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 only a short report today, and less goofy than the usual. But those who are new here are going to learn about kawaigari. Learning is a good thing, isn’t it?
So, let’s start in the morning. The first activity of the day is handshakes with the fans. Yoshikaze participates.
But notice that he does it in a yukata, which is rather unusual. Most of the rikishi do the handshakes in their practice mawashi. This tells us that not only is Yoshikaze off the torikumi, he is also not doing any keiko. One has to wonder what ails him, or rather, what is it that ails him enough not to do keiko, but still not enough to excuse himself from part or all of the Jungyo.
On the sidelines, we have Okinoumi doing some push-ups:
I think he is not quite up to par by military standards.
Next we have some moshi-ai bouts. First, Takakeisho vs. Daieisho, followed by Takakeisho vs. Onosho:
I wonder who it was who got tossed off the dohyo.
Next we have Abi vs. Onosho, followed by Abi vs. Ichinojo.
A direct push doesn’t work against the boulder, so Abi goes for a (somewhat crude) death spin.
Next up, Takayasu vs. Endo, then Takayasu vs. Tochiozan:
Tochinoshin with Ichinojo:
Oof, Ichinojo’s legs don’t look very pretty.
And neither does his sumo. 😩
Finally, the Yokozuna gets on the dohyo. This is significant, as up till now he didn’t do any on-dohyo activity. Well, technically he did some stretches and shiko at the corner of the dohyo, but that’s not something he really needs a dohyo for.
The Yokozuna – all of them – tend to scale their activity up through the Jungyo. There are different degrees of intensity. Doing basics is ground level. Then you have butsukari geiko (where you are the dominant), which is slightly higher (you have to use your feet and you get smashed in the chest). Then there is doing your own butsukari, and doing bouts with low and high ranking rikishi.
The Yokozuna is not yet on the torikumi list – the Musubi is between the two participating Ozeki – but he did start giving butsukari today. The pushing partner was Takakeisho.
Butsukari is a drill in which one side – usually higher-ranked – offers his chest, and the other side has to push him, again and again, all the way to the edge of the dohyo. If you succeed, you do a squat, and continue until the high-ranker decides you’ve had enough. If you fail, the dominant throws you on the floor, or he may choose to get you to walk around in what I call a “monkey walk” – it’s not exactly the same as suri-ashi, and the dominant usually has his hand on your neck to bend you down.
That’s the basics. But then there is kawaigari. Now, you wouldn’t know it from the NSK video above, but this was actually a kawaigari session.
A kawaigari session is butsukari with extra testosterone. On the dominant’s part, that is. It’s a show of dominance, and a serious challenge for the submissive. You get shouted at. And kicked. And your hair may be pulled, or your ass slapped. And all you can do is go “yes, sir”, “yes, sir”, and keep up. At some point you get exhausted. But you have to get up and keep going. You are not supposed to waste the time of the high-ranking rikishi who is giving you his precious attention.
This is a well known ritual in the sumo world. And watching it is not easy for newcomers. Though the original version is worse – it includes spits and hard beating with a bamboo stick. I’m told this still goes on today – though not in public. The public version is not really hazardous to one’s health.
Hakuho loves kawaigari. Having been a Yokozuna so long, nobody can give him one. But he can sure give it to others, they can’t refuse, and it’s considered an honor – while it makes it very clear who’s boss, which is exactly how the Yokozuna likes it. And so, you won a Yusho, young man? Get some “TLC” (that’s what “kawaigari” means) from the Yokozuna. Here is the extended version:
Hakuho is an excellent performer. He makes sure all of the spectators get a good view – standing at different edges of the dohyo each time. He gets more laughs than the shokkiri team – but also signals to the audience when to applaud the exhausted Komusubi. He kicks and growls – and makes sure that Takakeisho’s mawashi knot doesn’t come undone.
But this performance caused quite a stir with one faction of sumo fans – the so-called “Takanohana cultists” (not all Takanohana fans belong to this category). They – or rather, some of them, because I don’t believe anybody who has been a sumo fan for any serious length of time would be – were outraged by Hakuho’s “hideous” treatment of Takakeisho. “That man does not deserve to be a Yokozuna!”. “Why did the NSK censor all the kicking and hair pulling?”. “I really hope Takakeisho makes it through this Jungyo uninjured”. “Hakuho makes sure no young talent can rise in the sumo world”. Some even searched the Internet and found evidence that Harumafuji used to do the same! Those awful Mongolians!
That, my friends, is called “cherry picking”. Because the practice is quite widespread, and no, it’s not restricted to awful Mongolians. Here we have some kawaigari Goeido gave Hokutofuji in 2016.
I think Goeido has never been in Mongolia. Here is one Takayasu gave a youngster from his heya a few years back in a public training:
OK. Lesson over. Now, unlike those cultists, you’ll know a kawaigari when you see one.
I do not have much from the latter part of the day. I do have these two serious, stern-faced sekitori doing their dohyo-iri:
Who are we kidding? You think Abi can stay serious for more than two seconds?
Hey, concentrate on the dohyo-iri, Daddy-Long-Legs.
To wrap up, here is a pixie:
Enho is giving butsukari to one of the low-rankers. Thing is, Hakuho is on the dohyo, and seems to be saying something to his wee uchi-deshi, which gives Enho an expression which is completely incompatible with butsukari or sekitori dominance in general. 🤗
The Jungyo continues its trail through Fukuoka. The rikishi start practicing around the venue. We have Ryuden pumping iron:
Or in this case, pumping Shobushi. The tweet, by the way, says “Oh, I want to be hugged by Ryuden princess-style!” – carrying a person in this position is called “Ohime-sama dakko” – “Princess-style hug”. Shobushi is the princess in this case.
On the first day, Terutsuyoshi was a good boy and didn’t touch Enho at all! But it seems that the phase of the moon changed, the monster is out and about:
Eventually, of course, Terutsuyoshi does end up with at least one hand on his favorite pixie:
Enho doesn’t seem to mind it too much, though. By the way, I was surprised to realize that Takarafuji is taller than Chiyoshoma. Proportions can be misleading. Of course, both look like giants next to the pixie pair.
Rikishi come to greet Asakayama oyakata (the oyakata formerly known as Kaio). He seems to have a little rule: You want to talk to me? Talk to that salt bag first!
Terutsuyoshi as all like “Are you kidding me? All I want is to say my greeting!”. Nevertheless…
Pump that salt! Mission accomplished, Terutsuyoshi can have a few words with the former Ozeki, and make his bow. All the while, Enho is waiting for his turn.
That is to say, he’s pumping that bag as well.
Many photos and videos we share with you actually come from the NSK’s social media. They get ther via the lovely NSK social media ladies:
Bearing in mind that these PR people are, indeed, ladies, there is no wonder we end up with the following Yokozuna practice video:
I’m sure videos like this increase the sales of hand fans at the concession stands at least threefold – even though it’s mid-winter.
Speaking of the Yokozuna, he and Takayasu were comparing their tegata print skills:
While the Yokozuna wins in the speed and quantity categories, Takayasu totally nails the cool category by getting retweeted by…
And Ms. Rowling wins by having Takayasu retweeting her, of course!
The participants in the Jungyo are the sekitori and their tsukebito. Now, the on-going scandals may make you think that being a tsukebito sucks rocks. The truth is, though, that it all depends on the master you serve. Some are abusive. Aminishiki was asked today (Dec. 7) about the Takanoiwa scandal, and said, among other things: “Your tsukebito is not your plaything. In exchange for helping you with the daily necessities of your career, you are supposed to guide and sort of ‘raise’ him”. Apparently, Aminishiki is not the only one in Isegahama who believes sekitori owe their tsukebito some coaching:
Takarafuji’s tsukebito is Sakurafuji. And Takarafuji gives him both some general tips:
…and actual hands-on practice:
Meanwhile, on the dohyo, there’s some butsukari taking place between moshi-ai sessions:
Here is some Juryo moshi-ai:
Interesting to note that they have a short shikiri between the bouts. They don’t just go down and tachiai. So here is some Makuuchi moshi-ai:
Practice time over, the Yokozuna leaves the building, but doesn’t forget his fansa:
Before we turn to the dohyo-iri, let’s take a look at one of the back rooms. Apparently, the rikishi have changed their favorite game this Jungyo.
In the previous Jungyo, it was “Nip the Nipple”. This Jungyo they have switch to the less-painful “Wiggle the Wattle”.
And Kyonosato does have a considerable wattle.
And this leads us right to the dohyo-iri, where Onosho decides to play “Wiggle the Wattle” with Chiyomaru:
Dohyo-iri over, and the Yokozuna is also done with his.
I dunno. Takarafuji looks completely out of place in that scene.
It’s bout time. I don’t have many bouts, but I do have this:
Apparently, in Jungyo, Kotoshogiku still entertains the spectators with his back bend.
Shohozan, at this point sitting beside the dohyo as his turn is two bouts later, is apparently impressed, because…
…he totally steals the move.
The only bout of which I have footage is… guess… Enho! He is facing Chiyonoumi.
And Enho does his famous… tsuppari? Tsuppari? Enho?
Well, the Jungyo is the right place to try new stuff, I guess. But Chiyonoumi is all like “Thanks for the gift, man. You do know that tsuki-oshi is my specialty, right?” – and unceremoniously tosses the pixie off the dohyo.
Practice makes perfect, though, Enho.
Time for our pin-up rikishi of the day. And by special request…
Um, nope. I’m not going to close a post with Akiseyama. Un-uh.
So, having only left it a few days ago, the rikishi find themselves back in Fukuoka. Well, not in the city of Fukuoka, but in the prefecture. Today’s event in Nogata is sponsored by Mochikichi, a long-time sponsor. So the event is called “Mochikichi basho”, and in exchange, the spectators get fluffier zabuton, yay!
A day before the event, while the rikishi were still in Nagasaki, two yobidashi were already in Nogata, to let everybody know that Grand Sumo is in town:
This is called “furedaiko”. The yobidashi also stopped and let people know what important torikumi to expect.
This tradition comes from the Edo period – when they would do these rounds from morning till evening on the day before the competition. Too bad they are doing it in front of a virtually empty mall here.
The next day, rikishi arrive at the venue – including one king and his entourage (Yokozuna frequently have special accommodation arrangements so they arrive separately from the buses).
Note that the impressive regal arrival is somewhat marred by the fact that the royal person has to lean on Kasugaryu’s arm to walk to the venue. Hakuho is certainly not in a good condition. Take a look at the scars from his operation. The leg doesn’t look swollen or anything – but still, he leans on Kasugaryu.
Hakuho took time to practice as much as he could, though.
Of course you know that the poor tsukebito on the bottom right is going to be in serious pain in a minute or so.
There were people other than Hakuho around the dohyo, though. For example, one smiling Yusho winner:
If you want to get a big smile from Takakeisho, just put him next to Daieisho.
Hakuho and Takakeisho also paid a visit to a shrine earlier on, and poured water on a “Jizou” – a protector Bodhisattva – for good fortune:
Back in the venue, here is shodai with a group of future rikishi:
The spectators seem to be younger and younger each Jungyo.
Let’s look at some practice bouts, shall we? Starting with Ishiura vs. Wakatakakage:
I guess he saves the henka for torikumi time. Next up – Nishikigi vs. Shohozan:
You’ll notice the bout is over before it’s technically over. This is part of moshi-ai, and I guess nobody wants to waste time on nearly-hopeless tawara dances. Shohozan had him in a very firm morozashi.
Up next, the tadpole buddies, Takakeisho and Onosho:
Remember when Onosho was the stronger one of the two?
It’s lunch time, and we have Wakamotoharu in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Chanko.
I wonder if those are for him, or if he’s taking one for his brother. Or maybe, both are for Wakatakakage. After all – sekitori eat first.
Dohyo-iri time, and Tamawashi, as usual, can’t keep his hands to himself:
Surprisingly, this gives Hokutofuji, who is right behind him, an idea what to do with his own arms:
Aha, Tamawashi! See how that feels?
Moving on to bout time, and here are a couple of diligent emergency rescue team members:
OK, maybe not so diligent. But the sign behind them definitely says they are the emergency rescue team members. Anybody feels like being rescued by Abi (わら)?
I have a couple of half-bouts to share. Sorry, apparently this sumo fan doesn’t think a tachiai is an important part of a sumo bout. 🙁
Kotoshogiku vs. Endo:
Once again, Endo gets to face the local favorite. Kotoshogiku doesn’t even have to engage in chug mode.
Shohozan vs. Takakeisho:
Hey, isn’t that the same morozashi Shohozan practice in that keiko match vs. Nishikigi earlier? Takakeisho tries the arm lock, but to no avail.
This next one is actually a Juryo bout, but I saved it for last, because, well, wow. Presenting Enho vs. Takekaze:
Wow. Just, Wow. In the last measurement, Enho weighed 97kg. Takekaze was 150kg.
And so, the Nogata event ends, and all the rikishi go back on their buses:
What, did you think I’d leave you without any pin-up rikishi for the day? That wouldn’t do. Here is Tobizaru, and he is, apparently, hot.
Note: My schedule has been taken over by, well, life. So don’t expect the next installment before Friday. Thank you for your patience!
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.