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!
The first week of this tipsy basho is coming to a close, and the basho signals to us that it still has enough bottles of saké to develop a good delirium tremens, and that any advance bets and dares are at our own risk (how was your rump steak, Bruce?)
Daishoho does today’s duty as the Juryo fill-in, facing Meisei. He envelopes Meisei right off the Tachiai, and none of Meisei’s wriggles are to any avail. Yorikiri, and Daishoho picks a nice envelope in his first Makuuchi bout.
Chiyomaru and Takanosho are both 1-5 coming into this match. Takanosho is aggressive and pushes Chiyomaru to the edge. Chiyomaru tries to sidestep, but Takanosho maintains his balance and keeps up the pressure, leading him to the other edge. So Chiyomaru tries it again. This time it works. Hatakikomi, Chiyomaru grabs his second win. I believe both of them are heading down to Juryo by the end of this basho, but I’m not staking any body-part steaks on that.
Arawashi‘s bout with Onosho might as well has been a fusen. Onosho rises, and pushes unresisting Arawashi straight off. Watching Arawashi this basho is really painful.
Endo attempts a harizashi (slap-and-slip) on Chiyoshoma, but never gets to the sashi (slipping his hand inside) part. Chiyoshoma advances, retreats, advances again and seems in control, but Endo pulls and wins this one by hatakikomi.
Okinoumi and Daiamami are “kenka-yotsu” – meaning one of them prefers migi-yotsu (right hand inside), and the other hidari-yotsu (left hand inside). And indeed most of this bout is spent attempting to get their favorite grip and denying the other his. Daiamami maintains a strong grip on Okinoumi’s belt, but it’s just an “ichimai” – hold on one layer – and it’s Okinoumi who manages to wrap Daiamami up and yori-kiri him.
Chiyonokuni‘s match with Daishomaru starts with a strong kachiage – but it’s actually a matta. On top of that, that kachiage causes Daishomaru’s nose to bleed. He needs to take a break and returns to the dohyo with a wad of tissue up his nostril – not exactly a beautiful sight. The match restarts. This time Chiyonokuni is a bit more hesitant in his tachiai, and Daishomaru exploits that and yori-kiris the Kokonoe man.
Both Aoiyama and Sadanoumi look better than one would expect this basho, and start this match 4-2. Sadanoumi takes the initiative and has his right hand inside, but Aoiyama locks it, prevents him from achieving a proper yotsu position, and adds a bubious nodowa (you’re not supposed to do that with your fingers folded, though one can’t call that an actual punch), sending Sadanoumi for a dive. Oshitaoshi.
Yutakayama does not look very good this basho. However, he starts this match with a kachiage to Kotoshogiku‘s throat. Follows that with two powerful nodowa, and when Kotoshogiku applies all his strength to the ground to withstand those, steps aside and lets the former Ozeki’s strong legs to all the work. Yutakayama gets his second win by tsukiotoshi.
Daieisho, who somehow found himself in the chaser group without us even noticing him, is not impressed with Abi‘s well-known opener. He withstands a couple of shoves, goes under them and does some shoving of his own. Daieisho is now 6-1.
In the battle of the single-kanji wrestlers, Ikioi lands a shallow grip, but Kagayaki frees himself and starts a pushing attack that puts Ikioi in reverse gear and out of the ring. This is Kagayaki’s first win against Ikioi.
Something really is up with Takanoiwa this basho. It’s as if he is afraid of contact. Takarafuji manages to land a brief hold on him. Takanoiwa retreats, frees himself from that grab, but instead of making any attack of his own, keeps retreating and Takarafuji really doesn’t need to do much to win. Both end this match 2-5, and I’m sure Takarafuji was scratching his head asking himself how exactly he won that, as he was going back to Isagahama beya’s lodgings.
Shohozan starts his bout with Asanoyama with a mighty morotezuki… only he does it without having actually touched his hands to the ground – and soon-to-be-promoted Konosuke will have none of that. In the second tachiai, he touches very slightly, and repeats the morotezuki, following it by a brief morozashi. Asanoyama is very active, releasing himself from that grip first on one side and then the other, and then getting his own hold. From then on it’s Asanoyama all the (short) way.
Tamawashi starts his typical oshi bout with Nishikigi, but Nishikigi defends well, and starts his own attack. He really should have attempted to lock a hold on Tamawashi, though, because Tamawashi has years of experience and as he nears the edge quickly reverses the fortunes. It wasn’t far from another Nishikigi upset, though.
Hokutofuji is not letting Tochiozan‘s 5-1 record distract him. A shove. A nodowa. Another aggressive shove. Tochiozan ends up losing for the second day in a row, his magic gone.
This bout is exactly the reason why Kaisei decided to enter the basho while still injured. Despite Myogiryu‘s tenacity, the huge Brazilian envelopes him and doesn’t really leave him much room for maneuver. Kaisei wins, and if he picks enough such wins, the next banzuke may see him drop to a position that’s easier to defend on the one hand, and safe from demotion on the other.
Tachiai. Chiyotairyu slams into Ichinojo. Goes for the throat. But that only manages to wake Ferdinand up, and you can see Ichinojo getting warmer and his thrusts getting fiercer. Chiyotairyu’s own thrusts seem to leave no impression – other than the loud “Slam!” sounds reverberating through the Fukuoka International Sports Center. The last slam sees Chiyotairyu at the corner beyond the bales, and I can only hope that this has woken up Ichinojo enough to show us some of his better sumo in the next few days.
Mitakeumi starts a powerful shoving match with lossless Takakeisho right out of the tachiai, and it’s boom-forward-boom-forward. Takakeisho deftly sidesteps at the edge, but Mitakeumi was not born yesterday. He turns around with an “Oh yeah?” expression on his face. Takakeisho probably regrets having stepped so far away at this point, because if he was closer he could have pushed Mitakeumi from behind. Instead, the Sekiwake lunges at him, and an exchange of thrusts begins, at the end of which Mitakeumi grabs Takakeisho’s neck and pulls him down.
Takakeisho slowly rises, while fiddling with his chon-mage, hinting at the shimpan that his hair was pulled. I am not sure they noticed that, because only after the rikishi make their bows does the head shimpan, Onomatsu, signal a monoii. Perhaps he got a call from the video room. The shimpan confer, and Onomatsu oyakata goes back to his seat and gives a confused summary. “The hand, the mawashi, the hand, the whachamacallit, the hand didn’t grab the mawashi, the gyoji’s decision stayed”. I wonder how much the shimpan drink before starting their day below the dohyo.
So Takakeisho is no longer lossless, and the way is open for the single-loss Takayasu to claim the yusho – assuming you don’t think that Daieisho is a legitimate candidate. But the day is not over yet.
Next we move to our first Ozeki match. Tochinoshin faces Yoshikaze. Now, Yoshikaze’s tactic today somewhat reminded me of Enho’s opening gambit. Of course Yoshikaze is not Enho’s size, but relative to Tochinoshin, it’s not that far off, and the agility is certainly there. He scrambles for a maemitsu grip, while denying the Ozeki access to his own mawashi. Eventually, though, he gives up that tactic, and slides up that left arm, which was seeking the maemitsu grip, under the ozeki’s arm. A beautiful sukuinage ensues. Nice touch there, forcing Tochinoshin’s head further down making him lose his footing. Tochinoshin, a pretty solid yusho candidate before the basho, finds himself needing to get enough wins to avoid kadoban instead.
OK, so now that Takayasu knows Takakeisho lost, he knows he is in the spearhead of the yusho race. All he needs to do is beat 1-5 Ryuden. But Ryuden is not impressed by the Ozeki’s kachiage, and manages – momentarily, to get his favorite morozashi. Takayasu quickly releases himself on one side, and Ryuden is left with a hand inside with no grip on the left, and an outside grip on the right. Ryuden tries again and again to achieve the grip with his left, but the Ozeki denies him with a right ottsuke. Ryuden tries an attack. But he simply doesn’t have the muscle power against the Ozeki’s 180kg. The stalemate continues.
Then Takayasu frees himself on his right side and uses the left inside grip he has on Ryuden to try and turn the Maegashira away and out. Ryuden is not easily thrown off, though. He manages to get a maemitsu grip. But his combined grip is problematic – you want to get at least one hand on the back side of the mawashi. With both hands in front he can’t create leverage, though he tries again and again.
But as the stalemate continues, Takayasu’s lower back problems are starting to assert themselves. Yet another attempt by Ryuden, and the Ozeki finds himself out of ring – and out of the leader group, again. Ryuden, barely able to breath, gets a hefty batch of envelopes, and his first win against an Ozeki! What a match!
The musubi-no-ichiban is anticlimactic by comparison. Shodai manages to briefly get a good hold on Goeido, and his previous success makes him impatient. He tries to drag Goeido to the edge. Goeido is not obliging. Shodai soon finds himself in the typical Goeido embrace, and down below the dohyo.
What a day this has been. Here is the leaderboard after Cray 7. That is, Day 7: