Jungyo Newsreel – Day 10

🌐 Location: Hachioji, Tokyo

The Jungyo completes its Kansai and Tokai leg, and heads back home to Tokyo. Well, Tokyo is a big city, and Hachioji is further from the Tokyo city center than Yokohama. And while it was merely a cold day in central Tokyo, at Hachioji, it was snowing.

Snowing so much that one of the fans coming to watch the sumo filmed this as they reached the nearby Otsuki station:

Near the venue the snow was not as heavy, but still, we had a freezing Yokozuna:

Why is he going barefoot in such weather?

We also had a freezing oyakata, who was looking enthusiastic about it for two seconds:

And if these two hardy Mongolians freeze…

So, let’s go inside the warm arena, and say our hellos to the Iwasaki brothers at their handshake stations:

Tobizaru & Hidenoumi. Family matters

Smiles are contagious today, and we have this big, wide one from Aminishiki. They are becoming rarer!

In fact, it’s a bit scary…

What’s our big beloved boulder doing today? Well, first, he stretches by the wall, accompanied by his loyal Oka:

Then, he goes over to the side of the dohyo to do some squats:

And finally, he finds a practice buddy – Mitoryu:

Nice synchronization!

Hokutofuji stomps his shiko by the wall. And I do mean stomps:

All evil spirits in Hachioji ground pack up and go to the nearest UN office to apply for refugee status.

Abi practices his yotsu-zumo with Nishikigi:

Nishikigi is not easily moved, certainly not with this weak technique. Somebody please give Abi the basics. Maybe he should go back to the Kakuryu academy.

Toyonoshima works on his arm muscles with weights:

Hakuho arrives at the dohyo. Is greeted as usual. Somebody from his ichimon giving him a respectful ladle? You bet!

Despite being questioned by the Compliance Committee two days before, and that not-too-good-looking arm, Hakuho seems to be in a good mood.

According to this tweet, Tamawashi professes his love to Kotoyuki:

Whereupon Kotoyuki sends him to hell. The poor jilted sekiwake tries to evoke guilt. Kotoyuki unmoved.

You! You dumped me!

Kakuryu diligently does his shiko. This time manages to not smile bashfully doing it.

OK, some practice bouts: Hokutofuji vs. Okinoumi, Tomokaze vs. Meisei:

I wonder who won that last one.

Next, Mitakeumi vs. Asanoyama, then Mitakeumi vs. Ryuden:

Ryuden, I believe, was underranked at M11, and it will be interesting to see him in the upper part of Makuuchi in Natsu.

Practice over, and as Kakuryu leaves he is enveloped by fans asking for autographs:

While he is doing his fansa duty diligently and seriously, Hakuho is doing the same, but in a much lighter atmosphere:

Now, the story behind this picture is as follows:

Tsukebito (I think that’s Umizaru): “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it marked the Yokozuna’s Yukata!”
Hakuho: “I think if we washed it it would be fine”.

Everybody around chuckling. Tsukebito thinks for a while.

Tsukebito: “Please hold your pen with the tip towards yourself! It would be unfortunate if it poked the Yokozuna in the eye!”.
Hakuho: 😆
Tsukebito: “Now, wouldn’t it?”
Hakuho: “I don’t think it’s going to poke me in the eye.”

Everybody around bursts out laughing.

And that’s what they call “Fansa kami-sama” (Fan interaction god). I’m positive nobody who ever went to one of those Jungyo event and interacted with the Yokozuna would be sending the NSK angry letters about the propriety of clapping during yusho speeches.

It’s time for the Juryo bouts. But Wakamotoharu’s oicho-mage is lopsided. Akiseyama offers help:

Akiseyama may be the ugly duckling of the rikishi corps, but he is a good guy.

As Juryo bouts near their end, Kakuryu awaits his cue to demonstrate rope tying:

Nice kesho-mawashi. Too bad it’s always hidden. It’s relatively rare to see a Yokozuna in kesho-mawashi and no rope.

And it’s time for the Makuuchi dohyo-iri. Most rikishi are busy goofing around. Even usually-serious Hokutofuji finds a target for a goof:

Amidst all the lively hustle and bustle, sits a lonely Ozeki:

I guess this is why Goeido rarely makes an appearance in these reports. He usually keeps to himself, away from the clicking phone cameras.

Let’s take a look at the dohyo-iri. First, the East:

Of course, Mitakeumi “accidentally” bumps into Kaisei.

And did you spot Terutsuyoshi standing on tiptoes to match Ishiura’s height? 😏

On to the West:

The Shodai-Nishikigi duo keeps at it. Shodai: “Stop waving”. Nishikigi: “Why not”. Starts waving again. Shodai stops him. You get dohyo-iri and Shokkiri for the price of one.

And as the time comes for the bouts, the same Nishikigi, but this time with Shohozan, sit themselves among the spectators:

I guess they don’t want to miss Kagayaki’s match.

As for the matches themselves, I have Tochinoshin vs. Takakeisho:

Wait, haven’t we seen this bout before? This is so obviously yaocho, you can’t be surprised at Tochinoshin’s face as he returns to his seat (the winner and loser in the penultimate bouts don’t leave the dohyo until the musubi is done):

Even Tagonoura oyakata knows this was as genuine as a three-dollar bill.

We also have Kakuryu vs. Goeido:

Once again, Goeido wins. I think he is 9-1 by now.

A summary video:

The video mentions that Takakeisho has yet to do any on-dohyo practice. His “opponent” Tochinoshin, on the other hand, though I didn’t get a photo or video of it, did 11 practice bouts and won all. “I just do my usual – whatever I can at any given moment”.

As the bouts end, the rikishi pack up and leave – but not on their busses this time. It’s Tokyo, and they are going home – by train, of course.

Tamawashi with friends, and some lucky fans at the Hachioji station

Our pin-up boy today is Enho, because this photo was not to be overlooked:

Totally photobombed by Kotoyuki!

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 6

🌐 Location: Uji, Kyoto

The Jungyo reaches Kyoto, the elegant former capital of Japan. And although this is merely a small town south of the actual city of Tokyo, this means very special spectators:

Local boy Narutaki, pretty boy Toshonishiki, and maiko

These are Maiko, apprentice Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto). Since I’m a bit of a fan of Geisha culture, I can tell you that the rightmost one is a beginner, a “minarai”, in her first year of apprenticeship, while the one standing next to Toshonishiki is a senior maiko who may be only months away from the ceremony that will turn her into a sekitori… sorry… a full Geiko.

There are no sekitori hailing from Kyoto at the moment, and so, much attention went to brothers Narutaki and Kyonosato, born in the city of Kyoto (The “Kyo” in Kyonosato’s name is from “Kyoto”). The brothers got the honor to preach non-violence to the incoming spectators:

Not sure how anybody allowed Kyonosato to do this without a visit to the nearest Tokoyama.

They were doing this, apparently, at the same time the sekitori were doing their handshake duties. For example, this other pair of brothers:

Wakatakakage – Wakamotoharu

This was apparently a fine spring day, and some of the handshaking took place outside the venue. Mitakeumi was enjoying the sun:

At the entrance to the venue stands this big banzuke, called “ita-banzuke” (board banzuke).

On first glance, you might think it’s just a copy of the most recent basho’s banzuke. And well, the ranks in it are indeed the ranks from the Haru basho. But there are some differences from the banzuke we often see held by rikishi on banzuke announcement day. For example – it doesn’t have the ink frames. And the large “By Permission” in the middle column sticks out of the rectangular design.

But that’s not all. First, in honbasho banzuke, right under that “By Permission” comes the date and place of the basho, and then the names of the gyoji and shimpan. In this one, it starts right off with the names of the gyoji. The place of the event is actually at the bottom of the middle column – where usually it says “Japan Sumo Association”. Here it says “Uji Basho”.

Which means… the gyoji had to write this ita-banzuke, fresh, with brush and ink, especially for this event. And it’s not just Kyoto. They do it again and again – possibly for every Jungyo location.

So now that we are well-immersed in the 19th century, let us proceed to see what’s going on inside the venue. We have Toyonoshima signing autographs:

And at the dohyo, we have… oh, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal has made it to Kyoto, I see. Who is this who is avoiding it so skillfully by wearing his towel over his face?

This is Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has a penchant for silly-looking exercises.

This… doesn’t look any better. The funny thing is he wears an embarrassed smile when he is filmed doing the most sane-looking of his rubber-tube exercises:

On the dohyo… here are the local brothers again, discovering that it’s not all fun and games being local boys. Narutaki gets some butsukari from Toyonoshima:

While his big brother Kyonosato gets butsukari from no less than (still) Ozeki Tochinoshin:

…which is a bit scary, because sumo, or mobility in general, are not his strong side. He was make-koshi at Jonidan 99 the last basho.

So let’s move on to some more balanced practice sessions – here is some Juryo moshi-ai: Takanosho vs. Shimanoumi, Takanosho vs. Chiyonoumi, and Chiyonoumi vs. Mitoryu:

Next, here is the “couple” – Takakeisho giving butsukari to Daieisho:

Some Makuuchi practice bouts. First, Nishikigi-Tomokaze, Asanoyama-Shodai, Tochinoshin-Asanoyama:

Interesting that Asanoyama went for a tsuppari in his bout with Shodai.

Next we have Kagayaki-Shohozan, Kagayaki-Kaisei, Tamawashi-Kaisei:

Yep, that nodowa again.

Practice time over. In Kyoto, more often than not, we get to see elimination tournaments. In this case, Makuuchi and Juryo were business-as-usual, but Jonidan, Sandanme and Makushita were in elimination format, and carried prizes.

Suspiciously, though, two of those tournaments were won by local boys. The Jonidan prize was given to Kyoto-born Umizaru, from Miyagino beya:

And the Makushita tournament yusho dropped in the lap of our friend Narutaki:

By the way, “Narutaki” means “rumbling waterfall”.

During the intermission, due to the lack of any local sekitori, the hair-dressing demonstration was performed by the ever-popular Endo:

Imagine him with a Mohawk

I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no bouts from this day. I have a couple of pics – one of Abi pulling the oldest trick in the book on Onosho:

Giving the salty ladle, of course. He promptly scarpered.

The other is this, which tells us that Tochinoshin lost today’s bout:

Hmmm… I think they have been going see-saw pretty regularly this Jungyo. Seriously, anybody who wants to judge how well Tochinoshin is recovering or if Takakeisho is ready for the next level, should not judge that by the results of the Jungyo bouts. Instead, watch out for technique and mobility during practice bouts.

So we come to the close, and our pin-up boy of the day is the oft-overlooked Takanosho:

Haru Day 15 Ones To Watch

Wakatakamoto – Visiting Sick Children In The Hospital

With most of the lower division yusho already decided, there are only a few matches left to finish out everybody’s 7. For our “Ones to Watch” it has been a tough basho. Last night Wakaichiro went down to his 4th defeat, from a forceful hatakikomi delivered by Hokutoshin. This was his 4th loss, and holding a losing record, he is likely to find himself in the top ranks of Jonidan for May.

Further up the torikumi, Hoshoryu gamberized and prevailed against Kaisho for his 4th win. At Makushita 7, he will likely be close to or at the top of the 3rd division for May, with a very real shot of making it to Juryo for Nagoya. He should be sharing that space with Ichiyamamoto, who went 6-1 from Makushita 13, and will have a spot near the top of the division too. I am already eagerly anticipating them facing off during Natsu. Although Naya also finished 6-1, his starting point at Makushita 51 will see him in the top half of the division, and facing much more determined opposition.

That being said, a few of our favorites are up day 15…

Terunofuji vs Roga – Both of these rikishi finished their Jonidan matches with perfect 7-0 records, and now they will meet to decide the yusho. This is a battle between an injured and diminished Ozeki who can still generate enormous power for the briefest of moments, against a future powerhouse rikishi who has completely dominated almost every time he steps on the dohyo. It’s quite literally the past vs the future.

Wakatakamoto vs Bushozan – The last Onami brother to make sekitori has already secured a kachi-koshi, and will be joining what is likely to be a brutally competitive Makushita joi-jin for May. This final match will determine which of these two rikishi will get a higher rank. Bushozan is another “big’un”, and will have mass on his side.

Musashikuni vs Kotodairyu – Much of the Musashigawa clan is make-koshi this tournament. Among that ignoble group is Musashikuni, who enters today’s match 4-2. The good news is that he has beaten Kotodairyu before. The bad news is was 3 years ago when both were in Sandanme.

Kenho vs Takabayama – This is a 1-5 bracket match, and both rikishi are having a terrible basho. Kenho seems to continue to have health issues, and problems with his lower body’s durability. He will be lower in Jonidan for May, and hopefully will regroup.

Amakaze vs Umizaru – Both of these rikishi are 5-1, and I would expect the winner of today’s final match to be posted close to, or in Sandanme for May. It’s great to see Amakaze back on the dohyo, and I am happy that he has his kachi-koshi secure.