Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 3

🌐 Location: Katsuyama, Fukui

Today, the sumo nobori flags were flapping in the wind in Katsuyama city.front-image-katsuyama

Those of you with sharp eyes (and Kanji skills) will note some flags that one doesn’t normally see in honbasho. For example, a flag for Kimura Ginjuro – the gyoji, and a flag for… Naruto beya, which is certainly not participating in the Jungyo due to having as yet no sekitori whatsoever.

The rikishi practiced. Not only on the dohyo, but all over the venue. Take a look at Ryuden lifting weights. Well, the sort of weights that are available in abundance in the Jungyo:

ryuden-lifting-weights

The towel, by the way, is a point of courtesy. Keeps your sweat away from your partner.

Ishiura was busy… nail gazing? I thought that was reserved only for yokozuna.

ishiura-nail-gazing

So… maybe this is not actually a practice photo. It seems there is a line forming (that’s Homarefuji behind him), which probably means they are waiting to greet one of the Yokozuna.

But here is some actual practice. Wakatakakage seems to be doing an off-dohyo reverse butsukari for Mitakeumi. Just a reminder – a butsukari practice is when a low-ranking rikishi has to push a high-ranking one again and again until he dies, or at least feels as if he did. A reverse butsukari is when a high ranking rikishi feels he needs the exercise, but only has someone ranked lower than himself available to push. It’s basically the same thing, but since the high ranking one calls the shots, it’s usually a lot less like a torture and a lot more like an actual practice.

wakatakakage-reverse-butsukari-mitakeumi

Mitakeumi later switched to the dohyo and gave straight butsukari to youngsters, much like yesterday:

mitakeumi-butsukari

And yes, that’s Kisenosato on the dohyo. This is the first time in this Jungyo a Yokozuna practiced on-dohyo, and that it should be Kisenosato only tells you how badly banged up the other Yokozuna are.

Kisenosato was giving butsukari as well – first to Nakazono, a low ranker (I’m not sure, but I think he is one of his tsukebito):

nakazono-butsukari-kisenosato
The Yokozuna has a lot of chest, but very little of it is muscle

Then he switched to Takanosho:

kisenosato-with-takanosho

And you can see a bit of this action here:

The Yokozuna doesn’t have to do anything, really. Just be heavy.

In addition to practicing, the various sekitori also did a lot of fansa. This included, for example, Shohozan volunteering as a photographer:

shohozan-assistant-photographer

And also Tamawashi signing autographs and having his photo taken with fans. Which for some reason, Kaisei was doing everything in his capability to prevent:

Relax, Kaisei! I’m sure Tamawashi has no intention of applying a kotenage to any of the fans!

Between the practice and the torikumi, the tokoyama re-arranged the hairdos for the rikishi:

tokoyama-working

Just before the Juryo dohyo-iri, the Shokkiri took place. Surprise – we have reverted back to the Shokkiri team from Takadagawa beya, rather than the Kasugano pair from yesterday. And just to show you that each pair has unique features in their act, they went and got what looks suspiciously like an Acme-branded hammer:

shokkiri-team-hammer

Moving on to the Torikumi, it seems that Enho is the regular fill-in in Juryo. That makes sense, but why not just let the guy wear his shimekomi, and be done with it?

enho-vs-tobizaru

Short stop here for beginners: Low ranking rikishi practice and compete in the same black cotton mawashi. When they compete, they insert loose sagari (those cords hanging down from it) into it. Sekitori, on the other hand, practice in a white cotton mawashi which is folded at the front like a roll of toilet paper. When they compete, however, they wear a silk mawashi in the color of their choice, with matching, stiffened sagari. This silk mawashi is called “shimekomi”.

So in the picture above Tobizaru is the sekitori wearing his off-white shimekomi and you can see the stiff sagari protruding to his sides. Enho is a Makushita fill-in, so he wears his black cotton mawashi and you can see his loose sagari hanging down his hips.

Enho has a shimekomi stored somewhere in his heya, from the Haru basho this year, in which he participated as a sekitori. Since he is going to be a sekitori again next basho, he will be putting it back into use.

So let’s move on.

Actually, again, there is not much information about the day’s torikumi, other than the fact that Kagayaki has beaten Ikioi by yori-kiri. And this was only mentioned because Ikioi was doing the duties of “local boy” today, on the premise that his… grandmother hails from a nearby town. 😀

But there is a video of the musubi-no-ichiban:

At this point I’m really getting worried about Kakuryu. Three wins in a row for Kisenosato against the man who won two yusho in a row only a couple of months back? What the heck is going on with Kakuryu’s foot? He looks like he is doing laundry with it, not sumo.

That’s it for today, and since, for some unknown reason, the sumo ladies did not take any Enho photos other than that one against Tobizaru, I’ll have to settle for Arawashi instead:

arawashi

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

🌐 Location: Otsu, Shiga

hakuho-practices-tachiai

The Jungyo took the sekitori to Otsu today, where 2300 spectators came to enjoy some sumo.

Lest people fall under the impression that Shiga prefecture is all about stinky fermented sushi, Yutakayama is here to provide you with a more balanced view of the menu.

Yeah, that’s Yutakayama + tsukebito + Shodai + tsukebito + my mouth watering.

The Jungyo day opened with a drum roll:

drum-welcome

Note how yobidashi performing the drum duty don’t wear the special Yobidashi costume (Tattsukebakama).

Sekitori were practicing where they can – on or off the dohyo. Here are Ishiura and Chiyonoumi.

Mitakeumi, who didn’t practice on the dohyo yesterday, and said to the press that he was doing things at his own pace, suddenly showed up on the dohyo and gave butsukari geiko and general pushing guidance.

mitakeumi-gives-butsukari

It’s not that the Yusho winner just woke up in a mood for keiko today. He is known to hate keiko. This attitude does not fly too well with the veterans. Hakuho already said yesterday that once he feels well enough to get on the dohyo, he is going to give Mitakeumi a lovemaking session he will never forget. I hope a video of that turns up because Hakuho tends to make his torture sessions very entertaining.

But Hakuho was not the only one miffed by the lazy would-be-Ozeki. Kasugano oyakata gave the sekiwake direct orders to start guiding the youngsters. So he did, and then told the press how important it is to guide the youngsters. 😀

The rikishi were not only practicing – there was also fansa (“fan service”) to be done. Kakuryu was being polite:

And Hakuho also signed stuff before going in to get dressed up. But he somehow seems rather impatient about it:

The thing to note about this scene, though, is how the Yokozuna is wearing a chon-mage, while his tsukebito is wearing an oicho-mage. This is the kind of thing you’ll see only on a Jungyo. His tsukebito, Kasugaryu, is the yumi-tori performer. Apparently, he gets his hair done for the performance early – perhaps in order not to bother the Tokoyama while they are busy with the sekitori. So he and the shokkiri team walk around in fancy hairdos while the sekitori are still wearing their off-stage chons.

Speaking of shokkiri, it turns out that today we had a different shokkiri team. Yesterday we had Shobushi and Ebisumaru, but today they were replaced by Tochimitsuru and Tochisato of Kasugano beya. Here is their act:

Once again we have the gyoji involved in the shokkiri routine. Kudos to that gyoji. I wouldn’t dream of fighting with a rikishi of that size.

Here is a curious way of getting ready for the Torikumi:

terutsuyoshi-hidenoumi
Terutsuyoshi feeling up Hidenoumi. Terutsuyoshi is a very touchy-feely guy for a Japanese.

Yes, there were torikumi. The star of the day, in lieu of any local sekitori, was the former sekitori Nionoumi. And he won his (Makushita) match with Daishoryu and even got interviewed, where he said he aims to win all his bouts in the Aki basho and become sekitori again. Just so you know, in the last three basho he was 2-5, 4-3, 4-3. Tall order, I’d say, especially given the bubbling cauldron that is the top of Makushita today.

The four missing Mongolians were back in action today and participated in the Juryo torikumi.

The only bout I have any information about is Takakeisho vs. Endo, which Takakeisho won, apparently using yotsu-zumo. Again. I wish I had a video of that, but the only one I do have is the musubi-no-ichiban:

Once again, what’s up with Kakuryu’s foot?

And of course, I’ll finish with the obligatory Enho:

obEnho

Because let’s face it, the sumo ladies just love this guy.

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 1

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to our series of Jungyo Newsreels, in which I’ll try to provide a taste of what is going on in the Jungyo and keep us all from getting Sumo Withdrawal Chills (a very dangerous symptom of Sumo addiction!)

kisenosato-kakuryu-ogaki

I can’t promise to be able to post every day, and sometimes I’ll have to wait at least a day for any news to turn up if any, especially in remote places where sumo ladies are not of the smartphone-bearing age.

🌐 Location: Ogaki, Gifu

Let’s start with the bad news: many wrestlers are absent from this Jungyo due to unspecified injuries and maladies. Some have already been absent during the Nagoya basho, and some not:

Makunouchi absentees:

  • Takayasu (left elbow injury)
  • Tochinoshin (Toe injury)
  • Ichinojo
  • Kotoshogiku
  • Chiyonokuni
  • Abi
  • Yoshikaze
  • Takarafuji
  • Chiyoshoma
  • Meisei

Juryo absentees:

  • Kotoyuki
  • (edit) Takagenji
  • Gagamaru
  • Sokokurai
  • Kizenryu

The good news is that all three Yokozuna participate. Well, kinda sorta. They all did their dohyo-iri, but they are all pretty banged up. None of them did any keiko on-dohyo, and Hakuho was not even in the torikumi (bouts of the day).

Kisenosato was sort of working out his left arm:

Hakuho was doing mostly shiko and suri-ashi etc.

Turns out that he hurt his ankle in addition to the knee we already knew about. He said the doctor drew four syringe-fulls of fluid from his ankle, and that he received shots to both his ankle and his knee, but now “there is no pain, just discomfort”.

As for Kakuryu, we’ll get to him later, at the musubi-no-ichiban.

In addition to the many injured and banged-up wrestlers, there was a bit of an incident with four sekitori arriving late. As it turns out, Takanoiwa, Kyokushuho, Azumaryu and Daishoho took advantage of the small gap between the basho and the Jungyo, and went home to Mongolia for a bit of a vacation. The problem is that due to Typhoon Jongdari, the flight back to Japan was delayed.

The four sought an alternative flight through either Beijing or Seoul, but it wasn’t clear that any flights would be leaving for Japan from those cities, either. They were delayed for over 20 hours at Ulaan Baatar, and instead of arriving properly at Narita at noontime on the 28th, they landed there at morning 29th. They made their way to Ogaki by their own means using Shinkansen and trains – and arrived just barely in time for the Juryo dohyo-iri.

azumaryu-dohyo-iri
Kyokushuho, Azumaryu – made it in the nick of time

Their bouts for the day have already been canceled, and Japan being Japan, they were reprimanded by Kasugano oyakata, the head of the Jungyo department. Because of course work is work and they should be at work on time!

Enho and Ichiyamamoto were called in to fill the gaps in the dwindling Juryo ranks. Of course, Enho is a legitimate Juryo wrestler – but on the Jungyo he is still ranked according to the previous banzuke.

enho-with-buddies
Enho still in his black Mawashi

This was not the only mishap of the day – it turns out that there was no air-conditioning at the venue. Or if it was, it wasn’t making much impression on anybody.

turkish-bathhouse
Glistening Yokozuna and Ozeki

The Shokkiri team for this Jungyo: Shobushi and Ebisumaru from Takadagawa. Here is a bit of the action:

But you are here for the bouts, right?

  • Hokutofuji ☆ – Takekaze ★
  • Ryuden ☆ – Okinoumi ★
  • Kotoeko ★ – Ishiura ☆ (Flying henka, what else?)
  • Tochiozan ☆ – Asanoyama ★
  • Sadanoumi ? – Arawashi ? (No word)
  • Aoiyama ☆ – Onosho ★
  • Nishikigi ★ – Yutakayama ☆
  • Myogiryu ★ – Chiyomaru ☆
  • Kyokutaisei ★ – Daieisho ☆
  • Endo ☆ – Chiyotairyu ★
  • Daishomaru ★ – Takakeisho ☆
  • Ikioi ★ – Kagayaki ☆
  • Shodai ☆ – Kaisei ★

Kore yori sanyaku!

Tamawashi vs. Shohozan:

Goeido vs. Mitakeumi (Sorry for the quality):

And the Musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu vs. Kisenosato:

Now… it looks normal. But as Andy noted on Twitter, something is up with Kakuryu’s foot:

First, what’s up with that? Kakuryu has been kyujo because of his elbow, not his foot.

Second, this video was taken from TV as you can see. The caption on the top right says “The Yokozuna, who faces his make-or-break basho, makes his first move at the summer Jungyo”. So, despite the YDC and NSK saying nothing about Kisenosato, he is in a “make-or-break” situation, or so NHK thinks.

That’s it for today. Or wait a moment. I can’t really do without yet another Enho picture.

enho-modeling
Yep, he’s definitely put on some additional kilos. Good for him.

 

A Day Out at the Koshigaya Gymnasium: Spring Jungyo Finale

Koshigaya Gymnasium - Exterior
The Koshigaya Gymnasium

It’s been a month since the conclusion of the Haru basho, and if you’re like me, you probably really miss sumo right now. If you’re like me, you’re also in Japan for the next month and will be looking to cover some unique events for Tachiai. So, with that in mind, I headed up to Koshigaya today for the final date of the spring Jungyo tour. This is my first time covering Jungyo for the site, and I will do my best to do justice to the work of the mighty Herouth!

Getting to Koshigaya

From my base near Shimbashi Station in Tokyo, it took about an hour, two trains and around ¥600 to reach the town of Koshigaya in Saitama prefecture. Koshigaya Station is your typical Japanese suburban train station with a decent amount of amenities, and it was very handy that the station had a 7-11 ATM that supports international cards, as I didn’t have much cash on hand for food and/or souvenirs.

From the station, it’s about a 3km/35-40 minute walk to the Gymnasium (which is part of a sports complex in the town), and the alternative options are bus and taxi. I didn’t see any buses and there was one taxi nearby, so I grabbed that at the price of an additional ¥1450. Both the driver and I had a very limited grasp of each others’ languages, but I showed him where I wanted to go on the map and off we went.

The Venue

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The entrance to the Gymnasium was very festive, despite some scaffolding in front of the venue as you can see in the photo at the top of this post. There were a number of food stalls set up out front, and also some rikishi walking around (most prominently, in more ways than one, Chiyootori).

It is safe to say I have never been at a place in Japan where people were so happy to see me, at every stall. They were incredibly surprised to see a foreigner in their town (I saw, at most, 3 or 4 others in the venue), and everyone wanted to be very welcoming to me. An older gentleman at a noodle stall asked where I live, and when I told him that I live in Los Angeles, he was extremely excited to share that he spent time in Chicago in his younger days. He assumed I must have friends in Koshigaya and when I told him I was just visiting to come see the sumo, he shook my hand in surprise multiple times and very enthusiastically thanked me for supporting the town and his stall.

At the door, you receive a sheet with the day’s torikumi and a plastic bag for your shoes. Fortunately, our friends at BuySumoTickets.com alerted me when I purchased my ticket that everyone must remove shoes inside the venue and switch into your own slippers. If I hadn’t brought a pair with me, I probably would have been OK just wearing socks, as I saw a handful of people doing (the restrooms, if you’re interested, had a space outside for switching from your slippers into special provided shoes for the toilets). The whole floor inside the entry of the venue was covered with tarp. At the entry, it was quite easy to make this costume change, but the large group of (mostly elderly) fans exiting the arena at the end of the day led to quite a bit of a bottleneck.

The food and merch stands inside the venue had good, if limited selections. The best option at jungyo seems to be to take advantage of the numerous local vendors outside. I grabbed a box of karaage inside the venue which was tasty, if a bit fattier and greasier than you’ll usually find at the Kokugikan.

The Gymnasium layout consists entirely of floor seats on the main dohyo level, and a couple of sections of arena seats in the upper level. I had an Arena “A” seat, of which there were two rows up against the balcony wall in front of the corridor, so I had a view unimpeded by pedestrians.

The crowd on hand consisted mostly of the extremes of very young children and very elderly folks. There were a lot of grandparents on hand with their grandchildren. A very large group of school kids wearing yellow bucket hats filled out the room for the sekitori bouts. In all, the venue and events provide a great day for families and in the local community to connect with sumo, and I found that being there in person was an interesting counterpoint to how jungyo is often discussed: “that endless injury-causing tour that everyone complains about.”

The Events

I arrived just in time to see Hakuho engaging Ryuden for butsukari. Hakuho was playing up the crowd, who loved every appearance he made throughout the day. It was clear that his presence just electrifies the room, and this was made even more clear given that we were in a smaller, local gymnasium.

Kiddie sumo came up next, with a group of very eager kids pairing up to take on the three local Saitama-born rikishi Hokutofuji, Daieisho and Abi, as well as Endo and Ryuden. Endo led off, after which Hokutofuji and Ryuden took several rounds. Abi, who was unquestionably the star of the day, played up the local crowd by interfering with Hokutofuji and Ryuden’s bouts, coming up behind and helping the kids push/pull the big rikishi out. Ryuden looked absolutely exhausted and was still covered in dirt from the Hakuho treatment he had received moments earlier, but he still managed to give a pair of kids the helicopter treatment, grabbing one each by the mawashi and spinning them around in the air!

Finally, Daieisho and Abi got their turns to loud applause from the crowd. With Abi, the kids took the logical approach: trying to lift up those huge legs! And of course, shiko-wizard Abi took this as an opportunity to show off just how high he could raise his leg (answer: well over the head of a small child).

Abi with fans. Jungyo Koshigaya 27 April 2018
Local hero Abi: taking pictures and signing autographs for fans

There was a bit of a lull after the butsukari and kiddie sumo finished. While the jungyo events follow a different cadence to the relentless progression of a day at a honbasho, it’s still a long day, and plenty of folks were taking naps in the upstairs part of the venue while the sandanme and makushita wrestlers were having their bouts.

The shokkiri team of Sadogatake-beya’s Kotoryusei and Kotorikuzan definitely brought the comedy to their portion of the day’s events, and I’ve added the first 5 minutes of their performance here:

The performance was a real welcome moment to get everyone in good mood and ready to enjoy the stars as they prepared to mount the dohyo for their proper bouts. The only sad part of the shokkiri was that the crowd didn’t seem to recognise Kotoryusei’s impression of Kotoshogiku doing his famous belly bend. Is it possible that now that the former Ozeki has stopped doing his famous pre-match routine, some memory-challenged fans simply forgot it?

The Bouts

Touching on just one bout outside of the top two divisions, I will say that the Chiyootori comeback tour is looking good. He appeared mostly unbandaged apart from one foot, and created a thunderous tachiai that I actually felt in the second row of the upper deck, as it reverberated in the entire gymnasium. I suppose that is one benefit of the odd acoustic differences between a gymnasium and a proper arena like the Kokugikan.

Juryo

Enho easily dealt with Akua but came away with a bloodied face for his troubles. Here’s the video:

Terutsuyoshi deployed his heaping salt throw and had a decent start against Akiseyama as he worked to lock up his arms. But, when he shifted to get a mawashi grip, the big man took advantage and got two hands around the smaller rikishi, picking him up by the back of the mawashi and carrying him out spectacularly.

Billy no-mates Takagenji, the lone sekitori representative of his more isolationist stable at the jungyo, posted a good yorikiri win over a thoroughly exhausted Daishoho, after a prolonged grapple in the center of the dohyo. If Takagenji can continue that form, then he should have a good tournament at Natsu.

Tsurugisho is middling at the moment, but he absorbed Kotoeko‘s tachiai in an almighty clash and tossed him aside, laying waste to the notion that the Sadogatake man might be ready for a big promotion that it’s possible he will get this weekend.

Terunofuji beat Gagamaru, who showed up without any strapping, so I assumed he’d be in good health and genki. You wouldn’t have known that to be the case, as Gagamaru appeared to be so confused at the tachiai that he must have thought he was Shodai. He just stood up and took two blasts from Terunofuji, who promptly switched to plan B, turned the Georgian around and pushed him out. This was not really a match that will tell us much about either guy, and Terunofuji, who received a hearty applause in the dohyo-iri and then entering and exiting the arena floor, appeared a little disappointed in the level of opposition.

Kyokutaisei, who usually has an expression like someone ate his chanko, had a grin on his face all day, both in the dohyo-iri and before his match with Takekaze. It looked like Takekaze might get the better of him, but after a good grapple, the soon-to-be shin-makuuchi man pushed out his elder colleague.

Makuuchi

A number of infants made the makuuchi dohyo-iri and one man holding an infant was Saitama prefecture’s Abi who received an almighty ovation during the ring entering ceremony for the east rikishi of the top division. On the west, Tochinoshin seemed to receive the largest round of applause. I didn’t think there would be a louder cheer than we got for Hakuho‘s dohyo-iri, but the place exploded when Kisenosato walked in the room.

Asanoyama meant business and led with what appeared to be a Takayasu-style shoulder blast before leading Nishikigi to the bales and out.

Chiyoshoma vs Ishiura is a battle I want to see every basho. The Tottori protein spokesman and GQ model drew a nice round of applause, and this match also had a handful of sponsors. As for what happened, regular readers won’t need to guess: Even at jungyo, Ishiura tried a henka. He nearly pulled it off, as the Kokonoe man ran right through. Up against the bales, Chiyoshoma managed three times to pull the smaller rikishi up with his legs dangling horizontally in the air, but all of those protein shakes are working for the muscular man from Miyagino-beya, and Ishiura managed to put him over the the line. Then he threw a cool party on Instagram Live tonight, featuring Daishomaru, Terutsuyoshi and a very reluctant Akiseyama.

David Gray was a pop singer with a good run of success in the 2000s, and on stage, he became known for how his head would wobble from side to side when he played guitar. Ryuden has an oddly-similar pre-match demeanor, and suffered a fairly straightforward yorikiri loss to Yutakayama, whose technical ability has improved tremendously. Mawashi-watchers will note that Ryuden has switched from black to a new wine-colored mawashi.

Daieisho got a good round of applause from the locals as he mounted the dohyo. Okinoumi had him going backwards, but Daieisho turned the veteran around and got a yorikiri win for his troubles. Again, it’s tough to take a lot from this match, and I’ll just say it was probably not a match he would have won in a honbasho that wasn’t taking place in a gymnasium in his home prefecture against a perma-injured opponent.

Chiyonokuni is now sporting a blue mawashi. Not a vibrant Kotoshogi-blue but more of a soft Shodai blue. I don’t know what Kagayaki was doing engaging him in a high octane slapfest but Chiyonokuni loves a good handbags-at-ten-paces kind of encounter and ushered his opponent back and out.

Yoshikaze didn’t look great, and Hokutofuji grabbed him one-handed by the belt, pulled him around and shoved him out. I thought the winning technique was going to be called an okuridashi, but, perhaps charitably for the elder, losing rikishi, it was ruled uwatedashinage.

Kaisei v Chiyomaru: these guys are big enough to bring a small gymnasium down with a thunderous tachiai. The announcer gave Kaisei’s shusshin as Sao Paolo rather than Brazil, which I hadn’t heard before, and thought was cool. Chiyomaru dropped the pretense he has sometimes flirted with of trying to be a mawashi guy, and relentlessly thrusted Kaisei out. Chiyomaru reminded me of a smaller, rounder Aoiyama in this match. Kaisei (who has been giving great face lately) walked away toothily grimacing and clutching his stinging chest.

Kotoshogiku and Takarafuji engaged in a battle of the vets. Takarafuji is always technically very sound, but this time he was clinical as well: he wrapped up his man, and escorted him out. Takarafuji has also switched to a soft matte blue mawashi from his previous wine blend.

Big Guns Shohozan took on Tamawashi, who also has given up his signature teal mawashi for the very in-vogue soft matte blue. This was a street fight that I wish I caught on video. Both men bounced off each other and then stood a few paces apart, seemingly egging the other to bring it on. Shohozan threw a right hook which Tamawashi ducked, then both men traded attempts at a roundhouse and missed before Tamawashi just shoved Shohozan into the crowd. This was another matchup I hope to see again soon.

Endo was wearing a dark purple mawashi, and took on local man Abi, who got an enormous applause. Endo got the better of the tachiai and moved Abi back, but of course the local hero danced his long limbs out of danger and recovered to put Endo away. Abi exited to huge cheers from the crowd. Watch the match:

Ichinojo smacked into Chiyotairyu in the matchup of the two current komusubi, and had him out within seconds.

I’m not sure where the version of Mitakeumi we saw today has been. He charged into Tochinoshin, moving him back. But then, Tochinoshin lifts him off his feet, and as his feet are wiggling in the air, you think: “oh no, he’s going to get embarrassed again.” But he recovers, turns the Georgian and lifts the Hatsu yusho winner off his feet and out.

Goeido beat Kisenosato in a lengthy match where it looked like he was going to snap the Yokozuna’s left arm in half probably 2 or 3 times. It was clear even in an exhibition contest that Kisenosato has very limited ability to do much with that injured left side. Let’s cut to the VT:

In the musubi-no-ichiban, Hakuho has a good match against a Kakuryu who fought hard. Kakuryu moves Hakuho back, but this crowd is here to see The Boss win and he delivers them the victory. As Kakuryu moves to pin him back, Hakuho lifts up his fellow Mongolian yokozuna in the air, spins and deposits him out of the ring.

After the event ended, there were long lines on hand for buses and taxis in a suburban town which perhaps wasn’t used to holding large events. There didn’t appear to be enough buses or taxis, but the bus seemed my best bet to get back to the train station. In spite of the wait, the elderly crowd was very good-natured, and a nice old gentleman waiting next to me gave me a wrapped seat cushion from the event as a gift.

I can’t say enough about how friendly and warm and welcoming everyone in the Koshigaya community was, and I strongly recommend checking out a jungyo event if you ever get the chance.

Jungyo Newsreel – Days 2 through 4

Before I fall into too much of a backlog, here is a selection of events from the days 2 through 4. If you’re dying to read about the scandal of day 4, jump right ahead. Just remember, we’re here for the sumo, not for the sensation.

Nobori flags for a Jungyo event. Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takayasu, Goeido.

Day 2

🌐 Location: Nakatsugawa, Gifu prefecture

About 3000 people came to watch the event at Nakatsugawa. There were handshakes and fansa (Japanese shortcut for “Fan Service”).

The center of attention was Mitakeumi. Although he is not from Nakatsugawa or even from Gifu, he hails from the close-by Agematsu in the adjacent Nagano prefecture. So the locals were rooting for him.

Practices around the dohyo also included a komusubi doing stretches:

Ichinojo, and Ichinojo’s thighs, stretching

Day 3

🌐 Location: Sakai, Osaka prefecture

In this Jungyo tour, the shokkiri team consists of Kotoryusei and Kotorikuzan from Sadogatake. Every different shokkiri team changes the details of the shokkiri routine a bit and makes it its own. Notable elements – Gyoji very much a part of the show, and Kotoryusei doing the Kotoshogiku stretch. I guess he got permission from his senior heya mate.

Hakuho performed his dohyo-iri with a toddler:

You can almost hear the “there, there” (or “yosh-yosh” in Japanese). The toddler is the son of the leader of Japanese pop group ET-King, the late Itokin, who died in January of lung cancer at the age of 38. Hakuho promised him he’ll put his boy on the dohyo and this was the fulfillment of that promise.

Takayasu is aiming for the yusho in the next basho. He said that he doesn’t get enough practice, and accordingly, invited Abi, Shodai and Mitakeumi for san-ban – a series of bouts between the same rikishi – in which he won 11 of the 12 bouts. He followed that with butsukari-geiko for Mitakeumi, who himself aims to re-establish himself at the sekiwake position which he is certainly going to lose in the coming basho. Mitakeumi said Takayasu “was heavy”, but was thankful for the exercise.

As always in Osaka, Goeido is king, and participates in the kiddie sumo, something Ozeki only do if they choose.

Here is a rather shaky video of the musubi-no-ichiban, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu:

Day 4

🌐 Location: Maizuru, Kyoto prefecture

Jungyo tours are usually done by invitation from the town being visited. The town’s mayor usually opens the festivities with a speech. It so happened that the mayor of Maizuru (“Dancing Crane” – it could make a good shikona), who is 67 years old, suddenly dropped in the middle of his speech with his hands shaking.

A number of people, including yobidashi and people from the audience gathered around him, when a medical professional – first said to be a doctor, later a nurse – who clearly had experience in CPR climbed up the dohyo and gave the man a heart massage. She happened to be a woman. Women are not allowed on the dohyo, but the men on the dohyo gave way and let her do her thing. Another similar professional joined her. More people gathered, including a few other women, when the PA started calling “Ladies, please leave the dohyo”.

The additional women who came confusedly left the scene. The original professional stayed until the paramedics arrived. There is a fully staffed and ready ambulance in every Jungyo event, and the paramedics came in rather quickly. By this time a female usher was tugging at the lady professional to get off the dohyo. She only left when the paramedics took over.

The PA is always handled by a gyoji. His part usually comes down to announcements such as “On the west, Maegashira Kaisei, from Brasil, Tomozuna beya. On the east, Maegashira Takarafuji, from Aomori, Isegahama beya”, and “The kimarite is yori-kiri, Kaisei performs a yori-kiri and wins”. The standard formulae are always the same, occasionally peppered by kensho messages, requests from the audience not to throw zabuton and safety procedures.

The gyoji with the mike, shocked and confused by the emergency situation on the dohyo, for which he did not have a manual, reverted to first principles, and did what he knows best: stick to tradition. Unfortunately, this was the wrong choice, further complicated by being made in an age in which everything is being captured and uploaded within seconds.

Twitter basically burst into flames. “How can you put tradition ahead of human life?” was the main theme. Some, of course, blamed the NSK as a whole for this, as if this was done by official sanction. The situation reached such proportions that the chairman of the NSK, Hakkaku, had to issue a written press statement back in Tokyo. He said that the gyoji’s response was an inappropriate response when human life was at stake. He apologized to the women involved and thanked them for coming to the mayor’s rescue.

The next day the new Jungyo master, Kasugano – who, I believe, was in the restroom when the whole thing happened – also made a statement. He said that this was an unforeseen occurrence, and that since it may also happen during honbasho, the NSK will have to come up with a procedure for dealing with it.

So next time, the gyoji will have it in his manual.

The mayor, by the way, was diagnosed with a haemorrhage from a cranial blood vessel. So in fact the CPR was not pertinent to his situation. He is currently stable, and will need a month of hospitalization to fully recover.

Unfortunately, this event overshadowed the rest of the day. I could not find any photos of wrestlers or bouts. If any turn up, I’ll be sure to include them here.

Banzuke Weekend!

Shokkiri 2
Aminishiki vs. Yoshikaze. Or not.

Between the Olympics black-out and the natural gap between Hatsu and Haru, sumo fans are seriously starving for information! Have no fear, the Haru bazuke is published in about 24 hours from RIGHT NOW.

Of course, Tachiai will bring you analysis and details in the two-week run-up to Osaka’s yearly sumo tournament. We expect there to be a flurry of news and action prior to March 11th’s opening day.

Jungyo Newsreel – December 7th

🌐 Location: Usa, Oita

Today the Jungyo arrived at the city of Usa, which happens to be the birth place of the one Yokozuna Hakuho is still looking up to – Futabayama Sadaji.

This, of course, meant that many rikishi were fiercely working their smartphones to get a pic with the most awesome Yokozuna in the world:

gaga-sokokurai-futabayama
One awesome Yokozuna, one Georgian patriot, and one Juryo Yusho winner

2300 spectators flocked to the venue despite the cold weather. Once again, Harumafuji goods were sold out as soon as they were offered.

Yoshikaze was the main man of the day, hailing from close-by Saiki. He entertained the crowd in the kiddie sumo:

girl-sumo

Yes, from time to time you’ll see a girl sumo enthusiast. They get to wear something modest in addition to the mawashi. Alas, they cannot dream of growing up to be rikishi.

But although Yoshikaze drew a lot of spectator attention, when Hakuho decided to step up the dohyo and do some kiddie sumo, the crowd blew up.

hakuho-kiddie

Yokozuna and Ozeki don’t normally do the kiddie sumo duty. In the previous Jungyo, Goeido chose to participate when the Jungyo passed through his home territory. Hakuho also chose one stop to play with the kids. So the crowd was delighted that the Yokozuna chose their town this time.

Back to Yoshikaze, when time came for the torikumi, the warm local support caused him to go for spectacular sumo, and he ended up with a tsuri-dashi win over Mitakeumi. Shohozan, who studied in a local high school, won against Takakeisho by okuridashi. Hakuho was less fortunate today, and got yori-kiried by Kakuryu. 2:2.

As you can see in that video, there is a new Shokkiri team. I feel a bit sorry for Baraki for losing his Shokkiri status so quickly. He seems to be the perfect fit for the job. I guess with Akua being promoted to sekitori, it couldn’t be helped.

Here is the full Shokkiri performance by the new duo:

Did someone from the crowd throw back some salt to the dohyo?

 

Short Jungyo Newsreel – October 9th

🌐 Location: Chikusei

Yes, it’s already Monday, and you’d expect the media to come up with some real beef to feed us after a dry weekend, but no. The only article on Nikkan sports, for example, is about… Aminishiki caught reading a book! A book! I’m sure there is a rule against that somewhere…

Aminishiki Reading A Book

So today, like yesterday, we’ll settle for a short summary. But let’s start with a little tidbit that escaped me a couple of days ago:

New Shokkiri performer: Baraki

shokkiri-duo
Shokkiri duo: Akua (left), Baraki (right)

Baraki, who definitely has the right looks for Shokkiri, with a short stature (164cm) and a comical face, joins veteran Shokkiri man Akua to perform the traditional, but not-so-serious duties in this Jungyo.

Three Yokozuna exercise outdoors

After the regular asa-geiko, all three Yokozuna opted to exercise outdoors. Harumafuji performed shiko and mostly exercised his (already well-developed) smile muscles. Still no dohyo practices or torikumi. Still cites fatigue.

Kisenosato, who took a 9-bout sanban with Daieisho, opted for some fundamental exercises with his tsukebito for half an hour in the sun.

Kakuryu opted for nearly 40 minutes of walking around. “I drew power from the sun”, he said.

Nishikigi-Yago butsukari

Nishikigi offered his chest to Yago, but this was a rather short affair, as the muscular and bulky Juryo man easily pushed the medium-sized Maegashira across the dohyo.

Today’s musubi

Kisenosato can’t really lose in Ibaraki, can he?

Another angle:

Summer Jungyo Hightlight Reel

Shamelessly stolen from a twitter post, because I could not find it on YouTube. Some highlights of the kinds of things going on during the summer jungyo, including shokkiri (aka you can’t do that in sumo), Kisenosato toting a baby to the dohyo for his dohyo-iri, and Goeido taking a practice match from Harumafuji. Oh yeah, and Onosho!