Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 15

🌐 Location: Sendai, Miyagi

arena-inside

Today’s event… well, honestly, it’s not today’s event. It took place on the 12th. But anyway, day 15th event took place at Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Sendai has been one of the places hit most severely in the 2011 Tohoku disaster, and sever years later, it’s still seeking revival. Accordingly, two Yokozuna with their entourages reported in to perform a ceremonial dohyo-iri for the revival of Sendai:

If you’re wondering about the absence of Hakuho, just remember that in 2011 he did the rounds as lone Yokozuna to perform dohyo-iri all over Tohoku, including Sendai. The other Yokozuna get to be in the spotlight this time.

The event also included some solemn sumo jinku:

jinku-for-restoration-of-sendai
Tochigidake, Mutsukaze, Motokiyama

Back in the venue, Hakuho continued his off-dohyo workout routine. Though who knows what he was exercising here:

hakuho

If you think that looks silly, that’s one Hakuho record easily broken by Kakuryu, who seems to be really creative when it comes to looking silly:

kakuryu-silly-exercise

Other than that, most practice was sane. Takakeisho was doing butsukari with Daieisho:

takakeisho-butsukari-daieisho

And Takayasu was doing san-ban with Yutakayama:

takayasu-sanban-yutakayama

Goeido also had gave butsukari, but was still off the torikumi. Apparently, he has an ear infection. Takekaze, by the way, is back in the bouts.

Just before the Juryo torikumi, a drum exhibition took place:

Here is another duty performed by gyoji: the announcer in the venue is always a gyoji. In this case, Kimura Ryosuke:

ryosuke-chiyootori

Here accompanied by Chiyootori, who seems never to let go of that portable mini-fan.

It’s the announcer’s duty to explain what is going on on the dohyo – who is coming up for sanban or butsukari, what performance is about to take place and what it means. He gives the audience the kimarite at the end of each bout, reads out the names of kensho sponsors, and also gives general guidelines such as what to do in case of earthquake.

Dohyo-iri time is goof time. Chiyomaru decided to make sure all the photos taken by the sumo ladies were decent:

chiyomaru-self-censored
I wonder how he got those removed (cringe)

Tamawashi and Chiyomaru bullied poor Shodai so badly he ran away:

Tamawashi didn’t settle just with that. He also pestered Ikioi:

tamawashi-annoys-ikioi

…and bothered Kagayaki:

tamawashi-annoys-kagayaki

I guess somebody forgot his Ritalin today?

Alas, I do not have any torikumi videos. I can inform you that Aminishiki, who is very popular in Sendai, won his bout vs. Takanoiwa:

aminishiki
That’s a pretty determined face for a mere Jungyo bout

Apparently, Chiyomaru lost to Arawashi, while Mitakeumi beat Takayasu. And honestly, I don’t know who won, but Endo seems to be really enjoying his bouts:

endo-enjoys-himself-too-much

Now, in our Enho corner, I wanted to give you yet another solo dreamy prince photo. Or maybe one of him doing his shiko. But I have been informed that there are still a few people not trained enough to recognize Yago on the spot. So I give you Enho – accompanied by Yago:

enho-with-yago

Easily recognizable by having his center of gravity in his jaw.

And so as not to diminish Enho, here is a little clip from Instagram, which shows you why people love the little prince to bits. He recognizes the lady fan who is filming this from a previous occasion, and turns to greet her. She: “Hey, you remember me?”, He: “Yes, I remember”. She “Oh… thank you!!!” 😍

That guy waiting for Enho there is Kyokusoten, who has also fallen under the spell of the little pixie prince. Just today I saw a tweet in which he refers to him as “Uchi no Enho” (“My Enho”). 💕

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 14

 

🌐 Location: Nanyo, Yamagata

nobori

The Jungyo continues to make its way north, and stopped this time at cloudy Nanyo.

Like the Nobori in the above picture, the rikishi were all over town – not just inside the venue. Onosho was appointed Chief of Police for the day:

onosho-chief-of-police
Break the law on my watch, I dare you!

Ikioi went to a local charitable facility to cheer the residents. No pics – modest guy, I guess.

August 11th is a public holiday called “Mountain day” – “Yama no hi”. And some rikishi were showing appreciation for mountains, or rather, for slopes:

playful-rikishi

This quickly turned into this:

roll-me-over-in-the-clover

Note that in Japanese, practice outdoors is called “mountain practice” (yama-geiko). But this looks suspiciously more like fun than like practice.

Inside the venue, two Yokozuna who missed the previous day’s keiko reported for duty today:

kisenosato-back
He can smile!

Kisenosato apparently hurt his heel a couple of days ago. Yesterday he was excused from all activities and didn’t show up in the venue at all. Today he was doing some basics around the dohyo, and his dohyo-iri. No torikumi. He says the heel is improving.

hakuho

Hakuho gave a more detailed report of his injury. Apparently no cartilage was found found out of place in his knee, only some soft tissue “lump” which he’ll be treating with medication. He has already begun, and will have to take it easy for a few days. He says it’s like “having a bomb”, which I guess means he wants to be very careful about returning to activity. In addition, he also received some treatment for his other knee, where he had an old injury.

He returned to his routine so far, which included light off-dohyo practice:

And also a rope-tying demonstration and dohyo-iri. Again, no torikumi. The only Yokozuna participating in the bouts was Kakuryu.

The star of the day was Hakuyozan, the Makushita yusho winner who is about to return to Juryo. He hails from Yamagata. This made him the chosen victim partner for Goeido for some butsukari:

hakuyozan-butsukari-goeido

Yes, Goeido seems to be back as well. I didn’t see any explanation of the nature of his absence.

Hakuyozan also became very sought after for fansa:

And the reason you see him wearing an oicho-mage in this video is because he had a Juryo torikumi as well, facing Homarefuji:

hakuyozan-homarefuji

Here is another moshi-ai photo for you. Takakeisho is going all out to be chosen:

moshiai
Look into my eyes… there’s only me… you cannot choose another…

Chiyomaru’s torikumi with Myogiryu. Apparently, Chiyomaru belly-bumps the veteran over the tawara. It’s called a yori-kiri, but only because the name hara-kiri is already taken:

chiyomaru-myogiryu

But fear not, I shall not leave you with just stills of bouts. Here is a video which includes:

  • Sanyaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko of the participants of the last three bouts)
  • Tamawashi vs. Shohozan. Whoa, where are they going?
  • Takayasu vs. Mitakeumi. Takayasu continues his quick tsuppari barrange. This seems to be very effective against Mitakeumi.
  • Kakuryu vs. Goeido.
  • Yumi-tori, which was performed again today by the young Hokutoo. So you have a chance to get a first impression of him.

By the way, those makeshift kensho flags are another one of the duties of gyoji in the Jungyo:

writing-signs-gyoji
Gyoji Kimura Satoshi

To wrap things up, here is Enho, this time with guest stars Terutsuyoshi and Chiyonoo:

enho-terutsuyoshi-chiyonoo

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 12

🌐 Location: Ryugasaki, Ibaraki

dohyo-neat-and-ready
Even prefabricated, temporary dohyo are dedicated

On day 12, the Jungyo hit Ibaraki, the prefecture that proudly boasts a Yokozuna and an Ozeki. Almost every nobori in the venue had “Kisenosato” on it, with the occasional “Takayasu” and very few others. This was the first time a jungyo event takes place in the town of Ryugasaki.

Takayasu started his day practicing his tachiai with his tsukebito:

This may have done him good, because later, he went on-dohyo to re-do his practice bouts from yesterday. If you recall, yesterday he went 7 wins and 13 losses, especially facing Onosho.

Today,  the picture was completely different.

takayasu-onosho

He had sanban with Asanoyama and Tochiozan, three matches and three wins against each of them. And he had 10 bouts with Onosho, and won 8 of them. That’s what playing at your home court does!

The main course in the Ryugasaki event, however, was Yokozuna Kisenosato. If you think Japan in general is swept by Kisenosato fever, Ibaraki is like the Vatican of the Kisenosato religion. And Ryugasaki in particular served as the Yokozuna-to-be’s home until his middle school days. An old teacher recalls his days as a child sumo wrestler in this video from NHK.

The man in the white shirt near the end of the clip is none other than Kisenosato’s father. I can’t see any family resemblance at all. He even speaks a lot more clearly than his son (I always suspect that if it weren’t for the subtitles, even Japanese natives wouldn’t understand half of what Kisenosato is saying. But maybe that’s just my horrible listening comprehension skills…)

Kisenosato, of course, featured in the okonomi of the day, having his rope tied:

kisenosato-tsuna-shime

And you already saw his bout with Kakuryu in the above video. Kakuryu’s left foot is still hovering 2 cm above dohyo level. At this rate, Kisenosato is going to be the sole Yokozuna in Aki.

But there were other rikishi visiting Ryugasaki as well. For example, Takakeisho was doing some heavy lifting. This time, no tsukebito – just a modest sack of dohyo salt:

takakeisho-salt

By the way, Takanohana is on this Jungyo as a shimpan. In the previous Jungyo, as three of his sekitori were kyujo and tsukebito-beating Takayoshitoshi was suspended, he was taken off the Jungyo shimpan list and told to keep an eye on his deshi at home. But this time he was back in the Jungyo – and incidentally exactly the same sekitori and TYT (aka TJT) are in the Jungyo anyway.

The NSK’s and Takanohana’s strained relationship aside, while he is at the Jungyo, he seems to fill the time he is not in the black shimpan kimono with actual coaching to aforesaid deshi:

takanohana-teaching

In some other corner of the venue, Takekaze, who is still off the torikumi (as is Goeido), used Chiyomaru as a teppo pole. And like a good pole, Chiyomaru wouldn’t budge. Eventually Takekaze decides to move the immovable, no matter what:

I hope he doesn’t do the same to the teppo pole back in his heya, because that would mean serious damage… to the pole… 😜

Now, while we’re in goof mode, try to guess what Chiyomaru and Daieisho are doing here:

This is actually a Japanese game called “atchi-muite-hoi”. It’s based on rock-paper-scissors. First, the two participants do rock-paper-scissors. Whoever wins moves his finger up, down, left or right, and the loser moves his face up-down, left or right. If the finger and the face go in different directions, nobody wins and the game starts again from rock-paper-scissors. But if the finger and the face go the same direction, the finger owner wins and the face owner loses.

Apparently, there was a penalty for the loser in this particular game: loser gets a dekopin. A dekopin is a finger snap to the forehead – usually quite painful. Rikishi get lots of those on the day they get their first chon-mage arranged. But as you see, that’s not exclusive. And Chiyomaru-tan seems to be quite merciful with his ‘pin.

Here is a (slightly off-focus) video showing the sanyaku soroi-bumi, the following three bouts, and the yumitori-shiki. Actually, the video starts with Kagayaki stepping off the dohyo as the winner of a bout. His rival of the day was Shodai.

The yobidashi couldn’t be more off-key. He could open an off-key opera with Gagamaru.

Shohozan scares me.

And Takayasu with a tsuppari show that wouldn’t have shamed Terao in his day.

As for the yumi-tori, you can see that Kasugaryu is still with us, despite Hakuho’s departure. But as it turns out, he is not the lone performer in this Jungyo as I thought at first. A new yumi-tori performer from Hakkaku beya has been trained. More about him in tomorrow’s instalment. So the “Always two there are” rule is still being kept.

Here is another, less unfocused, look at that musubi bout:

At the end of the day, the dohyo looked a lot less neat than in the image at the top of this post:

dohyo-after

By the way, I wonder why they had the nobori dangling down like that instead of properly stretched on poles. This caused some funny effects. For example, this one seems to be saying “Kagayaki-zeki, the man” (男 輝関):

strange-nobori

In fact, it’s a nobori for Kotoyuki-zeki (琴勇輝). Got to love Kanji. (Credit for this find goes to Azechi, the sumo camera man, aka Sumotophone).

Finally, here is your Enho for today. Yes, for some reason Enho was still on the tour at Ryugasaki. It’s not clear why, as he was taken off the torikumi, so it’s probably not a question of local popularity.

enho
Don’t feel down, little prince. You’ll soon be on the Jungyo on your own merit.

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 9

This post was originally intended to be bundled together with the main Nagano event of day 8, as I wasn’t expecting a small town event in the same prefecture to produce much material. Turns out I was wrong. Lots of unique footage and amazing scenery. Enjoy!

🌐 Location: Shimosuwa, Nagano

picture-perfect-exercise

Shimosugawa lies right on the edge of Lake Suwa. This means that today’s event involved the most gorgeous picturesque scenes you can even imagine.

The view towards the mountains was not bad, either:

hidenoumi-shimanoumi-tsurugisho
Hidenoumi, Shimanoumi, Tsurugisho

Hokutofuji made Tobizaru look like a flabby couch potato:

hokutofuji-makes-tobizaru-look-flabby

And… I mean… Sunflower field? This place is like a pamphlet!

sunflowers

Wait a second, why is everybody outside? It’s a work day. Where is the venue?

Ah, this is the venue:

venue-at-shimosuwa

The sky could make René Magritte cry… But it’s a freaking tent. You know – a place without air conditioning. And the electric fans you see – they just help move hot hair from side to side.

Yes, electric fans and ice, again:

ice-again

Yes, indeed, that’s Tamawashi with Sokokurai. Sokokurai is apparently out of kyujo and back in the Jungyo, together with Gagamaru and Takekaze who joined at Niigata.

Sokokurai brought with him a full entourage of Makushita rikishi:

fukugoriki-kotokuzan-onami
Fukugoriki, Kotokuzan, Wakatakakage, Wakatakamoto, Wakamotoharu

Suddenly, four additional Arashio beya wrestlers materialized. About half of Arashio beya is at the Jungyo. I’m not really sure what this is all about. Well, I can understand why the Onami brothers (in addition to sekitori little brother Wakatakakage, big brother Wakatakamoto and middle brother Wakamotoharu) would be there – the Jungyo is going to pass through Fukushima soon, and they are the hot thing in their home prefecture. Fukugoriki also hails from Fukushima. But I’m not really sure what Kotokuzan is doing here.

The Onami brothers seem to be popular not just in Fukushima, though. For some reason, both of the elder ones were assigned Juryo bouts today – hence their oicho-mage, which their little brother, who is the one who should be wearing one by rights, still doesn’t have enough hair to have.

Shimosuwa is in Nagano prefecture. This means the Mitakeumi worship has still been going strong:

more-mitakeumi-worship

If you notice, he has been getting cupped again. Or again had a date with the M-113 creature. He had moshi-ai with aoiyama:

mitakeumi-cupped-again

And this time, Goeido decided to give him his full attention. Here is a a complete butsukari session for you – seven minutes of TLC.

I’m not really sure why the spectators are so enthusiastic about seeing their local hero wallowing in dirt, gasping for air, but that’s sumo for you. At least there were no kicks.

Note Nishikigi-Mama cleaning dirt from Mitakeumi’s hair. 🙂

Earlier in the day, Mitakeumi and Sokokurai went on a shrine visit at the Suwa Taisha shrine. Here is a bit of Japanese culture for you. They went to get a purification and offered a sakaki branch to the gods. And apparently, the gods also like autographs.

Aside from Mitakeumi, there was also sumo jinku:

I must say the heat is affecting the poor jinku performers’ voices. Or maybe it’s the acoustics.

A summary of the day’s events, including the Mitakeumi-Goeido and Kakuryu-Kisenosato bouts:

Speaking of Kisenosato, he switched gears in his dohyo practice today, and started having real bouts. He had bouts with Daieisho, Shodai and Sadanoumi, totalling 14, of which he won 12. The newspapers clearly say that Aki is going to be his “make or break” basho.

And an update to the Ikioi fans who have been following his fiancee the past few days: he was asked about her by the press. He said she has always been a very hard working athlete, and that she never thinks “Great, Done!”, but rather focuses on her next goal. He said that both being busy athletes, they have very little time to meet, but that whenever she is able, she flies over to see him, wherever she is. “I’m a lucky man” he summarized with a big smile.

To wrap up, there was no Enho photo today, so instead I give you Kyokusoten meditating under a tree like a little buddha:

kyokusoten
OK, the laughing tokoyama doesn’t fit in with the Buddha thing

Who is Kyokusoten, you ask? Well, he is Tamawashi’s brother-in-law. And I think he serves as his tsukebito as well in this Jungyo, as Kataonami beya is a little short on wrestlers who are over 20 years old and can serve as tsukebito (in fact, it has only three wrestlers all told – including Tamawashi).

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Days 6 and 7

Today I’m wrapping two Jungyo days into one post, because frankly, materials about the visit to Yuzawa were scarce. Both events took place in Niigata prefecture, so they fit together anyway.

Edit:

  • Turns out Gagamaru and Takekaze have joined the Jungyo at Niigata
  • The full bout between Yutakayama and Endo turned up. See below.

🌐 Location: Yuzawa-machi, Uonuma-gun, Niigata

In a small, sleepy ski resort, Churanoumi, who is soon to lose his sekitori status, is nevertheless diligently working out. The surprising aspect of this is the guy he is using for weight lifting:

We have seen several sekitori lifting their tsukebito or their trainer. Or in the case of the Taka twins, their brother. But in this case, Churanoumi is lifting a man who outranks him a whole division. Yes, that’s Ishiura on his back.

And we have good news – a second Yokozuna mounts the dohyo for practice. This involves giving Yutakayama, the local boy, some TLC, Yokozuna-style:

Hakuho was practicing with a rubber band. And the Yokozuna can’t finish this rubber band practice without targeting his tsukebito’s sensitive parts:

He does it every single time. This time he was even a little merciful, letting it loosen a bit before letting go. I suspect his partner had a stiff insert inside his mawashi in anticipation of this. Here is Enho (who, you may recall, is also one of the Yokozuna’s tsukebito, so he has to do this thing from time to time) in the training camp before the Nagoya basho. His face tells of anticipated pain.

enho-waiting-for-the-inevitable
Enho knows what’s coming. And that towel won’t help a bit.

🌐 Location: Niigata city, Niigata prefecture

Now, this was a whole different thing as far as coverage is concerned. As I said, Yutakayama hails from this city, and he was the star of the day:

The second lady there wants Yutakayama to become Yokozuna. Well, time will tell. In the meantime, Kakuryu again gave him a butsukari session:

A slightly longer video of this is here:

Yutakayama at least fared better than Daiamami did two Jungyos ago – he finished up on his own two feet. You can also see that as usual, Kakuryu does away with much of the Alpha Male bravado part of the butsukari. The usual way to complete a butsukari session is with the receiver knocking on the giver’s chest, who in turn rolls him one last time in the dirt. Kakuryu here is all like – “OK, we’re done. I get it, I got a knock on my chest. But really, do you like rolling in the dirt? Just go…”

That bout between Yutakayama and Endo of which you saw a glimpse in the video, in fact included a wardrobe malfunction. Konosuke did not let it go this time, and had a mawashi-matta:

wardrobe-malfunction-1

Endo seems to have lost both front and back there. And something about this amuses him very much. Maybe the prolonged hug with Yutakayama:

wardrobe-malfunction-2

That’s not an expression you’re likely to see on anybody’s face during honbasho – even in the middle of a wardrobe malfunction.

And here is the full bout:

Anyway, Yutakayama may have been the main course in this meal, but there were many other activities going on around the venue. For example, Kotoeko joined a calisthenics class:

The sekitori were doing moshi-ai. Here we have Endo and Myogiryu:

endo-myogiryu

And Shohozan vs. Okinoumi:

shohozan-okinoumi

Tochiozan was trying to hide from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal:

tochiozan-bugblatter-beast-of-traal

You see, knowing where your towel is is very important!

Tamawashi shook off his murderous ways and instead taught Kyokushuho a resistance training drill:

tamawashi-kyokushuho-1
You wrap the rubber band around your arms like so…
tamawashi-kyokushuho-2
And then pull those arms together.

As the sekitori were getting ready for the dohyo-iri… OK, we interrupt our programming for the following message. This is Yago:

introduction-to-yago

Kintamayama claims that only 3 out of 10 fans would recognize this man. I’m here to rectify this. I have a soft spot for Yago, as my very first post on Tachiai was about Yago. He was amateur Yokozuna, got a Makushita tsuke-dashi position, and struggled a bit to find his place in Juryo at first. He is now one of the mainstays with a good chance of making it to Makuuchi soon. Yago is his real name – his stablemaster said he will not give him a shikona until he matures from a “yago” (different spelling, a dragonfly nymph) to a full-fledged dragonfly. Dragonflies, by the way, are symbolic in sumo – they can only fly forward, so they are a symbol for forward-moving, no-retreat attitude.

Oh, and Osunaarashi in his day nicknamed Yago “Ago”. Which is Japanese for “chin” or “jaw”. Yago is very highly recognizable by his substantial jawline. No, he is not a pretty boy like Enho or Tobizaru, but he is a friendly guy with great potential.

So now I hope you all know who Yago is and how to recognize him, and we shall now proceed with the our planned programming.

Speaking of Enho and Tobizaru, Enho was pulling the oldest prank in the book on Tobuzaru today:

This involve mixing a good amount of the dohyo salt in the ladle of chikara-mizu before handing it over to the awaiting wrestler. The yobidashi usually sees what’s happening but keeps his mouth shut. This is not something you ever do in honbasho, but there is not a single jungyo where this is not done – several times, if possible.

I won’t be surprised if revenge awaits Enho in tomorrow’s event. As Enho always fights first in the Juryo bouts, he will be receiving the water from the wrestler that follows him… which is very likely to be the same Tobizaru.

Goofing around in the Jungyo is not reserved just to Juryo. Take a look at Onosho in the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, as Mitakeumi ascends the dohyo:

So here is the musubi-no-ichiban. And finally, it seems that Kakuryu is able to produce some forward motion:

This is it for today. But I can’t finish without the obligatory Enho photo!

enho-shohozan

Ah yes, Shohozan is in it, too. 😀

And there is even a “the making of” version of this picture:

enho-shohozan-the-making-of

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 5

🌐 Location: Uozu, Toyama

dohyo-iri-ouzu

Day 5 of the Jungyo was Asanoyama Appreciation Day. Asanoyama is the hero of Toyama Prefecture. In fact, a documentary about him is about to be aired in a few days in a local TV station. And this day, Asanoyama worship reached new heights. There was a large Asanoyama panel at the entrance:

asanoyama-panel

A few days ago the Toyama Post Office issued a special set of Asanoyama postcards an stamps, which the man himself presented this day:

asanoyama-stamps

The man was flooded with fan requests for autographs:

And Kisenosato gave him butsukari to the cheers of the 3000 fans who filled the Ariso Dome:

And a local news outlet’s summary of the Jungyo event was also rather Asanoyama-centered:

Asanoyama says there he will work hard and try to achieve double digits in the next basho as well, and that he wants to become a superstar.

However, there were other people in this Jungyo event, too. Hokutofuji was doing suri-ashi:

Watched over by… Asanoyama.

Tamawashi was lending his chest to the low rankers, in what looked like a combination of butsukari and moshi-ai:

By which I mean that he didn’t stick with one victim until exhaustion in a full-fledged “kawaigari”, but rather quickly finished with one and replaced him with one from a group of eager boys.

Hakuho did not ascend the dohyo as yet, and used one of his tsukebito as a Teppo pole:

And Kakuryu exercised Harumafuji-style, with weights on his wrists:

Nishikigi was stretching, and for some reason felt he needed to cushion his hands. And by “cushion” I mean use the fluffiest, softest cushion available: Chiyomaru!

nishikigi-chiyomaru
Practicing for the role of Sisyphus in a movie, perhaps?

Tamawashi was doing fansa and using Shodai for his writing desk:

shodai-writing-desk
“If you’re good and let me use your chest, I won’t break any of your arms in our next bout. Deal?”

Mitakeumi learned to clap the hyoshigi – those wooden clappers the Yobidashi use to punctuate the ceremonial parts of Grand Sumo events. There is a certain art to producing the right sound from these things. Hakuho learned that in the past from the now-retired Yobidashi Hideo.

mitakeumi-hyoshigi

We haven’t seen many Yokozuna dohyo-iri since this Jungyo started, right? So here are the three Yokozuna for you:

Kakuryu:

Hakuho:

And Kisenosato. Since it’s more or less the same angle, you can compare Kisenosato’s Unryu-style rope tie and dohyo-iri to Hakuho’s Shiranui-style above:

There was a bit of the Musubi-no-ichiban in the above “Asanoyama Appreciation Day” video, but here is the full thing:

Kakuryu is still drawing circles with his left food, but not as badly as in the first three days.

That’s it. Take a look at the Komatsu post, where I added the full opening drum roll which turned up in YouTube.

And instead of an Enho photo, I give you his “mystery rikishi” video by the NSK. Guys, the teleprompter should go above the camera!

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 3

🌐 Location: Katsuyama, Fukui

Today, the sumo nobori flags were flapping in the wind in Katsuyama city.front-image-katsuyama

Those of you with sharp eyes (and Kanji skills) will note some flags that one doesn’t normally see in honbasho. For example, a flag for Kimura Ginjuro – the gyoji, and a flag for… Naruto beya, which is certainly not participating in the Jungyo due to having as yet no sekitori whatsoever.

The rikishi practiced. Not only on the dohyo, but all over the venue. Take a look at Ryuden lifting weights. Well, the sort of weights that are available in abundance in the Jungyo:

ryuden-lifting-weights

The towel, by the way, is a point of courtesy. Keeps your sweat away from your partner.

Ishiura was busy… nail gazing? I thought that was reserved only for yokozuna.

ishiura-nail-gazing

So… maybe this is not actually a practice photo. It seems there is a line forming (that’s Homarefuji behind him), which probably means they are waiting to greet one of the Yokozuna.

But here is some actual practice. Wakatakakage seems to be doing an off-dohyo reverse butsukari for Mitakeumi. Just a reminder – a butsukari practice is when a low-ranking rikishi has to push a high-ranking one again and again until he dies, or at least feels as if he did. A reverse butsukari is when a high ranking rikishi feels he needs the exercise, but only has someone ranked lower than himself available to push. It’s basically the same thing, but since the high ranking one calls the shots, it’s usually a lot less like a torture and a lot more like an actual practice.

wakatakakage-reverse-butsukari-mitakeumi

Mitakeumi later switched to the dohyo and gave straight butsukari to youngsters, much like yesterday:

mitakeumi-butsukari

And yes, that’s Kisenosato on the dohyo. This is the first time in this Jungyo a Yokozuna practiced on-dohyo, and that it should be Kisenosato only tells you how badly banged up the other Yokozuna are.

Kisenosato was giving butsukari as well – first to Nakazono, a low ranker (I’m not sure, but I think he is one of his tsukebito):

nakazono-butsukari-kisenosato
The Yokozuna has a lot of chest, but very little of it is muscle

Then he switched to Takanosho:

kisenosato-with-takanosho

And you can see a bit of this action here:

The Yokozuna doesn’t have to do anything, really. Just be heavy.

In addition to practicing, the various sekitori also did a lot of fansa. This included, for example, Shohozan volunteering as a photographer:

shohozan-assistant-photographer

And also Tamawashi signing autographs and having his photo taken with fans. Which for some reason, Kaisei was doing everything in his capability to prevent:

Relax, Kaisei! I’m sure Tamawashi has no intention of applying a kotenage to any of the fans!

Between the practice and the torikumi, the tokoyama re-arranged the hairdos for the rikishi:

tokoyama-working

Just before the Juryo dohyo-iri, the Shokkiri took place. Surprise – we have reverted back to the Shokkiri team from Takadagawa beya, rather than the Kasugano pair from yesterday. And just to show you that each pair has unique features in their act, they went and got what looks suspiciously like an Acme-branded hammer:

shokkiri-team-hammer

Moving on to the Torikumi, it seems that Enho is the regular fill-in in Juryo. That makes sense, but why not just let the guy wear his shimekomi, and be done with it?

enho-vs-tobizaru

Short stop here for beginners: Low ranking rikishi practice and compete in the same black cotton mawashi. When they compete, they insert loose sagari (those cords hanging down from it) into it. Sekitori, on the other hand, practice in a white cotton mawashi which is folded at the front like a roll of toilet paper. When they compete, however, they wear a silk mawashi in the color of their choice, with matching, stiffened sagari. This silk mawashi is called “shimekomi”.

So in the picture above Tobizaru is the sekitori wearing his off-white shimekomi and you can see the stiff sagari protruding to his sides. Enho is a Makushita fill-in, so he wears his black cotton mawashi and you can see his loose sagari hanging down his hips.

Enho has a shimekomi stored somewhere in his heya, from the Haru basho this year, in which he participated as a sekitori. Since he is going to be a sekitori again next basho, he will be putting it back into use.

So let’s move on.

Actually, again, there is not much information about the day’s torikumi, other than the fact that Kagayaki has beaten Ikioi by yori-kiri. And this was only mentioned because Ikioi was doing the duties of “local boy” today, on the premise that his… grandmother hails from a nearby town. 😀

But there is a video of the musubi-no-ichiban:

At this point I’m really getting worried about Kakuryu. Three wins in a row for Kisenosato against the man who won two yusho in a row only a couple of months back? What the heck is going on with Kakuryu’s foot? He looks like he is doing laundry with it, not sumo.

That’s it for today, and since, for some unknown reason, the sumo ladies did not take any Enho photos other than that one against Tobizaru, I’ll have to settle for Arawashi instead:

arawashi

Nagoya Day 1 across the divisions

tamawashi-bowling
Hakuho bowling with Tamawashi as the ball

Jonokuchi

The hardcore fans have been eagerly awaiting Hattorizakura’s best chance at securing a white star. The opponent was Wakaoyama. A 16 years old boy who weighs just 67kg, and whose record at Maezumo was a miserable 0-5. Hattorizakura weighs 88kg, and has a lot of experience.

Well.

Hattorizakura now has the interesting scoreline of 1 win – 111 losses in his career.

Tomorrow (or should I say, today) I’m going to watch Chiyotaiyo’s bout with interest. He is 175cm tall, weighs just 70kg, and looked like a stick insect in his shin-deshi presentation. But unlike the above Wakaoyama, he was 3-1 in Maezumo, and I think Kokonoe oyakata didn’t just pick him for the chanko and clean-up duties. He is up against Tanakayama, who is 183cm, 120kg, and was 3-0 in maezumo. Should be interesting.

Jonidan

Here is Shunba’s first match, up against Shikihide’s foreigner, Francis:

Sandanme

Sandanme is hot this basho. Well, everything in Nagoya is hot this basho, but Sandanme in particular. Here we have one we have been following for a while – Hoshoryu, Asashoryu’s nephew, who won the Jonidan yusho last basho. He faces Tagonofuji.

Well, there goes the Sandanme yusho.

Also in Sandanme, a bout between the two foreigners – Mongolian Yoshoyama from Tokitsukaze, and Bulgarian Torakio from Naruto. Both of them could be said to be somewhat underachieving. Torakio is the star of his heya, but has suffered injuries and setbacks and is only in Sandanme a year into his career. Yoshoyama was touted as very strong when he entered sumo. He is Tokitsukaze’s replacement for Tokitenku. So far he has been kachi-koshi, but not impressively so.

Torakio dispatches of him with a heave-ho. I guess young Mongolians suffer badly in extra hot Nagoya.

Makushita

Here are some bouts from the hot end of Makushita. First, Tomokaze-Wakatakamoto. Wakatakamoto aims to catch up to his little brother Wakatakakage up in Juryo. It’s going to be hard to do it like this:

Kiribayama-Ichiyamamoto:

Quick reversals in a slap fest.

Murata vs. Hakuyozan. Bouts at the top of Makushita are energetic, not no say frantic:

Juryo

Here is a digest of all Day 1 Juryo bouts (BTW, most of the videos in this post are from One and Only, now called “Sumo Channel”)

Homarefuji manages to reverse the charges at the edge. He is fighting for his life this basho, at the edge of a Makushita drop.

Tobizaru is trying everything he has, including an attempt at kicking, But Kizenryu just keeps him at bay and eventually grabs him and sends him flying like a… well… flying monkey.

Chiyonoumi in his first bout as a Sekitori. Land some heavy tsuppari at Wakatakakage, who joins his big brother on the black star list.

Mitoryu seems to be still a little bit on the injured side, and eventually resorts to the Ichinojo tactic – lean, then squeeze out.

Terutsuyoshi attempts a henka against Gagamaru, but executes it really sloppily and loses promptly.

Yago gets himself a birthday gift vs. Tokushoryu.

Azumaryu solid against Shimanoumi. Takes his time, wins in the end.

Adding to the list of Mongolians who can stand the heat – Kyokushuho who dispatches of Tsurugisho quickly. Seiro, on the other hand, has some trouble with Hidenoumi. The battle rages across the dohyo, but the man in the magenta mawashi gives way first.

Now, Aminishiki’s bout is worth watching from more than just that angle.

He goes straight for Daishoho’s mawashi. No henkas, no hatakikomis. Daishoho defends solidly, trying to prevent Aminishiki from making use of the handhold he has with his right hand. Aminishiki plants his head. Sets up his feet first one way and then the other, then applies all the strength he has with his right hand for a shitatedashinage. It is Aminishiki’s first Day 1 win this year.

Not sure about the Takanoiwa-Takanosho bout. Is Takanosho that good, or is Takanoiwa that rusty?

A battle of tsuppari ensues between Takagenji and Kotoyuki. Just as Kotoyuki is about to do his famous rolling stone impression, Takagenji’s heel touches outside of the tawara. No monoii needed.

Akiseyama doesn’t look like he is ready to face the challenge of Makunouchi just yet. Daiamami disposes of him rather quickly.

Makunouchi

Just a few comments here as Bruce covered this excellently.

Arawashi looks like he is heading down to Juryo. Of course, ring rust and everything. But he seems to be simply too weak.

Nishikigi continues his forward motion from last basho.

Takarafuji also seems to be nearing his expiration date. He lost this bout on lack of stamina.

Ichinojo must have been watching the Russia-Croatia game yesterday. Including overtime and penalty kicks. He came into the ring as if he hasn’t had much sleep and… that’s not the Ichinojo I want to see. It was painful to watch (unless you’re a Chiyonokuni fan, that is).

Now, I wonder how it is that whenever I watch Hakuho fight I see a totally different match than the other Tachiai members… Bruce described this match as “the dai-Yokozuna dismantling Tamawashi”. What I saw was the dai-yokozuna winning on plan C. First, he went for the harizashi. Yes, that forbidden harizashi – slap and grab. Only, he couldn’t really grab. Tamawashi blocked him quite effectively. OK, plan B. He starts a flying tsuppari attack, and manages to turn Tamawashi around. But unexpectedly, Tamawashi wheels back in an instant, and gets the surprised Yokozuna in a firm morozashi. OK, plan C, because nobody becomes a dai-yokozuna by being a one-trick pony, and certainly not Hakuho, who creates a diversion behind Tamawashi’s neck, and, quick as lightning, performs a makikae (change of grips from overarm to underarm). This usually results in losing ground, but Hakuho times this very well and by the time Tamawashi pushes him to the tawara he is already in his favorite migi-yotsu and in the middle of a sukuinage.

So a brilliant show of the walking sumo encyclopaedia that is Hakuho, but it was a close call and certainly not a good sign for the Yokozuna.

Jungyo Newsreel – Catching up at Kanagawa

Hello again, Jungyo enthusiasts. I have strayed off the trail after day 6. Let’s try to do some catching up and join the sekitori again at Kanagawa, where they have been spending days 13 and 14.

So what happened during that interval?

Little girls can no longer participate in kiddie sumo

Despite public outcry, the NSK is asking each hosting town not to send little girls to the kiddie sumo events of the Jungyo. The reason given “Safety first”. When various outlets pointed out that boys and girls are equally susceptible to injury on the dohyo, the answer was “We don’t want to risk girls sustaining permanent injuries to the face”.

Hakuho’s father passed away

On April 9th, Hakuho’s father, Mönkhbat, the former Olympic medalist in wrestling, and the equivalent of Dai-Yokozuna in Mongolian Wrestling, passed away at the age of 76 of liver cancer.

Hakuho fully participated in the event in Ina, Nagano prefecture, but asked for – and received – a leave of absence to attend his father’s funeral in Mongolia starting from April 11th. He will re-join the Jungyo for the Honozumo event at Yasukuni shrine on April 16th.

hakuho-funeral

The late Mönkhbat has been a national hero in Mongolia, and his funeral drew much attention and included military escort.

hakuho-funeral-son

Hakuho has always been very strongly connected to his father and looked up to him. When the father was diagnosed with liver cancer, Hakuho had him flown to Japan for treatment, then back to the comfort of his own home in Mongolia. Of course, even the best modern medical intervention has its limitations.

Kisenosato joins the Jungyo

Kisenosato announced that he will re-join the Jungyo. His return was planned for the 13th, but he joined one day earlier – may be to avoid Friday the 13th, or maybe to cover up for Hakuho’s absence.

kisenosato-tsuna-shime

In the couple of days he’s been participating he has been showing mixed results. I’d warn you against developing high hopes hearing reports that he wins his Jungyo bouts. We’ve been here before – Kisenosato managing to win bouts and elimination tournaments in Jungyo, getting breathless coverage from the press, then hitting a wall in honbasho. That injury is not going away any time soon.

Terunofuji and Aminishiki absent

I reported in my Day 6 coverage that Terunofuji was absent from the torikumi. The next day he was joined by his stablemate, Aminishiki. Terunofuji was reportedly back on duty today (April 14th) at the Fujisawa event, but Aminishiki is still out.

Birthdays

Goeido had a birthday on April  6th – day 6 of the Jungyo – and is now 32. The following day, Ichinojo celebrated his 25th birthday.

ichinojo-25

Today, although he is never again going to be on any Jungyo, many sumo fans celebrated Harumafuji’s 34th birthday.


So let’s now proceed to the daily coverage.

Day 13

🌐 Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture

Here is Chiyomaru’s version of kiddie sumo:

Ahaha… poor kids.

Tochinoshin offered his chest for some butsukari to Tobizaru and Takanosho. Bigger men have failed to move the Georgian Cliff:

Things look a little different when it’s reverse butsukari (the higher ranking guy is the pusher). You just let the Wookiee win:

Endo is getting a lot of high-rank attention this Jungyo. Apparently that’s because he is going to make san-yaku in the Natsu basho. Previously he got juiced by Takayasu. This time, Kakuryu invited him to san-ban (practice form in which the same two wrestlers go through full bouts repeatedly until the higher ranking one calls it off).

kakuryu-vs-endo

This one consisted of 13 bouts, all won by the Yokozuna. Rather than counting wins, the Yokozuna concentrated on adjusting his own movement and building up his body.

After practice, the Yokozuna was seen having a talk with Endo. It turned out that they were exchanging injury-related experience.

Kakuryu’s finger injury lingers on. He seems able to use his grip, but says that after applying sudden force, when he lets go of the opponent’s mawashi, the pain hits. “But it’s not preventing me from doing sumo”.

Kisenosato engaged Meisei from Juryo for a 9-bout sanban, and won them all. Also watch for the bout vs. Kakuryu at the musubi-no-ichiban. Just remember my warning above.

Day 14

🌐 Location: Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture

Help, a group of fierce robbers has taken to the streets of Fujisawa!

fierce-robbers

(A word of advice to Kyokushuho: your highwayman career is going to be very short if you wear kimono with your name (and those of current and former stable mates) splashed all over it).

The spectators got to enjoy double bills, both in the oicho construction performance:

And in the tsuna-shime performance, where the two Yokozuna present showed off their ropes. I think this was originally planned to include Hakuho, which would have given the spectators both Shiranui and Unryu style rope tying, but unfortunately Hakuho is in Mongolia, and so they got a double Unryu.

The top 16 members of Makuuchi participated in an elimination tournament. So here is Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi:

Kisenosato vs. Shodai (who has beaten Tochinoshin in the first round):

Kisenosato vs. Kaisei:

And finally, the final, Kisenosato vs. Takayasu. When playing in elimination format, the restriction against matching rikishi from the same stable does not apply:

Kisenosato wins today’s yusho.

Haru Day 10 – Kinjite, Henka, and a Lone Yokozuna

What a marvellous day we had today at the EDION arena in Osaka.

ikioi-yutakayama
Ikioi grabbing Yutakayama’s oicho-mage

The first bout in Makuuchi featured a visitor from Juryo, Takekaze, who seems to be quite on the genki side and ready to come back to the top level. He was faced with Aoiyama, still part of the Yusho arasoi.

This time, no Henka, and Aoiyama pulled away from the tachiai to give himself space for his usual tsuppari attack, then pushed Takekaze forward – but one advantage the little bullfrog has over Aoiyama is that he is much lighter on his feet. Lateral movement, and the Bulgarian’s inertia did the rest. Aoiyama now out of the yusho race, but he will get his kachi-koshi, and probably double digits.

Asanoyama faced shocking pink Hidenoumi, but was not blinded by his mawashi. He got a safe hold on Hidenoumi’s mawashi, tried a yori in one direction, then a yori in the other direction, then just pulled the man down. Uwatedashinage, and Hidenoumi is make-koshi and heading back to Juryo.

Ishiura didn’t do the most flagrant henka on the dohyo today. It was only a half-henka. Myogiryu managed to turn around at the edge, but not quickly enough to avoid the push.

Kotoyuki must be spending a large fraction of his keiko time perfecting his rolling technique. Even when he doesn’t roll off the dohyo, he still manages to roll. And today the bowler was Sokokurai, with a very typical uwatenage. Kotoyuki still winless.

Daiamami, who has had a strong basho this far, surprises by doing a henka. Still not the most flagrant one of the day. And also rather ineffectual. Tochiozan easily recovers and returns the favor, and it’s Daiamami who is on the receiving end of the hatakikomi, and off the yusho race.

Ikioi seems as good as he has been this basho. Pushes here and there, and then slams Yutakayama to the ground. Yutakayama’s hand goes straight to his topknot before he even rises, and for a good reason. His hair got pulled. Was it a forbidden hair pull or a hand accidentally getting caught in the elaborate hairdo? A monoii is called. The shimpan confer and decide: he pulled.

It’s worth noting that the point here is not so much if the hand in the hair is what caused Yutakayama to fall, and it’s also not whether it was intentional or not. Japanese culture regards people’s intentions and feelings as something that can’t be judged easily from the outside, so it tends to concentrate on observable behavior. The point is, therefore, whether Ikioi was grabbing the hair or not. And the replays show him bending his fingers as they get caught in the hair. This makes it a grab. Hatakikomi experts like Aminishiki know to keep their fingers straight when this happens. If your fingers are straight, you’re pretty much safe.

Ikioi, therefore, loses by hansoku – a disqualification – for using a kinjite – a forbidden technique. This is very rare in the top divisions. Ikioi says he thought his hand was already free of the mage when he pulled down.

Chiyonokuni gives Nishikigi his standard treatment. Forward attack with fierce tsuppari, and then a sharp pull. Nishikigi, as he has been for quite a few basho, is struggling to string wins together.

Kagayaki beats Daishomaru by a straightforward yori-kiri. Kagayaki has really improved his sumo style, and I would have expected him to be more than 5-5 at this point. Daishomaru missed his kachi-koshi opportunity this time.

Daieisho tries to develop an oshi battle against Chiyoshoma, but Chiyoshoma catches his mawashi and it turns into a yotsu battle. Chiyoshoma goes back and forth trying to create one of his favorite throws. He is having a hard time of it this basho, though. Eventually he gives up and completes this by a simple, straightforward yori-kiri.

The two rikishi who won the kanto-sho together last basho, Ryuden and Abi, are now being sorted into two different levels. Ryuden, though he is a very nice rikishi, will stay at the low to middle ranks, while Abi is definitely going places. Abi did his standard routine. Long hands landing a barrage of tsuppari, long legs moving forward fast. Ryuden could not withstand that attack or try anything. Abi, if he improves his footwork, may get to sanyaku in a couple of basho.

Something very strange is happening to Yoshikaze. Are we seeing the initial signs of concussion-related issues? He looks pretty much alright in his match with Okinoumi, when suddenly his left foot develops a mind of its own and he crumbles to the ground. The kimarite is kainahineri, but it doesn’t really look like one, and the only reason he escaped being sent off with a tsukihiza (which is a hiwaza – a non-technique, a default) is that Okinoumi was, in fact, applying some force to his body.

Takakeisho continues his weak, supposedly injury-related, sumo vs. the struggling Hokutofuji. For a couple of basho, the tadpoles have been the great hope for the future, and now they are all crumbling together.

Takarafuji showed today what he is really worth, in a patient and strong match with Kotoshogiku. He even attempts to gaburi the gaburi-master at some point there, but eventually finishes with a cleanly executed throw. The Isegahama man is a clear demonstration of the hardship of the joi. In the first week he got pummeled by much superior rikishi, and then, with low confidence and accumulated bangs, lost a couple of matches he should have won if they were in the beginning of his schedule. Thus, a make-koshi for an otherwise excellent wrestler. All he can do is try to pad his slide down the banzuke with a few wins.

Arawashi, whose left knee bandage seems to grow larger every day, is no real match for Endo, who gets him quickly out of the circle. Off-dohyo issues may also be affecting the injured Eagle, as apparently his tsukebito, Hikarugenji, is involved in yet another violence scandal and is kyujo as of today.

And now we come to the highlight match of the day. 420kg on the dohyo, not counting the gyoji. On one side, the new kaiju, Ichinojo, flexing his muscles and looking for young horses to toss around. On the other side, Kaisei, with a perfect 9-0 record, eyeing the yusho. Tachiai. Boom! The meeting of bodies nearly causes the seismographs in the Kansai area to send the signal for all shinkansen to stop in their tracks. It’s lucky that the honbasho dohyo is not made of beer crates like the jungyo dohyo are.

Kaisei takes the initiative and manages to get Ichinojo to the bales, but the Kyomusubi rallies and step by step pushes back to the middle of the ring. Then he sets his alarm clock for the next day, finds a soft spot on Kaisei’s shoulder to rest his head and goes to sleep. Remember, there are no wolves in Japan. Ichinojo can allow himself to sleep deeply, while Kaisei’s eyes start to bulge. The next day, Ichinojo wakes up, pushes a bit, sees that Kaisei still has some stamina left, hits the snooze button, and sleeps some more. Then he wakes up, picks the spent Brazilian up, and heaves him across the tawara.

Kaisei is too heavy to stop dead, and drops down, but Ichinojo still has enough stamina to pull at the Tomozuna man, enough to make him land lightly on his feet with little impact. Well done, Kyomusubi. Ichinojo is kachi-koshi, and Kaisei receives his first loss.

(OK, OK, I’m sure my Japanese jokes are lost on the crowd here. I’m calling him Kyomusubi because Komusubi – 小結 – means “little knot”, but 巨結 – Kyomusubi – giant knot – seems somehow more appropriate).

ichinojo-kaisei
Ichinojo, feeling refreshed after a long nap

But would you believe that this battle of titans, with immediate implications for the yusho run, was honored with not a single envelope of kensho? None. Zero. Ichinojo got to take home only his pride and the fans’ adoration.

Tamawashi has settled into a “one day sunshine, the next day rain” pattern. Where is the strong Tamawashi of yesterday? Chiyotairyu pushes him off the dohyo before the gyoji completes his first “hakkioi”.

The bout between Mitakeumi and Shohozan turns out to be a very nice piece of sumo. Shohozan goes for a harizashi but doesn’t quite gets the “zashi” part (slap-and-grab, but where’s the grab?). Then a slapfest ensues. Another harite! And another! And a body clash! Then Shohozan attempts to pull and sidestep. Mitakeumi keeps his balance and manages to re-engage. But Shohozan has now achieved the “grab” he was looking for, with a right-hand-outside. Mitakeumi’s left hand goes outside Shohozan’s grip, and he attempts to grab at Shohozan with his right, but this only ends with Shohozan having a tight morozashi with both hands firmly on Mitakeumi’s left back mawashi. Mitakeumi tries to do something with the arm he has on Shohozan’s neck, but Shohozan’s mighty pythons are doing their job, and Mitakeumi finds himself rolling below the dohyo.

Takayasu makes short work of Shodai. Kachiage. A couple of Nodowa, and good-bye. Takayasu is kachi-koshi, safe from kadoban, and looks pretty much like he did in the previous basho.

And now we come to the most flagrant henka of the day. By, you guessed it, Ozeki Go-Away-Do. And I don’t want to hear any complaints about me using that nickname when he does this. Are you under 170cm, Ozeki? Perhaps you weigh less than 100kg? Are you injured? Coming back from a long, rust inducing kyujo? In kadoban? Facing a man ranked 10 levels above you? Bah. Chicken. His home crowd at Osaka didn’t like it, either. There was a babble of disapproval where there should have been applause for their hero. The Osaka crowd are sumo aficionados. They know what’s right and what’s not. Tochinoshin managed to circle around in time, but couldn’t rally fast enough. He is now out of the yusho race. But I certainly hope he can continue the Ozeki run. Goeido, on the other hand, gets about 20 envelopes of kensho for this display.

Kakuryu, after his display of tawara-waltz yesterday, probably decided it’s time to show some Yokozuna-worthy sumo. He starts with a harizashi (which some argue is not yokozuna sumo. Well, at least not when the Yokozuna is Hakuho). Then gets his typical migi-yotsu, firmly holding to Chiyomaru‘s mawashi with his right hand.

This was, in fact, only the second time he used that grip in this basho. That’s the injured hand, and most of his bouts have been about working around it. He attempts to use it for the yori, but it’s actually Chiyomaru who advances. The yokozuna changes his overarm grip – the left hand – placing it closer to the front of Chiyomaru’s mawashi, and then uses it cleanly and efficiently and Chiyomaru finds himself outside in no time. This has been the first time for Chiyomaru to appear on the musubi-no-ichiban, or engage with a Yokozuna at all. He said “It was an atmosphere which I have never experienced before”.

chiyomaru-kakuryu
Sniff, sniff. Love your aftershave, Maru.

Kakuryu achieves his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi”. It now remains to see if his faith is going to be different than in the previous basho, as he goes into the last third where he faces the strongest opponents. And the first challenge is Kyomusubi Ichinojo!

Yusho Arasoi

  • 10-0 – Y1E Kakuryu
  • 9-1 – M6E Kaisei
  • 8-2 – OE Takayasu, KE Ichinojo

Juryo

As I said, I’m combining my coverages today, and here is the Juryo summary.

homarefuji-takanoiwa
Takanoiwa can’t find his sea legs as yet

At the very bottom, Enho is edging closer to a make-koshi, and his chance of winning all of his next five bouts are vanishingly small, much like himself. He will need to spend some more time at Makushita and get those kilograms rolling.

 

 

Tobizaru pretty much sweeps the floor with him.

Terutsuyoshi is not fairing much better, and I believe he is heading back to Makushita yet again, despite being stronger than Enho. He complains of various injuries on the Isegahama website.

 

The rest of the Isegahama sekitori surprisingly all won today, while all of Takanohana’s lost. In fact, Takanoiwa lost to Homarefuji.

Homarefuji got him into an oshi battle, which is clearly not his specialty.

Terunofuji got to meet the much higher-ranked Kyokutaisei. And once again, showed a glimpse of the old Terunofuji:

Harizashi, yotsu, yori-kiri. The former Ozeki and Kyokutaisei both hit the even 5-5 mark.

For some reason, One And Only seems not to like Aminishiki, and never posts a video of his bouts. So here is a time-stamped (46m 18s) full Juryo video from Miselet:

I have a hunch Aminishiki is going to announce his retirement soon – after this basho, or maybe the next. He is having a real hard time, and I suppose he is getting tired of suffering pain day after day and seeing not much in return.

But for the time being, he manages to scrape another win and break his fall down Juryo somewhat. Tokushoryu tries a tottari, but Aminishiki uses the same elbow to push him away and out.

Mitoryu and Sadanoumi are the only two Juryo wrestlers to achieve kachi-koshi by day 10. Tsurugisho and Amakaze are, alas, make-koshi.

Finally, at Jonokuchi, here is the Hoshoryu of the day. Congratulations, first kachi koshi!

A Weekend of Hana-Zumo

There is no Jungyo in February. Hence no Jungyo coverage. But luckily, the world of sumo takes pity on sumo-starved fans, and spices this cold month with exhibition events, called “hana-zumo”.

These events generally take place in the Kokugikan in Tokyo, meaning they are much easier on the wrestlers than Jungyo events – no traveling, practicing in their own heya, eating the chanko they are accustomed to, and so on.

This weekend included two back-to-back hana-zumo events. On Saturady, as Bruce already mentioned, there was the NHK charity event, which has been held for 51 years now. The most startling news item from this event has been this:

chiyotairyu
Elvis has left the building

This, my friends, is Chiyotairyu. Sans sideburns. Rumor has it that Ichinojo heard that Chiyotairyu had mutton chops, and just ate them.

I don’t know how I’ll recognize him from now on.

There was sumo jinku:

And kiddie sumo:

kiddie-sumo
Sumo in Neverland

And of course, there were bouts. Here is the Makushita “yusho” bout (Makushita was in elimination form). Enho…

…may eat a lot of similar crow up in Juryo. I hope he (or Hakuho, his master) finds a solution for this soon.

And between the bouts, it’s not hana-zumo  (or Jungyo) if you don’t get this scene:

hakuho-and-yobidashi.jpg

What you see here is Hakuho waiting his turn in the kore-yori-san-yaku. That’s when the participants in the last three bouts go on the dohyo and perform synchronized shiko.

In honbasho, this happens only on senshuraku. And in any case, there’s no fooling around in honbasho. But in Hana-zumo and Jungyo, there’s a kore-yori-san-yaku every day. And Hakuho always finds himself a comfortable yobidashi to lean on. Sometimes the bored Yokozuna goes a bit too far:

The sumo events of the day ended with the superb Satonofuji. Can’t get enough of him:

Sunday, and switching channels to Fuji TV. And here, some familiar faces stripped down and wore their old mawashi:

old-boys

Thought you’ll never get to see this again?

Damn, Kotooshu!

Kyokutenho – Tomozuna oyakata – also has nothing to be ashamed of. Asasekiryu (Nishikijima oyakata) fresh out of his chon-mage:

Kitataiki (Onogawa oyakata) is still wearing his chon-mage. Wakakoyu (Shiranui oyakata) nearly got him there:

There was also kiddie sumo. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these kiddies do not look Japanese.

You may notice two differences from kiddie sumo in Jungyo:

  • The Ozeki participate. This is very rare in Jungyo. And both of them together is even rarer.
  • In Jungyo the kiddie sumo is part of keiko. Hana zumo doesn’t include keiko, and the wrestlers do their kiddie sumo in their shime-komi (silk mawashi) and oicho-mage.

In this event, both Juryo and Makuuchi were in elimination format. The championship bout:

Tochinoshin didn’t get that yusho by a bracket fluke. He had to get there through Hakuho:

He got the cup from his stablemaster (Kasugano oyakata):

And from Fuji TV… a cardboard cow?

More bouts:

Hakuho vs. Endo:

Takayasu vs. Tamawashi:

The complete set of Tochinoshin bouts plus interview and cup ceremony:

Juryo tournament:

Day 14 – Yusho, packed and delivered

We have ourselves a yusho winner. The first from Georgia. The first Maegashira to win the title since Kyokutenho in in Natsu 2012. The first Kasugano yusho winner in 46 years (Tochiazuma Tomoyori, Hatsu 1972 – also Maegashira at the time). No wonder the Kasugano support club wanted to see a fish and to see it now:

tochinoshin-with-fish
I lifted Mitakeumi, I almost lifted Ichinojo. What’s this puny fish to me?

Down at Jonokuchi, I’m glad to inform you that Yoshoyama managed to scrape his kachi-koshi today, facing the hapless Osumifuji.

Now I hope someone at Tokitsukaze – preferably not Shodai – will use the time until Haru to teach the kid how to do a tachiai properly. Osumifuji joins the droves of make-koshi rikishi from Isegahama.

yoshoyama
Yoshoyama. Now you’ll be able to pick him up in a lineup.

37 year old Hokutogo from Hakkaku beya says goodbye to the sumo world after 22 years. Never made it higher than Makushita 54.

His heya mates brought him flowers to the hana-michi.

In Makushita, Wakamotoharu lost his final bout and is make-koshi. No video at this time.

Up in Juryo, Meisei goes against Takagenji:

Takagenji still doesn’t have kachi-koshi. Both he and Meisei will need a win tomorrow. Takagenji will face the strong Hidenoumi who wants the Yusho.

On to the top division we go:

Sokokurai and Daiamami engage in a lengthy hidari-yotsu, with Sokokurai burying his head in Daiamami’s chest. Eventually Sokokurai tries a throw, but it doesn’t quite work and Daiamami uses it to yori-kiri him.

Kotoyuki and Daieisho go on a tsuppari battle, that ends up with Kotoyuki spread across the dohyo. Hikiotoshi. Kotoyuki’s last chance of a kachi-koshi is tomorrow.

Yutakayama pushes Daishomaru mightily to the edge. Daishomaru tries a side step. Yutakayama slams to the ground – but Daishomaru is also out. Gunbai says Yutakayama, a monoii is called – but Daishomaru’s foot was out first, and it is indeed Yutakayama’s win – and kachi-koshi.

Aminishiki tries to be as genki as he can and bumps into Nishikigi. Gives a harite and tries to get a mawashi grip. This doesn’t quite work, and Nishikigi drives him to the edge. Then hovers around with a worried face to see that he didn’t damage the old man. On the Isegahama web site, Aminishiki writes “Tomorrow is the last match, so I want to win”. Somehow it sounds to me that he means that it’s the ultimate last match. He may not want to go down to Juryo again.

And… Ishiura does a henka against Chiyomaru. Ishiura kachi-koshi. So we’ll see more of his henka in Haru. Sigh.

Ryuden takes on Kaisei and gets in a quick morozashi. Kaisei has the weight advantage and good mobility on his side, and he shifts and turns and gets one of Ryuden’s hands out. Then tries to pull an uwatenage, but he ends up on the floor first, and it’s declared Ryuden’s shitatenage. Ryuden hits the double digits on his debut – which is impressive because he was never a double digits man.

Chiyoshoma gets a fast hold on Asanoyama and they go on a raging battle, but Chiyoshoma loses his hold, and once Asanoyama has his grip, he pushes the Mongolian out with a defiant head nod. Chiyoshoma make-koshi, Asanoyama kachi-koshi again. It’s funny to hear people in the crowd cheering for him using his real name (Ishibashi).

The Ghost of Terunofuji vs. Ikioi. Move along. Nothing to see here. It’s a yoritaoshi despite Ikioi both hurting and trying to be gentle. Terunofuji says that he wants to win at least tomorrow’s bout. Fat chance.

Takekaze comes in strong at the tachiai and gets his left hand inside… but that’s about all he can manage. Okinoumi brushes him out as if he was a fly.

Kagayaki starts an oshi battle vs. Endo, but after a couple of clashes, falls pray to slippiotoshi, Endo swiftly moving aside to let him “split the dohyo” as the Japanese expression goes.

The camera has been following Tochinoshin through the previous two bouts. A few obligatory shots of Shohozan as well, but he is not the story here. When those two finally get at it, you can cut the tension with a knife. Shohozan starts a tsuppari barrage which Tochinoshin can only fend off. This goes on for some time, then Shohozan tries to sidestep. This nearly gets Tochinoshin, and the spectators let out a big “whoa”. But he quickly turns around, and when he does, he also gets a good grip on Shohozan, and from there it’s a couple of yori followed by a yori-kiri. The man from Georgia gets his first yusho. The crowd bursts into applause. It’s party time… but there are still bouts to go.

Yoshikaze and Chiyotairyu are apparently graduates of the same university. So they are sempai and kohai. But Chiyotairyu doesn’t give Yoshikaze any precedence, and quickly pulls at him for a hatakikomi. Yoshikaze looked for a moment like he was going for an outstanding performance prize, but that moment passed several bouts ago.

In yet another battle of opposite ends, Abi draws former Ozeki Kotoshogiku in a battle of the up-and-coming vs. the down-and-going. However, Kotoshogiku is not going anywhere without a fight. Abi tries to pull Kotoshogiku down quickly, but Kotoshogiku not falling for that. Abi then sticks his head in Kotoshogiku’s chest and grabs at his armpits. But a yori battle will favor the Chrisanthemum. Abi’s pelvis is about the height of Kotoshogiku’s chest, so Kotoshogiku refrains from pumping his hips, but he does know how to push, and yori-kiris Abi right out. In Yiddish we call this “rebe-gelt” – “tuition”, what you pay when you learn a lesson.

Chiyonokuni doesn’t give Hokutofuji even two seconds before slapping him down. Hatakikomi, and the Kokonoe man slowly reduces the damage of his make-koshi, while Hokutofuji is 4-10 and will drop way down the banzuke at Haru.

Now, I hate it when the torikumi guys pit two guys I like against each other, but oh well, I can always be happy for the winner. This time Takarafuji was trying to get his kachi-koshi from Ichinojo. And Ichinojo is not in the business of letting his rivals win this basho. If they want to, they have to work for it. Ichinojo unbelievably tries for a nodowa on his left and momentarily allows Takarafuji to get his hand in on his right. Nodowa? The boulder quickly realizes his mistake, abandons the nonexistent throat, and changes his grip on the right. Now it’s migi-yotsu, which favors Ichinojo. But there is no extended leaning battle this time, as Ichinojo grabs Takarafuji’s mawashi tightly and throws him outside for a shitatedashinage, no ifs, ands and buts.

Today it was the old Shodai vs. the old Takakeisho. Shodai stands up at the tachiai. Doesn’t get anything done. Takakeisho bumps him a couple of time. No kachi-koshi for Shodai as yet.

In the match of the Eagles, Arawashi with his bad knees gets a better tachiai. I would even call this one a matta. But Tamawashi regroups and goes into a tsuppari attack. Arawashi sidesteps, and Tamawashi flies over the edge. Arawashi still has a chance for a kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Goeido avoids kadoban and gets Mitakeumi all the way to the tawara in a blink of an eye. Correct bootup today, apparently.

Musubi no ichiban. Takayasu  drives hard and gets Kakuryu to the edge. But Kakuryu is looking better today, circles and regroups. Tries to get a grip on Takayasu, but Takayasu turns him around. The Yokozuna quickly turns right back and lunges at Takayasu. And then…. he… pulls… again…. Oshidashi, yet another loss for the Yokozuna. And Takayasu has the jun-yusho (though theoretically he can lose tomorrow and Ryuden or Kakuryu win).

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day14

So the yusho goes to Tochinoshin. Both the Georgian prime minister and president tweet their congratulations.

Tochinoshin's family in Georgia
Tochinoshin’s family watching his bout back in Georgia

The jun-yusho, with high probability, goes to Takayasu. My assumption is that he will do his best to win tomorrow, to make it a decent 12-3 jun-yusho, which may allow him to lay claim to a rope should he win the yusho in Haru. One of my twitter followers says that not having been in the yusho picture, this wouldn’t count for Takayasu, but I think that if he does happen to win Haru, given that he has the all-important Japanese birth certificate, the NSK and the YDC may avoid nitpicking.

What’s left tomorrow is to see if the Yokozuna can pull at least the win from Goeido. To see who gets the various sansho (Abi still has a shot, Ryuden certainly has, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ichinojo gets one). And then we will get to see Tochinoshin lifting cup after cup, and being driven around in the NSK’s spiffy new Mercedes-Benz.

 

Day 13 – It’s Georgia. Not the US state, the country.

The Makuuchi Chamipionship is all but determined, as Tochinoshin goes from chasing to being chased. But before we make ourselves familiar with the Caucasus and the Georgian cuisine, rich in walnuts and cheeses, we already have a champion today – in the Makushita division.

wakatakakage
Your shikona is Wakatakakage. Now repeat that 10 times at high speed.

The schedulers matched Wakatakakage (Ms #17) with the other yusho contender, Tochiseiryu (Ms #47). Both came into the bout with 6-0.

Tochiseiryu’s pre-bout looks similar to Tochiozan’s, doesn’t it? Anyway, W.T.K. dispatches of him easily, as the difference in rank would suggest, and wins a zensho-yusho. I believe his position is just below the Juryo promotion line, though, and in any case the upper Makushita have many kachi-koshi wrestlers waiting for one of the (probably 7) open Juryo positions.

One of those on line for those 7 positions is Prince Enho, who today had a battle for the kachi-koshi with Shonannoumi. Both coming into this match 3-3.

Ah… Enho… I guess with Hakuho’s royal feet being kyujo, Enho has to settle for taking lessons from Ishiura. Which is not something I’d recommend. What’s with the henka? Was that really necessary?

OK, I’ll try my hand at a bit of demotion-promotion speculation. Here is a summary of the situation of the bottom of Juryo:

#14E Akua Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#14W Kizenryu Make-koshi, only three wins so far.
#12E Yamaguchi Make-koshi, only two wins so far.
#12W Tochihiryu Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#11E Ura Full kyujo due to surgery.
#9W Toyohibiki Full kyujo due to injury.
#8W Osunaarashi 1 win. Kyujo due to scandal. Drop from Juryo certain, may face retirement.

The others in between are either kachi-koshi or minimal make-koshi. So these are seven potential slots, though I suppose Tochihiryu may still be saved.

The situation at the top of Makushita is:

#1E Yago kachi-koshi
#1W Terutsuyoshi kachi-koshi
#2W Shimanoumi kachi-koshi
#3W Tobizaru kachi-koshi
#4W Akiseyama kachi-koshi
#6E Enho kachi-koshi
#7E Takayoshitoshi kachi-koshi

So Takayoshitoshi is on the bubble, it seems, but he still has one bout to go, and if he wins it, he’ll have a better kachi-koshi than Enho and may pass him in on the promotion line.

Down in Sandanme, unfortunately, Torakio suffered an injury. I will not post his bout from yesterday as I don’t like to share videos of people rolling around in pain. He could not return to the dohyo for his bout after his loss, and he is now on the kyujo list. He will be make-koshi. Too bad to have an injury at such an early stage of his career, let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looked – shoulder and arm issue).

I’m not going to give you the Hattorizakura video this time – because the kid is back to his old way, walking backward just being looked at, which is a real shame. Anyway, he has now completed is usual set of 7 losses, and will have to wait until Haru to show us some progress again.

Tomorrow Yoshoyama-Osumifuji, both 3-3, vying for the kachi-koshi.

Up in Juryo, Kyokutaisei has ensured his kachi-koshi, and being Juryo #1, has ensured his promotion to Makuuchi. The papers make much of the fact that he is from Hokkaido, but I’m making much of the fact that he is from Tomozuna beya (Kaisei’s heya), and will therefore help the Isegahama ichimon a little bit in the coming power rankings. 🙂

kyokutaisei-kachi-koshi
Kyokutaisei vs. Takagenji

Mitoryu has also ensured his kachi-koshi and will continue wearing his kesho-mawashi for a second tournament.

If you’re interested in the Juryo bouts, there’s this channel where the owner seems to upload each of the lower division’s complete bouts a few hours after each day ends.

So… we go up to Makuuchi, and what do we see?

Sokokurai trying hard to stay at Makuuchi. Today he faced Yutakayama who is still looking for a kachi-koshi. He can’t get a mawashi hold on Yutakayama, but eventually sidesteps and gets a hikiotoshi.

Today Ishiura decided to go for plain, forward-moving sumo. Maybe because Daishomaru is not much taller than he is. And what do you know, it worked! He grabs Daishomaru’s mawashi with his left hand and shows him the way out, yori-kiri.

Kotoyuki gets an easy one against Daiamami. They call this a tsukitaoshi, but I’d say it was a tsukite (which is a hiwaza).

The ghost of Terunofuji meets Takekaze and gives the old man a little more padding against the Juryo drop. Terunofuji unable to do a proper tachiai, let alone keep from being pushed.

A… Asanoyama… where are you? Who is that scarecrow who mounts the dohyo in your place in the second week? Chiyomaru needed exactly half a second to pull Asanoyama to the ground. Is Asanoyama sitting too close to the Isegahama guys in the shitakubeya or what?

Shohozan makes short work of Daieisho, who seems to have lost his will to do sumo once he secured his kachi-koshi. Shohozan gets in a couple of harite, then wraps Daieisho’s body and flips him for a sukuinage.

Abi really looks like he is enjoying his work, even during the actual bout. He got Kaisei, who has a huge weight advantage on him. He starts as usual with a “morotezuki”, which means he thrusts with both hands. Then he sidesteps and nearly gets Kaisei off-balance. Kaisei stays on his feet but it’s enough for Abi to grab at his mawashi, turn him around and send him out by okuri-dashi. What weight advantage? The youngster is 9-4, and may actually get one of those sansho prizes he talked about.

Chiyonokuni seems to have improved once he got his make-koshi. He starts with his tsuppari attack before Nishikigi completes his tachiai, and then pulls for a tsukiotoshi.

Chiyoshoma gets in for a fine tachiai, but Kagayaki gets a grip on his belt, and they start dancing around the dohyo. Although Chiyoshoma manages to escape from that grip, that wild dance ends with him putting a foot outside the dohyo. Kagayaki secures his first kachi-koshi since Natsu.

The shimpan gave poor old Aminishiki a real scare. This match was nervous for both him and Ikioi (which one is more injured?), with two mattas to begin with. And then he threw a flying henka and somehow managed to get Ikioi down  before he ran out of dohyo. Not his usual precision, though. Anyway, Konosuke called it Aminishiki’s. The shimpan called a monoii. And as Kintamayama will tell you, a monoii on Konosuke’s shift is an exercise in futility. Finally the shimpan agree that Konosuke is right, and the head shimpan tries to explain the decision. But he seems to be in his cups – mutters and forgets what he wanted to say. He goes as far as saying that it was a “gunbai sashi-chigae” – which it certainly was not, before the crowd’s murmur wakes him up and he corrects himself and lets Aminishiki get his kensho. Poor Uncle.

Ryuden gets a better start than Takarafuji, but Takarafuji manages to get his left hand inside, which is his favorite grip. Ryuden circles and squirms and gets rid of that hand, while himself maintaining a hold on Takarafuji’s mawashi. A battle of grips ensues. Takarafuji gets Ryuden’s hand off his mawashi, but Ryuden still has a hold on his body. Ryuden tries to make a throw. Loses the mawashi grip he momentarily regained. Takarafuji manages to lock both Ryuden’s arm in front of his chest. But at this point Takarafuji runs out of stamina and eventually Ryuden yori-kiri’s him. I hope Takarafuji hasn’t contracted that Isegahama flu. Ryuden is an excellent wrestler, and I believe we’ll see him in sanyaku at some point. And yes, he has 9 wins, like Abi, and may also become a sansho winner.

Endo starts by pulling and sending a couple of slaps in Kotoshogiku‘s direction. Grabs at Kotoshogiku’s hand, then converts that into a right-hand-inside mawashi grip with Kotoshogiku between him and the tawara. Kotoshogiku dances and gains some ground. Grabs at Endo’s right hand and tries for a kotenage. Endo manages to retain his footing. Kotoshogiku still has his right hand, but he has his left on Kotoshogiku’s torso. He then pushes against the right hand – the one Kotoshogiku is still latched onto – for a yori-kiri. Excellent match, and Endo gets a kachi-koshi.

Ichinojo and Tochinoshin… what is a yusho-related bout doing here, so early in the day? Well, Ichinojo and Tochinoshin grab at each other’s mawashi right off the tachiai. It’s a migi-yotsu and both of them have firm mawashi grips on both sides. So who’s going to be stronger? For a moment it looks undecided, but Ichinojo loses his left hand grip, and Tochinoshin goes for the kill. Ichinojo sticks to the tawara – good boy! But Tochinoshin applies some sideways force and gets Ichinojo out. Titanic.

ichinojo-tochinoshin
Note to self: don’t try tsuri-dashi again on this guy

Hokutofuji comes in strong at Yoshikaze. The man in the green mawashi seems not to have completely recovered from yesterday’s Force-choke. Hokutofuji finally gets to show the sumo he became famous for. Oshidashi.

Chiyotairyu overwhelms Takakeisho who once again finds himself flying off the dohyo (and into Arawashi’s lap). Oshitaoshi.

Shodai once again comes straight off the tachiai into a morozashi. But Tamawashi gets himself released and answers with an expert tsuppari attack that sends Shodai outside, looking for his kachi-koshi elsewhere.

Arawashi, still suffering the effects of a Takakeisho bomb landing on him, has to suffer yet again as the Takayasu locomotive slams into him. Boom! Seismographs around Tokyo register a level 3 tremor while the Eagle flies into Goeido’s arms. Sitting on the East side of the dohyo today has been a serious health risk. Takayasu gets double digits for the first time since his Ozeki run.

Goeido gets a grip on Okinoumi‘s body and pushes forward, though it looks half-hearted. Gets his 7th win. Will try to get his kachi-koshi vs. Mitakeumi tomorrow.

And now, the musubi-no-ichiban. It’s a bit of an anti-climax as we already know that Tochinoshin maintained his lead. But let’s see…

Mitakeumi just lifts the Yokozuna’s upper part with his left hand and pushes forward. Kakuryu finds himself backpaddling again. And out again. And… the yusho flies away, probably never to return.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day13

The Yokozuna has his Yokozuna kachi-koshi, that’s true. But this crumble at money time is bound to raise murmurs among the YDC this Monday. One of the guys on Twitter wrote something along the lines of: “In the first few days, all my friends were saying Kakuryu stands up to pressure much better than Harumafuji. I had to nod. But now we can see the real difference, because Harumafuji’s nerves held up much better once the yusho was on the table”.

The Yokozuna still has a couple of days to improve his score. But the chances that Tochinoshin will drop two consecutive bouts are very slim. And who knows if it’s the Yokozuna who’ll be doing the playoff with him if that happens.

Yusho Arasoi:

Leader (12-1): M3 Tochinoshin

Chasers (10-3):

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Ozeki Takayasu

Tomorrow those two face each other, and oh boy, Takayasu looks much better at the moment.

So, start learning about Georgia, because it sure looks like the Emperor’s Cup is going there right now.

 

Day 11 – The Eagles Are Coming

the-eagles-are-coming
Tamawashi and Arawashi changing the plot

For those who are not familiar their shikona, Arawashi (荒鷲) is “Wild Eagle”, and Tamawashi (玉鷲) is “Bejewelled Eagle”. We’ll see what they wrought as we go along. But as usual, I’d like to start with some off-Makuuchi battles.

My previous posts have been dotted with bouts by Prince Enho and Terutsuyoshi My Main Man. And today you get two for the price of one, as these two faced each other in a battle for the kachi-koshi, both coming in 3-2.

And both get to pick on someone their own size for a change, in a match of homunculi.

This is sort of anticlimactic, I know. But it’s Terutsuyoshi’s first kakenage, and also a kachi-koshi and a likely re-promotion to Juryo. I’m afraid Enho’s chances look rather slim at the moment, with many higher-ranking Makushita having a kachi-koshi.

Another battle at the top of Makushita was between Ms#1 Yago, the former sekitori, and “One to watch” Ms #17 Wakatakakage, both of whom came into this match 5-0.

Nice reversal! The Arashio man is now 6-0, vying for the Makushita yusho with #47 Tochiseiryu. Yago will still likely be re-promoted to Juryo.

Up we go to Makuuchi.

In the first bout, we have Aoimama… er… Aoiyama on a visit from Juryo. Aoiyama actually looks strong, and Nishikigi can’t find an entry point, and out he goes.

Ryuden shows his strong sumo. Catches Daieisho in a morozashi after a booming tachiai, and stops his yusho hunt… or does he?

Asanoyama chooses not to go into a yotsu battle with Sokokurai (may well be a wise decision. The veteran is very experienced). Some tsuppari and Sokokurai out by oshi-dashi. Sokokurai needs to win out to get a kachi-koshi.

Kotoyuki opens with a henka – not the last one of the day – against the resurging Kagayaki. Then tries to grab Kagayaki’s belt. Pushes, pushes, but Kagayaki manages to grab his arm for a kotonage. Kotoyuki’s first loss to Kagayaki – and he hurts his knee on his fall, unable to go to the shitakubeya unassisted. Kintamayama informs us that he ended up in that wheelchair and was taken to a hospital. 🙁

Aminishiki didn’t hurt any limb today. But he just isn’t able to do his sumo. Daiamami, like Chiyoshoma yesterday, was very gentle about showing him out. Sigh. I have a feeling that the Ajigawa kabu is going to go back into active duty following this basho.

Ishiura deploys the second henka of the day, against the Ghost of Terunofuji. At least that meant that there was no further injury to any former kaiju knees. Terunofuji remarks that he has not gained back his dohyo sense. Perhaps the only good news I heard is that he lost those 10kg he recently gained. Good start there. It did look like he regained some neck.

terunofuji-ishiura
“Once I dropped out of Ozeki, it’s all the same to me how many ranks down I go”

The KaiseiYutakayama looked like a cartoon battle. You know the type: small man strikes large man with a barrage of blows without having any effect. Then big man returns with two mighty blows of his own, and small man ends up with little birds circling around his head. Well, Yutakayama stays on his feet as he is pushed out, but you catch the drift. Note how Kaisei always attempts to land a hand up to the rivals he pushes out.

Abi barely manages to land two harite on Tochiozan before the Kasugano man goes out. Abi looks dissatisfied. Tochiozan probably afraid for his injured shoulder. Abi one win away from kachi-koshi.

Chiyonokuni once again starts a bout with his energetic tsuppari. But Takekaze somehow manages to pivot and have Chiyonokuni between himself and the tawara. He then applies a strong nodowa and forces Chiyonokuni out. Welcome back, old man. Chiyonokuni now make-koshi.

Daishomaru in another little henka against Chiyoshoma. Hikiotoshi. Chiyoshoma not happy.

Ikioi tries to look genkier than he is vs. Shohozan, who seems to have an upper arm issue. The two go on a rapid slugfest, but eventually Shohozan locks Ikioi’s arms and leads him outside.

Chiyomaru is Kokonoe’s only ray of light this basho. Apparently nobody is shouting “Chiyomaru-tan” in the Kokugikan these days. Endo has what looks like a lower and better tachiai, but Chiyonokuni soon sidesteps and hands him a hatakikomi.

Now, one of the highlight bouts of the day begins. Tochinoshin wants to keep his single loss. Takarafuji wants to prevent the Georgian from closing in on him. These two are kenka-yotsu, meaning that Takarafuji prefers a hidari-yotsu (left-hand-inside), while Tochinoshin prefers a migi-yotsu (right-hand-inside). And they fend off each other’s sashi (slipping a hand inside) attempts. Tochinoshin succeeds in landing his grip for a second but Takarafuji draws back and tries again. Near the tawara, Takarafuji manages to get his sashi, but Tochinoshin is pressing his head down very powerfully at this point and eventually Takarafuji’s elbow touches down before Tochinoshin is forced out. The gyoji points to Tochinoshin. A monoii is called, and takes a really long time. But it’s Tochinoshin’s tsukiotoshi. Excellent match. Tochinoshin stays glued to the top.

takarafuji-tochinoshin

Kotoshogiku puts a stop to Chiyotairyu‘s winning streak. Doesn’t get a mawashi grip, but he does have the Kokonoe man in a strong high grip and then does the Kotoshogiku Lambada all the way to the edge.

Ichinojo seems to have a little problem with oshi wrestlers. This time he takes up Hokutofuji. But it really isn’t Hokutofuji’s basho. Yes, his knee is in wraps but he doesn’t seem to have a mobility problem. Ichinojo tries to find a grip as usual. Hokutofuji fends and defends. Tries to push at Ichinojo’s armpits to get him up and away, but this doesn’t work so well with the heavy Ichinojo, Hokutofuji slide a little back to try a stronger leaning angle – but Ichinojo just uses that to smack Hokutofuji to the floor. Hokutofuji on all fours again. The announcer calls it “Large Scale Sumo”.

The bout between Yoshikaze and Takakeisho turns out to be one of the more entertaining oshi battles. A rapid exchange of tsuppari, both bobbing their heads up and down, up and down as they engage and disengage. Yoshikaze tries a push, but he is already too stretched and Takakeisho easily fends him off. As they regroup, Takakeisho grabs hold of Yoshikaze’s arm and forces him to the edge where he adds a decisive nodowa. And Takakeisho ends up with a banged lip again.

Shodai somehow manages to surprise his rival again and again with his somehow amended tachiai. He gets below Mitakeumi. Not quite enough for his favorite morozashi, but enough to cause the sekiwake to draw back. Shodai then follows up and gets Mitakeumi out by oshidashi. Those double digits and ozeki run seem further and further away from Mitakeumi.

Takayasu wins almost effortlessly against Okinoumi. Hands the Shimane-man his make-koshi while gaining his own kachi-koshi. No kadoban to see here, move along.

And here lands out first Eagle, Arawashi, with his bandaged legs and a less-than-brilliant 5-5 balance, to face the other Ozeki, Goeido. Tachiai, Arawashi quickly gets a hold on Goeido’s mawashi with his left hand. Goeido retreats in a half circle, working hard to remove Arawashi’s hand from his mawashi and eventually holds on to Arawashi’s arm and gets his left arm inside, but at this point Arawashi changes direction, and that left arm becomes a liability. Arawashi holds on to it for a kotenage. Ozeki down, and hovering on the edge of kadoban again.

But if you thought that Eagle was surprising, just wait for the musubi-no-ichiban.

Kakuryu once again comes low off  the tachiai, but doesn’t find the quick mawashi grip he is hoping for. Tamawashi is an oshi man, and as the Yokozuna goes into a tsuppari exchange with him, he watches the Yokozuna’s feet. Kakuryu tries a pull down and draws back a little, and that’s all the Bejewelled Eagle needs. He pounces and the surprised Yokozuna lands his first kuro-boshi. Although Tamawashi is sanyaku, zabutons are flying in the kokugikan.

tamawashi-happy
Happy Eagle flying down the hana-michi

And suddenly, in a Tolkienesque plot-twist, what looked like a sure-bet yusho for the Yokozuna no longer looks anywhere near that. Remember he still has to work two Ozekis and a sekiwake, while Tochinoshin is only going to face Maegashira until the end of the basho. The yusho suddenly looks a lot closer to Georgia than it is to Mongolia.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day11

The Yokozuna can not afford even a single loss from now on if he wants that Yusho.

Yusho Arasoi

10-1:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • M3 Tochinoshin

8-3:

  • Ozeki Takayasu
  • M13 Daieisho

 

 

Day 10 – Sanyaku crumbling

As two thirds of the basho are behind us, things start to boil up… or crash down. Let’s start at the bottom. Enho gets matched with Wakamotoharu, who certainly doesn’t want to lose, in a bout that produces one of the most beautiful sumo photos I’ve seen in a while:

enho-wakamotoharu

Here is the One And Only version:

And here is the TV version (C/O Kimihiro Suzuki):

Wakamotoharu looks pretty frustrated at being the receiving end of this shitatehineri. Enho gets his third win and gets closer to a kachi-koshi. One And Only seems to expect him to be in Juryo next basho, but the top of Makushita is very, very hot at the moment.

And hey, Enho didn’t dive head first off the dohyo this time!

Another Tachiai favorite has returned to the dohyo today. This one after a flu-related short kyujo. Please welcome Shunba!

Shunba looks so genki he nearly bounces up the dohyo. Keep up the good work!

However, not all of my favorite fare as well. Torakio continues his downfall:

He seems to have hurt his elbow, and now something about his shoulder as well? Hmmm… not good.

 

So, let’s climb up to Makuuchi.

The first bout features a visitor from Juryo, Azumaryu, facing Ryuden. The two take their time synchronizing their breath for the tachiai. When it finally starts, although Azumaryu gets the inside grip, Ryuden gets an outside one on the same side, and pushes him out without much resistance.

Abi (who has the curious habit of arranging his butt strap right on camera when he goes to the salt corner) starts off as usual vs Yutakayama, with some fierce tsuppari. But Yutakayama somehow picks on Abi’s bandaged arm, and this seems to throw Peter Pan off course completely, and he finds himself down from the dohyo in short order.

yutakayama-abi

Takekaze finally manages to land a W, vs. Ishiura, with a quick push down – no henka. Hatakikomi.

takekaze-ishiura
Sumo, Ishiura, not artistic gymnastics

Sokokurai starts with a harite and an ottsuke vs. Nishikigi. He manages to secure a right-hand outside grip, while Nishikigi secures his own left hand on Sokokurai’s mawashi.  Nishikigi can’t get an outside grip on Sokokurai’s mawashi, and in the grip battle that ensues, eventually it’s Sokokurai who manages to hold both sides of Nishikigi’s mawashi, when suddenly Nishikigi turns the tables on him and gets him out by yori-kiri. Very nice match.

Kagayaki and Daiamami start their match, both pushing as hard as they can. Eventually, Daiamami throws Kagayaki to the ground, but a monoii is called: Daiamami had a foot out. You can see that Kagayaki noticed that immediately. Of course he said nothing and waited for the shimpan, who came to the right conclusion, and gave him the oshidashi.

Asanoyama seems dazed and confused. Daishomaru pushes him out almost with no resistance. Mental issues?

Daieisho starts with some strong nodowa at Tochiozan, but suddenly his arm gets stuck at an awkward angle. However, he quickly recovers from that error, and pushes Tochiozan outside before he can make anything of it. Daieisho now kachi-koshi.

Aminishiki looks well enough as he ascends the dohyo and performs his Shiko. Chiyoshoma opens with a harizashi (slap-and-grab), and Uncle looks in pain. I don’t believe it’s just the harite. He said that his “knee got in” at the Tachiai and he couldn’t put any power into it. As soon as Chiyoshoma has that grip he gently leads Aminishiki to the edge. Yori-kiri. Aminishiki is determined to continue until all four wheels drop off.

chiyoshoma-aminishiki

Chiyonokuni finally manages to scrape another win against Kotoyuki. His barrage of tsuppari quickly gets the larger man out. He really should be more than 3-7 at this point.

Kaisei has a huge weight advantage over Takarafuji. Takarafuji manages to secure his favorite grip, but Kaisei uses the Ichinojo tactic and just leans onto him. In an effort to get out of the stalemate, Takarafuji loses the grip and has to start over. He gets his hidari-yotsu again, this time without an underhand grip on Kaisei’s mawashi. But no matter, he uses that left hand inside to grab Kaisei’s arm for a sukuinage. Takarafuji is on a roll, and needs just one more win for a kachi-koshi.

Ikioi faces Chiyomaru, who pushes and then pulls and finishes the bout in the blink of an eye. According to the NHK announcer, Ikioi’s problem is not just his ankle injury, but also “lower back issues”, which I take to mean that his bulging disc is giving him trouble again. It’s really hard to do sumo with a bulging disc. Ikioi make-koshi.

Shohozan starts his bout with Endo with all guns blazing, and tries to catch Endo’s arm. Endo manages to break loose. Then there’s a barrage of tsuppari, which Endo somehow defends against and stays alive. Then Shohozan tries capturing an arm again, dragging Endo to the rim, but here Endo reverses the charges and leaves Shohozan outside for a yori-kiri.

It seems strange to see the match between Tochinoshin and Kotoshogiku this early in the day, given the level of Tochinoshin’s game lately. I have to remind myself that both are maegashira. Most sane rikishi would not want to get into a belt battle with Kotoshogiku. But we are talking about the Incredible Hulk here, and his strategy continues as usual: get one huge arm inside, one huge arm outside, get the belt, and drive. Kotoshogiku’s gaburi is no match to the Georgian Hulk.

Hokutofuji will want to forget this basho. In the final battle of the rank-and-filers, he faces Chiyotairyu, only a couple of days ago the welcome mat of the entire Makuuchi. One kachiage and a few tsuppari later, the gentleman from Hakkaku beya finds himself out by tsuki-dashi, and with a make-koshi.

Now we go up to the san-yaku matches, where rank-and-filers are wrecking havoc.

Ichinojo faces more of a problem with Takakeisho than he did with Onosho. Takakeisho has his attack-and-retreat style which prevents the boulder from getting a mawashi grip or any other kind of grip. So Ichinojo finds himself in an unfamiliar oshi territory, and for a while looks like he is trying to swat an annoying mosquito. As he tries to pull Takakeisho down, Takakeisho advances and nearly gets the mountain off balance, but Ichinojo is very careful about his center of (ultra) gravity this tournament. They go on, and Takakeisho tries a sidestep to usher the boulder out, but the side that he stepped to still includes Ichinojo’s arm. And that arm just takes Takakeisho along for the trip before its owner starts the journey himself. The result of all this mess is the Takanohana man lying in a heap at the bottom of the dohyo, only one loss away from a make-koshi.

The next bout is supposed to be Onosho-Yoshikaze. But the Komusubi is kyujo, and won’t be a komusubi next time. In fact, other than Mitakeumi, who will probably stay Sekiwake once again, it appears that there will be a purge in the lower sanyaku, and this time there will be a lot less of a logjam for the available slots. Two more wins for our boulder and he is Komusubi for sure. Though maybe for him they should change it from “komusubi” (小結 – small knot) to “omusubi” (大結 – big knot), or even “kyomusubi” (巨結 – “giant knot”). 🙂

Moving right along, Arawashi got to meet Mitakeumi who was trying to maintain his position in the hunt group. Arawashi seems to want to get Mitakeumi’s mawashi on the left side, but at the second attempt, his right arm is already folding around Mitakeumi’s left, for an arm-bar throw – tottari. Mitakeumi finds himself face down at the dohyo’s corner.

arawashi-mitakeumi

Shodai bounces back from the loss that frustrated him so much yesterday. Straight from the tachiai he gets a morozashi on Goeido and drives forward. He does lose one of those arms as Goeido tries to create some kind of a throw, but gets a good mawashi hold and forces the Ozeki out.

Takayasu, the other Ozeki, stares hard at Tamawashi as they get ready for the tachiai. Takayasu’s kachiage happens to hit Tamawashi’s face. A hard tsuppari exchange ensues, and eventually Takayasu pushes the sekiwake out of the ring. Tamawashi one loss away from a make-koshi.

And in the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu starts of with the low tachiai he has been sporting of late, and gaining many compliments for. No grip at first, but drives Okinoumi back. Then gets his hand on Okinoumi’s mawashi with his right hand, and that’s about the end of Okinoumi. Kakuryu just swings him out, as one of the comments said on one of the previous days, “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm”.

The Yokozuna finally secures his “Yokozuna kachi koshi”. Now he’ll be facing some harder opponents. Or are they? The sanyaku seems to be a mess. Nobody with a kachi-koshi yet, some nearing make-koshi.

kakuryu-meter-hatsu-2018-day7

Yusho Arasoi

  • 10-0: Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • 9-1: M3 Tochinoshin
  • 8-2: M13 Daieisho