Hatsu Preview – The Kisenosato Quagmire

Kisenosato, YDC Keiko Soken, January 7th, 2019

It’s difficult to find a new angle on the Kisenosato story. Some new sumo fans who have joined the readership of this site may not even know what Kisenosato looked like before that injury which put him into the lingering zombie state in which we find him now, and may even be wondering what the fuss is all about.

Foreigners are there to invigorate a sport – but fans seek some sense of identity and belonging – and sumo lost a lot of that as foreigners “occupied” it.

Makuuchi looked a bit different back in Hatsu 2017, when Kisenosato became Yokozuna. Of 42 wrestlers, there were 15 foreigners (compared to 8 in Hatsu 2019). Of 11 san-yaku, there were six foreigners (4/10 now). Of the 3 Yokozuna, all were Mongolian – and there was no Japanese Yokozuna since Takanohana retired in 2003.

With Kisenosato’s promotion to the top rank, the first promotion of a Japanese to that rank in 19 years, sumo fans in Japan felt the sense of identity and personal involvement in the sport was coming back. Grand Sumo boomed. Expectations were high. Jungyo tours exploded. Merchandise sold by the kilo. The adversity story of Haru 2017, when the shin-Yokozuna not only grabbed a second yusho in a row, but also did so injured, became legend. There was an actual Manga about it.

But there is the rub. That injury. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill tendon pull or bone fracture, where you can heal up to some extent, with or without surgery, and grind on until the injuries build up and you have no choice but to retire. He tore his pectoral muscle. That was an injury that could never heal without modern medical intervention, and that intervention never came. And thus, the healing never came, either.

A saga of injury, self delusion, secrecy, wishful thinking and reality checks begins.

Kisenosato’s career, which until that moment boasted spotless attendance – not a basho day missed – has become a string of absences, excuses, self-delusions and shuffling of feet. At Natsu and Nagoya 2017, he tried to start the basho as if nothing happened – only to find himself losing too many bouts for a Yokozuna and pulling in the middle – never mentioning the muscle tear. After full kyujo in Aki, again this same cycle repeated in Kyushu and then Hatsu 2018. This time he had no further injury. He was as healthy as a young lion. Except, of course, that pec. Hatsu 2018 was when he first handed a medical certificate for that damage, being forced to admit it existed at all.

He was told not to try to return again until he was actually able to do sumo. He was full kyujo for the next three basho, breaking the record for consecutive kyujo along the way. He said the next one he will appear on would be his make-or-break basho.

That dimple near the armpit? It’s not going away.

And much to the surprise of all of us, he showed up in Aki 2018, and achieved the so-called “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” – 10 wins. Did that muscle miraculously heal? No, it didn’t. His sumo style changed. Some of that change was due to ring rust, no doubt. But some of it was merely an attempt to compensate for the big hole in his chest by throwing everything and the kitchen sink at his opponent. Each of his bouts in that tournament was a skirmish. Slapping, grabbing, pushing, thrusting.

Then came Kyushu 2018, and on day 1, Kisenosato got injured. This was one of the “normal” injuries for a top division rikishi over the age of 30. But it was probably the last straw. With his new style relying on compensating for his injury with the rest of his body, any little damage to any other part of his body is bound to throw him off-course completely.

Former Yokozuna become exasperated. The YDC becomes (vaguely) exasperated. Fans become exasperated.

I cannot described what followed as anything but a disgrace to everything that a Yokozuna stands for. A Yokozuna can never be demoted. The unwritten law that goes with that privilege is that if he cannot win any more, he should resign.

Dai-Yokozuna Chiyonofuji tearfully announcing his retirement in mid-basho, after losing two bouts upon his return from kyujo.

Kisenosato broke the record for consecutive losses for a Yokozuna – and once again, resorted to going kyujo in the middle of a basho. I fully expected him to go the Chiyonofuji way, but that didn’t happen.

Following that, the YDC issued their first ever “encouragement” decision for him. Most of the Japanese media take that to mean he should be back on the dohyo in Hatsu and look like a Yokozuna or else. Some, like NHK, merely interpret that as “show up for the next basho – no matter how much kyujo you take in the middle – and look like a Yokozuna”. And that’s the crux of the problem – the fact that “encouragement” can be interpreted to mean… well… anything. One cartoonist on Twitter even imagined it as Kitamura from the YDC at the side of the dohyo waving big “Go Kise!” signs.

So Kisenosato went kyujo again. Then went kyujo from the Jungyo. Then promised he would join the Jungyo at Ibaraki but didn’t. Then started a round of “private practices” – closed off to the public. He practices a lot with Takayasu, but with no-one else. He does not go on degeiko. A couple of days ago, Toyonoshima and Kotoshogiku showed up at Tagonoura to work out with the Yokozuna. That visit ringed more like a visit at a sick bed than as a real degeiko leading up to a basho. And of course, that practice was also held in private.

At this point, former Yokozuna are grumbling. Kitanofuji said a few days ago: “There is a time when a Yokozuna has to retire”. Hakkaku, also a former Yokozuna (Hokutoumi), said he would like to see Kisenosato “practice as if this was his last time”. My personal belief is that this charade would have ended a long time ago – if Kisenosato’s stablemaster was a former Yokozuna, with the heya’s support group (koen-kai) to match.

But can Kisenosato pull another Aki 2018?

The YDC Keiko-Soken, where the sekitori all perform in front of the YDC, reporters and members of the NSK board, is a good opportunity for a reality check. No more private practices. No breathless reports about 17 wins against Takayasu. You have to show what your sumo looks like. Hakuho tried to cheat a bit in one of the Keiko-Soken last year by only engaging Shodai. He was taken to task for that.

So how did Kisenosato do in the keiko-soken?

NHK footage from the Keiko Soken

Well… you can see for yourselves. As an unnamed member of the YDC said to the press: “This was not Yokozuna sumo”. Kisenosato engaged only with Kakuryu and Goeido. He was 1-3 against Kakuryu and 2-0 against Goeido. At the end of his second bout with Goeido, although he won, he fell to the ground, hit his hip on the tawara, and then never returned to the dohyo.

His performance was weak. His opponents were lower on the tachiai and lifted him easily. The fact that he elected to end his practice after only six bout was also criticized. Kitanofuji said that “He needs to fight 15 days in honbasho. Only six bouts in practice is not nearly enough”. Kitamura from the YDC noted: “He showed spirit… but there is lingering concern because he hasn’t gained his sumo sense yet”. Hakkaku also noticed the insufficient training. The Yokozuna himself said that he felt his mobility was “not bad”, but you can see his expression in the interview at the end of the above clip. It’s not a happy one.

This is a far cry from the way he looked before Aki. There is less than one week to go before honbasho begins. Hakuho seems to be genki enough for this stage of training. Kakuryu seems to be a little less well. But Kisenosato seems to be still injured, lacking in self-confidence, and out of sumo.

So what’s going to happen?

That’s the difficult question, isn’t it? By all rights, Kisenosato should not have been in this position in the first place. At this point we should probably have written a report about his danpatsu-shiki. What will his stablemaster and koen-kai decide? What will the YDC do? Is he really allowed another kyujo? Is there a point? How long can he keep on calling himself “an active Yokozuna” while not being able to perform the basic function: fight bouts and win them?

Possible scenarios:

  • Kisenosato goes kyujo again, the YDC forgives him and tells him that whenever he shows up, it has to be for the whole 15 days and with good result. The end is delayed yet another basho.
  • Kisenosato goes kyujo again, and this turns out to be a misjudgement. The YDC hands him a reprimand or even a recommendation to retire. He has to retire in shame.
  • He decides to start Hatsu. Fights as much as he can. Retires in the middle.
  • He decides to start. Fights as much as he can. Goes kyujo again. A controversy ensues. He is forced to retire.
  • He decides to retire prior to the opening of the basho.
  • He decides to start Hatsu, and a miracle happens. The author of this post orders 10 hats from Ali Express and eats them all (preferably with a bit of wasabi).

Hatsu, Black Francis & The Reckoning

kokugikan

Andy and Bruce’s comments earlier in the week caused me to reflect on my own wishes for sumo in 2019. We’ve touched a bit on this in the Tachiai podcast (smash that subscribe button!), but in advance of marking the start of another spin around the sun and amidst an ever growing awareness of the passing of time, let me dive into what I’m looking for in sumo in 2019:

The Reckoning

While in Fukuoka, I accused Bruce of being the tin-hatted toilet-paper-hoarding apocalypse-touting fallout bunker dweller of Tachiai, so steadfast has been his insistence that we are on the verge of the great changing of the guard in sumo with never before seen masses of intai and tadpole-shaped superstars (plus Kagayaki) claiming scalps and kinboshi from the mass graves of fallen heroes.

I’ll stop putting words in Bruce’s mouth here, but let me just say, while maintaining the utmost reverence for those mainstays who have provided us joy, that I’m joining ranks with the big man and giving a full-throated welcome to sumo’s next dimension.

Does this mean I’m no longer Mr. Hakuho-2020-Ganbare? Hardly. But, I’m fine with the Boss serving up 2-3 glorious basho a year until the 2020 Olympics. As discussed in that latest Tachiai podcast (like and subscribe) however, we’ve been talking about this for the past year and the only major retirements we’ve actually seen have been tied to the Harumafuji Scandal. Woof.

I want to see a Yusho in 2019 from Takayasu. It’s been there for him to take and it’s time for him to step up and take it and show us he can at least make a case to be Yokozuna. I have a hard time buying into the idea that being a “good” Ozeki would be enough for Takayasu. As things stand he’s the only one of the top 7 ranked rikishi not to have claimed the Emperor’s Cup, and when you consider that sumo is usually dominated by a small group of men (a fact that has been especially true since the rise of Asashoryu and then Hakuho and to a lesser extent Harumafuji), he may never have a better moment.

By the way, The Reckoning doesn’t mean we don’t have time for romantic storylines. Do I want to see a sumo world without Kotoshogiku? Of course not (especially if he brings back the bend). But his two-way career-suicide pact with Toyonoshima adds intrigue as the latter continues his re-emergence as sekitori and continues his climb back towards Maegashira status so that the two men can resume their ages old rivalry. What price a torinaoshi, a final hug, chug and goodnight?

Hot Names for 2019

Takakeisho. Yutakayama. Onosho. Tomokaze. Meisei. Yago. Hokutofuji. Abi. These are the guys I think we will see regularly taking their lumps in the joi by the end of the year. Yes, even shin-Juryo man and yusho-grabber Tomokaze – who should make quick work of the second tier and establish his upper-top division credentials before the leaves turn.

The Pixies

I don’t know about you, but perhaps more than most, I like little-guy sumo. When you talk about the old times, I love Mainoumi. I couldn’t wait for Ura to make it up to the top division and I rooted for Ishiura and still do even when we could all see a henka coming through the thick gritty sludge of a protein shake.

While Ura packed on the pounds (leading some to question whether the bam-thwok of all the pressure on his knees led to his injury) and Ishiura slid out of the top division, there are still a number of smaller rikishi, rough diamonds who are making a considered assault on the slots held by the current crop of rank-and-filers. I predict that all of them will bossanova their way into the top division in 2019. Here come our men:

Terutsuyoshi is the closest, having maintained a lengthy stay in Juryo. The copious salt thrower is, for my money, the man to restore glory to Isegahama-beya and, given the way he shows no fear against gigantic opponents, I think he can ring the bell in the top division for a long time.

Wakatakakage is one of three brothers from Arashio-beya who have troubled the upper ranks of the amateur ranks over the past couple of years. However, he is the first to make it to Juryo and looks to be making quick work of the division. Like Terutsuyoshi, he is a tenacious rikishi, taking his opponents head on. He has a good grasp of fundamentals.

Enho is perhaps the newest darling of the sumo world, and you can tell from the wall of sound that echoes around the arena when he enters the dohyo. If I’m Endo I’m looking over my shoulder with some of these endorsement deals, because this new pretty boy packs a punch and delivers the enthusiasm and frankly excitement that’s been missing from the current pin-up boy’s sumo over the past year. Having quickly debased the credentials of the opposition in the bottom four divisions, his elastic antics call to mind Ura, and I for one can’t wait to see the erstwhile Hakuho-bagboy and the cherry blossom mawashi man have at it with kensho on the line.

The Tachiai Community

It’s been a pleasure to spend another year contributing along with the others on the site. It’s been incredible to see this community continue to grow, and even to meet folks in person at basho in Japan. Please continue to stay in touch with us, and tell your friends in the sumo community. And if the Natsu Tachiai meet-up comes to fruition, then we’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 15 (Dec 20)

Beam me up, Scotty… Oh damn, my communicator badge is on my yukata!

🌐 Location: Kumagaya, Saitama
😛 Goofometer: ◽️◽️◽️◽️◽️

Having completed the tour through the traditional region for the Fuyu Jungyo, that is, Kyushu and Okinawa, the rikishi returned to Tokyo. But the Jungyo is not ended yet – some towns in the Kanto region requested winter visits, and the NSK obliged. So we get to enjoy three additional events following a few days’ break.

That break didn’t include any particular plans at first, but the Takanoiwa scandal caused it to be a bit more eventful. First, Takakeisho had a yusho parade at his high school, which was put off and then moved ahead again. Then, the rikishi received a lecture about the treatment of tsukebito which was supposed to be given in February. And third, the NSK board had a meeting to set the standards of punishment for violence, and for some reason, focused on violent Yokozuna despite the fact that there were four known violent events in the past year that did not involve a Yokozuna in any way.

So I’m pretty sure the rikishi were really glad to get on their busses and get out of Tokyo again:

Indeed, that’s a lot of busses!

And we have two important faces show up again! First, there is this guy:

Yep, Goeido is back and giving butsukari to Chiyonoumi here.

Then, there is this guy:

“Oh, I’m on camera…”

Kakuryu is back! We’ve missed you!

One face that’s conspicuously still missing is that of Kisenosato, the third Yokozuna. All the signs are that he is in a bad state. The knee injury, which was the reason for him pulling out from the last basho, and not showing up for the Jungyo, is still bothering him. Most of the Japanese press interpreted the YDC’s “Encouragement” decision about him as meaning that he cannot go kyujo in Hatsu basho. So an injury that has not healed yet and reports that his practice so far includes only shiko and suri-ashi are not encouraging. He said at first that he will join the Jungyo at this stage, especially the event in his home turf of Ibaraki, but he can’t, and his fans have every reason to worry.

So we have a Jungyo day with three Ozeki and two Yokozuna. Who else showed up?

Takanosho sure did, and has pulling at a rubber tube held by a slightly anxious Taichiyama

The oyakata showed up together with their mini-brooms:

Kokonoe oyakata, who took this picture, informs us that the mini-brooms are there to shake off any dirt flying from the dohyo.

Takakeisho was there for the handshake part. He got to meet a baby. The baby was not so happy to meet him and expressed his opinion at a very high volume. So Takakeisho made this face:

I think somebody is absorbing the true Chiganoura spirit.

Don’t worry, unlike what your grandmother would tell you, he didn’t get stuck in with this face forever. Here he is a while later, with his bestie, Daieisho:

See? No long-term damage to facial features!

Another pair of besties were engaging in mock bouts in one of the corners:

That’s Abi and Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu was asked the other day what he would take with him to a desert island. His answer was “I guess I’d take Abi”. These two are pretty tight.

At the side of the dohyo, we once again have a line forming to greet the Yokozuna. Only, it’s another Yokozuna:

Note how Kakuryu takes care to acknowledge each one’s greeting.

And if that doesn’t give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, how about these two practicing together?

Yep, that’s Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima. And they seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Tochinoshin also received an occasional morning greeting:

Not the same thing as a Yokozuna, but it’s still good to be an Ozeki.

Here are a couple of practice bouts. We have Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo, and Chiyomaru vs. Azumaryu:

Chiyomaru definitely concentrates on practicing with Juryo wrestlers. He has no illusions about his position on the next banzuke.

As for Hakuho, he must have been very bored today. He took up both Takayasu and Tochinoshin for butsukari. There is not much about his session with Takayasu, but with Tochinoshin he had no less than 10 minutes of kawaigari:

Kaio enjoyed a good spectacle

Ten minutes! A six-minute kawaigari is considered tough. I have been covering Jungyo for almost two years and I don’t recall a 10 minute kawaigari.

I’m pretty sure Hakuho was giving him a repeat performance because last time he didn’t seem exhausted enough. So ten minutes this time. And yet the Ozeki rose again and again and kept going. I’m sure the Yokozuna took a mental note: “In a bout with Tochinoshin, don’t rely on being able to wear him down. Find a way to end it quickly”.

After practice, the usual shows took place. There was Shokkiri, with my favorite part in which a toothpick of a gyoji somehow overpowers a big rikishi who was trying to grab his gunbai:

That’s Shikimori Tomokazu rescuing his gunbai.

And there was an oicho-mage demonstration, with the Yusho winner as the model:

This was followed, as usual, with the Juryo dohyo-iri and bouts, and then we had Yokozuna dohyo-iri. So I give you one we haven’t seen for a while:

Yoisho!

The city of Kumagaya is supposed to host a rugby event next year. So they set up a contraption to take promotion pictures with rikishi. The concept was simple: a vertical piece of fake turf with a background that allows anybody who touches a rugby ball to the “grass” to look like he just scored a flying try… if the photo is rotated by 90º.


Good concept, but it had a few difficulties. For example, take a look at Tochiozan “scoring his try”:

Umm… besides the problems with the viewing angle, his sagari is a dead giveaway. Here is the much better actor, Abi:

He succeeds in working around the obvious issue of the yukata sleeves by pretending to hold his sleeve up. But the angle really kills the illusion.

Enho also got photographed. And they really tried their best here:

Yeah, cut away the pesky ceiling and avoid the sagari. If only there wasn’t a gap between the turf and the background panel… or the turf didn’t look like it was held by scaffolding… or the white line didn’t look like a piece of tape…

But hey, it’s the cutest try attempt ever.

So it seems I have more “rugby” photos than I have any sumo bouts. There is absolutely no material about the bouts in this event, other than a report on the musubi-no-ichiban: Hakuho beat Goeido by yori-kiri. Which tells us that Kakuryu was off the torikumi.

And so we arrive at the pin-up corner of this post, and I’ll bid you adieu with Tomokaze:

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 9 (Dec 10)

Wear your sunglasses and prepare your insulin shots – we have a lot of kawaii today!

Shodai, Shodai, Shodai, Ryuko

🌐 Location: Uto, Kumamoto
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◽️◽️

We complete our journey through Kumamoto in Uto, home to two active rikishi. One is Ryuko, a Makushita wrestler who did well this basho and will be in the race for sekitori status in the next basho:

Narutaki, Asakura, Ryuko

Um, Narutaki. What are you doing? I thought we were done with this stuff last jungyo. Anyway, you’re drawing attention away from the local boy!

So, in yesterday’s post’s comments, I was asked whether these tsukebito actually get any practice. Well, yes they do:

Midorifuji tsupparis, Daieisho and Akiseyama look on

The practice session is more or less the same as that of the sekitori, only held earlier. It consists mostly of moshi-ai sessions, punctuated by quick butsukari for the participants. At the later stages, that butsukari is offered by sekitori:

Not that Enho is much of a pushing challenge. In Midorifuji’s case, it seems he got his butsukari from Tamawashi. At least, the mud on his back says he got rolled.

That’s a bit more of a challenge, and apparently Tamawashi makes sure that he didn’t hurt the micro-rikishi.

While the low-ranking wrestlers have their time on the dohyo, the sekitori are either outside in the corridors doing handshakes, or finding themselves quiet spots for some exercise. Meisei, who is out doing handshake, is so cold, he starts laughing uncontrollably:

Ishiura is all like “Who put me next to Crazy here”?

Which may be the reason why later Meisei had to settle for an isolated spot between a stroller and some derelict equipment:

Don’t worry, he didn’t stay alone for long:

A bit earlier, near the dohyo, just as yesterday, the Kokonoe guys do their morning workouts in front of their oyakata. This includes not just the sekitori but also Chiyosakae, who does this:

This seems to embarrass Kokonoe oyakata, whose voice you can hear in the background “take it seriously, will you?”. He also assures us in the tweet that Chiyosakae actually does take it seriously.

Around that same time, Akiseyama arrives at the dohyo and greets Kasugano, the Jungyo master.

I have a feeling Kasugano wishes he didn’t.

In some corner of the venue, Toyonoshima works out with a piece of rubber, assisted by his loyal Miyazaki:

The Juryo men start their own practice on the dohyo. Here is some butsukari between Chiyonoumi and Hakuyozan:

Jokoryu gets to have Ikioi’s chest:

And Enho… well, Enho is everywhere and practices with everybody. That is, anybody who can possibly find an excuse to lay his hands on the pixie:

Even the Yokozuna smiles when his little uchi-deshi greets him with a respectful ladle of water:

You’d think that Enho is the star of the show rather than Shodai. But actually, Shodai got a lot of attention. Some keiko with Asanoyama:

And some with Tochinoshin:

To which Tochinoshin also adds a hearty Kawaigari:

Whoa, I thought military-grade guns were forbidden in Japan!

Practice part over, everybody gets cleaned, have their oicho-mage started, and have lunch. There are food stalls outside, and… it’s the perfect oportunity to grab Enho and ask him for a pic:

Hey, is that a way to start a conversation with a sekitori? Is there a single rikishi in the whole sumo world who doesn’t think the Japanese National Sport is actually “grab the pixie”?

As practice mawashi dry in the sun…

Remember, these things are never washed…

Inside the venue it still seems pretty cold. Take a look at Terutsuyoshi, all bundled into his… is that a kimono or a Mongolian Deel?

Sure looks like a Deel to me, but Terutsuyoshi is not Mongolian.

Nishikigi, on the other hand, gets warm by pestering his tsukebito:

In the entrance, however, Shodai was being photographed with his grandmother:

The Japanese press love Shodai’s grandmother, because of her name. Shodai is one of the wrestlers, like Takayasu, Endo and Yago, who wrestle under their own name. His grandmother’s name is 正代正代 – yes, twice the same pair of kanji, two completely different readings: Masayo Shodai.

It’s time for the Juryo dohyo-iri, and Enho is turning up the kawaii level:

That can’t be a rikishi. It’s a china doll for sure!

Gokushindo is doing the same thing on the East side:

Those two are supposed to face each other this day. And they both exude kawaii like two idol group members on a save-the-cute-bunnies campaign. Enho signals to Gokushindo across the dohyo as they wait their turn:

When Gokushindo gets up on the dohyo, Chiyonoumi gives him the good old salted ladle routine:

Which you can’t blame him for doing, when that’s the reaction he gets. Then the two kings of cute battle in the cutest sumo bout you have ever seen:

I did warn you to prepare the insulin in advance, didn’t I? And those two kept it up even after the bout was over!

Hey! Isn’t sumo fun?

Well, Toyonoshima and Tomokaze were a little more serious about it:

But then came the Makuuchi dohyo-iri and of course, the usual suspects were goofing around. Abi had an arm-wrestling contest with Chiyotairyu:

And Nishikigi was still looking for somebody to bother, and found Shodai:

Shodai: “Come on, my grandma is here!”.

Looks like a little bit of cute rubbed off even on Takarafuji and Asanoyama:

But if you want to see a little actual sumo, here is this short video:

Shodai was paired, unsurprisingly, with Endo, who must be rather frustrated at having to constantly lose to local boys. Utchari, no less!

And how about that tsuridashi Hakuho did on Takayasu? It’s very encouraging to see him do that. Remember, Jungyo bouts are not something anybody is advised to put money on. There are lots of “gentlemen’s agreements” there, and at the very least, nobody is going to risk injury to win. But still, you can draw some conclusions about wrestlers’ health, and if Hakuho can do something like picking Takayasu up, it means his legs are up to the extra load.

By the way, Yoshikaze was back on the torikumi this day for the first time since the Jungyo began – while Yutakayama dropped off it.

With the sun setting, everybody’s Akeni was packed and wrapped and loaded onto the truck (the side-loading Japanese trucks are very clever):

The Akeni and their wraps carry the names of the sekitori. I always amuse myself by trying to identify as many names as possible. Try to learn the kanji for the wrestlers names!

During this visit to Uto, the Yokozuna paid a visit to the grave of Shiranui Nageimon, the 8th Yokozuna, performing his Shiranui dohyo-iri in front of the grave:

Shiranui Nageimon was actually the master of the 11th Yokozuna Shiranui Kotsuemon to whom that dohyo-iri style is (mistakenly) attributed.

And with this, we wrap up the day, tying it all up with Tobizaru:

That lovely Tobizaru really needs to be credited, so here is the Tweet from which he was taken:

Fuyu Jungyo 2018 – Day 3 (Dec 4)

We interrupt the scandal to bring you some relaxing Jungyo stories.

🌐 Location: Kurume, Fukuoka
😛 Goofometer: ◾️◾️◾️◾️◽️

The Jungyo continues its trail through Fukuoka. The rikishi start practicing around the venue. We have Ryuden pumping iron:

Or in this case, pumping Shobushi. The tweet, by the way, says “Oh, I want to be hugged by Ryuden princess-style!” – carrying a person in this position is called “Ohime-sama dakko” – “Princess-style hug”. Shobushi is the princess in this case.

On the first day, Terutsuyoshi was a good boy and didn’t touch Enho at all! But it seems that the phase of the moon changed, the monster is out and about:

Eventually, of course, Terutsuyoshi does end up with at least one hand on his favorite pixie:

Enho doesn’t seem to mind it too much, though. By the way, I was surprised to realize that Takarafuji is taller than Chiyoshoma. Proportions can be misleading. Of course, both look like giants next to the pixie pair.

Rikishi come to greet Asakayama oyakata (the oyakata formerly known as Kaio). He seems to have a little rule: You want to talk to me? Talk to that salt bag first!

Terutsuyoshi as all like “Are you kidding me? All I want is to say my greeting!”. Nevertheless…

Pump that salt! Mission accomplished, Terutsuyoshi can have a few words with the former Ozeki, and make his bow. All the while, Enho is waiting for his turn.

That is to say, he’s pumping that bag as well.

Many photos and videos we share with you actually come from the NSK’s social media. They get ther via the lovely NSK social media ladies:

Bearing in mind that these PR people are, indeed, ladies, there is no wonder we end up with the following Yokozuna practice video:

I’m sure videos like this increase the sales of hand fans at the concession stands at least threefold – even though it’s mid-winter.

Speaking of the Yokozuna, he and Takayasu were comparing their tegata print skills:

One set of paw prints, coming up!
You finished a stack? Hold my beer…

While the Yokozuna wins in the speed and quantity categories, Takayasu totally nails the cool category by getting retweeted by…

And Ms. Rowling wins by having Takayasu retweeting her, of course!

The participants in the Jungyo are the sekitori and their tsukebito. Now, the on-going scandals may make you think that being a tsukebito sucks rocks. The truth is, though, that it all depends on the master you serve. Some are abusive. Aminishiki was asked today (Dec. 7) about the Takanoiwa scandal, and said, among other things: “Your tsukebito is not your plaything. In exchange for helping you with the daily necessities of your career, you are supposed to guide and sort of ‘raise’ him”. Apparently, Aminishiki is not the only one in Isegahama who believes sekitori owe their tsukebito some coaching:

Takarafuji’s tsukebito is Sakurafuji. And Takarafuji gives him both some general tips:

…and actual hands-on practice:

Sakurafuji doesn’t look too miserable being Takarafuji’s tsukebito.

Meanwhile, on the dohyo, there’s some butsukari taking place between moshi-ai sessions:

Here is some Juryo moshi-ai:

Hakuyozan • Kotoeko • Daishoho • Shimanoumi • Wakatakakage

Interesting to note that they have a short shikiri between the bouts. They don’t just go down and tachiai. So here is some Makuuchi moshi-ai:

Takakeisho • Myogiryu • Yutakayama • Kagayaki

Practice time over, the Yokozuna leaves the building, but doesn’t forget his fansa:

Before we turn to the dohyo-iri, let’s take a look at one of the back rooms. Apparently, the rikishi have changed their favorite game this Jungyo.

Narutaki, Mutsukaze, Kyonosato

In the previous Jungyo, it was “Nip the Nipple”. This Jungyo they have switch to the less-painful “Wiggle the Wattle”.

And Kyonosato does have a considerable wattle.

And this leads us right to the dohyo-iri, where Onosho decides to play “Wiggle the Wattle” with Chiyomaru:

Last chance to see Takanoiwa signing autographs.

Dohyo-iri over, and the Yokozuna is also done with his.

I dunno. Takarafuji looks completely out of place in that scene.

It’s bout time. I don’t have many bouts, but I do have this:

Apparently, in Jungyo, Kotoshogiku still entertains the spectators with his back bend.

Shohozan, at this point sitting beside the dohyo as his turn is two bouts later, is apparently impressed, because…

…he totally steals the move.

The only bout of which I have footage is… guess… Enho! He is facing Chiyonoumi.

And Enho does his famous… tsuppari? Tsuppari? Enho?

Well, the Jungyo is the right place to try new stuff, I guess. But Chiyonoumi is all like “Thanks for the gift, man. You do know that tsuki-oshi is my specialty, right?” – and unceremoniously tosses the pixie off the dohyo.

Practice makes perfect, though, Enho.

Time for our pin-up rikishi of the day. And by special request…

Shucks. Golly. Am I on camera?

Um, nope. I’m not going to close a post with Akiseyama. Un-uh.

Now that’s more like it.