Jungyo Newsreel – Day 10

🌐 Location: Hachioji, Tokyo

The Jungyo completes its Kansai and Tokai leg, and heads back home to Tokyo. Well, Tokyo is a big city, and Hachioji is further from the Tokyo city center than Yokohama. And while it was merely a cold day in central Tokyo, at Hachioji, it was snowing.

Snowing so much that one of the fans coming to watch the sumo filmed this as they reached the nearby Otsuki station:

Near the venue the snow was not as heavy, but still, we had a freezing Yokozuna:

Why is he going barefoot in such weather?

We also had a freezing oyakata, who was looking enthusiastic about it for two seconds:

And if these two hardy Mongolians freeze…

So, let’s go inside the warm arena, and say our hellos to the Iwasaki brothers at their handshake stations:

Tobizaru & Hidenoumi. Family matters

Smiles are contagious today, and we have this big, wide one from Aminishiki. They are becoming rarer!

In fact, it’s a bit scary…

What’s our big beloved boulder doing today? Well, first, he stretches by the wall, accompanied by his loyal Oka:

Then, he goes over to the side of the dohyo to do some squats:

And finally, he finds a practice buddy – Mitoryu:

Nice synchronization!

Hokutofuji stomps his shiko by the wall. And I do mean stomps:

All evil spirits in Hachioji ground pack up and go to the nearest UN office to apply for refugee status.

Abi practices his yotsu-zumo with Nishikigi:

Nishikigi is not easily moved, certainly not with this weak technique. Somebody please give Abi the basics. Maybe he should go back to the Kakuryu academy.

Toyonoshima works on his arm muscles with weights:

Hakuho arrives at the dohyo. Is greeted as usual. Somebody from his ichimon giving him a respectful ladle? You bet!

Despite being questioned by the Compliance Committee two days before, and that not-too-good-looking arm, Hakuho seems to be in a good mood.

According to this tweet, Tamawashi professes his love to Kotoyuki:

Whereupon Kotoyuki sends him to hell. The poor jilted sekiwake tries to evoke guilt. Kotoyuki unmoved.

You! You dumped me!

Kakuryu diligently does his shiko. This time manages to not smile bashfully doing it.

OK, some practice bouts: Hokutofuji vs. Okinoumi, Tomokaze vs. Meisei:

I wonder who won that last one.

Next, Mitakeumi vs. Asanoyama, then Mitakeumi vs. Ryuden:

Ryuden, I believe, was underranked at M11, and it will be interesting to see him in the upper part of Makuuchi in Natsu.

Practice over, and as Kakuryu leaves he is enveloped by fans asking for autographs:

While he is doing his fansa duty diligently and seriously, Hakuho is doing the same, but in a much lighter atmosphere:

Now, the story behind this picture is as follows:

Tsukebito (I think that’s Umizaru): “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it marked the Yokozuna’s Yukata!”
Hakuho: “I think if we washed it it would be fine”.

Everybody around chuckling. Tsukebito thinks for a while.

Tsukebito: “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it poked the Yokozuna in the eye!”.
Hakuho: 😆
Tsukebito: “Now, wouldn’t it?”
Hakuho: “I don’t think it’s going to poke me in the eye.”

Everybody around bursts out laughing.

And that’s what they call “Fansa kami-sama” (Fan interaction god). I’m positive nobody who ever went to one of those Jungyo event and interacted with the Yokozuna would be sending the NSK angry letters about the propriety of clapping during yusho speeches.

It’s time for the Juryo bouts. But Wakamotoharu’s oicho-mage is lopsided. Akiseyama offers help:

Akiseyama may be the ugly duckling of the rikishi corps, but he is a good guy.

As Juryo bouts near their end, Kakuryu awaits his cue to demonstrate rope tying:

Nice kesho-mawashi. Too bad it’s always hidden. It’s relatively rare to see a Yokozuna in kesho-mawashi and no rope.

And it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Most rikishi are busy goofing around. Even usually-serious Hokutofuji finds a target for a goof:

Amidst all the lively hustle and bustle, sits a lonely Ozeki:

I guess this is why Goeido rarely makes an appearance in these reports. He usually keeps to himself, away from the clicking phone cameras.

Let’s take a look at the dohyo-iri. First, the East:

Of course, Mitakeumi “accidentally” bumps into Kaisei.

And did you spot Terutsuyoshi standing on tiptoes to match Ishiura’s height? 😏

On to the West:

The Shodai-Nishikigi duo keeps at it. Shodai: “Stop waving”. Nishikigi: “Why not”. Starts waving again. Shodai stops him. You get dohyo-iri and Shokkiri for the price of one.

And as the time comes for the bouts, the same Nishikigi, but this time with Shohozan, sit themselves among the spectators:

I guess they don’t want to miss Kagayaki’s match.

As for the matches themselves, I have Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:

Wait, haven’t we seen this bout before? This is so obviously yaocho, you can’t be surprised at Tochinoshin’s face as he returns to his seat (the winner and loser in the penultimate bouts don’t leave the dohyo until the musubi is done):

Even Tagonoura oyakata knows this was as genuine as a three-dollar bill.

We also have Kakuryu vs. Goeido:

Once again, Goeido wins. I think he is 9-1 by now.

A summary video:

The video mentions that Takakeisho has yet to do any on-dohyo practice. His “opponent” Tochinoshin, on the other hand, though I didn’t get a photo or video of it, did 11 practice bouts and won all. “I just do my usual – whatever I can at any given moment”.

As the bouts end, the rikishi pack up and leave – but not on their busses this time. It’s Tokyo, and they are going home – by train, of course.

Tamawashi with friends, and some lucky fans at the Hachioji station

Our pin-up boy today is Enho, because this photo was not to be overlooked:

Totally photobombed by Kotoyuki!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 8

Today’s report is going to be a little anticlimactic, compared to Day 7’s rich content. But let’s gambarize!

🌐 Location: Nishio, Aichi prefecture

Early morning, and groggy-eyed sekitori start arriving. Here we have Takarafuji in a drab kimono, a night-crumpled chon-mage, and eyes half-closed:

…which all stand in stark contrast with his spiffy fashionable orange Hermes bag.

Abi looks pretty surprised by half-asleep Enho.

My guess is it’s the first time he noticed Enho’s cauliflower ear.

The only one who seems to be a morning person is Kaisei:

“Hey, Aoiyama, pull my finger!”

So let’s get inside the venue. Kotoeko forces his knees together with rubber bands:

This seems to be quite an effort for him. In the hana-michi, Ishiura practices his tachiai:

What, no henka?

Hakuho practices his sonkyo:

Sonkyo is this crouching position which is performed during the shikiri (and also to accept the gunbai and possible kensho envelopes). It’s also quite useful to have a talk with someone sitting on the ground:

In this case a rather good-humored Kasugano oyakata. Hakuho also practices his shiko, as always:

And like a good Hitchhiker, he does it equipped with a towel. Which reminds me, here is Kakuryu again:

Silly though he may look, Kakuryu is very popular with the fans:

Kyokusoten, behind him, looks a bit taken aback by all the clamor.

Oyakata can be popular, too!

You have to admit Tomozuna oyakata looks quite nice in a mon-tsuki kimono.

There is a sekitori from Aichi prefecture – Akiseyama. Here he is practicing with Kyokutaisei:

But for some reason, he is not that popular in this event. This may be because there is a real home boy – one from the very city of Nishio: Kaisho, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s heya).

The thing is, Kaisho is not a sekitori. He is in Makushita. And the only reason he is wearing an oicho-mage in this picture is that the torikumi guys arranged a Juryo bout for him to please the spectators.

Being a member of Isegahama ichimon earns him the privilege of getting kawaigari from Aminishiki. The spectators really love this – Aminishiki seems to be popular all over Japan. And with their home boy, oh boy!

Even this little sliver of video is a good demonstration of Aminishiki’s showmanship.

Some Makuuchi practice bouts: Onosho vs. Kagayaki, Okinoumi vs. Ryuden:

And here are Kaisei vs. Mitakeumi, and Tochinoshin vs. Kaisei:

One gets the impression that winning 10 bouts might not be beyond Tochinoshin’s capabilities the next basho.

Practice over, and lower-ranked rikishi get their hair redone:

Imagine if these tokoyama could sing in harmony. They would be a real… wait for it… barbershop quartet! [crickets]

And here comes the big news of the day. Our big ice-cream man has joined the Jungyo, as his herniated disc improved. And he got teased quite a lot for cleverly joining it on his birthday, because that means he gets lots of free cake!

The cakes are from the reporters. And Ichinojo is a good boy. He blows away the candles, and then does it again just to please a cameraman who didn’t get a good shot the first take.

I suppose he was then given an instruction to eat his cake like a good hungry boulder:

Um… is he really going to eat it with the plastic collar still on? And the candles? But well, the reporters said “do it”, so…

Although he participated in the dohyo-iri this day, he did not participate in the bouts and apparently not in any keiko, either.

Here is the West Juryo dohyo-iri for you.

Note how much more popular Aminishiki and Enho are, compared to local-born Akiseyama.

Enho and Yoshikaze still don’t participate in any bouts.

Time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri, and someone asks Tamawashi to hold a baby. The baby is not very happy about this.

As the kid starts an air-raid siren going, Abi decides to match him note for note. Mwaaaaaa!

Takarafuji, if you note, is all like “I was hoping I’ll get a little peace and quiet from baby cries in the Jungyo. Sheesh…”

Hakuho is on his way to do his own dohyo-iri. He does that without that supporter on his arm – for aesthetic reasons, I guess. But this fan caught him feeling up his injured arm:

That torn muscle, it is not going away.

Finally, it’s time for the bouts… but I don’t have any bout footage, sorry. Instead, here is Aoiyama, who found a back room with basketball equipment:

And here is Takakeisho, who is way too happy about this ladle his giving to Tamawashi.

Could it possibly be… the shin-ozeki… is doing the salt trick? He must know that revenge will come – and rather swiftly, as they are doing their matches in the same order every day.

Here is the yumi-tori shiki from this day:

And for our pin-up corner, how about a rather puzzled Yoshoyama?

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 7

🌐 Location: Tsu, Mie prefecture

The Jungyo doubles back to Mie prefecture where it began. This time to the beautiful city named Tsu. And I was very excited to receive a treasure of photos and videos from this event courtesy of Simon Davies and Blanca Bolea, who got up at 4:55 in Hasunuma and took no less 4 trains and a local bus to get to Tsu. Simon says it was worth it.

There were also many Japanese Twitter users who posted about this particular event, so this may turn out to be quite a long post. Brace yourselves, here we go!

Continue reading

Haru Day 5 Recap

We had an interesting day today at the EDION arena in Osaka. Before I dive into the Makunouchi bouts, I’m sure the fans will be happy to see this:

Aminishiki finally lands a win

Aminishiki is in dire straits down at the bottom of Juryo, but he managed to get his first win today vs. Akiseyama – and do that moving forward!

So, fast forward through Juryo (Arawashi doing well this basho, Enho gets his second loss in a row), we begin with Yutakayama vs. Kotoeko. Kotoeko looking good this basho, and may just be able to get that Makunouchi kachi-koshi which has eluded him so far. He attacks Yutakayama with a harizashi, lifts his arm high, and sends him off to the arms of the time shimpan.

Due to Chiyonokuni’s injury, we have a visitor from Juryo every day, and today it was 0-4 Hakuyozan facing Ishihenka, I mean, Ishiura, who was 4-0. Ishiura tried to get under Hakuyozan’s attack, but as he pulls, his knee folds below him and he finds himself rolling. His first loss, Hakuyozan’s first win.

Toyonoshima slammed into Chiyoshoma and intended to railroad him with his bulk, as he is wont. But the nimble Mongolian freed himself, stepped sideways, and left the veteran to ponder the difficulties of age and sumo.

Kagayaki launches himself head-first into newbie Daishoho‘s chest, keeps himself low, keeps his opponent upright, and clears him from the dohyo. Basic and clean.

The TomokazeTerutsuyoshi bout ended almost as soon as it started, with a plain, almost dismissive, hatakikomi. I believe something is wrong with Terutsuyoshi’s legs. He keeps ending up with his center of gravity way ahead of his feet. There is an expression used for this state: “ashi ga nagaremashita” – “his feet have flowed away”. His legs don’t work as fast as he needs to support his lunge.

And the Isegahama pixie is not the only one in trouble. Yoshikaze also didn’t show up for today’s bout. He leads head-first into the tachiai, but Ryuden immediately lands a morozashi – two arms under the opponent’s arms – and Yoshikaze just goes limp. Ryuden is haveng a good basho with 4-1.

Meisei tries to take the initiative against Yago. Doesn’t quite land a grip. Short tsuppari ensues, and then the two engage in migi-yotsu. Meisei only has one layer of Yago’s mawashi, and the Oguruma man patiently maneuvers into a better grip and leads Meisei out.

An impressive Shohozan showed up today to face Sadanoumi. Starting his bout with a harizashi, he lands a grip, and then throws Sadanoumi in a beautiful uwatenage. I want more of this Shohozan.

Ikioi tries hard to keep Kotoshogiku‘s pelvis as far away from him as possible. But eventually the former Ozeki decides to use the pressure against him, moves, and shows him out. Ikioi limps back to his spot to give the bow.

Asanoyama has a good tactic against Aoiyama. Since he is a yotsu man and Aoiyama is known for his fierce tsuppari and soft knees, Asanoyama quickly drives in and gets a fistful of mawashi. But Aoiyama shows versatility, uses a kotenage to release himself from the Takasago man, complements that with a nodowa, and hands Asanoyama his second loss.

Abi starts his bout with Takarafuji, as usual, with that morotezuki and follows with tsuppari. Takarafuji is quite ready for that, patiently weathers it, moves slightly to the left and grabs Abi’s mawashi. Abi manages to release himself, tries a half-hearted hikiotoshi, and fails. Instead, the Isegahama man slaps hard, and Abi rolls all the way to the other side of the dohyo. Olé!

The next bout, Chiyotairyu vs. Okinoumi. Chiyotairyu does his locomotive tachiai. Okinoumi backs up and sidesteps. Chiyotairyu dives into the janome, hands first. And Kimura Konosuke calls it Chiyotairyu’s win! No monoii. I guess the shimpan trust Chiyotairyu’s heya-mate, Konosuke, too much. The replay clearly shows this was a mistake. Okinoumi’s feet are firmly on the tawara, so he is very much alive when Chiyotairyu hits the dirt.

Ichinojo starts off with a harite – it’s not a harizashi as there was no attempt to go for the belt – then follows with a kachiage, and finally paws Onosho down with both arms. Scary. Onosho finds himself in a heap as Ichinojo, as usual, worriedly checks if he hasn’t overdone things. I guess Ichinojo left his sleepy secret twin in Tokyo.

Endo gets a grip on Tochiozan‘s belt right off the tachiai, and rolls him like his favorite barrel of beer. Makiotoshi, Endo’s first win this basho.

Mitakeumi and Hokutofuji clash head-to-head. Mitakeumi leads at first, but Hokutofuji manages to stop the pressure, and it’s Mitakeumi who starts pulling back. Maybe it’s the knee, but whatever it is, the Mitakeumi magic is not working against his fellow komusubi, and after a short halt, again he pulls and finds himself below the dohyo.

After three losses, Tamawashi vindicates himself somewhat in this fierce battle with Takakeisho. Takakeisho leads at first and nearly bounces Tamawashi out the front side of the dohyo, but Tamawashi takes it in his stride, and returns with his own windmill. Tamawashi proves that even in oshi, Takakeisho is not invincible. With two losses in the first trimester, Takakeisho’s Ozeki run seems less certain than it looked before the basho started.

Nishikigi has run out of luck this basho. Takayasu slams into him with all his bear-power. Nishikigi tries an arm lock on the Ozeki’s left arm, but to no avail. Nishikigi is 0-5.

Kaisei and Tochinoshin lock into a “gappuri” stance – firm yotsu. Tochinoshin’s first attempt doesn’t work. There is a short impasse, and then Kaisei makes a mistake and tries to gaburi him, or at least, that’s how it looked. As a result, his center of gravity ends up just where the Ozeki wants it, and he actually lifts the heavy Brazilian – though he quickly abandons the idea. He then adds a couple of pelvis thrusts of his own, to bring his thick opponent across the tawara. 3-2, and his chances of clearing kadoban look slightly brighter.

Goeido treats Shodai like a ragdoll, and the Tokitsukaze man finds himself out of the dohyo almost straight out of the tachiai. What version of Goeido is this? Has his kernel been replaced?

Kakuryu butts heads with Daieisho (not a smart move in the long run, Yokozuna), then immediately pulls. Hatakikomi, and Kakuryu is visibly annoyed with himself. Trouble always begins when Kakuryu pulls. But the win is a win.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Hakuho. The bout itself looked fine. No dominance, but the Yokozuna leading with a kachiage, Myogiryu fending him off, and the Yokozuna coming in again and slapping his opponent to the ground. But like yesterday, he couldn’t quite stop his own movement after finishing his work. Yesterday he ended up in the crowd, and took quite a while to get up from there, and today he ended up doing the splits on top of myogiryu. Control of legs? Dizziness? We won’t know unless he goes kyujo and needs to publish yet another public proof of injury

So that’s the end of Act 1, and we have four men in the leader group – Hakuho, Goeido, Ichinojo and Kotoshogiku. Let’s see what the second trimester brings!

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Days 13 and 14 (Dec 15-16)

It’s that time of the year again – Sumo swim-suit edition!

🌐 Location: Ginowan, Okinawa
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◽️◽

We left off with the sekitori completing their Kyushu rounds. Next stop is Okinawa – for two consecutive days at Ginowan. But not everybody is participating. The Juryo wrestlers – with the exception of Yago and Kotoeko – left for Tokyo with their tsukebito. The Makuuchi wrestlers remained at Fukuoka, and boarded a plane for Okinawa the next day:

I think this plane has a bit of an overweight issue

When they landed in Okinawa, the traditional welcome ceremony with Miss Okinawa was held:

I’m reporting both days together because, frankly, it was hard to tell which image came from which day. In any case, we don’t have many practice photos – even the NSK didn’t post any keiko videos. I do have Tochiozan practicing near the dohyo:

The conscientious Kasugano man was dripping with sweat by the end of his practice, and so he took care to clean up after himself:

How typically Japanese.

The more famous Kasugano man was also practicing on the dohyo. Quite seriously. But he must have thought he was underwater. Why else would he raise his periscope?

I meant his chon-mage, people. 😝

With all Juryo rikishi away, including all pixies, kawaii levels were threatening to go below the su-jo survival threshold. But fear not, when they need to, Makuuchi wrestlers can generate enough kawaii for everybody. There is the reliable Takarafuji:

The self-confident Asanoyama:

And the military-grade cute Takanosho:

Hold on, that’s from the dohyo-iri. Let’s back up a little, because before the dohyo-iri, the rikishi were still in their mawashi, and then started the part of the day for which every sports reporter in Japan came to Okinawa: the beach party! Everybody’s at the beach – tsukebito and sekitori:

Some are even playing beach volleyball!

And these three guys are attracted to a drone flown by one of the photographers:

Hokutofuji • Ichinojo • Yago

It’s nice to see Ichinojo smile from time to time!

My personal favorite of all the beach-boy photos is this one, though

Watch out! A swimming bear!

The Sekitori then had to go get their baths and do their hair. But some lucky people got to linger on until sunset:

It’s Narutaki’s first visit to Okinawa!

The only rikishi who couldn’t enjoy the beach were the poor shokkiri and Jinku performers who were entertaining the audience at this time. Here is the full Jinku performance, for those who have not yet seen one:

Back in the venue, Hakuho had a busy day. There was the official photo with the local dignitaries:

And then his dohyo-iri:

On both days, the top 16 Makuuchi wrestlers had bouts in an elimination tournament format. Here is a summary of the first day:

There is only one sekitori from Okinawa, Chiyonoo, but unfortunately, he is kyujo from this Jungyo. Therefore, the report concentrates on Makushita Chiyonokatsu. You could see his bout with Takakento there. He said in his interview: “It would have been a shame to lose the bout here with all the support I was given from the audience”. Indeed, a nice throw!

And as you could see, the tournament final was between Mitakeumi and Tochinoshin, with the latter winning. Here is another angle on this bout:

In the second day, the “local boy” focus was more on the local Yobidashi, Shigejiro (Kokonoe beya):

In the Makuuchi tournament, Tochinoshin was dominant enough to reach the semi-final against Ichinojo:

But it was the Mongolian Boulder who won this match of thick thighs. Apparently, there was a prize for the winners of the semi-finals? A… tyre?

Or maybe he just thought it was a donut.

In the final, Ichinojo met Ryuden:

No match, really. I guess all that jumping and swimming did good for the colt-tossing glacier. He won the tournament yusho:

And also enough rice to last… a day?

A larger-than-usual rikishi with a larger-than-usual tawara

And this concluded the visit to Okinawa this time. The Jungyo went into a hiatus, to be renewed on December 20th back in the main island of Honshu.

To bid goodbye, once again I present an “I can’t believe this is a former rikishi” oyakata:

Hanaregoma oyakata

No, seriously, can you believe this is the same person?

Tamanoshima (currently Hanaregome oyakata)