Jungyo Newsreel – Day 16

🌐 Location: Adachi ward, Tokyo

Today’s event is really close to home – at Adachi ward, just north of Sumida, where the majority of sumo stables are located.

And yet, equipment still needs to be delivered and carried into the venue.

That is yobidashi Hiromasa, proving to us that yobidashi is physical work, not just singing and drumming.

Here is Chiyoraizan from Kokonoe beya. Whose baggage is he carrying?

This is Kimura Konosuke’s stuff. Gyoji need their outfits and paraphernalia, too.

The equipment comes from side-opening trucks like this one, which you can see is loaded with sekitori’s akeni:

Akeni are the green-red-black boxes that each sekitori receives upon promotion to Juryo, where he stores stuff like his kesho-mawashi, shimekomi (silk mawashi) and sagari. During transit, akeni are wrapped in plastic or tarp. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many of the Akeni as I can. If you read kanji, or at least memorize shikona, try that yourself. I’ll give you two hints:

  • The ones wrapped in gray are not rikishi’s, but rather gyoji’s.
  • While the name on the Akeni itself matches the sekitori’s current shikona, they rarely replace the tarp. Thus, there are two akeni in the bottom row labeled “Takayoshitoshi” (now called Takanofuji), and “Oyanagi” (now called Yutakayama).

Good luck!

So let’s go inside the venue and see what everybody is doing. Kakuryu seems to be very tired:

Aw, Yokozuna. Why don’t you find something soft to rest your head against and get some shut-eye?

Um… not exactly what I had in mind. But if it works for you…

This early in the morning, Takakeisho is trying to find an out-of-the-way corner where he can work out properly without being disturbed.

It’s not working.

Nishikigi is working out his already formidable arms:

Wakamotoharu and Ishiura are doing their shiko.

Between the two of them, I’m sure there is not a single evil spirit in the ground anywhere in Adachi.

Ichinojo is working with hand weights:

These arms are made for slap-down
And that’s just what I’ll do
One of these days these arms are gonna hatakikomi you!

Later, after he does some on-dohyo training, Hakuho calls him over and gives him a private lesson. “Insert your right arm deeper!” and the like:

When reporters ask the Yokozuna about this, he says “I felt I wanted to do some teaching this Jungyo. Every day I take one man and guide him”.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I am imagining a baton being passed here.

Here are the three top contenders for “kawaii rikishi of the late Heisei era”:

Daishoho – Meisei – Takanosho

And by now Takakeisho arrives at the dohyo, and greets his beloved Daieisho:

Daieisho, Daieisho, wherefore art thou Daieisho?

The reason these two have been called a “couple” throughout this Jungyo is apparently because they were caught in the shitakubeya sleeping wrapped in one towel. If a photo ever turns up…

Hokutofuji, look behind you!

There is a prowling bear!

The bear, I mean, the Ozeki, started actual on-dohyo practice today:

This included, for example, this practice bout with Tochiozan:

Up on that same dohyo, Mitakeumi is giving butsukari to Wakatakakage:

This apparently gets carried beyond the standard end-of-moshiai-session butsukari and into the realm of kawaigari:

Goeido is doing the same for Takanosho:

This session is definitely kawaigari rather than plain butsukari:

Here are a couple of practice bouts: Gagamaru vs. Takanosho, a short interlude showing Tochinoshin working out, then Meisei vs. Kaisei.

This concludes the practice part of the Jungyo. Time for lunch! And Abi is looking for something nicer than a cold bento:

This looks like a mobile stall offering various types of “don” (a bowl of rice topped with something, like curry, chicken, pork, beef, etc.).

I don’t have much from the second part of the day. But here is Takanosho before his bout, having a smiling conversation with his heya-mate, young yobidashi Hiroshi:

And the important news of the day. Do you know what this photo means?

It means Enho is finally back on the torikumi list, doing sumo!

Unfortunately, it looks like he is being yori-kiried by Daiamami here.

No pin-up photo for you today. Instead, here is a video with some comments by Hakuho and Takakeisho. Hakuho responds to questions about his naturalization process. That is, he is not responding to questions about it:

Hakuho: “Nothing is decided yet. I was surprised this made such a splash in the news. There are many supporters, family, relatives I have yet to inform about this. For the time being, all there is to do is wait for the results”.

He says he wants to “Start Reiwa well, following the good closure of Heisei”. The reporters take it as a wish to win his 43rd yusho in May. Of course, there’s that pesky injury.

Takakeisho says he has all but gotten used to his new Ozeki status, and that he wants to work on the fundamentals, because “An Ozeki needs to have a body”.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 14

Guess who’s back?

🌐 Location: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

After the fairly modest event we had up north in Ibaraki, the Jungyo returns to Tokyo for one of its permanent events – the dedication sumo event at Yasukuni Shrine.

As John Gunning mentioned in his recent article about Jungyo, this event is free of charge, and allows about 6000 spectators to enjoy a day of sumo right at the heart of the big city.

The upshot of all this is that there were a lot of visuals on the ‘net, and you are in for one long post. Clear up a couple of hours of your time, folks. Prepare a bento box, visit the toilet, tuck in the kids.

Continue reading

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 13

🌐 Location: Hitachinomiya, Ibaraki prefecture

We have a short one today. The Jungyo temporarily leaves the vicinity of Tokyo and goes north to Ibaraki. Ibaraki is the former Kisenosato’s home turf, and indeed, the main attraction in this Jungyo event seems to be a visit from Araiso oyakata.

But let’s start with the beginning, as rikishi alight from the buses:

Akiseyama, that is – lovingly known among Japanese sumo fans as “Mountain of Bread”. Seriously, it’s amazing that he has such serious mobility issues and still manages to hold a pretty secure position in Juryo.

At the entrance, Yobidashi Hiromasa beckons us in with his drum roll:

This is, of course, the official photo, and in it Hiromasa is serious and dedicated. There is also an unofficial photo, though:

And in that, we see that he keeps his smartphone at hand, probably because drumming is awfully boring, and he also having relaxed chats with the incoming customers.

Since he persuaded us so nicely to come inside, let’s go and shake hands with a dreamy Arawashi:

Seriously, who came up with the idea that he is anything like Chiyoshoma?

And proceed into the venue to see some of the rikishi practicing along the walls. Takakeisho and Daieisho play drill sergeants to their tsukebito:

One, two! One, two! Though I have to say that any real drill sergeant would laugh at these push-ups.

Then it’s time for Daieisho himself to explain to Takakeisho what he has been doing wrong in his weight lifting:

Oopsie-daisy. Funny little misfire there by Daieisho. But then he goes on to show some real leg exercise. Yes, Takakeisho, you are supposed to lift with your legs, not with your back. Daieisho has mighty strong legs.

In the hana-michi, Enho kind of practices with Onosho. Those two have been goofing together almost every day of this Jungyo.

But you can see that Enho is favoring his right shoulder. That’s still not in working order, apparently, though he did say to the press that he intends to go berserk in Makuuchi next basho. If he doesn’t get to do keiko, no berserking is going to cut it.

On the dohyo, we have Kaisei and Meisei. It’s not the same “sei”:

At this point, official practice is over, and the dohyo is vacated in favor of the usual shows. Some rikishi linger outside. This far north, the sakura is in full bloom, and what’s better than some keiko under the beautiful blossoms?

Indeed, Kotoeko and Kotorikisen look like they enjoy themselves thoroughly.

The Yokozuna put on their ropes to prepare for dohyo-iri and also to get a photo with the local sponsor:

In the past, I have heard some sumo fans who thought this formal kimono was something unique to sumo. It isn’t. This a mon-tsuki kimono set, which includes a kimono, a hakama (the gray semi-skirt thing worn over the kimono), and a haori (jacket, held together with a fine pom-pom). It’s Japanese traditional formal wear, and anybody in Japan may wear it on festive or formal occasions.

Anyway, the Yokozuna are back in the venue, and as Hakuho awaits his turn, he still signs autographs. Nobody is supposed to get near him when he wears the tsuna, and so his tsukebito keep a large buffer zone around him, but one of them brings the shikishi over to for him to sign:

Then, right before the Makuuchi bouts start, it’s time for the special guest star to make his appearance. And his popularity has not lost an iota:

The former Yokozuna comes inside to make a speech and thank his fellow Ibaraki people for their support throughout his career. As he ascends the dohyo, you can hear shouts like “Why did you quit?!”, “You look great in a suit!” etc.

He says that now without the pressure he can practice a lot more easily than he used to. “I never get tired”

The whole speech scene really entertains some of the sekitori waiting for their bouts. Especially the part you don’t see in the above video, in which he receives a large portion of the local delicacy… natto…

And… that’s it. I could find no hint of a bout nor even the list of matches of the day. So I have to leave off with the pin-up corner, today featuring:

Terutsuyoshi!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 12

🌐 Location: Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture

Today we have a relatively short report, as the ladies of Fujisawa were less than diligent with their smartphones. More is the pity, as today’s schedule included a bout between Ichinojo and Terutsuyoshi. Alas, unless some footage turns out in the next few days, we’ll miss this clash of fire and ice.

Before describing this day, though, I want to take you back to Haru Jungyo 2003, and a photograph that shouldn’t have existed:

Asashoryu – Takanohana – Musashimaru

Three Yokozuna in 2003? That never happened. Takanohana, in fact, retired in Hatsu 2003, and Asashoryu was promoted only on the next banzuke, Haru 2003. You might think it’s a similar situation to what’s happening with Tochinoshin and Takakeisho now – Tochinoshin is still Ozeki due to the previous banzuke, and Takakeisho is shin-Ozeki as of the next banzuke, and both are treated as Ozeki this Jungyo. However, this doesn’t really happen with retirements, and besides, there is no Jungyo between Hatsu and Haru. Haru Jungyo comes between Haru and Natsu.

And yet, with the magic that is Jungyo, you see the retired Dai-Yokozuna side by side with the next Dai-Yokozuna, both in their tsuna. One can even see that Takanohana is already a lot thinner than he was when active.

OK, engage the flux capacitor. Let’s go back to 2019 – same town, same venue. It’s a beautiful spring day, and with more than 5000 people attending, it’s a good opportunity to get blood donations:

Inside the venue, rikishi are supposed to shake hands with the spectators. Instead, Mitakeumi gives Ichinojo a massage:

It’s hard to tell, with Ichinojo, whether he is pleased or disgusted with this.

The Onami family is in the building at full capacity, and in seniority order:

First, big brother Wakatakamoto. Second, second brother Wakamotoharu. Third, little brother Wakatakakage. Now we need a wolf to huff and puff and blow their house in… Furtunately, neither Seiro nor Roga are available at the moment.

Soon the subjects of the two previous pics get to the dohyo, and Ichinojo gives Wakatakakage a butsukari session:

Takakeisho was very busy on the dohyo today. He got butsukari from Goeido:

And he also had actual sumo practice for the first time this Jungyo. He engaged Hokutofuji:

And Myogiryu:

All in all, six bouts of which he won four: “I’m only starting. I need to get used to it again”. Said the shin-ozeki.

With practice over, the rikishi enjoyed some time off on the lawn outside the venue. Ryuden was enjoying himself, as usual:

And the children of Fujisawa were having the time of their lives:

After shower and dohyo-iri, they were at it again! Some of them were trying to make… thingamajigs… fly:

Or at least figure out what the things were supposed to do:

Some more serious people were still inside the venue doing their job:

“No, my job is not sweeping chimneys!

OK, “serious” may be stretching it. Abi is a bit bored by the oicho-mage demonstration. I can tell.

This demonstration included both him and Onosho, facing each a different section of the audience. Onosho, unlike Abi, was behaving well:

Then it was Kakuryu’s turn to show off his rope.

Behind him you can see Shohoryu, handing pieces of twine to the rope team leader (I think it’s Shinzan, not sure).

Today, the torikumi included an elimination tournament for the top of Makuuchi. All other sekitori had their usual bouts. Again, no footage. All I have is this photo of Kakuryu and Endo starting their match:

Somewhat surprisingly, Kakuryu won this tournament, winning ¥2,000,000 and a year’s supply of vegetables from the area. “I’m going to eat lots of vegetables”, chuckled the Yokozuna.

I still hope to find that elusive footage of Ichinojo vs. Terutsuyoshi. If I do, I’ll add it here. In the meantime, enjoy our pin-up of the day:

Arawashi is definitely supermodel grade

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 11

Isn’t that a punch, boss?

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

After a day of hiatus spent in their homes or heyas, the rikishi get back together for an event at Kawasaki. The locals have used that day to prepare the dohyo:

Interestingly, this video shows the venue with normal lighting, but for some reason, on the day itself, the lighting was changed such that most of the stadium was shrouded in darkness, with spotlights on the dohyo. Although perfectly normal for performances, this is a bit unusual for a Jungyo event, and it caused sideline photos to come out… not exactly pleasing:

Hey Wilt, pass me the ball, I’m open!

On the other hand, photos taken on or around the dohyo tended to be artistic or dramatic, like this Abi shot, showing him preparing for Showdown:

Draw!

Still, there was action both near and away from the dohyo. Shohozan was trying to do suri-ashi, and got a bit flustered by the presence of the NSK camera:

Enho was trying to help Onosho with his seiza.

But it seems like this drove Onosho to stop doing seiza and do something to the poor suddenly alarmed pixie. I’m not sure whatever follows is fit for the consumption of children.

Off to the side Nishikigi is doing Nishikigi things to a low-ranked rikishi.

I would feel a lot more sympathy for his victim, if that victim wasn’t Hikarugenji, Arawashi’s tsukebito, who has beaten up a younger rikishi in his heya last year, who left the world of sumo because of that. So go right ahead, yay Nishikigi!

Not far away from them, Ichinojo is practicing with Chiyoshoma (and yes, it’s the lighting again):

Quite brave of Chiyoshoma to attempt that.

Gagamaru was wrapping himself up:

Every sekitori has a taping kit. Some of them need quite a lot.

Kakuryu… is upgrading from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Alien:

Still a little low on the fangs, though.

At the dohyo, Toyonoshima and Goeido are enjoying each other’s company:

Tomokaze is preparing for a big day. He is the local boy here at Kawasaki. And this means lots of butsukari, and a special extra bout (we’ll get to that).

Endo is doing proper suri-ashi:

Ichinojo gets up on the dohyo:

Though he seems a bit puzzled as to what he is supposed to do on it. We’ll, he’ll remember eventually. Oh yes, Ichinojo and Takakeisho both resumed on-dohyo practice.

In fact, both Ichinojo and Yoshikaze are back on the torikumi as of today. On the other hand, Chiyonoumi is off the Torikumi. I don’t know what the nature of his injury is, though.

Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. Here are Mitoryu and Takanosho:

Kiribayama vs. Daiseido:

Nice leg muscles, Daiseido.

Okinoumi vs. Meisei:

Meisei and local-boy Tomokaze:

Kaisei and Asanoyama:

Practice over! The sekitori hit the baths, and only a lonely mawashi and lonelier leg brace remain at the venue to tell the tale:

But of course, they’ll be back. In fact, it’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And guess who is being bumped from behind?

Enho is getting groped and rubbed against so much in this Jungyo, I heard that JR East is preparing a specially designated “Enho Car” on applicable train lines, as part of its harassment prevention efforts.

Chiyomaru is using his belly to great effect, also to get attention from the ladies as he awaits his bout:

“I’m due around August. Ooh, did she just kick? Did you feel that?”

With the Juryo bouts in the background, a Yokozuna prepares for his rope-tying demonstration, just like yesterday. Today it’s Hakuho’s turn:

Note that a Yokozuna wears his kesho-mawashi differently than other rikishi – the top of the apron is tucked into the mawashi rather than covering the Yokozuna’s belly.

By the way, Hakuho was asked what he thought about the US President’s plan to come watch sumo on Senshuraku of the Natsu basho. He said “I’m grateful. It’s still not clear if it will happen or not, but I plan to do my best”.

Time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and Yago is using Ryuden as a sock-puppet:

“See, Ryuden is happily waving at you, dear fans”

Terutsuyoshi and Shohozan are practicing their nirami-ai. That is, the dreaded stare-down. And those two are really good at it. You’d think they are actually angry at each other:

Following the dohyo-iri, but before the regular Makuuchi matches, a very special match took place – one that you’re probably never going to see in honbasho.

Yoshikaze vs. Tomokaze.

The two are holding a gift of snacks from the city. Tomokaze was born is Kawasaki, as I mentioned. The reason that you are not going to see this in honbasho is that they are from the same heya (and very unlikely to be in a yusho playoff together). In fact, Tomokaze served as Yoshikaze’s tsukebito, and out of respect, continued to do so even when he became sekitori, only quitting once he reached Makuuchi.

So these two are very tight, in a mentor-apprentice kind of way. And they also swore they will do this bout completely “gachinko” (“honest”).

Another angle:

Time for the regular bouts. I do not have much in the way of video, but here is Hokutofuji who adopted Nishikigi and Shohozan’s idea of becoming a spectator:

With the lighting in the venue being what it is, you’d think somebody would take an artistic photo of Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw… ah… here it is:

Ryuden seems to enjoy his match with Shohozan, the other starer, quite a lot:

Also, it appears that Abi’s watch has made it to 5 minutes to 6!

But as for his bout itself… he must be the world’s worst yotsu wrestler. Get that ass down, Abi-long-legs!

Well, that’s Tomokaze he is engaging there. So maybe he knows he shouldn’t beat the local boy. Tomokaze wins this one, and marks his victory to all as he goes back to the dressing room:

Here is some news footage from this event, showing mostly Takakeisho – including his daily Tochinoshin bluff match.

As the sekitori all go home, we stop and admire Tsurugisho’s purse:

And while Ichinojo’s bag is rather plain, his weapon of choice is…

…a very stressed water bottle?

See you tomorrow, big boulder! And in our pin-up corner today, we have:

Chiyomaru! Because all body types are welcome!

❉ Except Akiseyama’s