We learned the other day that Takakeisho was denied an Ozeki promotion, for now. Obviously, it’s on him to perform well in March with potential promotion for May. In truth, he’s not the only wrestler on an Ozeki run. He’s also not the only wrestler on an Ozeki run with the strength of a yusho on his résumé.
Tamawashi enters the next tournament on 22 wins of the 33 “standard”. 10 wins is likely a bubble number but it would be very difficult to deny promotion with a repeat of 13 wins, however unlikely that may seem. Add Tochinoshin’s kadoban status to the mix and the composition of the Ozeki corps could be very different by summer.
So, how many Ozeki do you think there will be in May? Guess the correct number of ozeki for the May tournament, in banzuke order, and I will select one of the correct answers and send you a T-Shirt of your choice from the Tachiai Shop. My guess is five Ozeki: O1E Goeido (+ Osaka yusho), O1W Tochinoshin, O2E Takayasu, O2W Takakeisho, O3E Tamawashi.
Number of Ozeki in May 2019:
*Bonus* Reply with the right names *in the right banzuke order* and I’ll pick one from the right answers for a T-Shirt on me from https://t.co/4DiBsyzTsH
It looks like it was hair-pull Wednesday. None of it seemed like a deliberate tactic, but it took at least one clear win from a rikishi on a no-loss streak. There are an impressive number of rank-and-file rikishi who are still 4-0, and sadly two Ozeki who are in real trouble with injuries, and might want to consider kyujo and immediate medical attention.
Chiyonokuni defeats Aminishiki – A couple of false starts, Chiyonokuni was worried about an Aminishiki henka, and who would not be? Aminishiki took the tachiai, but Chiyonokuni was able to overwhelm uncle sumo’s offense.
Yutakayama defeats Daiamami – Yutakayama picks up his third win, in this evenly balanced oshi/tsuki match. Yutakayama was consistently in better position, and kept Daiamami moving to his tune. My favorite part comes when Daiamami has a solid nodowa, and Yutakayama applies a vigorous slap to his attacker’s face.
Kotoyuki defeats Chiyoshoma – Kotoyuki got into his favorite mode of sumo, and after trading a short series of thrusts, he had Chiyoshoma off balance, and spinning toward the East side.
Yago defeats Kagayaki – Excellent fundamentals as usual from Kagayaki, and he controlled the early part of the match, moving Yago backward, keeping Yago higher and reacting to his sumo. Yago worked to bring Kagayaki to his chest, and when he got Kagayaki wrapped up, he went to work. Although Kagayaki struggled, Yago kept his opponent centered and marched him out. More evidence that Yago is probably going to be a big deal in the next few years.
Abi defeats Endo – It was a cloud of flailing arms immediately from the tachiai, and Abi put himself at risk by attempting an early pull down. Respect to Endo for doing a better job than most at repelling the Abi-zumo attack, but Abi continued to apply pressure, and Endo landed in a heap.
Ryuden defeats Asanoyama – A solid, protracted mawashi battle. Asanoyama was in control for a good portion of the match, but failed to pick up his first win. It looked like Asanoyama got tired, and Ryuden exploited his opponents exhaustion. Good sumo from both.
Kaisei defeats Daieisho – Kaisei seems to have his sumo at full power for the first time in a while, and he remains undefeated. Daieisho gave it everything he had, but there is just too much Kaisei to toss around.
Onosho defeats Aoiyama – This match was all Aoiyama, and Onosho could not overcome the Man-Mountain’s superior reach, and was bodily thrown to the clay. But a Monoii was called, and it was determined that Aoiyama had contact with Onosho’s hair during the throw, and was disqualified.
Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – I hate to say it, but it’s painful to watch Yoshikaze right now. He seems completely out of energy and drive, and he presents little offense in any of his matches. Injury? We don’t get to know.
Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku – Shohozan scores his first win by shutting down Kotoshogiku’s hug-n-chug attack, and getting to Kotoshogiku’s side.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – A critical tadpole battle, this match did much to shape the second act, and it’s a fair question to wonder if Takakeisho needs to work out a mechanism to defend against this kind of attack. Mitakeumi was able to shut down the “wave-action” by never letting Takakeisho get enough distance to effective push against him. At close range, Mitakeumi’s bulk and grip carried the match. Excellent strategy from Mitakeumi, and he moves to 4-0. I can point to Takakeisho’s early attempt at a pull-down as the fatal flaw that allowed Mitakeumi to close the gap and back Takakeisho to the bales as the moment he lost the match.
Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Ozeki Tochinoshin needs to just go kyujo, and work to get his injury treated. He is going to be kadoban either way, and he may as well save himself from any potential damage that might arise.
Ichinojo defeats Goeido – A wide range of thoughts about this, firstly a lot of credit to Ichinojo for outstanding, aggressive sumo two days in a row. He looked like a real champion, and I can’t get enough of this when he is fighting well. Goeido gave it everything he had, and we saw some fantastic attempts to overcome Ichinojo’s size and mass advantage. But with Goeido pressed tightly to his chest, Ichinojo expertly wore him down, and then tossed him aside like a spent ice cream bucket. Fantastic sumo from both, but Goeido likewise needs to own up to his injury and seek treatment before it becomes permanent.
Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Influenza patient Takayasu blasts through his fever to drop Tochiozan. As the scion of Tagonoura now, I expect Takayasu to further harden his already grim determination to win every time he mounts the dohyo. On a related note, it seems the flu is ripping through Japan right now, and there may be several more rikishi who end up sick before this tournament is complete.
Kakuryu defeats Myogiryu – It was not pretty, but it was a much needed win.
Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji lost this match because Hakuho used anything he could think of to delay the moment he touched out. It was a masterful act of agility and poise, but it was really a toss up who was the dead body in this match. Although Hakuho won, this is a great barometer of just how far Hokutofuji’s sumo has come. The boss remains undefeated.
This is the penultimate day of the 2018 Fuyu Jungyo. Before we begin, a health check:
Absence since mid-Jungyo: Yutakayama, Kotoyuki
Off the torikumi but present: Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu
Started off the torikumi but now participating: Hakuho, Goeido, Yoshikaze.
While Terutsuyoshi gets over his morning blues, rikishi are already exercising with vigor around the venue. Asanoyama is stretching:
And Takayasu is stretching while trimming his fingernails:
Who said men can’t do two things at the same time?
Takayasu doesn’t settle for just the pedicure and flex. He also lifts his weight – Tagonofuji.
OK, I’ll go off at a tangent here for a second. There are lots of fujis in the sumo world. We are used to seeing fujis at Isegahama beya, but they don’t have an exclusive hold on that suffix. Hokutofuji is from Hakkaku beya, for example. Most of those fujis end with 富士 – the same as the kanji for Mt. Fuji. Many of them are “no-fuji”. The “no” is a particle that indicates possession or characterization. The most common ways to write the “no” are の, ノ and 乃. So the other day, it was announced that Takayoshitoshi, Takagenji’s more evil twin, is going to be renamed “Takanofuji”, and some Terunofuji fans got really pissed off, because that name was chosen by Takanohana, and he used the same “no” as “Terunofuji” – ノ- and they really don’t want the unfortunate former Ozeki from Isegahama to have anything in common with the tsukebito-beating brat from Takanohana beya (now Chiganoura).
But not all fujis are even 富士. In this case, the “fuji” in “Tagonofuji” is 藤 – “Wisteria”, which is a lovely plant with lilac-colored flowers. He also has that ノ – but nobody seems to have any issue with that.
OK, back from our tangent, let’s continue our round around the walls. Ikioi and Chiyoshoma want to have a practice bout, and go for the full monty, including the sonkyo (ceremonial crouch):
But the actual execution is a little less impressive:
The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast Of Traal must be roaming the Jungyo grounds again, because Aoiyama is doing his best to hide from it:
See how useful towels are?
Guess who the rikishi stretching near the wall is?
Hint: he is considered about as ravenous as that beast of Traal. Look at those thighs!
And I can’t really move on to the on-dohyo exercise without showing you Takanosho and his Mickey-Mouse towel:
Now that Kakuryu has joined the Jungyo, he also practices with his tsukebito. So we can get reacquainted with Shohoryu. Who is not Hoshoryu.
Looks like Shohoryu’s servitude is rather intense. I assure you, though – Kakuryu is not the type to give his tsukebito bitter memories. Hard work – sure. In fact, the one who gets to practice in this photo is the tsukebito, not the Yokozuna:
His former tsukebita all respect the Yokozuna very much.
Another tsukebito who is being respectful is the American delegate to the Jungyo, Musashikuni:
Actually, judging from their positions, Takayasu is on the dohyo. So I’m guessing this is not just a show of respect, but the cup of water Ozeki enjoy when they do san-ban. There is probably another tsukebito with some towels around as well.
At one corner, we have a nice show of rhythmic gymnastics:
These guys take their exercise seriously. Here is Tobizaru doing a wheelbarrow exercise:
Enho is not allowing himself to trail behind:
It’s actually very rare to see Enho practice together with his heya-mate, Ishiura, in Jungyo.
So here is some on-dohyo practice. We have Azumaryu with Chiyomaru and with Ishiura:
Jokoryu with Akiseyama, then Jokoryu with Hakuyozan:
The on-dohyo exercise that really drew attention this day was this:
Yes, for the first time in this Jungyo, Yokozuna Hakuho is practicing actual sumo, not just giving butsukari/kawaigari. In fact, it’s the first time in the past 3 months!
Hakuho took Shodai for 8 san-ban matches, and won all of them.
He said at first he was a bit hesitant about doing actual sumo (interestingly, he doesn’t consider the “wari” bouts to be actual sumo), but as the bouts flowed, he was relieved to find himself in satisfactory shape.
The practice part of the day gone, the sekitori went to shower and have their hair done. Then some relaxed in the shitaku-beya and… what are you reading, exactly, Mitakeumi?
It’s a magzine. And it appears that it’s a magazine about very poor women, who can’t afford to buy much in the way of clothing. I’m sure he is reading this magazine out of warm empathy with the poor women who need to go through the winter wearing no more than three square centimeters of cloth each.
OK… outside the shitakubeya, Juryo wrestlers were getting ready for their dohyo-iri. And that means Enho. And that means a bunch of guys vying for Enho skin:
In this very short clip we have Terutsuyoshi who, as usual, has the pixie in his arms. Then as the pixie cuts loose, it gets groped by Jokoryu, and then, although Terutsuyoshi tries to get some attention, Tobizaru also lays a paw on the tiny Miyagino man. Twice! And how about that hand fan the fan hands him? It’s bigger than his head! And it has “Enho” on one side and an element from his Kesho-mawashi on the other.
Seriously, everybody loves Enho.
Juryo bouts are performed, Kakuryu demonstrates rope tying, and so Yago has to wait his turn patiently (when there is a rope tying demonstration, it takes place before the last three Juryo bouts). Yago is lonely, and needs a hug:
And then it’s time for Makuuchi dohyo-iri. And of course… it’s boring to wait for dohyo-iri… so let’s play a game!
For those who have not seen it in previous Jungyo, this game is a Japanese children’s game called Atchi-Muite-Hoi. The two players do rock-papers-scissors. The one who wins moves his finger in any of four directions – up, down, left or right, and the loser has to move his head in one of the same four directions. If he moves his head in a different direction than the winner’s finger, he is safe, and the game begins again. But if he moves his head in the same direction – he loses the game. And in this case, he receives a punishment – a dekopin. The second dekopin is so painful, that Tamawashi immediately decides he wants to play, too. 🙄
The dohyo-iri is followed by the Yokozuna dohyo-iri. It seems Hakuho is working on straightening his arms:
But Kakuryu’s are still straighter:
And then it’s time for Makuuchi bouts. And if you thought for a second that Tamawashi would leave off at the dohyo-iri, you are dead wrong:
Poor Kagayaki. Definitely got the cooties there
Tamawashi has been on his best behavior as long as he was on the Island of Kyushu. He has a reputation to maintain in Fukuoka. But as soon as he is back in Honshu… rikishi beware!
Later (because Nishikigi is in a surprisingly high position on the banzuke) we also get the good old “where are Nishikigi’s glasses?” game:
Glasses make you look smarter!
Well… unless you’re Shodai. In his case, glasses make him look ridiculous. But then, many things tend to make Shodai look ridiculous.
Eventually Nishikigi gets back from his bout and wins his glasses back:
Ooh, somebody is getting confident (much to the amusement of Narutaki).
Ah, yes. I have no bouts whatsoever. Sorry… Here is a cogitating monkey for you instead:
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:
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.
We complete our journey through Kumamoto in Uto, home to two active rikishi. One is Ryuko, a Makushita wrestler who did well this basho and will be in the race for sekitori status in the next basho:
Um, Narutaki. What are you doing? I thought we were done with this stuff last jungyo. Anyway, you’re drawing attention away from the local boy!
So, in yesterday’s post’s comments, I was asked whether these tsukebito actually get any practice. Well, yes they do:
The practice session is more or less the same as that of the sekitori, only held earlier. It consists mostly of moshi-ai sessions, punctuated by quick butsukari for the participants. At the later stages, that butsukari is offered by sekitori:
Not that Enho is much of a pushing challenge. In Midorifuji’s case, it seems he got his butsukari from Tamawashi. At least, the mud on his back says he got rolled.
That’s a bit more of a challenge, and apparently Tamawashi makes sure that he didn’t hurt the micro-rikishi.
While the low-ranking wrestlers have their time on the dohyo, the sekitori are either outside in the corridors doing handshakes, or finding themselves quiet spots for some exercise. Meisei, who is out doing handshake, is so cold, he starts laughing uncontrollably:
Ishiura is all like “Who put me next to Crazy here”?
Which may be the reason why later Meisei had to settle for an isolated spot between a stroller and some derelict equipment:
Don’t worry, he didn’t stay alone for long:
A bit earlier, near the dohyo, just as yesterday, the Kokonoe guys do their morning workouts in front of their oyakata. This includes not just the sekitori but also Chiyosakae, who does this:
This seems to embarrass Kokonoe oyakata, whose voice you can hear in the background “take it seriously, will you?”. He also assures us in the tweet that Chiyosakae actually does take it seriously.
Around that same time, Akiseyama arrives at the dohyo and greets Kasugano, the Jungyo master.
I have a feeling Kasugano wishes he didn’t.
In some corner of the venue, Toyonoshima works out with a piece of rubber, assisted by his loyal Miyazaki:
The Juryo men start their own practice on the dohyo. Here is some butsukari between Chiyonoumi and Hakuyozan:
Jokoryu gets to have Ikioi’s chest:
And Enho… well, Enho is everywhere and practices with everybody. That is, anybody who can possibly find an excuse to lay his hands on the pixie:
Even the Yokozuna smiles when his little uchi-deshi greets him with a respectful ladle of water:
You’d think that Enho is the star of the show rather than Shodai. But actually, Shodai got a lot of attention. Some keiko with Asanoyama:
And some with Tochinoshin:
To which Tochinoshin also adds a hearty Kawaigari:
Practice part over, everybody gets cleaned, have their oicho-mage started, and have lunch. There are food stalls outside, and… it’s the perfect oportunity to grab Enho and ask him for a pic:
Hey, is that a way to start a conversation with a sekitori? Is there a single rikishi in the whole sumo world who doesn’t think the Japanese National Sport is actually “grab the pixie”?
As practice mawashi dry in the sun…
Inside the venue it still seems pretty cold. Take a look at Terutsuyoshi, all bundled into his… is that a kimono or a Mongolian Deel?
Sure looks like a Deel to me, but Terutsuyoshi is not Mongolian.
Nishikigi, on the other hand, gets warm by pestering his tsukebito:
In the entrance, however, Shodai was being photographed with his grandmother:
The Japanese press love Shodai’s grandmother, because of her name. Shodai is one of the wrestlers, like Takayasu, Endo and Yago, who wrestle under their own name. His grandmother’s name is 正代正代 – yes, twice the same pair of kanji, two completely different readings: Masayo Shodai.
It’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri, and Enho is turning up the kawaii level:
Gokushindo is doing the same thing on the East side:
Those two are supposed to face each other this day. And they both exude kawaii like two idol group members on a save-the-cute-bunnies campaign. Enho signals to Gokushindo across the dohyo as they wait their turn:
When Gokushindo gets up on the dohyo, Chiyonoumi gives him the good old salted ladle routine:
Which you can’t blame him for doing, when that’s the reaction he gets. Then the two kings of cute battle in the cutest sumo bout you have ever seen:
I did warn you to prepare the insulin in advance, didn’t I? And those two kept it up even after the bout was over!
Well, Toyonoshima and Tomokaze were a little more serious about it:
But then came the Makuuchi dohyo-iri and of course, the usual suspects were goofing around. Abi had an arm-wrestling contest with Chiyotairyu:
And Nishikigi was still looking for somebody to bother, and found Shodai:
Shodai: “Come on, my grandma is here!”.
Looks like a little bit of cute rubbed off even on Takarafuji and Asanoyama:
But if you want to see a little actual sumo, here is this short video:
Shodai was paired, unsurprisingly, with Endo, who must be rather frustrated at having to constantly lose to local boys. Utchari, no less!
And how about that tsuridashi Hakuho did on Takayasu? It’s very encouraging to see him do that. Remember, Jungyo bouts are not something anybody is advised to put money on. There are lots of “gentlemen’s agreements” there, and at the very least, nobody is going to risk injury to win. But still, you can draw some conclusions about wrestlers’ health, and if Hakuho can do something like picking Takayasu up, it means his legs are up to the extra load.
By the way, Yoshikaze was back on the torikumi this day for the first time since the Jungyo began – while Yutakayama dropped off it.
With the sun setting, everybody’s Akeni was packed and wrapped and loaded onto the truck (the side-loading Japanese trucks are very clever):
The Akeni and their wraps carry the names of the sekitori. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many names as possible. Try to learn the kanji for the wrestlers names!
During this visit to Uto, the Yokozuna paid a visit to the grave of Shiranui Nageimon, the 8th Yokozuna, performing his Shiranui dohyo-iri in front of the grave:
Shiranui Nageimon was actually the master of the 11th Yokozuna Shiranui Kotsuemon to whom that dohyo-iri style is (mistakenly) attributed.
And with this, we wrap up the day, tying it all up with Tobizaru:
That lovely Tobizaru really needs to be credited, so here is the Tweet from which he was taken: