The Jungyo is nearly over. In a few hours, the last event – after a few days of hiatus – is going to take place at Tokyo’s KITTE mall, to be shortly followed by the banzuke announcement and all that come with them.
I’ll keep on writing a few Jungyo reports as my time allows, though, because the basho is still a long way away, and because some of you like reading them, it seems. But I can’t in honesty call them “Newsreels” anymore, because, well, the news are a bit old.
Today I’ll cover the two events that took place on August 14 and 15 at Aomori prefecture. These are days 16 and 17 of the Jungyo. The events at Aomori marked a departure of the Juryo rikishi – with the exception of Kyokutaisei and Ichiyamamoto, who are Hokkaido men and expected in the Hokkaido events. Also, Takagenji, the upper-ranking Taka Twin, has joined the Jungyo after being kyujo for its first part, just as his twin brother in Juryo has left it.
Today’s event took place at Habikino, Osaka. By the way, the English language tour schedule on the NSK website is wrong. It’s actually last year’s schedule.
So, as expected, Hakuho keeps giving kawaigari to youngsters. This time, no genetics – he just picked up Ichiyamamoto, from Nishonoseki beya. You can see him in the photo above, observed by Okinoumi, Shohozan (his senior heya mate), and Tochiozan. Coincidentally, I’ll be talking more about both Okinoumi and Tochiozan further down.
Back to the victim himself, he got five minutes of kawaigari, which is a considerable time (though Hakuho has been known to give 8 minutes or more in the past. I guess not to beginners). Hakuho said he was hitting him too high, which makes sense, because Ichiyamamoto’s sumo style is very close to Abi’s and as you can see, he has rather long legs as well. Hakuho added that there was something fragile about him, but that he does have a “core” and “if there was nothing good about him, he wouldn’t be a sekitori”. Well, I guess that’s the sort of compliments you get when you don’t have yokozuna DNA.
Ichiyamamoto is an odd bird in the world of Sumo. He graduated from Chuo university and became a government worker up in his home area of Hokkaido. But then he decided to switch to professional Sumo, taking advantage of the extended age limit working wrestlers may enjoy, as he was just past his 23rd birthday.
So now he is a sekitori, and he said the practice with Hakuho “gave his status as a sekitori a sense of reality”.
The reporters asked Hakuho if he intended to do Kizakiumi and Ryuko next. He just gave them a big grin. He said “maybe tomorrow the young ones will say there is a devil on the dohyo”. I guess that means he will keep the kawaigari flowing.
Moving on to the next figure in the photo, it was Okinoumi’s 34th birthday today. Mazel tov. His ototo-deshi (younger heya mate), Hokutofuji, gave him a cake.
Okinoumi was a bit embarrassed at the attention, and said he prefers to stand out on the dohyo, and off it he would like to be just an old-fashioned man.
So what about Tochiozan? Well, the day before this Jungyo event, this was aired on TBS. It’s from an episode in a serialized drama called “No-side game”.
The guys practicing at Kasugano beya are supposedly some sort of Rugby club. I’m not sure what that skinny dude is supposed to do in a Rugby club, or what the plot is in general. But anyway, this having aired the day before caused a swarm of reporters to land on Tochiozan today (Tochinoshin being kyujo, he missed the 15 minutes of glory).
Tochiozan was mighty pleased with all the attention. As it turns out, this was filmed some time in June, before the Nagoya basho, for two and a half hours – after morning keiko. Tochiozan recalls “it was quite tiring, since it was after keiko and all, and some of these guys are pro wrestlers and hit rather hard”. There were also former National Team members (in Rugby, I assume) among the group. And he was doing most of the butsukari. Tochinoshin just stepped in for the “star moment”. It’s good to be an Ozeki. Tochiozan recalls he kept getting instructions to assume a more fierce expression and to avoid laughing.
All that attention must have done the veteran some good, because in today’s Jungyo practice, he had 11 rounds of moshi-ai with Tamawashi, Abi, and others, and won 9 of them. Dosukoi!
Hat tip to the folks at GSB. One last check of twitter before I hit the sack and I see this bombshell at the top of my feed:
As Leonid’s pointed out in the comments, it’s not been official yet in that it’s not listed on the official Sumo Kyokai website under absent rikishi but I figure the NHK is an excellent source. Tochinoshin has been having a dreadful ozeki comeback, now 0-6 with the fusen loss.
The aggravated knee injury from last tournament has not recovered sufficiently for the man to pose any challenge to his competition. Though he was able to pick up the victory he needed to regain his rank, he will now be kadoban. The bout against Asanoyama from last night was a quick one and previous bouts demonstrated he really had little ability to change direction and may have been the deciding factor as he had been more competitive in some of the earlier bouts.
Thanks to our friends at AdjaraSport for a great interview video that I am still in the process of editing for time and context. It is a wide ranging conversation and at one point he does discuss his knee. We hope he rests and recovers soon.