Haru Dohyo Construction Progressing

The Yobidashi team are hard at work in the EDION arena in Osaka Japan, creating the dohyo for the upcoming Haru basho. In the media from the Sumo Kyokai’s twitter feed, we can see that the platform has its shape, and the ring is clearly visible. On Saturday, the ring will be consecrated during the dohyo matsuri, and we will be ready for action on Sunday.

Aki 2018 Jungyo – Day 11 (Oct 13)

venue
Venue at Toyota. What, no cars?

🌐 Location: Toyota, Aichi
🚫 Scandal level: 0

The city of Toyota is mostly known for the headquarters of a certain motor company. But if we are in Toyota, we are in Aichi prefecture again. And if we are in Aichi prefecture again, then the star of the day is once again…

akiseyama-and-nishikigi
Akiseyama! (And Nishikigi)

OK, it’s enough that Akiseyama looks inelegant in a mawashi. But that sash is certainly not doing him any favors. You see, in each event there are a few rikishi – usually the local stars if any, but others if not – stand in a corner dedicated to the prevention of violence wearing those sashes and shaking hands with the fans. The rest of the rikishi don’t wear a sash, just their practice mawashi.

But anyway, somebody designed these sashes with a normal-sized Japanese person in mind. So it doesn’t really work well for rikishi.

I mean, someone the size of Wakatakakage could look half-way decent in it.

gagamaru-just-cant-fit

But Gagamaru just had to give up.

Outside the venue, young Yobidashi Shigejiro from Kokonoe beya, who is a Jonidan Yobidashi, was doing the drumming duty for the day. But for some reason, there is a whole Yobidashi conference around him:

yobidashi-conference

What is this all about? I can’t say for sure, but take a look at the official photo:

taiko-shigejiro-seiza

Oh, a young Yobidashi in a traditional seiza posture (ouch, I can’t sit seiza for more than 30 seconds!), doing the fine traditional duty of… wait a second… is that his smartphone?

That may or may not be the reason for the rather shocked expression of the high-ranking yobidashi behind him in the first photo.

I don’t think he got too badly disciplined for this, though. In fact, he was relieved from duty for a while to have a drink of water, by no other than the san-yaku yobidashi Shiro.

shigejiro-replaced-by-shiro

Or maybe Shiro just decided that he, too, wants to watch a movie while drumming.

Going back inside the venue, let’s move along the walls and see who’s doing what.

Takekaze and Okinoumi working out:

okinoumi-working-out

I wouldn’t be surprised if that rubber strap with the convenient handles actually belongs to Takekaze. He’s been going around with all sorts of portable workout devices which I think are provided by a sponsor.

Remember I talked about Chiyonokuni’s splits? Well, judge for youself:

shodai-opines-about-chiyonokuni
Shodai: “Are you sure this is not hazardous to your future parenthood?”

Aminishiki, rather than practicing sumo, was practicing his future oyakata skills.

aminishiki-practices-oyakata-skills

Looks like he is explaining something about a maemitsu grip.

I keep showing goofy pictures of Abi. But the boy is pretty serious when it comes to customer service:

abi-serious-about-his-fansa

Or maybe he just hasn’t woken up yet.

Kakuryu was doing some push-ups at the side of the dohyo:

kakuryu-pushup

While his tsukebito, Gokushindo, was engaged in a battle of Yokozuna tsukebito off on the tarp:

gokushindo-arikawa
Gokushindo vs. Arikawa. Not fair!

Gokushindo was always at it with Arikawa this day:

Wait, these two were spitting at each other?

Speaking of Arikawa, remember that strange Kise Dance? The Yokozuna does that every day. There are miles of footage on Twitter of that puzzling little exercise. But take a look at this one:

Arikawa is quantum-entangled with Kisenosato? Or… is he making fun of the Yokozuna behind his back? Chiyonokuni must have given him a significant look as he passed there, because Arikawa hurriedly stops.

Here is a smiling Ichinojo I just couldn’t let pass:

smiling-ichinojo

And speaking of smiles, this photo is from the Chiganoura Twitter account. They had somebody take picture of their Jungyo participants this day – on duty, off duty. I think they weren’t quite prepared for the stir this photo (and the others that accompanied it) will cause:

smiling-takakeisho

This got replies such as “Takakeisho can smile? I can’t believe it!”, “Chiganoura oyakata, you’re a magician!”, “Wow, this changes my whole perception of Takakeisho”, and so on. It’s not as if Takakeisho never smiled in Jungyo, but it’s a kind of thing you usually only see in unofficial photos.

But Chiganoura seems to be a heya of smiles. This is a picture of Takanosho:

takanosho-and-omusubiman

Takanosho’s nickname is “Onigiri-kun”. Fans claim he looks like an onigiri:

Onigiri

…only with a smile. Some fan gave him that figure of “Omusubi-man”. “Omusubi” is another name for “onigiri”. And yes, there are some similarities, aren’t there? :-)

On the dohyo, Tochiozan, who started this Jungyo kyujo, joined it a couple of days before, and has been working hard since:

tochiozan-working-hard

But if you take a look at his lower body, it seems like maybe he should have stayed off the dohyo for a while longer:

tochiozan-leg

I guess that’s what happens when your oyakata is the Jungyo master.

Now let’s take a look at some of the on-dohyo action:

Here’s Chiyonoumi vs. Gokushindo:

See, that’s why I wrote above that Gokushindo vs. Arikawa is just not fair. Gokushindo is very serious and beats Juryo rivals left and right. He is literally out of Arikawa’s league.

Chiyotairyu vs. Aoiyama:

Given Aoiyama’s knee situation, he’s pretty mobile.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama:

Kagayaki seems to have a rather frustrating Jungyo.

Going off the dohyo again and outside, there is a new yumi-tori performer in training!

This is Awajiumi from Tagonoura beya. He is Kisenosato’s tsukebito. Remember the guy with the little wand-like stick standing in front of Kisenosato in the rope tying demonstration? That’s the guy.

This seems to be significant. In the previous Jungyo a new backup performer was introduced – Hokutoo from Hakkaku beya. But Hokutoo is not a tsukebito for any of the Yokozuna. Tradition requires that the performer should be a yokozuna’s tsukebito. Kakuryu has several tsukebito from Hakkaku beya, but Hokutoo is not one of them.

Now that Kisenosato is out of kyujo, and has passed his “probation” basho, a rikishi from his own team – and his own heya – can be introduced to the bow-twirling ceremony. I’ve seen many tweets wishing to see him installed at Kyusho, though that remains to be seen. I don’t think they depose an existing official performer unless his associated Yokozuna retires – though I don’t know what the custom is when the Yokozuna involved is kyujo.

Going back inside, it was time for Shokkiri. And the performance didn’t even begin, but the gyoji was already bursting with laughter in anticipation:

gyoji-laughs-before-shokkiri

Time for the Juryo dohyo-iri. And fans, of course, don’t settle just for the designated fansa time, but ask for autographs at all times. Enho obliges, but that doesn’t mean that Terutsuyoshi is going to let go of him for even a second:

enho-terutsuyoshi

I generally think it’s really nice to have someone always ready to hug you when you are on a long, tiring tour of the entire country, far from the comforts of home (or at least your private Sekitori room). But maybe Terutsuyoshi is overdoing it just a a tad.

By the way, lest you think that I have a bias for pretty rikishi, here is a pretty gyoji for you:

shikimori-kinosuke-attracts-the-little-ladies

This is Shikimori Kinosuke, who is apparently doing the announcer duty for this event. And he is pretty enough to attract the attentions of the ladies. Though admittedly this particular lady seems to be a bit on the young side.

So of course, all I have from either the Juryo or the Makuuchi bouts is just Terutsuyoshi’s salt throw:

terutsuyoshi-and-his-salt-throw

Come on! Where are all the aunties with the video-capable phones?

Sigh,

So here is your Tobizaru of the day.

tobizaru
Who dared blemish that face?!

 

Aki Dohyo Construction Begins

Aki 2018 Dohyo.jpg

With most of Japan hoping to dodge typhoon Jebi, the yobidashi squad got to work today at the Kokugikan, tearing down the old dohyo from the Natsu basho, and constructing the new. With the basho just 5 days away, preparations are underway in the stables, at the Kokogukan and in the offices of the Japan Sumo Association. It has also been published that NHK World will once again host Sumo Live, on day 1 and day 8 (both Sundays) for Aki.

The raised fighting platform (dohyo) is built or re-built before each tournament, by hand. It’s a task that sumo’s yobidashi do with pride and a great deal of skill. For the Kokugikan, this dohyo will serve multiple purposes once its duty for the basho has elapsed. This will be the same dohyo that Harumafuji will use to perform his last dohyo-iri.

John Gunning – Life of a Yobidashi

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Once again the prolific John Gunning has opened his mental encyclopedia of sumo knowledge and let the rest of us learn.  His latest article in the Japan Times focuses on the life of the Yobidashi – the men who are always sweeping the dohyo, filling up the salt baskets, announcing matches, and taking care of everything needed to run a basho (or a jungyo day).  The article features an insight that at some point in 2012, there was recreational sumo match up between the yobidashi and the NHK crew. Once can only imagine the pounding Raja took on that dark day.