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:
Early morning, and in the handshake corner, we finally get to see Yoshikaze in his mawashi rather than yukata:
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:
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:
We continue our journey through the Kumamoto prefecture. As always, the day starts with the low-ranking wrestlers around the dohyo, while some of the sekitori are shaking hands, some exercise around the venue, and some around the dohyo. The Kokonoe sekitori seem to be very diligent. Earlier than everybody, they start exercising around the dohyo:
The reason for this is that Kokonoe oyakata is in the Jungyo, and watching his flock like a hawk. He is the one who took this picture, by the way.
Hmm… where is Chiyoshoma? I guess not everybody is that stressed out about the oyakata. Chiyoshoma, as usual, gravitates toward the Mongolian corner:
Mitoryu is not the only one doing resistance training. Takanosho is hard at work, simultaneously stretching his rubber strap and being cute.
Ishiura is busy stretching his tendons:
You can do better than that!
Takekaze was doing… something…
The tweet says suri-ashi, but it doesn’t really look like it.
Takayasu is busy lifting one of his tsukebito. Ozeki and Yokozuna get to bring more than one tsukebito to Jungyo. His other tsukebito is also by his side – Musashikuni.
Now let’s see Takayasu try that with Musashikuni…
The local boys are Sadanoumi and Shodai. Sadanoumi does a frog impression:
OK, OK, it’s another type of stretch. I get the impression that Sadanoumi tries to avoid the limelight, as opposed to Shodai who is in full fansa mode:
Shodai is accompanied by Asakura, who demonstrates the duties of a tsukebito to us.
Other rikishi take their time and chat a little. Here is a rare smile from Kagayaki:
Kagayaki once said the only rikishi he is on friendly terms with is Enho. But it seems he found some companionship in Onosho. Onosho seems to be a friendly guy in general:
Here he is with Midorifuji. Midorifuji seems to enjoy the same popularity Enho had when he was still in a black mawashi and doing the Jungyo as Hakuho’s tsukebito: he seems to hang out with many sekitori, not even from his own ichimon, which is a bit unusual for a low-ranker. I’ve seen him chatting with Chiyoshoma (who rarely chats with anybody other than his own heya-mates or the Mongolian rikishi), and even with some of the oyakata. It’s the pixie dust, I’m sure!
On the dohyo, we have some Juryo moshi-ai:
And some Makuuchi: Ryuden vs. Sadanoumi
Endo vs. Aoiyama:
I expect Aoiyama to cut through the ranks like a hot knife in butter next basho. Tamawashi vs. Shohozan:
I always like to watch these two going at it. I expect the bartender to dive under the counter any minute.
And here are Tochinoshin and Asanoyama:
No explicit information, but it seems Meisei has been through some kawaigari:
And so we get to the second part of the day. Not many photos from the actual bouts, but remember, Hakuho is back! Therefore, we have this familiar scene:
That’s Hakuho, leaning on the Yobidashi after the sanyaku-soroi-bumi, awaiting his bout. He invariably does that in Jungyo – and sometimes runs some pranks on the yobidashi while he’s at it.
Here’s a short video with some shokkiri and some bouts (alas, no complete ones):
We have a short one today, as few fans blessed us with photographs or videos from this town by Mount Aso in Kumamoto.
There are two sekitori from Kumamoto prefecture, so they starred today, and will be celebrated in the next two days as well. I give you Sadanoumi, in a Myogiryu Paisley yukata, and Shodai, in a dragonfly motif.
You’ll note that everybody was wearing yukata for their handshake this time. The temperature was 0ºC in the morning, and I guess the strict oyakata felt a little guilty going around in their own warm Uniqlo padded vests and having the rikishi freeze. You may also notice that they are not wearing any obi – my guess is that they have their mawashi on under the yukata.
Inside the main hall, though, the rikishi are in their mawashi, and keep warm by doing exercise. Here is Asanoyama doing his suri-ashi:
What does “suri-ashi” mean? Listen to the sound track. It means “sliding feet”. The feet are supposed to slide along the ground when you do suri-ashi, rather than be lifted.
Chiyomanu, on the other hand, was doing… what is he doing?
He was doing this repeatedly. It must be practice! Practice for… er… some father-son day in the distant future, where there will be sack racing?
On the dohyo, Nishikigi was giving butsukari to Onosho:
Easy. Abi giving butsukari to Endo:
Note that if the submissive is too successful and gives the dominant no opportunity to roll him, the dominant will sometimes signal for an itten – in which the submissive symbolically hits his chest, and is then rolled immediately. An itten is also how a butsukari session ends – and sometimes there may be more than one to finish the session (especially in kawaigari sessions).
Tochinoshin offers his chest to Daieisho:
Here is some moshi-ai:
Is that Endo again? Not sure. Meisei beats him, and Abi as well – and Abi is definitely practicing yotsu again.
Tochinoshin takes up Chiyotairyu:
Time to go away and take a relaxing bath. Coming back – in his own van – is the dai-Yokozuna, already in full regalia. And Mongolian though he is, the cold is getting to him, too:
So Kasugaryu wraps him up with his yukata. It’s good to be the king!
I do not have any bouts or even bout photos from this day’s event, but here is a video of the san-yaku soroi-bumi (“kore yori sanyaku”):
What this video tells us is that, for the first time in this Jungyo, Hakuho is participating in the bouts!
Indeed, according to the press, this was the first bout he had since leaving the Aki Jungyo and having his surgery. He beats Takayasu by yori-kiri, to much applause.
And today’s pin-up boy is:
One of the spectators asked him to hold her boy in his arms (dakko – the Japanese believe that if a rikishi holds your child he or she will grow up strong and healthy). After letting him down, he keeps patting the child’s head and talking to him. The kid seems to be interested in his sagari!
At this point in the Jungyo journey, all hell breaks loose as hitherto fairly unknown Sandanme rikishi Takataisho fails to arrive in the morning, and when his friends convince him to come, the chaperones notice, start questioning him, and… Takanoiwa exits the world of sumo, stage left.
Maybe that is the reason why social media coverage of this day is limited. Or maybe the fact that Yukuhashi is a fairly small town, but today’s event coverage will mostly be in photos rather than videos.
So, rikishi practice along the walls. Here is Ichinojo making a rubber strap wish it has never been born:
On day 3, we had ryuden princess-lifting Shobushi. Now the portable weight is utilized by Kagayaki – who prefers piggyback.
Well, riding piggyback on the back of one of the tallest rikishi seems to give Shobushi a serious fear of heights.
The previous day, we learned that Asakayama oyakata only accepts greetings from rikishi after they do some squatting with his favorite sack of salt. But apparently, some rikishi get a free pass:
Gee, I wonder why that is.
Another person who exchanged greetings with the brass was Gokushindo.
If you’re wondering why Gokushindo would be all chummy with Izutsu oyakata, it’s probably to do with the fact that he was a longtime tsukebito of Kakuryu’s.
By the way, Izutsu is the only oyakata who sits in a chair in Jungyo. My guess is that this has to do with that hip he fractured after Hakuho dame-oshied Yoshikaze on top of him in 2016.
Speaking of Gokushindo, he, Nishikigi and Wakatakakage were all checking the torikumi plan for the day in peace and harmony…
…when all of a sudden Abi burst onto the scene.
Abi merely laid his dainty bear paws hands on Nishikigi’s back, and Gokushindo suddenly found himself splat against the wall.
Meanwhile, in the shitakubeya:
Kyonosato: “There is no possible way you can make me look more ridiculous after that silly ‘Wiggle the Wattle’ routine yesterday”
Narutaki: “Hold my beer”
“No, I mean literally, hold my beer. Now, you were saying?”
Here are some moshi-ai bouts:
And two Ozeki engaging in san-ban:
Hakuho keeps practicing below the dohyo. A middle-aged man in the crowd calls out “Hakuho, Gambare!…”
The Yokozuna turns around and shoots a smile at him. And that’s how you become a fansa-kami-sama (“God of fan service”).
As the sekitori get ready for their bouts, Enho seems to be deeply cogitating:
“So, this proves that f is differentiable at every point in this domain, so to calculate ∇f, let’s first do the partial derivative w.r.t. x₁. Good, now…”
In the previous report, I received complaints about the dearth of Abi. So, here you go. One high shiko coming up:
This preceded Abi’s bout with Nishikigi, a bout from which I only have this tantalizing photo:
From which we can draw two conclusions
Kimura Konosuke is diligent even in Jungyo events.
Abi is trying up Yotsu again.
Another tantalizing glimpse of a bout:
Tochinoshin is doing the Tochinoshin. Man, this is the musubi-no-ichiban. That’s a full sized bear Ozeki you have there, not a five-year-old playing Upsy-daisy!
So, let’s say our goodbyes to Yukuhashi. Our pinup rikishi is, once again, Wakatakakage:
Because even when he covers his freezing nipples, he manages to look totally cool.
Yes, we’re back with the series of Jungyo Newsreels that will try to keep your blood sumo levels above the emergency threshold until a new tournament is in site.
As a reminder – the Jungyo is a promotional tour in which the sekitori (Juryo and Makuuchi) participate. Each takes one tsukebito (manservant, a wrestler ranked between Jonidan and Makushita), except Yokozuna and Ozeki who get to have a “team”. Together with a bunch of shimpan, gyoji and yobidashi, and of course the big heads from the Jungyo department, they travel through small towns around Japan, performing from morning through the afternoon, and letting the locals get a bit of live sumo and sumo-related fun. For a fuller description, refer to the Introduction To The Jungyo I published a while back.
The winter Jungyo is supposed to be the shortest Jungyo of the year. However, with the rising popularity of sumo, it’s not that short any more. The 2013 Fuyu Jungyo included only six events. The 2018 Fuyu Jungyo includes 17 events spread over 21 days! In fact, there were more Jungyo days in 2018 than honbasho days!
So without further ado, let’s see what we had on day 1.
Nagasaki is a popular tourist destination in Japan. So some members of the entourage took time to explore. While Hakuho had a little excursion to the lighthouse to have some Champon (a Nagasaki noodle dish), Kokonoe oyakata decided to visit the famous Spectacles Bridge:
One rikishi was on the tour, who was neither sekitori nor tsukebito. Tachiai favorite Wakaichiro had a one-day adventure. The reason for this is that he is registered as coming from Nagasaki. His mother is from Nagasaki, and his grandparents came to this day’s event to watch him. As you all know, he actually grew up in Texas. He mostly spent summer vacations in Nagasaki. This being his first Jungyo, he had a bit of trouble getting the hang of things (remember, there are no sekitori in Musashigawa). The press was mostly amused that he decided a good place to camp in the shitaku-beya would be right between Takayasu and Tochinoshin. (Well, yeah, it is a good place!)
As a “local boy”, he received some kawaigari (TLC – the euphemism for butsukari, especially when used as a torture session) from Jokoryu. This was the effect:
Wakaichiro was not the only novice in the Jungyo – though the others have the advantage of traveling with familiar faces and being used to the company of sekitori. One new face in the Jungyo is Midorifuji, who is serving as Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (I’m getting worried about Terunohana, Terutsuyoshi’s long-time tsukebito, who has been kyujo for quite some time). Midorifuji is considered one of the most promising current talents at Isegahama beya, and I think they decided to send him on the Jungyo to get some “sekitori experience”. Here he is with Terutsuyoshi and Aminishiki’s tsukebito, Terumichi:
Another new face in the Jungyo is Wakamotoharu (though he had been on at least one event in the past). He is there as his little brother’s tsukebito – the little brother being Wakatakakage, of course.
The shimpan squad has also been refreshed. In the previous Jungyo we saw Futagoyama, Tomozuna and Furiwake. This tour we have Asakayama, Hanaregoma and, of course, Kokonoe.
And what are the rikishi up to? Well, it’s early morning, so Ichinojo demonstrates his ability to squat while sound asleep:
Then there are these inseparable two. Surprisingly, Terutsuyoshi is rather hands-off today:
But of course, most of the attention goes to one participant: Hakuho, back from his post-operative kyujo, and trying to regain some fitness. Here he is doing some shiko:
Mmmm… Hakuho said he can stomp with power now, but this seems to be very tentative shiko.
By the way, the Yokozuna also changed his seating arrangements in the Jungyo bus. Apparently, one of the reason his leg got worse in the previous Jungyo was sitting with cramped, bent knees for hours on end, while traveling. He used to sit in the front seat of the bus, but decided to change to the back seat, to allow himself to fully stretch his legs. I suppose that means he took the entire back bench to himself and stretches himself on it – he did mention something about getting some sleep. Maybe he should borrow one of Yoshikaze’s folding mattresses…
By the way, I did not mention this before, but there are several rikishi who are kyujo from this Jungyo – at least for the time being. Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Goeido, Kaisei and Arawashi from Makuuchi, and Kyokushuho, Kyokutaisei and Chiyonoo from Juryo. All Tomozuna sekitori are absent! Yoshikaze was also off the torikumi, but he is definitely in the Jungyo.
This also means that Hakuho is left with only one Makuuchi rikishi from his own ichimon for the dohyo-iri. Indeed, his tsuyuharai is Chiyoshoma:
The shiko here is stronger, of course.
Chiyoshoma looks a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. I predict that for the Meiji-Jingue dohyo iri of January 2019, we’ll see Terutsuyoshi as his tsuyuharai (this will be after the new banzuke is announced so Terutsuyoshi is expected to be in Makuuchi).
Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. First, Hakuyozan vs. Takagenji.
Then, Meisei and Aoiyama:
Aoiyama seems to be getting more and more confident lately. Here he is vs. the Yusho winner (that’s Takakeisho, if you have been on another planet last month).
Takayasu is saying he wants to work towards his first yusho, but he won’t get there if his keiko looks like this:
That’s Tochiozan – not exactly a semitrailer.
Here is todays full Sumo Jinku. Yes, that’s 15 minutes of Jinku. You are allowed to press stop only if you understand everything they say. 😛
The members of the Jinku team this Jungyo are:
It’s easy to recognize Mutsukaze by his prominent mutton chops. If you can’t recognize the others, here’s a little challenge: try to guess who is who by the kesho-mawashi they wear. It’s supposed to be borrowed from a sekitori in their heya (OK, so that won’t help you with the two Sadogatake guys…).
Going into the competition part of the event, the lower divisions each had its own elimination-format tournament, while the upper divisions had the traditional format torikumi. I’m sorry to say that Wakaichiro dropped in the first round of the Jonidan tournament. The winners got prizes – which is not an everyday occurrence for lower-division wrestlers.
Jonidan winner, Imafuku, won a bag of rice. At least, that’s what it looks like.
Sandanme winner, Wakanofuji, won a big bottle of saké.
Makushita winner, Obamaumi, won a… picture of rice crackers? Hey… It sucks to be in Makushita!
OK, so if you’re wondering about those two Goofometer points above, here is what was afoot between Juryo bouts:
Hidenoumi decides to tickle Terutsuyoshi with his sagari. Terutsuyoshi, in response, goes all “Oh yeah, baby, ooh, that’s good, give it to me, baby”.
Hidenoumi has an expression like “God, man, aren’t you enjoying this just a little bit too much?”, or maybe “Whoa… do I really want this guy hanging around anywhere near my little brother?”
Not that his little brother is any better…
OK, OK, so we have a few bouts to see! Here are the “Kore-yori-san-yaku”. Well, two of them. By the way, there was a slip in the torikumi program. They had Hakuho doing the musubi with Takayasu. Hakuho is not really dohyo-ready in any way, shape or form. So eventually Asanoyama was placed at the bottom of san-yaku for a second bout, and everybody else was shifted one space up, sort of.
And once again Takakeisho needs a mawashi adjustment right before the bout.
Asanoyama, of course, is no match for the mighty tadpole – who gets some kensho.
The Mitakeumi/Ichinojo bout is rather comical. I’m not sure Ichinojo actually intended to belly-bump Mitakeumi. That’s a funny tsukiotoshi.
OK, so who shall we put up as our pin-up boy this time? Maybe Terutsuyoshi?
Hey, what’s with the sour face? We know you are quite capable of a big smile. Especially if you’re looking at Enho. Anyway, that photo looks a bit like a Soviet propaganda poster, doesn’t it?
So maybe just revert to Enho:
Now we can all have a big smile! This commercial for “Macho” proteins brought to you by Ishiura, by the way.