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.
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:
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:
This is followed by bouts from Makuuchi:
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 Jungyo takes us to the first of two locations in Hyogo prefecture. And Hyogo prefecture means Takakeisho is king.
Of course, Takakeisho is not the only Hyogo man in the Jungyo. Myogiryu is also addressed by the media. Terutsuyoshi is also among the prefecture’s points of pride, but perhaps because of his make-koshi in the Haru basho, he seems to be less sought after. He gets a bit of attention in the opening part of the event – the handshake duty.
As 4500 spectators slowly pour into the venue, sekitori start to practice here and there. Though it seems they are mostly busy chatting, like this pair of veterans:
or this Georgian conference:
By the way, Tochinoshin’s backside is still in ugly condition. For obvious reasons, I am not sharing the image that floated in my search results. It’s better than Ikioi’s legs, but still…
As Hakuho arrives at the Dohyo, the sekitori all form a line to greet him. Well, greet him through his chat with Yoshikaze. Enho wants to give his boss a respectful ladle of water, but has to wait:
Until he finally gets the Yokozuna’s attention.
All three people in this frame are still not doing any bouts (or any on-dohyo training, as far as I could gather). Hakuho concentrates on lower-body training and stretching. He is going to be the world’s most flexible Yokozuna come Natsu.
Some practice did take place, though. Here is Tochiozan instructing a low-ranker on how to keep his ass good and low:
Tochinoshin eventually stopped chewing the fat with Gagamaru and gave some butsukari to Wakamotoharu, Daiseido and Shimanoumi:
Wakamotoharu also got the butsukari from Kakuryu – quite an honor when one is not even a local boy.
Chiyomaru had some practice with Daiseido, then Gagamaru:
Time for lunch, and then Juryo dohyo-iri. But wait… who is going to do all the nipple tweaking, if Tamawashi is all the way up in Makuuchi, and not part of this dohyo-iri?
Why, it’s Sokokurai, who takes this serious duty upon himself. Somebody has to!
I don’t have any Juryo bouts to show. But here is a nice photo of little brother Tobizaru handing the chikara-mizu to big brother Hidenoumi.
Alas, this means Aminishiki lost his bout with Tobizaru this day.
Near the end of the Juryo bouts, the rope-tying demonstration takes place. On rope duty: Hakuho.
And you can see his man Kasugaryu tying up the knot wearing his own oicho-mage (for the yumi-tori shiki that will come later in the day).
So it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri soon. And of course, everybody in the venue wants a piece of Takakeisho. So Daieisho decides to do a remake of “The Bodyguard”.
What, isn’t Takakeisho the spitting image of Whitney Houston? Japanese Twitter is calling these two “A couple”.
Here is Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri for you:
For some reason, what drew my attention in this dohyo-iri is the gyoji, Kimura Konosuke’s outfit. Specifically, the pattern on it, spelling out “Kitanofuji” – though the former Yokozuna has been out of the sumo world for many years now.
Time for the bouts, and as usual, Abi’s clock says “10 minutes to six”:
I only have one bout for you: Tochinoshin vs., you guessed it, Takakeisho:
I love the fact that there are kids there who are shouting “Tochinoshin!”.
Interesting approach by Takakeisho, though. Trying for a Tottari, then finally winning by yori-kiri.
So it’s time for our pin-up corner, and today we have the fine-looking Wakatakakage.