Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 17

🌐 Location: Rikuzentakata, Iwate

venue
Dream Arena Takata – spiffy new building, shiny parking lot

The Jungyo headed East on August 15th (yes, I’m late again), and landed in the coastal town of Rikuzentakata, holding the event at the brand new Dream Arena Takata which was opened this spring.

There is good reason both the building and everything around it is brand new. Rikuzentakata was virtually wiped off the face of the Earth in the tsunami of 2011. It was one of the hardest hit towns, with death toll nearing 2000 people – around 10% of its population. This is the first time in 63 years a Jungyo event takes place at this small town, but Hakuho is actually returning to it 7 years and 5 months after his previous visit – doing Yokozuna-dohyo-iri to encourage the survivors after that devastating natural disaster. “I was the sole yokozuna then”, he recalls. “I did a dohyo-iri twice a day”.

The memory of the disaster was not the only reason for solemnity, though. August 15th is the day Japan announced its surrender in WWII, and it’s designated as a memorial day for those who lost their lives in war. The Jungyo officials held a moment of silence:

moment-of-silence

As such, there were fewer goofs and frolics documented today.

The Makushita-and-below rikishi had their practice first as usual. Tamawashi was there as the head torturer, er, generously offered chest owner:

low-rank-practice-with-tamawashi

Tochinoshin started with light practice:

So light that he did it without his brace.

Hakuho still confined himself to basic drills:

As usual, when he showed up and started to warm up, everybody stood in line to greet him. But what’s this, is Terutsuyoshi sneaking away without a bow?

No, he is not. Quite the opposite – he goes and gets the ladle to offer water to the Yokozuna.

Takayasu has taken a shine to Onosho, and Onosho is making good use of his quality time with the Ozeki:

Attaboy. But Takayasu is not going to stay a loser for long:

Ah… Onosho’s typical overcommitment. Takayasu seems amused – and makes sure the audience is as well.

We are still in Iwate prefecture, so Nishikigi is still very much the center of attention. As such, he is getting some more love from Kakuryu:

He is lucky it’s Kakuryu rather than Hakuho. Hakuho doesn’t settle for slaps on the tush. He likes to kick.

Goeido started doing serious san-ban and upping his pace heading for Aki. At Oshu, he had 9 bouts with Yutakayama and won all. Today he continued with the same rival:

Here are some bouts for you. First – rather rarely for this Jungyo – we have a video for non-sekitori action. Well, former sekitori – Chiyootori vs. Ohata:

Moving up, we have Enho vs. Churanoumi:

Aaaagh… too bad. But rather entertaining for the spectators.

Nishikigi, star of the day, vs. Yutakayama.

Yutakayama gets the upper had on the tachiai, but Nishikigi manages a makikae (change from overarm to underarm grip) and takes control of the bout.

As Kisenosato is back on the torikumi list, today we had the Ozeki facing each other (Tochinoshin not doing bouts as yet):

This one was all Goeido. Poor Mitakeumi who sits by the dohyo as kachi-nokori (winner staying around to give chikara-mizu if needed) is hit by an incoming bear, and it takes him a while to come around and get to the bucket.

Finally, the musubi-no-ichiban really looks like the battle of two Yokozuna.

Kakuryu’s foot seems to be much better.

Signing off with the not-too-happy Enho of the day:

enho
Totally photobombed by Emmet “Doc” Brown there

 

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 10

🌐 Location: Tokorozawa, Saitama

The Jungyo took us today to rainy Saitama.

venue

There are many rikishi hailing from Saitama, with three current sekitori – Abi, Daieisho and Hokutofuji. In the nobori in the above picture you can see many Hokutofuji flags, one for the absent Abi, one for Daieisho (and one for the… NSK’s Jungyo department? OK…). Hokutofuji comes not just from Saitama, but specifically from Tokorozawa, which made him king of the day.

And as befits a king, he arrived an nothing less than a Corvette:

And his driver was wearing a matching outfit, no less. Remember that rikishi are not allowed to drive (remember Osunaarashi?).

Even before this, he had a pep rally sponsored by his personal support group:

hokutofuji-support-group

Note the guy in the audience who is wearing a shirt made of that same Hokutofuji yukata cloth.

On the dohyo, Kakuryu decided to give him no less that 8 minutes of butsukari:

hokutofuji-kawaigari

No footage of the deed itself, but you can see the results of it in this little clip:

Kudos for still being a nice guy and shaking that spectator’s hand.

Later he starred in the hair styling show:

hokutofuji-oicho

And had a bout with Endo. I mean, the torikumi guys seem to always assign the star of the day to Endo. Kill two birds with one stone, I guess. Which means that Endo has been losing a lot of bouts lately. This one Hokutofuji won by Yori-Kiri.

hokutofuji-endo-wardrobe-malfunction

OK, wait a second. This is like Groundhog Day. A wardrobe malfunction again? This is the third time I see one (and I haven’t seen all of Endo’s bouts). I think Konosuke is starting to get a little exasperated. Endo is growing too thick for his own shimekomi? Or his tsukebito is due for a lesson in knot tying from some seasoned sailor (I recommend Aminishiki).

In non-Hokutofuji news, Hidenoumi decided to go get some health boost. Rikishi seem to believe in all sorts of weird health claims and alternative treatments. And this visit was to a “cryo sauna”, or “Whole body cryotherapy”:

Those are degrees celsius. This footage was taken by Churanoumi, BTW.

In addition to the famous sekitori from Saitama, Baraki from Shikihide beya and his brother, Rao from Tatsunami beya, made an appearance in this Jungyo event. I think they just came in for the day, as Saitama is not far from Tokyo:

baraki-rao

Kisenosato continued to do san-ban with exactly the same results as yesterday – 12 wins, 2 losses, mostly against Daieisho, yet another local boy. Far from perfect yet, the papers say. When his rival gets a right hand inside, the Yokozuna is still helpless.

The goofy part of the day included Terutsuyoshi getting very intimate with Yago. You do remember who Yago is, right? 🙂

terutsuyoshi-yago

But the pixie’s aim was not to get his face caressed, but rather to lift Yago. And here are the results:

terutsuyoshi-lifting-yago
“Whoa, this is not actually happening!”

Mitakeumi decided to give Kaisei a pretty hairdo. Only… he wasn’t doing the hair on his head:

mitakeumi-brushes-kaisei
“Can you braid them for me?”

Fine, fine, you want to see some sumo. Here is today’s Kakuryu vs. Kisenosato:

That’s it for the day in Saitama. Here is your Enho du jour:

enho

 

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 4

🌐 Location: Komatsu, Ishikawa

komatsu-dome

Today the Jungyo found itself in the Komatsu Dome, a semi-outdoors stadium, rather different than the usual local gymnasiums where the Jungyo takes place. It has a retractable roof and a bare-bones design, and is used to host baseball, soccer, and other turf-based sports. Well, tatty artificial turf, but still.

And there is no air-conditioning there. At all.

And it was 32ºC (~90ºF) today.

Did I mention it was hot?

There were electric fans and “tsurara” – blocks of ice, of which the rikishi made as much use as they could. For example, Kyokushuho thought this would be an ideal place for his rubber-band training:

kyokushuho-ice
Komatsu Hot

Takekaze, on the other hand, used the ice to cool off his aching elbow:

takekaze-ice

You can imagine that doing fansa under such conditions is not easy. But Kakuryu was very dutiful:

kakuryu-fansa
Where is Shinzan (the scary-looking bespectacled tsukebito) when we need him?

Despite the heat, some rikishi made good use of the facilities for some track-and-field:

Participants, from the left: Terutsuyoshi, Nishikigi, Shodai, officiated by Shohozan. And… Shodai could have won this, if he only had a… better… start…

The NSK’s PR department made an appearance in today’s event, for the first time bringing the NSK’s mascot, Hiyonoyama, to the Jungyo. They were there to promote ticket sales for the Aki basho, which start in a few days. They picked a nice way to do it – videos of “guess the rikishi”, followed by “come and support us in the basho, ticket sales start on August 4th”. I’m including a few of those here, you can see them all in the NSK’s twitter account if you want:

This mystery rikishi was captured in his undies. Doesn’t seem to bother him much, though.

And this one was actually captured coming out of the bath! And got photobombed, too.

“Make sure you come!” cries the intruder.

Apart from this, business was as usual. Onosho did some suri-ashi on the artificial turf:

onosho-suriashi

Goeido lended his chest to Tobizaru. The Ozeki seems to enjoy this immensely.

goeido-butsukari-tobizaru

Yutakayama and Asanoyama engaged in an energetic moshi-ai bout. A moshi-ai is a series of bouts, in which the winner decides who his next rival will be. This always involves several anxious rikishi hovering around and begging to be selected as soon as the current bout is over:

yutakayama-asanoyama-moshiai

The king of the moshi-ai in this Jungyo seems to be none other than Aoiyama:

asanoyama-aoiyama-moshiai
Aoiyama vs. Asanoyama

He has been doing serial moshi-ai (which means he was winning) for four days in a row now. Today it was just four, but on day 1 he had 5 bouts, on day 2 11, and on day 3 9 straight moshi-ai bouts. He is taping padding to his injured heels, and gambarizing in general, and it seems to be working.

Komatsu is in Ishikawa, and there are two and a half sekitori Ishikawa boasts as its own. These are Endo, Kagayaki, and Enho:

three-ishikawa-natives
Enho in a Taiho yukata, Endo in a Takanohana Yukata, and Kagayaki going for monochrome sakura.

169cm Enho right next to 193cm Kagayaki. It’s the story of his life, really:

enho-with-kagayaki-in-middle-school
Enho and Kagayaki, or rather Nakamura-kun and Tatsu-kun, in their middle school days.

Endo is, of course, the undeniable superstar of the three. He was everywhere. He gave butsukari:

endo-butsukari-daishoryu
The victim is Daishoryu (I think he is his tsukebito)

He also received some butsukari:

yutakayama-butsukari-endo
The chest is offered by Yutakayama

The okonomi acts of the day also involved the local boys. In addition to the usual Shokkiri (this time by the Kasugano pair, they seem to be alternating), Endo was used to demonstrate how an oicho-mage is tied:

endo-oicho

The other okonomi allowed Enho, who is not a sekitori, to also partake of the limelight. How? Well, put Hakuho on stage for a rope-tying demonstration:

hakuho-rope
Enho on the right, pulling with every ounce of his (considerable) strength

The three local boys were also in the news! So here are three torikumi packed into one news report:

Whoa, that’s some nice tsuri-yori from Enho there. Churanoumi gets a reminder why he is going back to Makushita while Enho back to Juryo.

That’s it for today. If I get my hands on the Musubi or any other bout I’ll add it here. Here is your daily Enho (as if you didn’t have enough…):

obEnho4
The kid is actually wearing an Kokonoe shirt… Oops…

PS – Since I found this on the net after the post was already published, but couldn’t just let it slip away: Here is the full opening drum roll:

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 2

🌐 Location: Otsu, Shiga

hakuho-practices-tachiai

The Jungyo took the sekitori to Otsu today, where 2300 spectators came to enjoy some sumo.

Lest people fall under the impression that Shiga prefecture is all about stinky fermented sushi, Yutakayama is here to provide you with a more balanced view of the menu.

Yeah, that’s Yutakayama + tsukebito + Shodai + tsukebito + my mouth watering.

The Jungyo day opened with a drum roll:

drum-welcome

Note how yobidashi performing the drum duty don’t wear the special Yobidashi costume (Tattsukebakama).

Sekitori were practicing where they can – on or off the dohyo. Here are Ishiura and Chiyonoumi.

Mitakeumi, who didn’t practice on the dohyo yesterday, and said to the press that he was doing things at his own pace, suddenly showed up on the dohyo and gave butsukari geiko and general pushing guidance.

mitakeumi-gives-butsukari

It’s not that the Yusho winner just woke up in a mood for keiko today. He is known to hate keiko. This attitude does not fly too well with the veterans. Hakuho already said yesterday that once he feels well enough to get on the dohyo, he is going to give Mitakeumi a lovemaking session he will never forget. I hope a video of that turns up because Hakuho tends to make his torture sessions very entertaining.

But Hakuho was not the only one miffed by the lazy would-be-Ozeki. Kasugano oyakata gave the sekiwake direct orders to start guiding the youngsters. So he did, and then told the press how important it is to guide the youngsters. 😀

The rikishi were not only practicing – there was also fansa (“fan service”) to be done. Kakuryu was being polite:

And Hakuho also signed stuff before going in to get dressed up. But he somehow seems rather impatient about it:

The thing to note about this scene, though, is how the Yokozuna is wearing a chon-mage, while his tsukebito is wearing an oicho-mage. This is the kind of thing you’ll see only on a Jungyo. His tsukebito, Kasugaryu, is the yumi-tori performer. Apparently, he gets his hair done for the performance early – perhaps in order not to bother the Tokoyama while they are busy with the sekitori. So he and the shokkiri team walk around in fancy hairdos while the sekitori are still wearing their off-stage chons.

Speaking of shokkiri, it turns out that today we had a different shokkiri team. Yesterday we had Shobushi and Ebisumaru, but today they were replaced by Tochimitsuru and Tochisato of Kasugano beya. Here is their act:

Once again we have the gyoji involved in the shokkiri routine. Kudos to that gyoji. I wouldn’t dream of fighting with a rikishi of that size.

Here is a curious way of getting ready for the Torikumi:

terutsuyoshi-hidenoumi
Terutsuyoshi feeling up Hidenoumi. Terutsuyoshi is a very touchy-feely guy for a Japanese.

Yes, there were torikumi. The star of the day, in lieu of any local sekitori, was the former sekitori Nionoumi. And he won his (Makushita) match with Daishoryu and even got interviewed, where he said he aims to win all his bouts in the Aki basho and become sekitori again. Just so you know, in the last three basho he was 2-5, 4-3, 4-3. Tall order, I’d say, especially given the bubbling cauldron that is the top of Makushita today.

The four missing Mongolians were back in action today and participated in the Juryo torikumi.

The only bout I have any information about is Takakeisho vs. Endo, which Takakeisho won, apparently using yotsu-zumo. Again. I wish I had a video of that, but the only one I do have is the musubi-no-ichiban:

Once again, what’s up with Kakuryu’s foot?

And of course, I’ll finish with the obligatory Enho:

obEnho

Because let’s face it, the sumo ladies just love this guy.

Day 9 In The Lower Divisions

Today was an interesting day in the lower divisions. Here are some stories (guided, I admit, mostly by what can be found by the way of videos, which is not much this basho):

Jonokuchi

First and foremost, it was Hattorizakura’s birthday today. He is now officially an adult by Japanese law. And he engaged in today’s bout like an adult:

This is the true meaning of gambarization. Too bad it didn’t work out. The rival, Houn, BTW, has only ever won against one person. Hattorizakura, of course.

Jonidan

Shunba, who is known to many of us as Terunofuji’s fatherly tsukebito, and who now serves as Takarafuji’s tsukebito, has lost some weight and seems to have gained some energy together with that. He is now kachi-koshi, and has a good chance of making it back to Sandanme next basho. Unfortunately, I found no shareable footage of this bout.

Sandanme

How are our three princes faring?

First, let’s look at Naya, Taiho’s grandson (and Takatoriki’s son, which is a fact the press likes to gloss over). Most of the bouts he engaged in looked one-sided, but today he met his high-school rival, Kototebakari.

Ah, apparently Naya stretches diligently. That didn’t look like a comfortable pose down at the edge of the dohyo. This loss probably denies him the Sandanme Yusho.

The second prince is, of course, Asashoryu’s nephew, Hoshoryu. He already dropped one bout on day 1. I’d say that was ring rust for sure, because he has been looking quite formidable since. Here he is against Tochikodai:

Kachi-koshi. The prince continues his ascent.

The third prince is the heir to the kingdom of Kotooshu, Torakio of Naruto beya. He has had a very strong basho so far – much better than his previous three. Unlike Naya and Hoshoryu, he still maintains the possibility for a yusho with this bout:

But wait, what was that at the end there? He seemed rather aggressive as he pulled his arm away Hokutoshu’s arm lock. Let’s look at this from a different angle (the following video has a glitch, but it’s time stamped to the replay of this bout which is fine):

Ahem. That’s not how a rikishi is supposed to behave. And his stable noticed.

Naruto beya’s tweet translates:

Good day, everybody. Here are the results for day 9:

Torakio wins, 5-0
Kawamura wins, 3-2

Some allowance may be made for the fact that Torakio has little dohyo experience. And yet his behaviour at the end of today’s match lacked respect towards his rival. He shall be strictly disciplined.

“When you win, don’t gloat. When you lose, don’t sulk”. “Start with a bow, end with a bow”. Fundamentals first.

In addition, it seems that Torakio once again ends a bout with some level of injury. Let’s hope that he learns manners and keeps up the good sumo.

Makushita

Tomisakae from Isegahama – known mostly for his agile backflips, his charming smile, and a shikona that stands out in a heya fulls of Terus and Fujis – has recorded five straight wins for the first time in his sumo careers. He seems to be bursting with genki:

If he does find himself with a surprising Makushita Yusho (which mathematically he is in the race for), he will find himself next basho in the Makushita purgatory – the zone separating heaven from hell. That will be a whole different story.

Enho is currently in that same purgatory, and his chances of making it back to sekitori heaven have improved with Murata dropping out of the basho after an injury. Of course, for this you have to have a kachi-koshi. And the schedulers were not merciful today, sending him to a Juryo bout against a rival 26 cm taller than him – Kizenryu, the purgatory yo-yo, who has spent no less than 9 basho in Juryo, but none consecutively.

Yo-yo or not, 26 cm, let alone the near 50kg weight difference, are something to be reckoned with. So let’s take a look at one of the best bouts of the day:

At first, Kizenryu denies Enho access to his mawashi. Enho takes a step back and then attacks again, this time finding his favorite mae-mitsu grip. Then he changes his grip to the back of Kizenryu’s mawashi. Kizenryu manages to get a grip on the pesky little mosquito’s mawashi. Enho tries a throw, realizes he doesn’t have the right hold, lets go of the mawashi with his right hand and grabs the leg. Within seconds – the end. Worth watching again from another angle:

This Ashitori got Enho first place in the kanto-seishin, the crowd favorite ranking, for the Juryo division – despite the fact that he is not in Juryo at all… yet!

Juryo

Alas, my personal Jurya favorites have all been losing today:

Aminishiki-Kotoyuki.

Aminishiki is doing well for his age and condition, and managed to tie Taiho’s record of career wins (8th place, 872 wins) yesterday, but not to pass him today. Still has 5 days in which to get 2 wins for a kachi-koshi.

Terutsuyoshi was trying for straightforward sumo against Chiyonoo, but it didn’t work out for him:

Another favorite of mine is Chiyonoumi, the newcomer to the Juryo division. He is not doing badly for a beginner, with 5 wins in 9 days, but today he didn’t get one of them:

Takanoiwa seems to be heading for the Juryo Yusho. He has made his kachi-koshi already, at a record speed for himself as a sekitori. That is, this is the first time in his sekitori career he has only one loss in 9 days.

Good survival skills, there! Whether or not he wins the Yusho, we are almost certain to see him back in Makuuchi next basho (well, unless he happens to be in the same place as a Yokozuna and a Karaoke remote control again).

Akiseyama, the local Aichi boy, has been suffering greatly in this basho. He was down to seven straight losses, when he decided to go back to wearing his old purple Mawashi.

In purpule mawashi – two wins.

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 – Days 5 and 6

sanyaku-soroi-bumi-himeji
san-yaku soroi-bumi

Day 5

🌐 Location: Himeji, Hyogo prefecture

3800 people came to view the event in Himeji. The main objects of interest were, of course, the Hyogo local boys – Myogiryu, who comes from Takasago, some 10km from himeji; Terutsuyoshi, from a nearby island; and the young jonidan Teraowaka, of Shikoroyama beya.

Myogiryu was the object of a demonstration of oicho-mage construction, while Terutsuyoshi played with the kids:

terutsuyoshi-himeji-kiddie

Those kids are almost Terutsuyoshi’s size…

The jinku team members in their borrowed kesho-mawashi basked in the adoration of the spectators.

jinku-team-having-fun
The hills are alive with the sound of music

Of all the bouts, the only one I have anything about is the musubi-no-ichiban. I don’t know the result, but since Hakuho is closer to the ring, I guess it was his win:

hakuho-vs-kakuryu-himeji

Day 6

🌐 Location: Takarazuka, Hyogo prefecture

3150 people came to view the jungyo event in Takarazuka.

As in every Jungyo event, there was a speech by the mayor. However, this time, the mayor happened to be female. This means the speech was not delivered from the dohyo:

Tomoko Nakagawa, mayor of Takarazuka

The mayor addressed the issue in her speech: “Not being able to deliver my speech from the dohyo is frustrating and painful”. She later held a press conference, in which she said she was insulted by the salt thrown after the incident in Maizuru (Note: salt is thrown on the dohyo whenever a serious injury occurs on it. It’s also thrown as a marker of separation between events and even thrown if practice seems somewhat subdued. The claim that it was thrown because of the women is false). She also added that she will write to the NSK and ask them to treat men and women equally, whether it’s on or off the dohyo, implying that if women have to give speeches from the side of the dohyo, men should have to do the same.

The mayor’s speech got a mixed reaction – applause on the one hand, jeers on the other (mostly by male spectators). The discussion is becoming heated. While everybody agrees that women should be allowed when life is at stake, there are many – men and women – who think that breaking away from this tradition or even asking for it to be broken is not warranted.

On to actual sumo.

Tobizaru worked hard enough to get his hair in zanbara again:

Ichinojo practiced his kaiju mode, grabbing kids and eating them. OK, maybe not eating. But certainly giving them atomic wedgies.

By the way, there were over 30 local kids, starting from those little “play with the big mountain” toddlers and through to serious wanpaku sumo practitioners. Ichinojo was not alone on that dohyo – there were Kaisei, Ryuden, Chiyoshoma as well.

Takayasu decided to invite the ever-popular Endo for butsukari. Takayasu does butsukari with all his heart. So Endo ended up looking like this:

Takayasu showing his love and compassion

By this time, Hakuho was on the dohyo as well, doing his shiko and waiting his turn after the Ozeki. He revived Endo by pouring some water on him (it’s common practice for a third party to do that, especially high rankers):

Hakuho bastes the roast

You can’t really see endo and Takayasu in this video, but pay attention to Hakuho. He is priming the audience for applause, and when Endo finally manages to push Takayasu out, the Yokozuna gives the signal:

Then Hakuho himself started training on the dohyo. He did reverse butsukari (that’s when the lower ranked man offers his chest to the higher ranked one) with Ishiura.

Note the tsukebito waiting at the side of the dohyo for the incoming sliding sekitori:

As you can see, at this point Takayasu is on the sidelines, continuing to practice with his tsukebito. Here he tries to sharpen his leaning skills:

Tsukebito are busy people…

In sadder news, Terunofuji has gone kyujo. He was on the bout program. In Jungyo, they don’t do the fusensho thing – the Jungyo is intended to entertain the audience. Terutsuyoshi filled in for him, meaning that Terutsuyoshi did two bouts this day.

Musubi-no-ichiban:

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!

Juryo: Haru Storylines Week 2

EDION Arena - Enho vs Wakatakakage - Haru 2018 Day 8 Juryo

As we’re midway through the competition and have already revisited our “Ones to Watch” from the bottom four divisions, let’s check in on the storylines facing the men of the Juryo division heading into the second week of action:

1. Can Kyokutaisei win promotion?

Needs for success: 8 wins

Second week prognosis: He’s on the right path, but has been tested. He sits 4-4 after 8 days. He’s at a rank where you’re going to be called up to makuuchi to get tested and make up the numbers, and he’s failed both tests so far (against Aoiyama and Ikioi). His day 8 loss was maybe a bit unlucky in that he nearly pulled out the win, but he’s going to have to find four wins from former top division men like Terunofuji, Gagamaru, and Chiyonoo in the coming days.

2. Golden Oldie Revival?

Needs for success: Old timers show results that state their case for a return to the big time in circumstances where more questions are being asked about how much longer they’ll remain in the sport.

Second week prognosis: Of the five rikishi we’re picking on, Takekaze, Sadanoumi, and Gagamaru look as though they are positioning themselves for quick and perhaps once thought improbable returns to the top flight. All men have six wins after 8 days. Aminishiki, meanwhile, looks set for a rather longer stay in the second tier, clearly hobbled by injuries and destined for a potentially brutal make-koshi. Tokushoryu looks like he might be treading water at his level with a 3-5 start.

3. Whither Kaiju?

Needs for success: passing expectations with a competent kachi-koshi, exceeding expectations with a thunderous yusho challenge and return to makuuchi.

Second week prognosis: Terunofuji is going to run into a handful of guys looking to state their promotion claim in the second week which he starts at a record of 4-4. It’s been a mixed slate so far: the technique is still there, but the strength has eluded him as he looks to rebuild his status following injury and diabetes related issues. Odds are he pulls out four more wins from seven, but he may need another tournament at this level in Tokyo this May before making his return to the big time. Curiously, when I attended Day 8, the applause for Terunofuji during both the Juryo dohyo-iri and his own match was muted compared to many other former makuuchi men in the Juryo division. I would have thought he’d get a least a little more love than he did, all things considered.

4. Takanoiwa

Needs for success: passing expectations with a competent kachi-koshi to knock off the cobwebs, exceeding expectations with a yusho challenge.

Second week prognosis: He won’t challenge for the yusho or even much of a move up the rankings list at Natsu on current form. He finds himself 4-4 and shouldn’t be in any danger of demotion, but he needs to find at least 3 wins to keep himself in the division and regroup for next time. At times the strength of the Takanoiwa we are used to seeing has shown up, but he’s found himself amidst a group of young, hungry rikishi who aren’t giving any quarter in their own efforts to establish themselves as sekitori. The rest of his matches should be against mid-Juryo veterans having middling tournaments, so there’s an opportunity at least to build momentum – after Mitoryu he’ll have faced all the fierce young talents in his way this tournament.

5. The Second Wave

Needs for success: These talented youngsters either need to: Cobble together enough wins to consolidate place in division (Yago, Takagenji, Daishoho, Terutsuyoshi), limit damage and try to avoid demotion if possible (Enho, Takayoshitoshi), continue progress with good kachi-koshi (Mitoryu)

Second week prognosis: Mixed bag, as expected.

Out of the first group (Yago, Terutsuyoshi, Daishoho and Takagenji), only Daishoho looks safe right now with a 5-3 record. Yago’s 2-6 tally leaves him in immediate danger of demotion, and the others are 3-5 and need to find 4 wins from somewhere.

Unfortunately for all of them, they won’t come at the expense of Takayoshitoshi as the kyujo man has faced all of them (except his brother), so none of them will pick up a helpful fusen-sho from his abdication in light of pummeling his tsukebito (instead it will be Ms1 Hakuyozan who picks up the win). Takayoshitoshi was 3-5 and likely heading for the demotion that has now been all but confirmed, and should he indeed remain withdrawn from the entire tournament then he will likely face a drop steep enough to leave him without a tsukebito for at least a couple more tournaments.

Enho, meanwhile, has delivered on his excitement, but hasn’t delivered in terms of wins. His overpromotion has left him a little exposed at the level as he’s even dropped 2 matches to visiting makushita men (and future sekitori) Hakuyozan and Wakatakakage. You can’t do that if you’re trying to stay in the division, and it’s likely that he may face an equally steep demotion as Takayoshitoshi: on current form both men will probably find themselves somewhere between Ms8 and Ms10.

Finally, if there’s a silver lining, it’s been Mitoryu. Much like his progress in Makushita, after taking one basho to settle, he’s really found his form and posted a 7 win tally over the first 8 days. Guys like Takanosho, Kotoeko and Gagamaru are in his future, and possibly if he continues to lead the yusho arasoi, potentially even Takekaze. So, it’s possible that this week we may already get to see what the talented young Mongolian can do against men with top level pedigree, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that on current form he will pass  his compatriot Terunofuji on the May banzuke.

Day 8 – The Lower Divisions

Short one today, as I really have to get going with my packing…

kotoeko-terutsuyoshi
Kotoeko toppling Terutsuyoshi

Let’s start with Takanoiwa vs. Yago. This was a lovely, prolonged bout, starting with a bit of tsuppari and continuing as a mawashi fight, with experience talking at the end.

A point to note on the sidelines: Takayoshitoshi arrives late and out of breath. His bout was the one after the next, and he should have been there on time in case his side lost, to give the chikara-mizu.

Josh included a video of Enho vs. Wakatakakage in his Ones To Watch summary, but Enho’s bouts are so entertaining, so here is the One-And-Only version, from a slightly closer angle:

Enho definitely needs to get himself at least a Terutsuyoshi body, and will need to do so in Makushita at Natsu, unless a miracle occurs.

Terutsuyoshi himself, as well as all the rest of the Isegahama Juryo rikishi, lost his bout today, to Kotoeko, whom he usually beats.

Yet another entertaining bout. I think they should create a division for rikishi under 175cm. It will be a marvel to watch.

At Makushita, the torikumi masters once again matched up zensho winners to test their strength and cull the race. Midorifuji met Nakazono:

The slight Midorifuji was no match for the massive Nakazono, and is now 3-1.

At Jonidan, I thought I’ll give you a glimpse of the oldest active rikishi – Hanakaze – who is nearly 48 years old – almost as old as myself! Here he is matched with Chida, a 20-year-old whose parents are probably younger than Hanakaze.

Nice to see his expression as he manages to escape the tawara that first time.

Finally, here are two Jonokuchi bouts, courtesy of the… Hattorizakura Channel… Yes, it’s a thing. And it features some darn high quality videos.

First, you won’t get away without Hoshoryu. Here he is pitted against one of the touchstones. That is, a rikishi who is extremely heavy, and whom you need good thinking and execution to beat. Kenho weighs 238kg, or so says the video title.

Hoshoryu tries a bit of tsuppari, then turns the big boulder around, and shows him the way out.

And since we are on the Hattorizakura channel, here is Hattorizakura’s 100th loss, at 4K, for your pleasure:

Note to lower division fans: I’m going to skip tomorrow, as I need to get ready for my trip. On Tuesday I’ll probably do a combined Juryo/Makuuchi post. After that, I’m on my way to Japan, and I hope I’ll be able to post stuff I have seen live on Saturday.

 

Day 7 – What’s Down?

 

Today has also been an exciting day in the divisions below Makuuchi. In particular, many rikishi at Makushita and below have achieved kachi-koshi today, with strong 4-0 records. But let’s start at Juryo.

terunofuji-tsurugisho
Terunofuji-Tsurugisho. The ex-Ozeki was happy with his sumo today

In the bottom battles, Hefty Smurf Terutsuyoshi got a rival from Makushita – Asabenkei – and should have been able to improve to 4-3, but fell victim to a slippiotoshi he was very unhappy about.

Takayoshitoshi was subjected to a nodowa treatment that seems to have limited his oxygen supply and stopped his win streak.

Enho got to face Yago. And as usual, this was an entertaining battle:

Enho goes for his usual maemitsu hold, and you can see how he keeps improving his underarm grip (technically, this is a hidari-yotsu but with his head buried in Yago’s armpit, it doesn’t look like it), inching towards Yago’s back. Then he performs a shitatenage. Here is the front side (from SumoSoul’s Twitter):

So Enho secures another win, and he’ll keep on providing us with entertaining sumo, but his chances of staying at Juryo are still very slim.

Mitoryu removes the blob-in-a-mawashi, Akiseyama, from the Juryo yusho run – at least for the time being:

It’s always fun to see one of the pixies beating someone 15cm taller, so here is Tobizaru vs. Takagenji for you:

Yes, also a shitatenage. Come to think of it, this was not a good day for the Takanohana beya gang. Takakeisho, Takanoiwa and both twins got a black star today.

Terunofuji got Tsurugisho today. Why was he happy with his sumo (on the Isegahama web site: “I’ll strive to keep fighting like I did today and get a kachi-koshi”)?

I swear, for a moment there I thought I saw Terunofuji! Oh wait.

I can’t find any video of Aminishiki’s bout at the moment, but he won by his typical hatakikomi. If a video surfaces, I’ll embed it.

Finally, Takekaze continues his journey back to Makuuchi, and Sadanoumi loses for the second time:

Quite powerful sumo from the veteran.

Let’s head down to Makushita.

The torikumi guys are starting to separate wheat from chaff, and matched Chiyonoumi against Hakuyozan, both lossless before today.

A fierce tsuki-oshi battle, that ended up, sadly, with Chiyonoumi landing on a lady in the third row. Hakuyozan secures his kachi-koshi.

They did the same thing with Murata and Wakamotoharu (one of the Onami (“waka”)  brothers, if you recall):

Murata very dominant, and kachi-koshi.

Wakatakakage and Akua were both 2-1 coming into the following bout.

Ah. Wakatakakage, do you really need that henka?

Down at Jonidan, once again zensho rikishi were pitted against each other. And finally I get an individual video of Yoshoyama. Thank you, One And Only.

Finally, we get to see some of the strength Yoshoyama was purported to have. Watanabe tries to make this an oshi battle, but most Mongolian rikishi don’t really go for that (Tamawashi is a notable exception) and Yoshoyama quickly secures a hidari yotsu and dances Watanabe to the edge. Yoshoyama is kachi-koshi.

Torakio has also been matched against another lossless wrestler, Nishiyama, but received his first kuroboshi and has yet to secure his kachi-koshi.

This was a lovely bout for such a low division, and Torakio looks just about to win it when Nishiyama converts it to a perfect utchari.

And finally, Jonokuchi, and the famous grandchild Naya goes against Kotomiyakura, once again, in a bout of lossless rikishi. Guess who won.

I think Naya is starting to be frustrated at the lack of challenge. Wait, grandkid. Once you get to Makushita you’ll get to enjoy some real challenges.

Another similar bout between two lossless rikishi was the one between Shinfuji and Kayatoiwa, the Jonokuchi #1.

Of course I was rooting for the Isegahama man, but… what was that? Clear lack of experience, I’d say. Too bad. Kayatoiwa is a Sandanme regular who was kyujo for two consecutive basho and found himself back in Jonokuchi, and he has no intention of staying there. Kachi-koshi and a certain return to Jonidan.

 

Day 6 – The Lower Divisions

Once again, Kintamayama has been in a generous mood and provided us with a Day 6 Juryo digest. Head over there and watch the whole thing.

Now, quickly repeat this sentence five times in a row: Takayoshitoshi beats Terutsuyoshi by okuritaoshi. The winner gets a free Acme Tongue Straightener.

Terutsuyoshi tried to reverse the charges and perform an ipponzeoi, but this time it didn’t work – his toe eventually touched the soft earth around the tawara and the gunbai pointed to Takayoshitoshi.

Why “this time”? Because he did something very similar with Takayoshitoshi’s twin brother back in November.

Takanoiwa got to do the splits, courtesy of Tochihiryu, a guy coming up from Makushita to fill in the gaps. Ouch.

Akiseyama is back to being a blob in a mawashi. He starts by launching a convincing tsuppari on Takagenji, but an attempt to switch to the mawashi gives Takagenji the initiative, and Akiseyama somehow manages to waddle his way out of the mess, and keep his place on the leaderboard.

Enho said in an interview on NHK yesterday that he wants to be a rikishi who gives the spectators an interesting match to watch. And he is certainly doing that. Only… he is already 1-5, has the worst balance in the three bottom ranks, and looks well on his way to lose the “zeki” suffix from his name and his newly assigned tsukebito.

mitoryu-helps-enho-up
Mitoryu lends Enho a hand up

Amakaze grabs his first win of the basho. I like Amakaze, I wish he may get a kachi-koshi, but winning his first white star on the sixth day means this is somewhat unlikely.

Homarefuji sends Gagamaru out under his own inertia, and is the only sekitori from Isegahama to win a bout today. By which I’m spoiling the next bout, which is Kotoeko vs. Terunofuji who is back to haunting the dohyo rather than dominating it. Kotoeko gets inside and lifts Terunofuji up, and the ex-Ozeki sums it in his own words: “My worst executed loss so far. If I don’t move forward I’m toast”.

(Well, my free translation of his own words, that is. He never mentioned any actual toasts in the Japanese version on the Isegahama website).

Tsurugisho can open a school to teach henka technique. That was the hennest henka in Kawashiland. Excuse the Japlish.

Aminishiki continues to suffer. He tries a heroic throw at the edge but can’t keep himself in balance long enough.

Sadanoumi loses for the first time in this tournament, and now nobody has a lossless record in Juryo.

Finally, Azumaryu meets Takekaze, who seems to be the genkiest we have seen him in months. Unless he gets very tired by the second half, the bullfrog is leaping back to Makuuchi.

Makushita

Midorifuji continues his winning streak, this time facing Ichiki:

Midorifuji is yet another rikishi in the “angry pixie” class – 169cm including his chon-mage. Ichiki here is slightly taller and heavier, but the more explosive Midorifuji wins the day.

Toyonoshima faces Asahiryu, the Mongolian from Asahiyama beya, and pretty much overwhelms him:

That boy is already two years in Sumo. He should put on some more weight.

Sandanme

Let’s take a look at Hikarugenji – that’s the man I introduced in the Pearl of the Day a couple of days ago. He is Arawashi’s tsukebito, and like most tsukebito, seems to be a fixture at Sandanme:

Here he is facing Chiyodaigo, the 20-year-old from Kokonoe. Can’t say this was exactly a matta, but Chiyodaigo seems to be caught off-guard.

Jonidan

Yoshoyama faced Kotoharamoto. I don’t have an individual bout so again, here is the complete Jonidan recording, time stamped for Yoshoyama’s bout (25:36):

I’m still not loving his tachiai, but the guy has technique alright. By the way, as the wrestlers start doing their shikiri, the announcer and the guest are discussing Kotoharamoto’s good sumo body, when the guy turns and shows the camera his front side. The guest promptly says “Oh, he reminds me of Kagayaki”. Jee, I wonder why.

The announcer calls that an okuridashi, but the official kimarite is actually tottari. He first has that hand in an ottsuke, and then converts that into a tottai.

Jonokuchi

And finally, we can’t do without Hattorizakura and his continued Sisyphean sumo life:

Day 5 – Below the Curtain

Makuuchi, you may know, means “Inside the curtain”. This is a reference to days gone by, when the top level rikishi were curtained off from the mere mortals, named “makushita” (“below the curtain”). In those days, there was no separate “Juryo” division.

And so, let’s go below the curtain.

Juryo

Everybody’s favorite Uncle Sumo finally managed to pull his first win in this basho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, yes, he-e-e-enka. But it’s really not clear what Aminishiki tried to do there other than confuse Azumaryu. Then followed a short oshi battle which Aminishiki, much to his relief, won.

Another Isegahama beya man who finally got a win after three consecutive losses was Homarefuji.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both rikishi were patient and did a bit of leaning and thinking, but I think Takagenji should have reacted to Homarefuji’s grip change. He didn’t, and the circling continued, and eventually he found himself thrown.

On the other hand, Terunofuji and Terutsuyoshi, who were the leaders for Isegahama the previous day, had a bit of a reversal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terunofuji opened well, but Takanosho managed to turn and put him between himself and the Tawara. Unfortunately, the ex-kaiju still has no staying power on the bales.

Terutsuyoshi had to face the mawashi-wearing-spud, Akiseyama. Actually, today Akiseyama looked a bit more like a sumo wrestler and less like a lucky blob:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He doesn’t allow Hefty Smurf to get anywhere near the front of his mawashi, and eventually catches the little devil and throws him out unceremoniously.

Enho, the Less-Hefty Smurf, had to face Takanoiwa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was quite a match! Enho stuck to the front of Takanoiwa’s mawashi like bad reputation, and wouldn’t let go. Kudos to Takanoiwa for pulling Enho back from the edge of the dohyo after the yori-kiri.

The Juryo yusho arasoi looks like this at the moment:

5-0: Sadanoumi.

4-1: Takekaze, Gagamaru, Takanosho, Mitoryu, Akiseyama

If Takekaze keeps that up, we’ll see him back in Makuuchi by Natsu.

Makushita

Wakatakakage and Hakuyozan were both 2-0 before their bout today.

 

 

 

 

Hakuyozan denies Wakatakakage any access to his mawashi with a barrage of tsuppari. I think Wakatakakage was just a bit too slow today.

For those who were wondering how Chiyootori looks following his injury:

 

 

Well, there is a slight limp there at the end, but generally, despite losing this particular match, he seems to be in a reasonable state to do sumo. Whether he’ll be able to get his sekitori status back is another question. Rumor has it that he has been set as Chiyotairyu’s tsukebito, by the way. Former komusubi, I must remind you.

I’m skipping Sandanme, as I don’t have any quality video to share, noting only that finally Terunohana got his first win.

Down at Jonidan, Torakio continues his decisive race back to the next level. Yusho potential here.

By the way, Torakio may be the star of his heya, but the little smurf, Oshozan, is doing nicely this basho at Jonidan, despite being a rather self-effacing guy (based on his Twitter account, that is).

Finally, the great rivalry developing down at Jonokuchi: Naya, the grandson, vs. Hoshoryu, the nephew.

This is a bad angle for it, so you may want to watch the same bout at Miselet‘s channel, where the entire Jonokuchi broadcast is available. Naya has Hoshoryu in a firm grip and there is really no way for the lighter Mongolian to get away from that grip. I can well imagine these two in three years, throwing a spanner into each other’s Ozeki runs.

Day 4 – Juryo and Below

Not all divisions covered this time.

enho-terutsuyoshi
Terutsuyoshi picks on someone his own size

In the battle of the muscular pixies, the more muscular and experienced pixie, that is, Terutsuyoshi, had the day.

Enho has given Terutsuyoshi all kinds of trouble there, but eventually, the Isegahama man just grabbed his head and didn’t let go. Basically, trying for a hineri on a small opponent is not the greatest idea. Kotenage, and Enho will need to look for his second win someplace else.

In the match that followed that one, Akiseyama, the spud in the mawashi, gave Takanoiwa his second loss. Takanoiwa got a mawashi grip on him, but Akiseyama took advantage of an overcommitment and sent him to the floor in a tsukiotoshi.

Fans of the Flying Monkey, Tobizaru, will enjoy seeing him in his snowy Mawashi vs. Daiseido:

This was an energetic dance all over the dohyo, ending in a hikiotoshi by Tobizaru.

And of course I won’t leave Juryo without an update on the Ghost of Terunofuji, who suddenly looks a lot less ghostly:

Not quite kaiju as yet, but that was a convincing uwatenage, and the former Ozeki has three wins in a row and is probably safe from having to bid farewall to Shunba. On the Isegahama web site, he says he should avoid complacency, and first and foremost, go for a kachi-koshi. Well, now it seems like a realistic goal.

In Makushita, let’s take a look at Midorifuji in his bout vs. Ayanoumi. This developed into quite a lengthy battle, looking most of the time more like Mongolian Wrestling than plain sumo.

No monoii there at the end, and stamina king Midorifuji has the day.

Down at Jonidan, Torakio made another appearance:

That arm and shoulder clearly still bother him, but he uses them nonetheless. And his sumo style is improving.

At Jonokuchi, Hoshoryu made a second appearance as well. Again, I couldn’t find an individual video, so here is a time-stamped video of the complete Jonokuchi set of matches:

The rival is heavy Unzendake. Hoshoryu goes on the attack and manages to get that bulk to the tawara with a lot of gaburi yori. Unzendake does not rely on his weight alone to save him and tries to repel the Mongolian and even starts a throw, but Hoshoryu claims the throw for his own and makes sure he doesn’t touch ground first. That boy doesn’t look like it’s his first sumo tournament.

In an hour or so day 5 starts, and Jonokuchi has the interesting match between Naya and Hoshoryu. It will be Naya’s first real challenge, although he did beat Hoshoryu in the past.

And of course, the Hattorizakura loss-du-jour: