up today to face Sadanoumi. Starting his bout with a harizashi, he lands a grip, and then throws Sadanoumi in a beautiful uwatenage. I want more of this Shohozan.

Ikioi tries hard to keep Kotoshogiku‘s pelvis as far away from him as possible. But eventually the former Ozeki decides to use the pressure against him, moves, and shows him out. Ikioi limps back to his spot to give the bow.

Asanoyama has a good tactic against Aoiyama. Since he is a yotsu man and Aoiyama is known for his fierce tsuppari and soft knees, Asanoyama quickly drives in and gets a fistful of mawashi. But Aoiyama shows versatility, uses a kotenage to release himself from the Takasago man, complements that with a nodowa, and hands Asanoyama his second loss.

Abi starts his bout with Takarafuji, as usual, with that morotezuki and follows with tsuppari. Takarafuji is quite ready for that, patiently weathers it, moves slightly to the left and grabs Abi’s mawashi. Abi manages to release himself, tries a half-hearted hikiotoshi, and fails. Instead, the Isegahama man slaps hard, and Abi rolls all the way to the other side of the dohyo. Olé!

The next bout, Chiyotairyu vs. Okinoumi. Chiyotairyu does his locomotive tachiai. Okinoumi backs up and sidesteps. Chiyotairyu dives into the janome, hands first. And Kimura Konosuke calls it Chiyotairyu’s win! No monoii. I guess the shimpan trust Chiyotairyu’s heya-mate, Konosuke, too much. The replay clearly shows this was a mistake. Okinoumi’s feet are firmly on the tawara, so he is very much alive when Chiyotairyu hits the dirt.

Ichinojo starts off with a harite – it’s not a harizashi as there was no attempt to go for the belt – then follows with a kachiage, and finally paws Onosho down with both arms. Scary. Onosho finds himself in a heap as Ichinojo, as usual, worriedly checks if he hasn’t overdone things. I guess Ichinojo left his sleepy secret twin in Tokyo.

Endo gets a grip on Tochiozan‘s belt right off the tachiai, and rolls him like his favorite barrel of beer. Makiotoshi, Endo’s first win this basho.

Mitakeumi and Hokutofuji clash head-to-head. Mitakeumi leads at first, but Hokutofuji manages to stop the pressure, and it’s Mitakeumi who starts pulling back. Maybe it’s the knee, but whatever it is, the Mitakeumi magic is not working against his fellow komusubi, and after a short halt, again he pulls and finds himself below the dohyo.

After three losses, Tamawashi vindicates himself somewhat in this fierce battle with Takakeisho. Takakeisho leads at first and nearly bounces Tamawashi out the front side of the dohyo, but Tamawashi takes it in his stride, and returns with his own windmill. Tamawashi proves that even in oshi, Takakeisho is not invincible. With two losses in the first trimester, Takakeisho’s Ozeki run seems less certain than it looked before the basho started.

Nishikigi has run out of luck this basho. Takayasu slams into him with all his bear-power. Nishikigi tries an arm lock on the Ozeki’s left arm, but to no avail. Nishikigi is 0-5.

Kaisei and Tochinoshin lock into a “gappuri” stance – firm yotsu. Tochinoshin’s first attempt doesn’t work. There is a short impasse, and then Kaisei makes a mistake and tries to gaburi him, or at least, that’s how it looked. As a result, his center of gravity ends up just where the Ozeki wants it, and he actually lifts the heavy Brazilian – though he quickly abandons the idea. He then adds a couple of pelvis thrusts of his own, to bring his thick opponent across the tawara. 3-2, and his chances of clearing kadoban look slightly brighter.

Goeido treats Shodai like a ragdoll, and the Tokitsukaze man finds himself out of the dohyo almost straight out of the tachiai. What version of Goeido is this? Has his kernel been replaced?

Kakuryu butts heads with Daieisho (not a smart move in the long run, Yokozuna), then immediately pulls. Hatakikomi, and Kakuryu is visibly annoyed with himself. Trouble always begins when Kakuryu pulls. But the win is a win.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Hakuho. The bout itself looked fine. No dominance, but the Yokozuna leading with a kachiage, Myogiryu fending him off, and the Yokozuna coming in again and slapping his opponent to the ground. But like yesterday, he couldn’t quite stop his own movement after finishing his work. Yesterday he ended up in the crowd, and took quite a while to get up from there, and today he ended up doing the splits on top of myogiryu. Control of legs? Dizziness? We won’t know unless he goes kyujo and needs to publish yet another public proof of injury

So that’s the end of Act 1, and we have four men in the leader group – Hakuho, Goeido, Ichinojo and Kotoshogiku. Let’s see what the second trimester brings!

February Hana-Zumo events

It’s that time of the year again. It’s February, and there is no Jungyo. If you take a look at the Grand Sumo Calendar, though, you’ll see that there are always two hana-zumo events in this month: The NHK charity event, and Fuji TV’s Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hana-Zumo is exhibition sumo. The name literally means “flowor sumo”. This is because in the Heian era, events like that took place in the Imperial Palace, and there were no “East” and “West” then. So the rikishi were distinguished by flowers they wore in their hair.

NHK’s #52 Charity Sumo Event

The special feature of this event is the song contest at the end. One side of the Kokugikan is fenced off, and set up as a huge stage.

The event includes extras such as Jinku, drum demonstration, Shokkiri, and Yokozuna rope tying demonstration.

Kasugaryu putting the finishing touches on Hakuho’s rope.

There is also what the Japanese call “A talk show”, which is actually an on-stage interview with some celebrity. In this event, they interviewed the former Takekaze, now Oshiogawa oyakata.

In fact, we had several new oyakata faces in the blue NSK jackets.

Here is a short video report about this event from NHK:

The former Takekaze says: “I didn’t imagine I’ll get to age 39, nearly 40, in any shape. If someone like me can do it, than anybody can!”

This is a “regular” sumo event in that bouts are more or less by ascending banzuke order ending with the san-yaku members doing san-yaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko). As always, Hakuho awaits his turn to do the soroi-bumi leaning on the shoulders of a Yobidashi:

And I also have a bout for you from this event – the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Hakuho (bonus bow twirling ceremony):

You may notice that Hakuho is far from being in shape for sumo. He does this bout with his right leg mostly floating up in the air. There are several rikishi who are kyujo from this event, but Hakuho is not one of them, as absenting himself from the hana-zumo event would prevent him from participating in any events – such as weddings, and the Hakuho Cup, which of course he doesn’t want to miss. So he participates on one leg.

Update: here is a link to the part of the event that was broadcast the following week. Ad blocker highly recommended. I was amused by the narrated Shokkiri. 🙂

Fuji TV Grand Sumo Tournament

The Fuji TV event comes the day after the NHK event. It includes sumo in elimnation format – both Juryo and Makuuchi. The special feature of this event is the veteran bouts – with oyakata putting on their shimekomi and doing sumo.

From top left: Kyokutenho (Tomozuna oyakata), Tosayutaka (Magaki oyakata), Futeno (Inagawa oyakata), Robocop Takamisakari (Furiwake oyakata), Satoyama (Sanoyama oyakata), Tamaasuka (Kumagatani oyakata)

Refer to the link at the end of this post for the veteran bouts themselves.

The former Kisenosato had his debut as a commentator in this event. He readily speaks, but I think they should leave commenting to someone who speaks more clearly.

Two former yokozuna as Statler and Waldorf

Since the active rikishi bouts are arranged in elimination format, it means there are winners in this event. Much like a honbasho yusho, winning this tournament means receiving many prizes. There is a trophy:

Takayasu’s first yusho… in the Grand Sumo Tournament hana-zumo event, that is

And there is an air-conditioner:

This will come in handy in the next Nagoya basho

There are also a bale of rice, a lot of beef, a 10-day cruise around Japan. All went to Takayasu, who had to earn them by going through a very genki Yoshikaze. Take a look at Yoshikaze vs. Shohozan:

Here is a link to the full TV broadcast of the tournament. Things to note:

  • Hakuho, again, doing his sumo on one leg and getting eliminated in his first round.
  • The veteran bouts. The most impressive one is Kyokutenho. Robocop does a lot of pre-bout robot stuff, but Inagawa oyakata eliminates him rather easily. The most balanced bout is the one between Magaki and Kumagatani.
  • Azumaryu wins the Juryo tournament. This was done in such a way that the final was held between three wrestlers – like a three-way playoff. In Japanese you’ll heard the word “Tomoe Ketteisen”. This alludes to a mitsu-domoe:
  • Ryuden’s matta. And another matta.
  • Yoshikaze vs. Abi – continuing his genki performance.
  • Araiso oyakata in his role as a commentator. He is mostly asked to comment about Takayasu.

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 10 (Dec 11)

🌐 Location: Fukiagecho, Hioki, Kagoshima
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

We now move to the Kagoshima prefecture, which boasts several rikishi of fame. There are the Kinoshita brothers, Chiyomaru and Chiyootori, Meisei and Daiamami. There is even a rikishi who is from Hioki city itself, though admittedly, a less well-known one:

Kiseoka of Kise beya, local boy

Early morning, and in the handshake corner, we finally get to see Yoshikaze in his mawashi rather than yukata:

Rash or no rash? Maybe the aftermath of rash?

Inside, as usual, the Kokonoe rikishi are diligently working out around the dohyo. Kokonoe oyakata assures us that Chiyosakae is, in fact, serious:

As you know, the rikishi don’t have commercial weights available during the Jungyo, so they lift each other. Chiyomaru starts by lifting up Chiyonoumi, a reasonable 140kg weight. But then Chiyonoumi starts lifting Chiyomaru:

Now, that’s a 140kg rikishi lifting 191kg… 😨

By the way, notice those zabuton (sitting cushions) laid down on the floor? Take a look at one close-up:

The organizers of the event commissioned the design for these cushions from Kototsurugi. And Kototsurugi did a wonderful job – the light reflecting off Hakuho’s eyes! The shadow of the oicho-mage on the reflective, oiled hair! It’s a wonderful memento to take home with you… only… sitting on a Yokozuna’s face?

Some fans did sit on these zabuton. Not Hakuho fans, I guess. Others preferred sitting on zabuton they brought with them and holding the gift ones in their hands (“I hugged it and watched sumo!” said one of the spectators). The next day, when Asashoryu saw this he tweeted his indignation in two separate outraged tweets and even tried to get a reaction from Hakuho. Hakuho is not an idiot, of course, and didn’t react. At least not in public. He just kept on doing his thing:

I’m betting he got to sign a lot of those cushions at the end of the day.

His little pixie uchi-deshi also did his thing. That is, turned on the kawaii production to max:

Standing up, cute. Crouching down, also cute:

Tochinoshin was doing his shiko below the dohyo:

And Juryo rikishi were practicing on the dohyo:

I’m not sure when Chiyomaru had time to interview for the local news:

Maybe during the Makuuchi practice?

I guess he is getting himself used to being in Juryo.

Here is Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:

Tochinoshin doesn’t like to lose.

In the afternoon part of the event, Daiamami took the opportunity to get a photo with the sumo club of his alma mater, the Kagoshima Commercial Senior High School:

Enho was taking a stroll through the concession stand, where some fan sneaked in some unspecified unlicensed cheeky merchandise that managed to make Enho gasp, laugh, and apparently, feign anger:

Hey, calm down, pixie! Don’t beat up the customers!

No, I really have no idea what the fake merchandise was. The tweets I read that in had that part intentionally redacted. All we are left with is a pixie who is cute even when he tries to look fierce. And of course, Tomokaze who gets his share of pixie skin.

You can catch some glimpses of bouts in this video. Yes, it’s a video of a TV set showing a news segment. What you see are the local stars:

Also, enjoy Abi’s shiko:

And here is an expression you’ll never, ever see on the Yokozuna’s face when he gets ready to throw his salt in honbasho. Jungyo exclusive face here:

The day ends with Kasugaryu twirling his bow:

And this post ends with a double header in the pin-up corner: