We still have more than a week before honbasho, so let’s take a look at the Jungyo events in Sapporo, which took place on August 17 and 18.
As it is hard to separate materials that were posted about the two days of this Sapporo event, I am going to plot them as one event. So while I’m fitting the post to the usual “Jungyo Day” format, bear in mind that the actual events described may not have been part of the same sequence.
Today we have a relatively short report, as the ladies of Fujisawa were less than diligent with their smartphones. More is the pity, as today’s schedule included a bout between Ichinojo and Terutsuyoshi. Alas, unless some footage turns out in the next few days, we’ll miss this clash of fire and ice.
Before describing this day, though, I want to take you back to Haru Jungyo 2003, and a photograph that shouldn’t have existed:
Three Yokozuna in 2003? That never happened. Takanohana, in fact, retired in Hatsu 2003, and Asashoryu was promoted only on the next banzuke, Haru 2003. You might think it’s a similar situation to what’s happening with Tochinoshin and Takakeisho now – Tochinoshin is still Ozeki due to the previous banzuke, and Takakeisho is shin-Ozeki as of the next banzuke, and both are treated as Ozeki this Jungyo. However, this doesn’t really happen with retirements, and besides, there is no Jungyo between Hatsu and Haru. Haru Jungyo comes between Haru and Natsu.
And yet, with the magic that is Jungyo, you see the retired Dai-Yokozuna side by side with the next Dai-Yokozuna, both in their tsuna. One can even see that Takanohana is already a lot thinner than he was when active.
OK, engage the flux capacitor. Let’s go back to 2019 – same town, same venue. It’s a beautiful spring day, and with more than 5000 people attending, it’s a good opportunity to get blood donations:
Inside the venue, rikishi are supposed to shake hands with the spectators. Instead, Mitakeumi gives Ichinojo a massage:
It’s hard to tell, with Ichinojo, whether he is pleased or disgusted with this.
The Onami family is in the building at full capacity, and in seniority order:
First, big brother Wakatakamoto. Second, second brother Wakamotoharu. Third, little brother Wakatakakage. Now we need a wolf to huff and puff and blow their house in… Furtunately, neither Seiro nor Roga are available at the moment.
Soon the subjects of the two previous pics get to the dohyo, and Ichinojo gives Wakatakakage a butsukari session:
Takakeisho was very busy on the dohyo today. He got butsukari from Goeido:
And he also had actual sumo practice for the first time this Jungyo. He engaged Hokutofuji:
All in all, six bouts of which he won four: “I’m only starting. I need to get used to it again”. Said the shin-ozeki.
With practice over, the rikishi enjoyed some time off on the lawn outside the venue. Ryuden was enjoying himself, as usual:
And the children of Fujisawa were having the time of their lives:
After shower and dohyo-iri, they were at it again! Some of them were trying to make… thingamajigs… fly:
Or at least figure out what the things were supposed to do:
Some more serious people were still inside the venue doing their job:
OK, “serious” may be stretching it. Abi is a bit bored by the oicho-mage demonstration. I can tell.
This demonstration included both him and Onosho, facing each a different section of the audience. Onosho, unlike Abi, was behaving well:
Then it was Kakuryu’s turn to show off his rope.
Behind him you can see Shohoryu, handing pieces of twine to the rope team leader (I think it’s Shinzan, not sure).
Today, the torikumi included an elimination tournament for the top of Makuuchi. All other sekitori had their usual bouts. Again, no footage. All I have is this photo of Kakuryu and Endo starting their match:
Somewhat surprisingly, Kakuryu won this tournament, winning ¥2,000,000 and a year’s supply of vegetables from the area. “I’m going to eat lots of vegetables”, chuckled the Yokozuna.
I still hope to find that elusive footage of Ichinojo vs. Terutsuyoshi. If I do, I’ll add it here. In the meantime, enjoy our pin-up of the day:
It looks like it was hair-pull Wednesday. None of it seemed like a deliberate tactic, but it took at least one clear win from a rikishi on a no-loss streak. There are an impressive number of rank-and-file rikishi who are still 4-0, and sadly two Ozeki who are in real trouble with injuries, and might want to consider kyujo and immediate medical attention.
Chiyonokuni defeats Aminishiki – A couple of false starts, Chiyonokuni was worried about an Aminishiki henka, and who would not be? Aminishiki took the tachiai, but Chiyonokuni was able to overwhelm uncle sumo’s offense.
Yutakayama defeats Daiamami – Yutakayama picks up his third win, in this evenly balanced oshi/tsuki match. Yutakayama was consistently in better position, and kept Daiamami moving to his tune. My favorite part comes when Daiamami has a solid nodowa, and Yutakayama applies a vigorous slap to his attacker’s face.
Kotoyuki defeats Chiyoshoma – Kotoyuki got into his favorite mode of sumo, and after trading a short series of thrusts, he had Chiyoshoma off balance, and spinning toward the East side.
Yago defeats Kagayaki – Excellent fundamentals as usual from Kagayaki, and he controlled the early part of the match, moving Yago backward, keeping Yago higher and reacting to his sumo. Yago worked to bring Kagayaki to his chest, and when he got Kagayaki wrapped up, he went to work. Although Kagayaki struggled, Yago kept his opponent centered and marched him out. More evidence that Yago is probably going to be a big deal in the next few years.
Abi defeats Endo – It was a cloud of flailing arms immediately from the tachiai, and Abi put himself at risk by attempting an early pull down. Respect to Endo for doing a better job than most at repelling the Abi-zumo attack, but Abi continued to apply pressure, and Endo landed in a heap.
Ryuden defeats Asanoyama – A solid, protracted mawashi battle. Asanoyama was in control for a good portion of the match, but failed to pick up his first win. It looked like Asanoyama got tired, and Ryuden exploited his opponents exhaustion. Good sumo from both.
Kaisei defeats Daieisho – Kaisei seems to have his sumo at full power for the first time in a while, and he remains undefeated. Daieisho gave it everything he had, but there is just too much Kaisei to toss around.
Onosho defeats Aoiyama – This match was all Aoiyama, and Onosho could not overcome the Man-Mountain’s superior reach, and was bodily thrown to the clay. But a Monoii was called, and it was determined that Aoiyama had contact with Onosho’s hair during the throw, and was disqualified.
Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – I hate to say it, but it’s painful to watch Yoshikaze right now. He seems completely out of energy and drive, and he presents little offense in any of his matches. Injury? We don’t get to know.
Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku – Shohozan scores his first win by shutting down Kotoshogiku’s hug-n-chug attack, and getting to Kotoshogiku’s side.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – A critical tadpole battle, this match did much to shape the second act, and it’s a fair question to wonder if Takakeisho needs to work out a mechanism to defend against this kind of attack. Mitakeumi was able to shut down the “wave-action” by never letting Takakeisho get enough distance to effective push against him. At close range, Mitakeumi’s bulk and grip carried the match. Excellent strategy from Mitakeumi, and he moves to 4-0. I can point to Takakeisho’s early attempt at a pull-down as the fatal flaw that allowed Mitakeumi to close the gap and back Takakeisho to the bales as the moment he lost the match.
Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Ozeki Tochinoshin needs to just go kyujo, and work to get his injury treated. He is going to be kadoban either way, and he may as well save himself from any potential damage that might arise.
Ichinojo defeats Goeido – A wide range of thoughts about this, firstly a lot of credit to Ichinojo for outstanding, aggressive sumo two days in a row. He looked like a real champion, and I can’t get enough of this when he is fighting well. Goeido gave it everything he had, and we saw some fantastic attempts to overcome Ichinojo’s size and mass advantage. But with Goeido pressed tightly to his chest, Ichinojo expertly wore him down, and then tossed him aside like a spent ice cream bucket. Fantastic sumo from both, but Goeido likewise needs to own up to his injury and seek treatment before it becomes permanent.
Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Influenza patient Takayasu blasts through his fever to drop Tochiozan. As the scion of Tagonoura now, I expect Takayasu to further harden his already grim determination to win every time he mounts the dohyo. On a related note, it seems the flu is ripping through Japan right now, and there may be several more rikishi who end up sick before this tournament is complete.
Kakuryu defeats Myogiryu – It was not pretty, but it was a much needed win.
Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji lost this match because Hakuho used anything he could think of to delay the moment he touched out. It was a masterful act of agility and poise, but it was really a toss up who was the dead body in this match. Although Hakuho won, this is a great barometer of just how far Hokutofuji’s sumo has come. The boss remains undefeated.
The Jungyo made its way back to Tokyo on day 11, and in the middle of a typhoon, took place at the Aoyama university campus in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Tokyo is a convenient places for rikishi to join or leave the Jungyo. Joining today was Ozeki Takayasu – just in time for the next event, which takes place in his home prefecture of Ibaraki.
But though it would have been understandable if he took it easy in Tokyo which served as a convenient convergence point, he decided all of a sudden to go up the dohyo and have san-ban with Asanoyama and Onosho. The results were less than spectacular – at least as far as the Ozeki was concerned:
So that was the man joining. But there were also men leaving. First, the whole Arashio gang which went to Suwa lake with Sokokurai disappeared. I thought they were joining to be there in time for Fukushima – especially the two elder Onamis – but no, they just made an appearance on that particular day. Special sponsor request, I guess. Perhaps specifically an Arashio beya sponsor.
But that’s a minor disappearance. The major one was, of course, Hakuho, who announce that he will go kyujo as of the next day. He did make an appearance as usual, and worked out lightly below the dohyo:
But he informed the press that his knee was bothering him more than he let on at first. A few days ago he said that his knee was “feeling odd” but “there was no pain”, but today he qualified that to “I’m taking strong painkillers, so there is no pain”. Ouch.
He will be re-examined, and while he expressed his hope that he’ll be able to re-join the Jungyo at some point, he said there was a possibility he’ll need surgery or at least an arthroscopy. This may well mean he’ll be absent from Aki.
The Yokozuna is going to stay at Tokyo, but not with his full entourage. Kasugaryu will be needed to perform the yumi-tori, as there is no backup currently at the Jungyo (Satonofuji stayed home this time). And what will be the fate of our daily Enho photos?
Hakuho is not the only worry – two notable participants were off the torikumi this day: Takekaze and Goeido. I believe they did participate in the keiko session, but can’t find evidence of any on-dohyo activity of these two.
But the show must go on! Yokozuna Kakuryu is still around, and probably slept at home, so he didn’t have time to get a decent shave in the morning:
But later in the day he became pretty to celebrate his birthday – although that’s actually on the 10th. That’s probably because it’s easier to get those cakes in Tokyo:
Aoiyama lent his chest to a lower ranked rikishi (I would guess his tsukebito). Interestingly, his usual bracing is not used for this exercise:
Ryuden was using his tsukebito for weight training. Version one: