Jungyo Newsreel, Day 9

Continuing with my intermittent reporting… The Jungyo finished its first leg, which consisted of winding its way back from Nagoya to Tokyo. The rikishi had one day off in their heya or homes, and then gathered back at the Tachikawa Tachihi Arena in Tokyo, where we land today.

Three of these nobori are for absent rikishi: Tochinoshin, Takakeisho, Goeido
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Jungyo Newsreel – Day 3

🌐 Location: Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture

After going as far south as Osaka yesterday, the tour heads back slightly north to Kusatsu, near Kyoto, on a trail that will eventually lead it to the true Japanese north. But in the meantime, it’s hot.

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Short Jungyo News – Day 2

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.

This is the height at which you’re supposed to hit me, youngster.

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.

(From Hokutofuji’s Instagram)

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!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 16

🌐 Location: Adachi ward, Tokyo

Today’s event is really close to home – at Adachi ward, just north of Sumida, where the majority of sumo stables are located.

And yet, equipment still needs to be delivered and carried into the venue.

That is yobidashi Hiromasa, proving to us that yobidashi is physical work, not just singing and drumming.

Here is Chiyoraizan from Kokonoe beya. Whose baggage is he carrying?

This is Kimura Konosuke’s stuff. Gyoji need their outfits and paraphernalia, too.

The equipment comes from side-opening trucks like this one, which you can see is loaded with sekitori’s akeni:

Akeni are the green-red-black boxes that each sekitori receives upon promotion to Juryo, where he stores stuff like his kesho-mawashi, shimekomi (silk mawashi) and sagari. During transit, akeni are wrapped in plastic or tarp. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many of the Akeni as I can. If you read kanji, or at least memorize shikona, try that yourself. I’ll give you two hints:

  • The ones wrapped in gray are not rikishi’s, but rather gyoji’s.
  • While the name on the Akeni itself matches the sekitori’s current shikona, they rarely replace the tarp. Thus, there are two akeni in the bottom row labeled “Takayoshitoshi” (now called Takanofuji), and “Oyanagi” (now called Yutakayama).

Good luck!

So let’s go inside the venue and see what everybody is doing. Kakuryu seems to be very tired:

Aw, Yokozuna. Why don’t you find something soft to rest your head against and get some shut-eye?

Um… not exactly what I had in mind. But if it works for you…

This early in the morning, Takakeisho is trying to find an out-of-the-way corner where he can work out properly without being disturbed.

It’s not working.

Nishikigi is working out his already formidable arms:

Wakamotoharu and Ishiura are doing their shiko.

Between the two of them, I’m sure there is not a single evil spirit in the ground anywhere in Adachi.

Ichinojo is working with hand weights:

These arms are made for slap-down
And that’s just what I’ll do
One of these days these arms are gonna hatakikomi you!

Later, after he does some on-dohyo training, Hakuho calls him over and gives him a private lesson. “Insert your right arm deeper!” and the like:

When reporters ask the Yokozuna about this, he says “I felt I wanted to do some teaching this Jungyo. Every day I take one man and guide him”.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I am imagining a baton being passed here.

Here are the three top contenders for “kawaii rikishi of the late Heisei era”:

Daishoho – Meisei – Takanosho

And by now Takakeisho arrives at the dohyo, and greets his beloved Daieisho:

Daieisho, Daieisho, wherefore art thou Daieisho?

The reason these two have been called a “couple” throughout this Jungyo is apparently because they were caught in the shitakubeya sleeping wrapped in one towel. If a photo ever turns up…

Hokutofuji, look behind you!

There is a prowling bear!

The bear, I mean, the Ozeki, started actual on-dohyo practice today:

This included, for example, this practice bout with Tochiozan:

Up on that same dohyo, Mitakeumi is giving butsukari to Wakatakakage:

This apparently gets carried beyond the standard end-of-moshiai-session butsukari and into the realm of kawaigari:

Goeido is doing the same for Takanosho:

This session is definitely kawaigari rather than plain butsukari:

Here are a couple of practice bouts: Gagamaru vs. Takanosho, a short interlude showing Tochinoshin working out, then Meisei vs. Kaisei.

This concludes the practice part of the Jungyo. Time for lunch! And Abi is looking for something nicer than a cold bento:

This looks like a mobile stall offering various types of “don” (a bowl of rice topped with something, like curry, chicken, pork, beef, etc.).

I don’t have much from the second part of the day. But here is Takanosho before his bout, having a smiling conversation with his heya-mate, young yobidashi Hiroshi:

And the important news of the day. Do you know what this photo means?

It means Enho is finally back on the torikumi list, doing sumo!

Unfortunately, it looks like he is being yori-kiried by Daiamami here.

No pin-up photo for you today. Instead, here is a video with some comments by Hakuho and Takakeisho. Hakuho responds to questions about his naturalization process. That is, he is not responding to questions about it:

Hakuho: “Nothing is decided yet. I was surprised this made such a splash in the news. There are many supporters, family, relatives I have yet to inform about this. For the time being, all there is to do is wait for the results”.

He says he wants to “Start Reiwa well, following the good closure of Heisei”. The reporters take it as a wish to win his 43rd yusho in May. Of course, there’s that pesky injury.

Takakeisho says he has all but gotten used to his new Ozeki status, and that he wants to work on the fundamentals, because “An Ozeki needs to have a body”.