Jungyo Report – Aomori

The Jungyo is nearly over. In a few hours, the last event – after a few days of hiatus – is going to take place at Tokyo’s KITTE mall, to be shortly followed by the banzuke announcement and all that come with them.

I’ll keep on writing a few Jungyo reports as my time allows, though, because the basho is still a long way away, and because some of you like reading them, it seems. But I can’t in honesty call them “Newsreels” anymore, because, well, the news are a bit old.

Today I’ll cover the two events that took place on August 14 and 15 at Aomori prefecture. These are days 16 and 17 of the Jungyo. The events at Aomori marked a departure of the Juryo rikishi – with the exception of Kyokutaisei and Ichiyamamoto, who are Hokkaido men and expected in the Hokkaido events. Also, Takagenji, the upper-ranking Taka Twin, has joined the Jungyo after being kyujo for its first part, just as his twin brother in Juryo has left it.

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Natsu Day 3 Highlights

After behaving itself for the first 2 days, the Natsu basho decided it was time to mix things up a bit, and let the men at the top of the banzuke taste some clay. All around it was a solid day of sumo, with some real crowd pleasers in the mix, and a couple of worrying indications about some favorites. Let’s launch.

Day 3 Highlights

Takagenji defeats Daishoho – Takagenji takes his third win of the basho over a frustrated Daishoho. Takagenji got the better of the tachiai, and was able to land a deep left hand inside, blocking Daishoho from getting his preferred grip. It seemed Daishoho kept trying to get something going with his blocked right hand, leaving Takagenji to control the match. Daishoho rallied for a moment, but he had no offensive sumo to work with today.

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – A lightning tachiai from Chiyoshoma nearly carried the match, but Kotoeko was able to dodge the follow up attack and rally. Both men loaded throws, but Kotoeko pulled Chiyoshoma away from his pivot leg and dropped him to the clay. Fast thinking and great execution from Kotoeko today.

Enho defeats Sadanoumi – You don’t get to see enough leg-picks in the top division, but Enho had this one dialed in. He went after Sadanoumi’s bandaged right knee, and there was nothing Sadanoumi could do to stop the loss.

Chiyomaru defeats Tokushoryu – Chiyomaru opens 3-0 after Tokushoryu can’t seem to remember how to win an oshi battle. Tokushoryu really looked like he could not commit to oshi or yotzu, and Chiyomaru made him pay.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shimanoumi finally picks up his first win, after enduring a few good blows from Shohozan. Shimanoumi was able to lock up Shohozan’s arms, and keep him on defense.

Tomokaze defeats Onosho – Good defensive footwork by Tomokaze, he absorbed Onosho’s tachiai, and was able to stand him up, move to the side, and force the tadpole out.

Kagayaki defeats Nishikigi – Kagayaki takes control of the tachiai, coming in low and strong and hitting Nishikigi before he could even get his hands off the shikiri-sen. From there it was all Mr. Fundamentals, who seems to have shaken off some of his ring rust.

Asanoyama defeats Meisei – I really like the way Asanoyama is fighting right now. Although that sumo was some of this / some of that, Asanoyama kept a single focus of being close, inside and moving forward. It paid off as Meisei really had no chance to do anything other than react.

Kaisei defeats Shodai – Shodai has yet to take one from the Brazilian (you’ll sometimes see their head-to-head written as 1-9, but that 1 is a fusen –PinkMawashi), and I think its because Kaisei knows that Shodai’s tachiai is the worst in the top division, and as long as he can keep Shodai from moving laterally, he’s a cream puff.

Ryuden defeats Yoshikaze – Zero forward pressure from Yoshikaze. Whatever is affecting him physically has robbed him of any offensive power, which is terrible because Yoshikaze’s sumo is mostly attack.

Abi defeats Chiyotairyu – This was won at the tachiai, as Abi was able to engage first and dictate the terms of the match. Chiyotairyu struggled to even get his footing, let along respond to the double arm thrust attack common to Abi-zumo.

Daieisho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama had nothing today. Zip. Zero. Daieisho brought his best sumo: center mass, moving forward strongly. Right now Daieisho is doing well for Maegashira 2, and I am curious to see what kind of hell he takes from the Ozeki.

Tochinoshin defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi made him work for it, but the crowd was cheering for Tochinoshin. It’s safe to say that for the moment, Tochinoshin looks genki and he is back to being a fearsome competitor. Tochinoshin landed his left hand early, and although Okinoumi had a lot of moves he unleashed trying to break that grip, Tochinoshin held fast.

Tamawashi defeats Ichinojo – Textbook denshamichi-sumo. Tamawashi was the Shinkansen and Ichinojo was in no position to stop him. Tamawashi put everything into a center-mass contact at the tachiai, and engaged full power forward.

Mitakeumi defeats Takayasu – Clearly Takayasu is not in good physical condition. Furthermore his sumo seems to have gotten into a vague and unaggressive state. With Takayasu’s feet seldom in good position, Mitakeumi found himself able to control the Ozeki, and bring him off balance to slap him down.

Endo defeats Goeido – Goeido-unit suffered a critical malfunction when his attempt to get a mawashi hold at the tachiai failed, and Endo capitalized on the momentary break in the Ozeki’s concentration. Endo is capable, but fans wonder why we don’t see him execute on that level every match.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s initial shove did not find its mark, and Hokutofuji closed the gap to the point where Takakeisho could not set up the wave train. Hokutofuji’s opening gambit had a very narrow path to success, but he made it work.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Yes, but just barely. Kotoshogiku surprised the Yokozuna with a fierce hybrid attack rather than the usual “hug-n-chug”. In reaction (that’s Kakuryu’s thing, you see), the Yokozuna loaded a throw and they both went over together, but Kotoshogiku’s right forearm made it to the clay first. (shortly followed by Kakuryu’s head. We hope he’s ok after that. –PinkMawashi)

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 20

🌐 Location: Sano, Tochigi

We have a small event today, with 1800 participants. Let’s start today with the consecration of the dohyo:

If you recall, at the Yasukuni event, the dohyo was consecrated with a full dohyo-matsuri, featuring high ranking gyoji and all that jazz. But since this is a temporary dohyo, it is consecrated by the local organizers. A bit of saké, and off we go.

Who are our home boys of today? Well, there are Dewanojo, Mitakeumi’s tsukebito, and the pretty Toshonishiki, Mitoryu’s tsukebito:

They would make a good shokkiri team

But the real pride and joy of the prefecture are the Taka twins:

Since I rarely write about the twins, this would be a good opportunity to remind you how to tell them apart. Little brother (by half an hour or so) Takagenji, when he smiles, has a gap between his front teeth. Big bully brother Takanofuji (formerly Takayoshitoshi) has a mole over his right lip. And he smiles a lot less than his little brother, probably because he knows that his days as a sekitori are numbered.

The twins were interviewed by the local papers and struggled to come up with memories of the prefecture, which they have left at a very young age – they grew up at Ibaraki. They did mention that their kindergarten teacher came to see them at the venue.

Turns out they are also a bit stung about the fact that their ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined more recently) has left them in the dust and made Ozeki. Takagenji says: “What’s important is what your rank is when your mage is shorn”. He has been told in the past that he is a future Yokozuna, and apparently believes he will be at that rank by the time he retires.

Meanwhile, though, Takakeisho is Ozeki, and they are not. Hence, kawaigari!

Takakeisho entertaining the crowd by torturing Takanofuji

Yeah, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. We were at the handshake stage, weren’t we? For some reason, it seems like they had the handshakes today in the toilets:

At least, for some reason, the outer corridors of this community hall are lined with sinks.

Takayasu enjoys the sunny day, and uses it for a bit of deep contemplation:

What rank will I be when I retire, I wonder?

Nishikigi wants to change from Clark Kent to Superman… or maybe just get on the dohyo:

We only have one practice video from the NSK, but this one is significant: Kakuryu starts on-dohyo training. We are officially at the last leg of the Jungyo, then.

His chosen opponent – and butsukari victim – is Daieisho.

So we are done with the practice part. It’s time for some shokkiri. Ebisumaru and Shobushi keep refining small points of their routine:

Ebisumaru lets Shobushi do his high kicks alone, and goes around encouraging the audience to clap.

Juryo dohyo-iri. Gagamaru and Sokokurai fool around happily:

Aminishiki seems not to think much of the behavior of these two kiddies.

Arawashi is about a meter ahead of them, busying himself, as always, with being dreamy:

Then they all wait for their turn to wrestle, as the Juryo bouts start with Shonannoumi, who is today’s “filler”:

Filler or not, he beats Daiseido.

And now, where are the aforesaid Gagamaru and Sokokurai?

Ah, right in the middle of the crowd. More specifically, right in the middle of a bunch of primary school kids:

Gagamaru tries to camouflage himself. For some reason «cough»212kg«cough», this doesn’t work all too well.

But the man is sure enjoying himself:

And so do the kids. His tactic works – when he goes on the dohyo, he is accompanied by many little voices calling “Gagamaru! Ganbare!”

Oh, you think this sort of foolish antics is solely the realm of the likes of Gagamaru or Shodai? I give you:

Prince Charming himself! The funny thing is, it looks like the hat actually fits him.

The Juryo bouts end with local boy Takagenji vs. Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru is showing us his prize winning… lunar aspects.

And I swear that Kotoyuki is showing much interest in the full moon that rises on the other side as well.

Ahem… let’s take a look at the three Yokozuna:

Hakuho and Kakuryu do their duty to the local sponsors – and the local mascot, who became a Yokozuna for a day.

On to the Makuuchi bouts, and here is Kagayaki’s shimekomi, sans kagayaki:

Ah, the duties of a tsukebito.

Here is a summary video of today’s event, which includes a few bouts:

Note the “gaijin-cam” there…

Our pin-up boy of the day is the slightly blurry Ryuden:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 19

🌐 Location: Takasaki, Gunma prefecture

Unlike our previous location, which boasted a local sekitori, a local tsukebito, and a semi-local former Yokozuna’s nephew, Gunma prefecture is really short on famous or high-ranked local boys.

The local organizers gave Hikarifuji and Kayatoiwa their due glory, but their real pride and joy is not regularly a part of the jungyo anymore. He was brought in specifically for this event.

That, of course, is 42 years old Satonofuji, the grand master of the bow, who hails from Gunma prefecture. And while all the other low-ranked rikishi were working on the dohyo, Satonofuji was working with the struggling new performer, Shohoryu, giving him a master class.

This was just one of the various outdoor activities today. The weather was deemed warm enough to have the handshaking sessions outside:

Though the sky looks pretty gray, if you ask me. Not all the rikishi just stand for handshakes. Some famous veterans sit in a separate corners, and fans can go and have a photo taken with them:

But actual practice takes place inside the venue. The first sekitori arrive and pull their taping kits:

Asanoyama, get, set, tape!

Others start stretching:

Some squatting and suri-ashi are in order:

Takarafuji is showing us his his good side.

Wakamotoharu works on his upper body:

But then he and Mitakeumi decide to gang up on poor Enho:

The Yokozuna synchronize:

But then each goes his own way. Kakuryu manages an exercise that doesn’t look ridiculous:

While Hakuho is doing suri-ashi in the hana-michi, and interacts with the spectators:

Near the wall, a group of lower-ranked rikishi prove to us that titty obsession is not just a Tamawashi thing:

What are you doing, guys?

Up on the dohyo, Ichinojo is giving butsukari:

While Terutsuyoshi seems to have… a toothache?

By now, you should know who it is who makes Takakeisho smile this wide:

Takayasu finishes stretching, has a bout with Mitakeumi, and butsukari with Onosho.

Some more practice bouts: Daieisho-Takakeisho, Myogiryu-Ichinojo, Kiribayama-Takanofuji:

Practice over. Lower-ranked rikishi get their hair done and go about their chores:

Some sekitori go out and enjoy the food stalls outside the venue. Namely, Terutsuyoshi, Chiyotairyu and Enho. Enho starts well with some yaki manju:

But seems to pick up something that doesn’t suit his dainty palate:

Or maybe it’s the camera crew that affect his apetite.

Terutsuyoshi and Chiyotairyu enjoy some yakisoba:

With everybody fed and in good order, it’s time for the afternoon part of the day. We begin with a Jonidan bout, because of course we don’t want to miss Satonofuji:

Nice throw. Next up, we have the Juryo dohyo-iri, or as Gagamaru calls it, “cheeky time”:

The cheeks in question being Takanosho’s of course.

Azumaryu and Akiseyama have a less painful way to enjoy the wait:

Next up, the Juryo bouts, and we have Aminishiki vs. Hidenoumi for you:

Nice effort from old Uncle there, but to no avail.

Chiyomaru makes short work of Daiamami:

And we are up in Makuuchi. And the dohyo-iri there is not free of sin, either:

No, no, you have to wait for the Ozeki!

For some reason, Chiyotairyu decides that facing the spectators is just too much for him and turns around in the middle of the dohyo-iri. Abi tries to argue with him.

Takakeisho, by now getting used to all the “shin-ozeki” stuff, receives gifts of local produce – rice, meat, etc.:

The bouts start, and Yoshikaze has a wardrobe malfunction:

Is it me or does Toyonoshima surreptitiously improve his mawashi hold during this matta? Zurui… he won this bout.

Next up, Terutsuyoshi throws his usual bucket load of salt… and seems to hit his own eye:

Typical Terutsuyoshi sumo. Sorry, Yago, maybe next time!

Next up, Ichinojo vs. Endo:

Ichinojo is not sleeping.

Kaisei is pitted with Nishikigi, and doesn’t let the green mawashi man set up any sort of defense:

Last before the san-yaku, Hokutofuji vs. Mitakeumi:

Takakeisho is up next vs. Tamawashi:

No rolling into the crowd today. The last bout whose footage I got is Goeido vs Tochinoshin:

And after Kakuryu beats Takayasu (sorry, no video), comes the part everybody has been waiting for – good old Satonofuji’s yumi-tori shiki. Watch it, then go back to previous reports and compare with Kasugaryu, never mind poor Shohoryu. This is the work of a true master:

Our pin-up of the day is Wakamotoharu. Adieu!