Jungyo Newsreel – Day 14

Guess who’s back?

🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.

As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.

The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.

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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 5

🌐 Location: Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture

Today was the second day in Hyogo prefecture – but right on the opposite side of it than Day 4’s event. Early morning, the dohyo is already consecrated from the day before.

And… what’s this parking right in front of the entrance to the venue?

Why, it’s Ryota Hama’s Chanko Nabe bus!

While in Tokyo or Osaka honbasho you rely either on the food supply inside the venue or the regular restaurants around it, events in small towns rely on mobile stalls. So as yobidashi Hiromasa calls the townspeople with his drum, a little matsuri is being set up around the venue.

And early-bird Hama got the most lucrative location, right at the entrance! Mmmm… chanko!

But not yet, the stalls are just being set up. First, it’s time to shake hands with some favorite rikishi. For example, Hyogo local Terutsuyoshi.

Ah, the contrast between the beautiful kimono of those ladies gathering around him, and his own ratty yukata…

Yokozuna in the house!

Low-ranking rikishi practice on the dohyo, while around it some sekitori are starting to stretch and exercise:

Very entertaining squats on the left side there.

On the sidelines, Sadanoumi practices his oshi:

Ando is doing suri-ashi:

And so does Aoiyama, though in a totally different style:

It’s time for the Juryo rikishi’s practice on the dohyo. We have Kyokushuho with Wakamotoharu, then Kyokushuho with Azumaryu:

And in the session’s closure, Takakeisho gives butsukari to Wakamotoharu:

Then Makuuchi gets into the picture. Aoiyama faces Meisei, then Okinoumi, then Asanoyama, then the latter takes over and faces Ryuden.

This is not the end of the road for Ryuden, who later gets Mitakeumi (for some reason this bout appears twice in this video). Then we can see Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin:

Practice time is over, and we can relax and enjoy Shokkiri. Here is the full performance.

Apparently, in this Jungyo, the gyoji is getting creative. When the two performers fall down together, he leaves the dohyo, and consults with some spectator – preferably a child: “I should call that dotai, right?”.

“Dotai” is when both rikishi touch ground at the same time. In a normal bout, the gyoji doesn’t call it – the gyoji always has to point the gunbai one side or the other – and this is settled with a monoii and a torinaoshi. In shokkiri, of course, the gyoji makes all the decisions himself. Or with the help of a child, as it turns out.

Next up is the Jinku performance. And once again I have the full version:

But hey, aren’t you hungry? It’s nearly noon and we haven’t tasted that chanko, yet!

Apparently they also serve Udon. But who cares? Chanko!

There is also a mobile Takoyaki stall if you’re tired of Chanko, as some rikishi are

Both lunch and Jinku over, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And Sokokurai is arguing some point with Gagamaru:

Skipping the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri, right before Makuuchi, Takakeisho, the local hero, receives a bale of rice as a gift – and apparently, a large amount of beef.

The area of Toyooka is known for its stork-friendly rice. Apparently, Japanese storks have been on the decline, and the city of Toyooka is making an effort to bring them back, by raising rice that coexists with the creatures that storks feed on to sustain themselves. So Takakeisho got a bale of stork-friendly rice. I don’t know how stork-friendly the beef is, though.

So let’s see some bouts! Here we have a series of bouts from Juryo:

  • Daiseido-Kiribayama
  • Kyokushuho-Azumaryu
  • Daishomaru-Tokushoryu
  • Daiamami-Chiyomaru
  • Shimanoumi-Kotoyuki

This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:

  • Ishiura-Yutakayama
  • Kotoeko-Toyonoshima
  • Tomokaze-Kagayaki
  • Shohozan-Yago
  • Sadanoumi-Terutsuyoshi
  • Aoiyama-Asanoyama
  • Chiyotairyu-Okinoumi
  • Kaisei-Nishikigi

Tochiozan vs. Endo:

Sanyaku-soroi-bumi, and Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi

Tamawashi’s killer nodowa does it again.

Takakeisho vs. Tochinoshin:

I think Tochinoshin forgot that he was supposed to let the local boy win.

Finally, Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Goeido.

I think I have yet to see Kakuryu win a bout this basho.

Finishing with our pin-up… How about Nishikigi for a change?

The arms are strong with this one

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

Venue at Gojo. A scrolling display is set up to show news of the new era name

🌐 Location: Gojo, Nara prefecture

Today the Jungyo hit the first of two stops at Nara prefecture – in the small town named Gojo, population 35,000 or so.

Early morning, and the sekitori started arriving at the venue through the cold weather:

You can see Yoshikaze and Enho there, but they are still not participating in any bouts. Yokozuna and Ozeki, by the way, may sleep separately from the rest, and therefore also arrive separately:

So let’s go around the venue and see what kind of practice the sekitori are having. Sadanoumi is giving his tsukebito some light butsukari practice:

And Daishoho is… what is Daishoho doing, exactly?

Maybe we shouldn’t show this video to anybody under 18.

At the Dohyo, Goeido is doing push-ups. Sort of:

If you recall, practice sessions on the dohyo consist mostly of moshi-ai sessions (winner decides who to call next), interspersed with higher-ranking rikishi going on the dohyo and giving all those who practiced in the most recent session some butsukari. So here are Mitakeumi and Shodai in one of those butsukari intermissions:

After the low-ranking rikishi finish their practice, it’s time for the sekitori to take the dohyo. Again, moshi-ai sessions commence – and Takagenji takes his (evil) twin.

…and this is exactly why Takanofuji is going to be out of that white Mawashi come Natsu.

The sekitori moshi-ai sessions are also punctuated by butsukari sessions. Today’s star is Tokushoryu, a native of Nara prefecture. He therefore gets treated to some Yokozuna butsukari. Kakuryu does the honors:

And here is the moshi-ai session between Tochiozan and Okinoumi, then Tochiozan and Aoiyama, then Aoiyama and Kagayaki:

Eventually, noon arrived, and with it the message to the Japanese nation: the new era that starts May 1st will be called “Reiwa” (令和). The whole nation is very excited about it, and head gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke, sets out to write the auspicious characters on a couple of large signs.

Gyoji serve as clerks when they are off the dohyo and out of their shiny outfits and headgear. They practice calligraphy from the moment they enter the sumo world (which, like rikishi, can be as early as age 15). Gyoji are in charge of writing all those signs with rikishi names on them, writing the banzuke, and so on. And of course, the head gyoji is also the head calligrapher.

And so, the Yokozuna were able to pay their respects to the name of the new era:

Kakuryu, “Reiwa”, Hakuho

By the way, the sharp-eyed kanji readers among you may notice that the nobori behind Kakuryu still has “Kisenosato” on it.

The sign (I think actually a second sign) ended up being hung inside the venue in time for the Makuuchi bouts.

Back to sumo activity, it was time for dohyo-iri. And Nishikigi was pestering Shodai incessantly:

Can’t exactly fathom why the old ladies believe that Shodai screaming is “kawaii!”.

Nishikigi wouldn’t let go of Shodai even after dohyo-iri:

Nor just before the bouts:

Literally, not letting the man go:

So here is a summary video with some actual bouts:

That is, Ishiura getting a mighty wedgie from Toyonoshima, Tokushoryu showing Takagenji why he may not yet make it to Makuuchi this time, and Takakeisho repeating his senshuraku performance with Tochinoshin.

Finally, how about a pin-up boy? I give you… Endo!

What do you mean “how do you know this is really Endo”?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 1

Here we are back with the Jungyo reports, where we will be trying to quench some of your thirst for sumo while we are all waiting for the next tournament.

As a reminder, the Jungyo is a regional tour the sekitori – accompanied by tsukebito and support crews – go on during four of the even-numbered months, bringing sumo to small towns and giving the locals an opportunity to see some keiko and some sumo and interact with favorites.

The Haru Jungyo traditionally begins with a dedication at Ise Grand Shrine – the holiest shrine – located in and around Ise city, Mie prefecture.

🌐 Location: Ise Grand Shrine, Mie Prefecture

As this was a day of dedication ceremonies, it did not include the usual “shake hands with your favorite rikishi” part. The brass had to go perform ceremonies at the main shrines. The Ise Grand Shrine is actually a cluster of shrines. The two main ones are called Naiku and Geku. Ceremonies took place in both locations – about 6km apart.

The tail of the procession – current Ozeki, followed by a tiny shin-Ozeki

The rikishi and NSK brass offered prayers. The rikishi – including some additional san-yaku – were then purified by the priests

Not an easy walk wearing a kesho-mawashi!

The Yokozuna performed dohyo-iri, and the top six san-yaku rikishi then performed synchronized shiko – “sanyaku-soroi-bumi”, similar to that which is performed on senshuraku.

Heading back to more secular activities, perhaps I should start with a list of kyujo. Five rikishi are absent from the Jungyo altogether: Takayasu (lower back issues), Ichinojo (herniated disk), Ikioi (general wreck), Chiyonokuni (Still recovering from operation), and Juryo’s Hakuyozan (who broke a bone during the basho if I’m not mistaken).

In addition, some rikishi are present but not participating in torikumi. Hakuho is basically doing only dohyo-iri and ceremonial functions. Enho had issues with his shoulder through most of the basho and is not on the torikumi list, and Yoshikaze is also not on it.

Enho. Present but not fighting.

Some of the above will be back in action at some point in the Jungyo, and I’ll try to keep you posted when they are.

Back at the venue – which, as you can see in the photo above, is an open facility, but very nicely set up – keiko started out early in the morning. Here is Kiribayama’s practice with Shimanoumi:

This is the only practice video the NSK Twitter account offers – probably because its subject, Shimanoumi, was the star of the day, being a native of Shima city, Mie prefecture.

Following practice, the lower rank bouts, as well as the usual performances of Shokkiri, Jinku, and drum demonstrations took place, giving the sekitori time to have lunch and wear their kesho mawashi. Some kids got their photos taken with ozeki:

Ozeki are like quarks. Here we have a down ozeki, a strange ozeki, and an up ozeki.

This photo-op is what replaces kiddie sumo these days.

Waiting for dohyo-iri back in the venue was no mean feat. The venue, as already mentioned, is an open facility. And it was cold.

Even cold-blooded Mongolians suffered, never mind the poor, suffering Brazilian.

Some fans took the opportunity to ask for autographs and the like. Sadanoumi impressed the fans as he signed an autograph with a proper calligraphy brush:

While the lower divisions’ – including Juryo – bouts took place in the usual fashion, Makuuchi was split into two sets of competitions. The bottom to middle rikishi were in normal, one bout per rikishi fashion. The top, however, participated in an elimination tournament called the “Senshiken”.

In the previous Haru Jungyo, Hakuho won the senshiken, and so he had to hand back the yusho flag:

As top yokuzuna, he also led the senshi vow (“senshi” (選士) here is a word that means “chosen”, but I suspect it’s used as a combination of “athlete” (選手, “senshu”) and “rikishi” (力士)).

Of course, he did not participate in the tournament, and Kakuryu (as well as the Ozeki) were soon eliminated from it.

Eliminated Yokozuna not forgetting to low-five little hands

The winner of the tournament was Hokutofuji – a career first – and the jun-yusho went to Nishikigi.

Hokutofuji’s first yusho

Hokutofuji also won a nice little mini-shrine, which I believe is actually a useful item in a heya.

This concluded the event at Ise. Here is a summary video from Mie TV.

I think Kotoyuki’s bout with Chiyomaru is funnier than Shokkiri. Of course, Shimanoumi stars in this summary, but there are several other torikumi for your pleasure.

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!