Day 2 was a non-stop feast of some bright young stars of sumo. We got to see Ura blast someone off the dohyo, we saw Hoshoryu struggle, and we saw Akua stuff Chiyonoo into dumpster. Onward to day 3, it’s another great night of lower division action, with may of the rikishi we are tracking back on the dohyo for more battles.
Wakamotoharu vs Takanofuji – All three Waka* brothers will fight on day 3, with Wakamotoharu just withing reach of joining his brother as a Sekitori. Takanofuji’s only trip to Juryo was interrupted with an injury that pushed him back down the pile. He’s hungry.
Akua vs Seiro – It’s steak, and lobster with both Akua and Wakamotoharu in action. It will be worth staying up just to see this match. Seiro is a former lower Maegashira, a Mongolian from Shikoroyama heya. He dropped out of Juryo in September following an injury, and like most of the “Wall” crew, he is ready to tear his opponent’s head off to return to Sekitori status.
Ura vs Chiyosakae – Ura submarined and ejected Takakento like a JMSDF torpedo, and on day 3 he draws Chiyosakae, a Makushita veteran from Kokonoe heya. He has been ranked as high as MS7 last year, but has been struggling to produce much above a 4 win kachi-koshi.
Wakatakamoto vs Hokutokawa – Another Waka* brother on the dohyo! this time he faces off against Hakkaku heya’s Hokutokawa. Hokutokawa as been unable to rank above mid-Makushita, and will provide a fairly solid opponent.
Naya vs Dairaido – Former Juryo Sekitori Dairaido will be quite a test for young Naya. This opponent will be no easy push over, in spite of the fact that he sufferd a significant injury in 2016 that saw him drop back down to Jonidan.
Shoji vs Okinoiwa – Okinoiwa is a mid-Sandanme mainstay, and I will be interested to see of Shoji can bounce back from his first match loss.
Torakio vs Kotonoumi – Torakio takes on a young rikishi from Sadogatake heya, who has never ranked above Sandandme.
Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – Wakaichiro looked strong and confident in his day 1 win, and we are all hoping that he has overcome the mechanical injuries he had been nursing at Kyushu. Day 3 he’s against Miyakogawa, from Isenoumi heya. Another newcommer, Miyakogawa has yet to break out of Jonidan, and had a fairly rough time of it in Kyushu.
Yes, we’re back with the series of Jungyo Newsreels that will try to keep your blood sumo levels above the emergency threshold until a new tournament is in site.
As a reminder – the Jungyo is a promotional tour in which the sekitori (Juryo and Makuuchi) participate. Each takes one tsukebito (manservant, a wrestler ranked between Jonidan and Makushita), except Yokozuna and Ozeki who get to have a “team”. Together with a bunch of shimpan, gyoji and yobidashi, and of course the big heads from the Jungyo department, they travel through small towns around Japan, performing from morning through the afternoon, and letting the locals get a bit of live sumo and sumo-related fun. For a fuller description, refer to the Introduction To The Jungyo I published a while back.
The winter Jungyo is supposed to be the shortest Jungyo of the year. However, with the rising popularity of sumo, it’s not that short any more. The 2013 Fuyu Jungyo included only six events. The 2018 Fuyu Jungyo includes 17 events spread over 21 days! In fact, there were more Jungyo days in 2018 than honbasho days!
So without further ado, let’s see what we had on day 1.
Nagasaki is a popular tourist destination in Japan. So some members of the entourage took time to explore. While Hakuho had a little excursion to the lighthouse to have some Champon (a Nagasaki noodle dish), Kokonoe oyakata decided to visit the famous Spectacles Bridge:
One rikishi was on the tour, who was neither sekitori nor tsukebito. Tachiai favorite Wakaichiro had a one-day adventure. The reason for this is that he is registered as coming from Nagasaki. His mother is from Nagasaki, and his grandparents came to this day’s event to watch him. As you all know, he actually grew up in Texas. He mostly spent summer vacations in Nagasaki. This being his first Jungyo, he had a bit of trouble getting the hang of things (remember, there are no sekitori in Musashigawa). The press was mostly amused that he decided a good place to camp in the shitaku-beya would be right between Takayasu and Tochinoshin. (Well, yeah, it is a good place!)
As a “local boy”, he received some kawaigari (TLC – the euphemism for butsukari, especially when used as a torture session) from Jokoryu. This was the effect:
Wakaichiro was not the only novice in the Jungyo – though the others have the advantage of traveling with familiar faces and being used to the company of sekitori. One new face in the Jungyo is Midorifuji, who is serving as Terutsuyoshi’s tsukebito (I’m getting worried about Terunohana, Terutsuyoshi’s long-time tsukebito, who has been kyujo for quite some time). Midorifuji is considered one of the most promising current talents at Isegahama beya, and I think they decided to send him on the Jungyo to get some “sekitori experience”. Here he is with Terutsuyoshi and Aminishiki’s tsukebito, Terumichi:
Another new face in the Jungyo is Wakamotoharu (though he had been on at least one event in the past). He is there as his little brother’s tsukebito – the little brother being Wakatakakage, of course.
The shimpan squad has also been refreshed. In the previous Jungyo we saw Futagoyama, Tomozuna and Furiwake. This tour we have Asakayama, Hanaregoma and, of course, Kokonoe.
And what are the rikishi up to? Well, it’s early morning, so Ichinojo demonstrates his ability to squat while sound asleep:
Then there are these inseparable two. Surprisingly, Terutsuyoshi is rather hands-off today:
But of course, most of the attention goes to one participant: Hakuho, back from his post-operative kyujo, and trying to regain some fitness. Here he is doing some shiko:
Mmmm… Hakuho said he can stomp with power now, but this seems to be very tentative shiko.
By the way, the Yokozuna also changed his seating arrangements in the Jungyo bus. Apparently, one of the reason his leg got worse in the previous Jungyo was sitting with cramped, bent knees for hours on end, while traveling. He used to sit in the front seat of the bus, but decided to change to the back seat, to allow himself to fully stretch his legs. I suppose that means he took the entire back bench to himself and stretches himself on it – he did mention something about getting some sleep. Maybe he should borrow one of Yoshikaze’s folding mattresses…
By the way, I did not mention this before, but there are several rikishi who are kyujo from this Jungyo – at least for the time being. Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Goeido, Kaisei and Arawashi from Makuuchi, and Kyokushuho, Kyokutaisei and Chiyonoo from Juryo. All Tomozuna sekitori are absent! Yoshikaze was also off the torikumi, but he is definitely in the Jungyo.
This also means that Hakuho is left with only one Makuuchi rikishi from his own ichimon for the dohyo-iri. Indeed, his tsuyuharai is Chiyoshoma:
The shiko here is stronger, of course.
Chiyoshoma looks a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. I predict that for the Meiji-Jingue dohyo iri of January 2019, we’ll see Terutsuyoshi as his tsuyuharai (this will be after the new banzuke is announced so Terutsuyoshi is expected to be in Makuuchi).
Let’s take a look at some practice bouts. First, Hakuyozan vs. Takagenji.
Then, Meisei and Aoiyama:
Aoiyama seems to be getting more and more confident lately. Here he is vs. the Yusho winner (that’s Takakeisho, if you have been on another planet last month).
Takayasu is saying he wants to work towards his first yusho, but he won’t get there if his keiko looks like this:
That’s Tochiozan – not exactly a semitrailer.
Here is todays full Sumo Jinku. Yes, that’s 15 minutes of Jinku. You are allowed to press stop only if you understand everything they say. 😛
The members of the Jinku team this Jungyo are:
It’s easy to recognize Mutsukaze by his prominent mutton chops. If you can’t recognize the others, here’s a little challenge: try to guess who is who by the kesho-mawashi they wear. It’s supposed to be borrowed from a sekitori in their heya (OK, so that won’t help you with the two Sadogatake guys…).
Going into the competition part of the event, the lower divisions each had its own elimination-format tournament, while the upper divisions had the traditional format torikumi. I’m sorry to say that Wakaichiro dropped in the first round of the Jonidan tournament. The winners got prizes – which is not an everyday occurrence for lower-division wrestlers.
Jonidan winner, Imafuku, won a bag of rice. At least, that’s what it looks like.
Sandanme winner, Wakanofuji, won a big bottle of saké.
Makushita winner, Obamaumi, won a… picture of rice crackers? Hey… It sucks to be in Makushita!
OK, so if you’re wondering about those two Goofometer points above, here is what was afoot between Juryo bouts:
Hidenoumi decides to tickle Terutsuyoshi with his sagari. Terutsuyoshi, in response, goes all “Oh yeah, baby, ooh, that’s good, give it to me, baby”.
Hidenoumi has an expression like “God, man, aren’t you enjoying this just a little bit too much?”, or maybe “Whoa… do I really want this guy hanging around anywhere near my little brother?”
Not that his little brother is any better…
OK, OK, so we have a few bouts to see! Here are the “Kore-yori-san-yaku”. Well, two of them. By the way, there was a slip in the torikumi program. They had Hakuho doing the musubi with Takayasu. Hakuho is not really dohyo-ready in any way, shape or form. So eventually Asanoyama was placed at the bottom of san-yaku for a second bout, and everybody else was shifted one space up, sort of.
And once again Takakeisho needs a mawashi adjustment right before the bout.
Asanoyama, of course, is no match for the mighty tadpole – who gets some kensho.
The Mitakeumi/Ichinojo bout is rather comical. I’m not sure Ichinojo actually intended to belly-bump Mitakeumi. That’s a funny tsukiotoshi.
OK, so who shall we put up as our pin-up boy this time? Maybe Terutsuyoshi?
Hey, what’s with the sour face? We know you are quite capable of a big smile. Especially if you’re looking at Enho. Anyway, that photo looks a bit like a Soviet propaganda poster, doesn’t it?
So maybe just revert to Enho:
Now we can all have a big smile! This commercial for “Macho” proteins brought to you by Ishiura, by the way.
In the lower divisions, tension is rising as the yusho shortlists are getting, well, shorter. Every day there are fewer and fewer perfect scored rikishi.
But one rikishi reliably keeps a perfect record! Of course, it’s a perfect losing record, but still perfect!
Once again Hattorizakura gives us a glimpse of hope, somewhere there, that he might… just might… nope.
I keep following little Chiyotaiyo, but he is not doing well this basho. Coming into this bout, he and his rival, Tanji, are 1-3. And Tanji doesn’t look like he has that much of a weight advantage.
However, the stick insect from Kokonoe is taken down without much ceremony. He is now make-koshi.
On the other side of the scoreboard, we have Mitsuuchi vs. Akitoba, both coming in at 4-0. Mitsuuchi has a very strange sumo record. Joining in 2015 he had a string of 6-1 tournament, then a couple of make-koshi, then full-on kyujo for four consecutive tournaments, causing him to drop off the banzuke. He then has to do maezumo again, enters back and once again, has two good 5-2 and 6-1 tournaments. This is mid 2017. Then – lo and behold – he goes kyujo – five straight tournaments. Has to do maezumo again! And then he comes back in Aki 2018 and grabs the Jonokuchi yusho.
So it’s Mitsuuchi’s fifth win, and he is in the list of yusho hopefuls, which also includes Sumanoumi, Kotokume, Kenho, Tatsunoumi and Kotourasaki.
To close off the Jonidan list, since Bruce is a bit under the weather, I’ll cover Wakaichiro here. His opponent is Tainaka, about the same age and a similar record as out hero from Texas.
This was a very frustrating bout for the young Texan. He has it in control from the start, going forward – and then Tainaka snatches it from under his nose.
Despite the frustration, Wakaichiro gives the deepest bow to his opponent before descending the dohyo. Wakaichiro is now make-koshi and should rally and continue that forward motion to keep himself on the upper side of Jonidan.
All the bouts I have for you today are ones deciding the yusho race. I’ll start at the bottom, with two relatively anonymous youngsters from Isegahama beya. The first is Fukunofuji, who usually has a hard time in Sandanme, and was kyujo the previous basho. His opponent is Nakashima from Musashigawa, with a similar record, who was also kyujo last basho.
It’s nice to see a yotsu match at this level. The next Isegahama man is Hikarifuji, up against Takatenshu (one of the former Takanohana wrestlers). Hikarifuji is one of the Isegahama pixies at 173cm.
Hikarifuji kind of tries a henka, then realizes that the other guy is just too big for that to be effective. Nevertheless, Hikarifuji wins this Aminishiki-style, and finds himself in the Yusho run himself.
These two guys being from the same heya, they are probably going to be facing some tough competition very soon now. Case in point – hello Ura! How are you today?
Kurahashi, Ura’s victim opponent for today is not a tall guy. So Ura keeps himself low and very stable with his feet neatly arranged, one front, one back. He could give lessons. I suggested on Twitter that this video should be sent to Takayasu and Kisenosato for a refresher. Ura maintains his perfect record for this basho and is, of course, in the yusho race.
Another one we have been following for a while is Kototebakari. Here he is facing Hokutoshu.
No sweat. Kototebakari is still perfect.
The Sandanme Yusho arasoi currently consists of Kototebakari, Ura, Yokoe, Kotoozutsu, Hikarifuji and Fukunofuji. With two from Isegahama and two from Sadogatake, we might either be seeing a mismatch of ranks, or have Ura face Kototebakari in the next round, which should be a bout to watch for.
The famous nephew (“Who is your favorite Yokozuna?”, “My Uncle!” – From Hoshoryu’s live Instagram. Silly question) was matched today against Kainoryu. Kaynoryu is not exactly Yokozuna material, having spent most of his career between Sandanme and Makushita.
I don’t know if it’s lapse of concentration on Hoshoryu’s part or what. He seems to lose this bout by starting it with tsuppari rather than going for his strong yotsu from the start. Hoshoryu is out of the yusho race, though I’m sure he’ll do his best to end at 6-1 and advance as far as he possibly can without a yusho.
By the way, Hoshoryu is serving as Meisei’s tsukebito again this basho.
We finish Makushita with Sokokurai vs. Kiribayama. So it’s Inner Mongolia vs. Sovereign Mongolia here:
Sokokurai is not letting this go anywhere except Inner Mongolia.
Only four men remain in the Makushita yusho race: Sokokurai, Gochozan, Takaryu, Kainoryu. All with five wins, meaning they only have two bouts to go. This means the yusho will be decided without playoff – unless any of them gets a Juryo bout.
Somebody in the Torikumi committee thought it would be a hoot to bring in a 36 years old, 165cm tall Makushita man with three losses for a bout at Juryo. Of course, technically Sagatsukasa is Ms3 so he is fair game, but come on… Mitoryu gets this win on a platter.
Tobizaru has been relegated to the chaser list yesterday. He tries with all his monkey energy to keep himself there. Shimanoumi thinks differently. The flying monkey flies again.
Tomokaze looks like he has been born in Juryo. Low stance, strong thrusts, Azumaryu finds himself unable to do his sumo. Tomokaze needs only two wins in 6 days to ensure his stay in Juryo.
Two elderly men climb the dohyo – Takekaze, 39, and Toyonoshima, 35. I didn’t expect that double pirouette, though. Guys, it’s not Hanukkah, yet. Leave the dreidels off the dohyo.
In every basho, Tsurugisho has one big, fat, ugly henka that makes me want to strangle him. This time it’s Chiyonoumi who is doing somersaults off the tachiai. 😡😡 Chiyonoumi needs to start collecting some wins fast – I think some 3 wins might cushion him from dropping back to Makushita.
Gokushindo doing some tentative sumo again. His stance is good, and Kyokushuho can’t find a way inside, and ends up losing his own balance.
Hakuyozan has also been in the chaser group before this match. A leaning match develops into a fine yotsu struggle, and Jokoryu prevails, bringing himself closer to breaking even.
Yesterday, Kokonoe oyakata gave Chiyonoumi and Chiyonoo a pep-talk dinner. It didn’t work for Chiyonoumi (thank you Tsurugisho 😡), but it seems to have worked for Chiyonoo, who takes the initiative and evades make-koshi for another day. Kyokutaisei is 4-5 – not quite himself as yet.
Now, the Enho-Wakatakakage was the match of the day. Wakatakakage matched Enho’s sumo, and although Enho did get that famous grip on his mawashi, he just couldn’t get the angles he wanted. Wakatakakage managed to stick his head below Enho’s – not an easy task, and we had a long stalemate. Enho nearly had Wakatakakage there at the edge. But the youngest Onami kept his foot safe. Here is a tweet by TheSumoSoul, showing Wakatakakage’s foot:
Enho got his SHITATE grip but Kage got a firm UWATE grip of his own before standoff. When action restarted, E came as close as the pic below to pulling out a win but W recovered and held on for the force out. pic.twitter.com/bFZcRvRkGY
And here is short footage showing the undisturbed janome (ring of fine dust around the ring of bales).
The call was right, and Enho drops to two losses. Moving on:
Once again, Kotoyuki manages to avoid rolling. I’m impressed.
Aminishiki is not happy with himself going backwards, but backwards he went – and performed the first kubinage in his career, bringing himself to 45 different kimarite, only one behind Kyokushuzan, who holds the record. A monoii is called because his foot seems to have gone outside, but the Gyoji’s decision is upheld.
Takagenji seems to be on a recovery course with three consecutive wins after his weak first week. This bout with Daishoho was one sided.
Terutsuyoshi – remember, he’s in the leader group – once again tries to do straight sumo, no tricks. And it’s a really good bout, where he gets to lift Kotoeko for a second, and fends off Kotoeko’s following attack. But then Kotoeko pulls and the pixie loses his balance.
Final pixie of the day, though really, for Ishiura that word just doesn’t ring right. No tricks this time, and Ishiura has an enjoyable exchange of thrusts with Yago. Ishiura survives a couple of waves of attack, but eventually the bigger man prevails. Not a good day for the small rikishi.
Or is it? As it turns out, everybody at the top lost. So the leaderboard looks like this:
Tomokaze in the yusho race? Oh lord. Tomorrow, while Enho faces Gokushindo and should be careful not to let a relatively easy one drop, Terutsuyoshi is facing a very difficult Yago. I wonder when they’ll match Enho with Aminishiki (Terutsuyoshi won’t be, they are from the same heya, as are Ishiura and Enho).
Texas sumotori Wakaichiro will be back on the Nagoya dohyo before noon on Saturday. He will be facing off against Sadogatake heya’s Kotorikuzan. Kotorikuzan has been in sumo since 2009, and is another Sandanme mainstay (37 tournaments). Wakaichiro is finding that the competition in Sandanme to be significantly harder than even the top end of Jonidan, and he will be working hard for every win. Both rikishi come into Saturday’s match with a 1-2 record.
As always we will bring you results as soon as we know them, and if we get luck and someone posts video, we will share that as well. Thus far video of Wakaichiro’s Nagoya matches has been hard to come by.
In action early Tuesday in Nagoya, Wakaichiro lost his second match of the tournament. He continues to display good form, but veteran Dewaazuma was able to get Wakaichiro off balance and finish him with a hatakikomi. With the loss, Wakaichiro drops to 1-1 after 2 matches.
We do not yet have video, but will share it as soon as it appears. We expect him to return to action day 5 or 6.