Takekaze Retirement Ceremony Feb. 1.

The Japanese Sumo Association has announced a date for former Takekaze’s danpatsushiki at Kokugikan. For those who will still be around Tokyo for the week after Hatsu basho, which runs through Jan 27, the retirement event would be a great way to see some more action. There will likely be hanazumo and shokkiri, and sumo culture demonstrations that are more familiar scenes in Jungyo tours rather than hon basho.

The ceremony will culminate in the hair cutting for the former Sekiwake. For Takekaze this will surely have participation from former Oguruma stablemates Yoshikaze and Yago, and likely contemporary Yokozuna or two.

Takekaze decides to retire

Meet Oshiogawa oyakata

39 years old veteran Takekaze, after having finalized his make-koshi on day 9, was faced with a drop to Makushita (which would have been all but certain with a 9th loss).

Yesterday he said “I didn’t get here alone so I cannot make the decision alone”, but apparently he consulted with the powers that be, and came to the decision to retire.

Takekaze joined sumo in Natsu 2002 as a Makushita tsukedashi. He made his debut in Makuuchi in Haru 2003 and had no less that 590 wins there.

Takekaze owns a kabu, and will remain in the NSK as Oshiogawa oyakata.

It is not clear as yet whether he will retire immediately or at the end of the basho.

Source: Sports Hochi

Hatsu Day 9 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Can Musashikuni stage a come back?

After day 8’s cornucopia of lower division action, day 9 is a leaner beast, with a handful of matches, many with great interest. Wakaichiro battles in the elite group of undefeated Jonidan rikishi, and Wakamotoharu visits Juryo to measure for his hoped-for sekitori promotion in March.

Wakaichiro vs Hokutoo – With his kachi-koshi already secure, Wakaichiro enters an elite group of 13 rikishi with 4-0 records to sort out who gets a shot at the Jonidan yusho. First stop is 26 year sumo veteran Hokutoo from Hakkaku heya. They met once before in September, with Wakaichiro beating him.

Kenho vs Yoshimura – Kenho is winless, and looking to be in poor physical form. With an 0-4 start, the question is how far down the banzuke he will drop for Osaka. His opponent, the much smaller Yoshimura, is suffering through an 0-4 record as well. This may be a chance for Kenho to pick up a much needed win.

Torakio vs Dewaazuma – The Naruto heya rikishi starts day 9 with a 2-2 record. He has fought Dewaazuma twice before, with them splitting the series 1-1. By all counts, this is an even match, and may make for some good sumo.

Musashikuni vs Chiyoarashi – Musashikuni is 1-3, but battled through his physical difficulties for a much need win on day 8. His day 9 match is against Kokonoe heya’s Chiyoarashi, who won their only prior match. Chiyoarashi is a former Juryo man, who was injured in 2013, and has thus far not returned to higher rank.

Midorifuji vs Kitaharima – A 2-2 bracket match features Midorifuji’s second bout with former Maegashira 15 Kitaharima. Midorifuji took their prior match at Kyushu 2018.

Wakamotoharu vs Takekaze – With a 4-0 score in the top ranks of Makushita, Wakamotoharu has a solid chance of getting promoted to Juryo for Osaka, and joining his brother Wakatakakage. But day 9 he faces the ur-veteran Takekaze to test his mettle.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 12 (Dec 13)

🌐 Location: Kitakyushu, Fukuoka
😝 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

In this event we get back to Fukuoka, but this is in fact the last event in Kyushu for this Jungyo. The next stop is far-away Okinawa, and then the rikishi go back to Tokyo, rest a while and finish with three additional days near home in the Kanto area.

Although Kotoshogiku is one of the Fukuoka locals, sadly, he is off the torikumi for the day, and Yutakayama also continues without participating in the bouts.

So lets start our day with handshakes. Here is Aminishiki, alongside his poor, freezing tsukebito, Terumichi:

It’s not that Aminishiki is better dressed than him. I guess it’s having grown in cold Aomori.

Around the walls we have practicing rikishi. Enho is doing his stretches:

…and signing autographs while he’s at it. But he is not the only stretchy rikishi. Here we have Kyonosato, who shows us that despite having a bigger chin than Chiyomaru and beer-storage flaps, he can do the splits like a pro:

Not impressed? How about this?

By the way, he is still being subjected to “Wiggle the Wattle”:

And not just by his brother (Narutaki).

For a 22 years old, he has the patience of a saint!

Along another wall, some low-rankers are doing the rikishi version of the Locomotion:

Mitoryu and Ichinojo are having a chat. Ichinojo wants to demonstrate one of his colt-tossing moves. Mitoryu will have none of that:

Rikishi around the passages and walls are, of course, fansa magnets. Especially when asked to pose with a cute kid (sorry for censoring the cute):

Even kids want to lay their hands on the pixie!

But this kid is not just a pixie fan. Apparently, he gets along with Americans, too:

Love the kid’s shirt!

The NSK even has an official kiddie photo-op:

But I feel it’s a poor replacement to the old “kiddie sumo” that used to be the highlight of the Jungyo day. At least the kiddie photo-op allows girls equal access to the rikishi.

At the dohyo, Wakatakakage decides to do some push-ups. Apparently, Mitoryu decides the load is too light:

A serious-faced Enho grabs a ladle of water. What is he going to do with it?

Ah, of course. Greet the Yokozuna:

When the greetings are over, the Yokozuna can practice away from the dohyo:

On the dohyo, we have practice bouts between Hakuyozan Takekaze, then Hakuyozan and Jokoryu:

Kagayaki seems to have enjoyed his practice with Onosho.

Maybe because he got to experience how it feels to be flat-chested for a few seconds there. Onosho completely eliminated his boob there! Not an easy task!

Then there was some sanban between Tochinoshin and Shodai:

And some butsukari between Takayasu and Hokutofuji, and Nishikigi and Aoiyama:

In fact, that is not just butsukari between Takayasu and Hokutofuji. It’s full-fledged kawaigari. Lots of dirt:

And lots of suffering:

Takayasu is no gentler than Hakuho, but well, Hakuho seems to enjoy it more:

If you’re wondering, the victim (“This will make him even stronger!”) today is Tochinoshin.


One thing Tochinoshin doesn’t lack is stamina. In fact, the Yokozuna ends up looking more tired than he is. But in any case, I’m sure it will motivate the Georgian to try for a rope. After all, nobody gives Kawaigari to a Yokozuna. Not even a dai-Yokozuna.

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And here, too, fans were asking for autographs. Wakatakakage wants to sign Terutsuyoshi while he’s at it:

Terutsuyoshi was known as a “Yanki” – a delinquent – when he was in school. So it’s no surprise he react with a prompt wedgie:

Keep your pen away from me, and I’ll keep away from your butt strap. Deal?

That same Terutsuyoshi, though, goes and buries his head in Hidenoumi’s chest.

Hidenoumi looks like he is considering a MeToo protest against the Isegahama homunculus.

The actual dohyo-iri ends up as a photo-op as well:

Imagine them doing that in honbasho…

In the Juryo bouts, Terutsuyoshi ends up frustrated after losing to Ishiura:

And Enho has no trouble showing Chiyonoumi the way off the dohyo:

I guess not enough weight-lifting, Chiyonoumi. Maybe instead of lifting Chiyomaru you should try Ichinojo!

I don’t really have any Makuuchi bout footage. But here is an awesome nodowa for you:

That’s Takanosho vs. Onosho. Twitter folks report that this was a stormy bout. Takanosho won it and was rather breathless as he stepped – with some kensho – off the dohyo.

Also, there was apparently something very funny about Shohozan’s bout:

Or maybe it’s the amount of kensho he finds amusing?

Between practice and dohyo-iri, Hakuho got himself photographed with his heya’s tokoyama.

The reason Tokohachi got this commemorative photo with the Yokozuna in his full regalia is that this is his last Fuyu Jungyo. He is supposed to retire next year.

I think when he shows this to his grandkids they won’t believe it’s the real Hakuho he was standing next to. “No, grandpa, that’s just one of those panels they put up everywhere there is a sumo event!”

Now, it’s time for our pin-up rikishi, but I had a hard time making a decision today! Lots of fans were in Kitakyushu and took pictures of gorgeous rikishi. Whom would you choose?

Asanoyama lovingly looking at the camera Takarafuji borrowed from a fan to take his picture? Or maybe…

Tough-looking Wakatakakage recovering from the wedgie incident? How about…

…the more mature-looking Tamawashi? He has been on his best behavior while in Fukuoka! But then, there is…

…Myogiryu going for a fashion statement and a manly pose. Meanwhile…

Tobizaru is outraged by the idea that he lost his exclusive hold on the pin-up position this Jungyo in general, and in this post in particular!

However, I think he’ll have a hard competition in Abi here:

Because apparently Abi is not just about shiko! He can also throw a nice handful of salt! (Though both Yobidashi seem a little critical of it. Maybe because they have to sweep the damn stuff all the time).

I leave it to the readers to decide which one is the most worthy of the pin-up section. Though I think we can fill up a whole calendar with these guys!


Note: there will not be a post tomorrow. I hope I’ll be able to catch up during the weekend.

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 8 (Dec 9)

🌐 Location: Koshi, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

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:

Chiyonoumi, Chiyomaru, and (non-sekitori) Chiyootor

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:

Chiyoshoma, Daishoho, Mitoryu

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:

Ribbit!

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):

Not a very convincing yori-kiri there.

So, pin-up time. Back to the classic Enho:

Where is the emoji for swoon?

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 2 (Dec 3)

Nice, fluffy zabuton… Too bad there is no chance of kinboshi

🌐 Location: Nogata, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◽️◽️◽️◽️

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:

The sign reads “Coming up – Nihon Sumo Kyokai – Tomorrow”

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.

“Ooh, amusing salt!” (He is actually talking to Kokonoe oyakata)

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!

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 14

Hoshoryu means business

Although the yusho question has already been resolved below Juryo (save the Jonidan playoff), many wrestlers still fight for bigger promotions, smaller demotions, or for their kachi-koshi. The first example is from Sandanme. Prince Naya faces Takemasa. Both 4-2, so they are kachi-koshi, but they want to improve their banzuke position for Hatsu.

Naya gets a formidable-looking arm lock on Takemasa, but the smaller guy converts it to a shitatenage at the edge. Prince Debu keeps his minimal kachi-koshi. This should land him at the very bottom of Makushita in Hatsu.

Makushita

The other half of the princely duo, Hoshoryu, faces Takakento (Chiganoura, former Takanohana) who had an excellent basho, only losing to the jun-yusho wrestler. So both are 5-1 as they enter this day. And both mean business.

Hoshoryu faces some fierce thrusts there as he tries to get inside for his favorite grip. He defends well, and decides that instead of a throw he’ll go for a sotogake. Yes, the press actually interviewed him and asked him about that. How many non-yusho Makushita wrestlers get interviewed after a bout?

Hoshoryu is 6-1. This should land him around Makushita 20-23 for Hatsu (I’m not a banzuke genius – I just look for precedents at SumoDB), which means he’s probably not going to make it to Juryo even with a yusho next time, and will be wearing a kesho-mawashi no earlier than Natsu. Another man who is going to land around the same rank is Ura, so there is some likelihood of those two meeting each other in Hatsu. Yum.

The next bout involves Shiba and Akua. Akua is a popular rikishi from Tatsunami beya (the same as Asashoryu and Meisei) who has been in Juryo for five seconds. Shiba has yet to break through the purgatory. They are 3-3 into this bout, so this is for kachi-koshi for one, make-koshi for the other.

Akua reveals his henka card in the second matta. Has to think of a different tactic. Goes for a straight on, gets a grip, loses it, runs forward and kind of folds Shiba out. Not the prettiest sumo, but he is kachi-koshi. No chance of Juryo promotion, though.

Churanoumi and Seiro have years of sekitori experience between them. OK, averages are a lie, of course. Churanoumi only has one basho as a sekitori, while Seiro has spent a long time in his kesho-mawashi, even doing three rounds in Makuuchi in his day. But his day seems to be behind him.

And so, he uses that vast experience to henka. OK, so he is injured. Maybe that’s why he kind of botches that henka and has to resort to plan B, which is land a yotsu ond Churanoumi and gaburi him out. Chug-chug, and the Mongolian wins. Churanoumi make-koshi, Seiro kachi-koshi, but again, this will not be enough for him to unpack his white practice mawashi. In this case, it’s better for him to stay at 7 bouts per tournament with that injury, though.

Juryo

  • The schedulers bring in Tamaki from Makushita. Tamaki is 1-6 at this point, but he still manages to fiercely defeat the demoralized Gokushindo. I’m pretty sure Gokushindo just wants the nightmare to be over already. He just has tomorrow’s bout with Hidenoumi, and then it remains to be seen if he can rebound like Enho or remain in his black mawashi for a long while, like Akua.
  • Takekaze is trying to keep his make-koshi at a minimum, but all the tawara-dancingi is not working. It was a close call, though. Jokoryu staves off make-koshi for another day and may even be kachi-koshi, as he faces Ishiura – also 7-7 – tomorrow.
  • Tobizaru should never have allowed Kyokushuho to land that easy grip on him right off the tachiai. What was he thinking? The flying monkey flies again, and Kyokushuho keeps his losing score at a single digit for the time being.
  • Enho still not back to himself. Tsurugisho dispatches of him pretty quickly. Enho can be thankful that that devastating kimetaoshi he was given by Mitoryu only happened after he was kachi-koshi already. He’ll need to use the Jungyo to regroup and improve his tactics.
  • Chiyonoumi is still frustrated about his deepening make-koshi. He wanted to keep it at single-digits today, and went very aggressively after Akiseyama. Aggressively enough for some clear dame-oshi. That’s unlike you, Chiyonoumi. You are usually a gentleman. :-( Akiseyama is now make-koshi as well.
  • Ishiura gets a repeat of yesterday’s dive. He is 7-7 now and really needs that last bout tomorrow vs. Jokoryu. Tomokaze looks almost as if he didn’t notice there was another wrestler with him on the dohyo. That guy just got into Juryo?
  • Terutsuyoshi, as opposed to the other pixies in the division, bounces back from his losses and manages to secure his 10th win with an entertaining pull at Mitoryu’s arm followed by a press on his shoulder for a katasukashi. Terutsuyoshi is still in the yusho race, though it’s all up to Tomokaze at this point.
  • Shimanoumi gets Takagenji to the edge and applies a fearsome nodowa that seems about to break his neck, but the twin rallies and turns the tables on him. Amazingly, Takagenji succeeded in staying away from that 8th loss for three days in a row. We’ll see how he does against Mitoryu tomorrow.
  • Hidenoumi, who is in deep doo-doo, faces Chiyonoo, who is in even deeper doo-doo. Chiyonoo can’t seem to be able to produce any power this basho. Try as he may to stick at the tawara, Hidenoumi simply has a bit more muscle than he does. Chiyonoo is now 2-12, while Hidenoumi stays at a single-digit losing score.
  • Toyonoshima nearly falls prey to Kotoyuki’s powerful thrusts, when Kotoyuki finds himself slightly offside following a failed nodowa. As Toyonoshima spots this, he pounces and helps him along. Kotoyuki and Toyonoshima are both 10-4 and in the yusho race.
  • Tokushoryu tries tsuki-oshi, Azumaryu tries to land a grip. Neither is very successful, and the bout ends up with Azumaryu pulling back and Tokushoryu flat on his face. Azumaryu kachi-koshi, Tokushoryu make-koshi.
  • Aminishiki seems to be losing his dohyo sense. This bout was between Wakatakakage trying to push or get inside, and Aminishiki circling and trying to push him down. And he made it – but he was already out himself. Wakatakakage is kachi-koshi, Aminishiki make-koshi, and will be getting further away from Makuuchi.
  • This time it’s Yago who is using the Yu-Yu Hakusho attack. He seems to be thrusting with the tips of his fingers, and Kyokutaisei circles but can’t really keep himself inside. Kyokutaisei may still secure his kachi-koshi tomorrow, though he is up against the formidable Toyonoshima. Yago will be meeting Hakuyozan in the final bout of the day and trying to get double digits for a Makuuchi position further from the bottom.
  • The Hakuyozan-Kotoeko bout seems to follow in the footsteps of the previous bout between Yago and Kyokutaisei. Kotoeko finds himself outside, and Hakuyozan is kachi-koshi.

So, Tomokaze, the newcomer, leads the race with 11-3, and is chased by Kotoyuki, Terutsuyoshi and Toyonoshima with 10-4 apiece. The key bouts for senshuraku are:

  • Kotoyuki-Tomokaze
  • Terutsuyoshi-Chiyonoumi
  • Toyonoshima-Kyokutaisei

Kotoyuki is, of course, highly motivated to beat Tomokaze. If Tomokaze wins this bout (which is the latest of the three), the results in the others don’t mean anything. If he loses, however, he is tied with Kotoyuki, and possibly with Terutsuyoshi and/or Toyonoshima should they win theirs. So we may have a chance for a four-way playoff. I’m sure the NSK time keepers will be cheering for Tomokaze – but we will not, right?