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Encyclopedia > Yokozuna
Yokozuna Asashoryu (center) performing the ring-entering ceremony while flanked by a sword bearer on the left and dew sweeper on the right.

Yokozuna (横綱 yokozuna?) is the highest rank in sumo wrestling. The name comes from the most visible symbol of their rank, the wide (yoko) rope (tsuna) worn around the waist. The rope bears a marked similarity to the Shinto shimenawa rope often attached to torii temple gates and sacred trees, and like them serves to purify and mark off its content. The rope, which may weigh up to 20 kilograms, is not used during the matches themselves, but is worn during the yokozuna's dohyo-iri ring entrance ceremony. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Shinto ) is the native religion of Japan and was once its state religion. ... Shimenawa (kanji: 注連縄 or 七五三縄; hiragana: しめなわ -- しめ shime, enclosing + なわ nawa, rope) are lengths of braided rice straw rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. ... A famous floating torii at Itsukushima Shrine Multiple torii at Osaka shrine Torii are widespread in Japan, to the extent that modern architecture sometimes emulates their form. ...



The birth of the rank of yokozuna is unclear, and there are two competing legends. According to one, a 9th-century wrestler named Hajikami tied a shimenawa around his waist as a handicap and dared any to touch it, creating sumo as we know it in the process. According to the other, legendary wrestler Akashi Shiganosuke tied the shimenawa around his waist in 1630 as a sign of respect when visiting the Emperor, and was posthumously awarded the title for the first time. There is little supporting evidence for either theory — in fact, it is not even certain that Akashi was a historical figure — but it is known that by 1789, yokozuna starting from Tanikaze Kajinosuke were depicted in ukiyo-e prints as wearing the shimenawa. Akashi strangling an opponent in a woodcut by Yoshitoshi Akashi Shiganosuke (明石 志賀之助) is said to have been the first sumo wrestler to hold the title of yokozuna. ... Events February 22 - Native American Quadequine introduces Popcorn to English colonists. ... 1789 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Tanikaze Kajinosuke (谷風梶之助)(1750-95) was a famous sumo wrestler in Japan in Tokugawa era. ... View of Mount Fuji from Numazu, part of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō series by Hiroshige, published 1850 Ukiyo-e ), pictures of the floating world, is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or woodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of...

Prior to the Meiji Era, the title Yokozuna was conferred on Ozeki (currently the second highest rank) who performed sumo in front of the Shogun. This privilege was more often determined by a wrestler's patron having sufficient influence rather than purely on the ability and dignity of the wrestler. Thus there are a number of early wrestlers who were, by modern standards, Yokozuna in name only. Furthermore the right to award a wrestler a yokozuna licence was a hereditary privilege of one family. In these early days Yokozuna was also not regarded as a separate rank in the listings, but as an Ozeki with special dispensation to perform his own ring entering ceremony. History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Meiji period (Japanese: Meiji Jidai 明治&#26178... Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate Shōgun )   is supreme general of the samurai,a military rank and historical title in Japan. ...

Criteria for promotion

In modern sumo, the qualifications that an Ozeki must satisfy to be promoted are that he has enough power, skill and dignity/grace (品格 hinkaku) to qualify. There are no absolute criteria, nor is there a set quota: there have been periods with no wrestlers at yokozuna rank, and there have been periods with up to four simultaneously.

The power and skill aspects are usually considered with reference to recent tournament performance. The de facto standard is to win two consecutive championships as Ozeki or an equivalent performance. In the case where the "equivalent performance" criterion is used the wrestler's record over the previous three tournaments is taken into account with an expectation at least one tournament victory and two runner up performances, with none of the three records falling below twelve wins. Thus a consistent high level of performance is required. Winning two tournaments with a poor performance between them is not usually sufficient. The rules are not set in stone and hence the Yokozuna Promotion Council and Sumo Association can interpret the criteria more leniently or strictly and also take other factors, such as total number of tournament victories, and the quality of the wins and whether the losses show any bad vulnerabilities in reaching their conclusion. De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without...

The issue of hinkaku is more contentious, as dignity and grace are essentially subjective issues. For example ozeki Konishiki, in particular, was felt by many to be unfairly kept from yokozuna status due to his foreignness, and many Sumo Association members even openly said that gaijin could never achieve the hinkaku needed to be a yokozuna. In the case of Konishiki, other issues such as his weight were also cited. Other wrestlers in the past have also been held back. For example Chiyonoyama in the 1950s was not immediately promoted due to his relative youth despite winning consecutive tournaments, although he later achieved the top rank. Konishiki Yasokichi, (小錦八十吉, formally Salevaa Atisanoe, born December 31, 1963), is a Hawaii-born Samoan sumo wrestler. ... This article is about the Japanese word for foreigner. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ...

The debate concerning foreigners having the dignity to be a Yokozuna was finally laid to rest on January 27, 1993, when ozeki Akebono was formally promoted to yokozuna after only 8 months as an Ozeki. Since then two other overseas wrestlers have also achieved Sumo's ultimate rank: Musashimaru and Asashoryu. January 27 is the 27th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ... Yokozuna Akebono is fitted with a tsuna belt for the last time at his retirement ceremony. ... Musashimaru Koyo was declared the most successful foreign sumo wrestler ever during his retirement ceremony on October 2, 2004. ... Asashoryu Akinori ), born as Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj (Долгорсүрэн Дагвадорж) on September 27, 1980 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is the first sumo wrestler (rikishi) from Mongolia to reach the rank of yokozuna, the highest sumo rank. ...

Becoming a yokozuna

It is expected that a Yokozuna will be very heavy, with the average weight of the last 10 Yokozunas being approximately 400lbs. In competition in each tournament for the championship he can never be relegated. A yokozuna is expected to retire if he is no longer able to compete at the peak of the sport. As a result of this, the system for promotion is quite strict. In many sports leagues around the world (with North American and Australian professional leagues being the most notable exceptions), relegation (or demotion) means the mandated transfer of the least successful team(s) of a higher division into a lower division at the end of the season. ...

Elevation to yokozuna rank is a multi-stage process. After a tournament, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, a body of "lay people" (that is, not former sumo wrestlers) who are appointed by the Japan Sumo Association to provide an independent quality control on Yokozuna promotion, meet and discuss the performance of the top-ranked wrestlers. Usually at the instigation of the Japan Sumo Association they can make a recommendation that a particular Ozeki-ranked wrestler has the necessary attributes to be promoted. Their recommendation is then passed to the Judging division and then the Board of Directors of the Sumo Association who make the final decision. The Japan Sumo Association (日本相撲協会 or Nihon Sumo Kyokai) is the body who operate and control professional sumo wrestling in Japan. ...

If a wrestler is deemed to have met the criteria then he will be formally visited in his training stable by a member of the Sumo Association Board of Directors who will formally give him the news. In the following days a yokozuna hawser will then be made in his stable and he will practice the ring entrance ceremony with advice from a previous or current Yokozuna. Finally he will have his inaugural ceremonial ring entry ceremony which is always held at Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, which is usually completed within a couple of weeks of the tournament ending. The central sanctuary where the Meiji emperor is enshrined. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Ceremonies and traditions

The formal birth of the rank from Tanikaze's time appears to have in part come from a desire to let the very best have a separate ring entry ceremony (dohyo-iri) from the remaining top division wrestlers. The dohyo-iri is a ceremonial presentation of all the top division wrestlers which is held prior to the competitive bouts of the day. The normal ceremony for top division wrestlers is to be introduced and form a circle around the wrestling ring (dohyo) wearing specially decorated heavy silk "aprons", called kesho mawashi. A brief symbolic "dance" is carried out before filing off to change into their fighting mawashi and prepare for their bouts. In sumo, a mawashi is the belt that the rikishi (or sumo wrestler) wears during training or in competition. ... In sumo, a mawashi (Japanese: 廻し) is the belt that the rikishi (or sumo wrestler) wears during training or in competition. ...

A Yokozuna, however, is introduced after the lower ranked wrestlers and is flanked by two other top division wrestler "assistants". The "dewsweeper" or tsuyuharai precedes the Yokozuna, while the "sword bearer" or tachimochi follows him into the arena. The sword is a Japanese katana and symbolises the samurai status of the yokozuna. The tachimochi will always be the more highly ranked of the assisting wrestlers. As indicated above, during the ceremony the yokozuna will wear his tsuna around his waist. The ceremonial aprons of all three form a matching set. The tsuyuharai (lit. ... The tachimochi (lit. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. ...

Once in the ring the yokozuna takes centre stage and performs a much more complex ritual dance. The dance can take one of two forms, one of which the yokozuna usually chooses when he is first promoted. In addition to the slightly different routine the choice of the yokozuna's ritual can also be determined by the knot used to tie the rope around his waist. The currently more popular "Unryū" style has only one loop at the back, while the "Shiranui" style has two. The styles are named after two famous Yokozuna of the Edo period, although there is no historical proof that they actually carried out the dances that have been attributed to them. Indeed there are some scholars who believe that in fact the two concerned have had their ring entering rituals mixed up. Ceremonial dance is a major category or classification of dance forms or dance styles, where the purpose is ceremonial or ritualistic. ... The following text needs to be harmonized with text in the article History of Japan#Edo Period. ...

If a yokozuna is defeated by a non-yokozuna, it is common for audience members to throw their seat cushions into the ring (and onto the wrestlers).

Noteworthy yokozuna

Main article: List of Yokozuna

As of July 2005, there have been a grand total of 68 yokozuna, although formal recordkeeping only started with Tanikaze and Onogawa in 1789. A selected list: This is a list of all Sumo wrestlers who have reached the sports highest rank of Yokozuna. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Tanikaze Kajinosuke (谷風梶之助)(1750-95) was a famous sumo wrestler in Japan in Tokugawa era. ... Onogawa Kisaburō, repelling a monster by blowing smoke in its face, depicted in an 1865 print by Yoshitoshi. ...

  • Hitachiyama (常陸山), one of the most valuable sumo wrestlers for building the Ryogoku Kokugikan. He had been nicknamed Kakusei (角聖).
  • Tachiyama (太刀山), superstar of the Meiji era
  • Tochigiyama (栃木山), pioneer of the modern sumo.
  • Futabayama (双葉山), the dominant wrestler of the late 1930s to 1940's. Obtained 12 tournament victories in a period when there were only 2 (rather than the current six) tournaments per year.
  • Taihō (大鵬), reckoned by many to be the greatest sumo wrestler of the post war period, with a record 32 tournament victories
  • Chiyonofuji (千代の富士), the dominant wrestler until his retirement in 1991, with one tournament victory less than Taihō
  • Kitanoumi (北の湖), not far behind either in terms of ability. He achieved 24 tournament victories.
  • Akebono (曙), first foreign-born yokozuna (from Hawaii, United States)
  • Takanohana (貴乃花) and Wakanohana (若乃花) were the first brothers to become yokozuna at the same time, and they were rivals of their contemporary Akebono.
  • Asashoryu (朝青龍), from Mongolia, promoted January 2003
Junior Rank
Ranks of Sumo Wrestling

The Meiji period ) denotes the 45-year reign of Emperor Meiji, running from 8 September 1868 (in the Gregorian calendar, 23 October 1868) to 30 July 1912. ... Tochigiyama Moriya(栃木山守也)was the 27th Yokozuna in Sumo wrestling from 1917 till 1924. ... Futabayama Sadaji (双葉山 定次; February 9, 1912 - December 16, 1968 ), born as Akiyoshi Sadaji (龝吉 定次) was a Yokozuna in sumo wrestling from 1937 till 1945. ... Statue of Yokozuna Taiho Taihō Koki (大鵬幸喜, born May 29, 1940 as Naya Koki). ... Chiyonofuji Mitsugu (June 1, 1955-) is the 58th Yokozuna of sumo. ... Kitanoumi Toshimitsu (北の湖敏満 May 16, 1953 - , as Kobata Toshimitsu , Japanese:小畑 敏満) was the dominant Yokozuna in Sumo during the 1970s. ... Yokozuna Akebono is fitted with a tsuna belt for the last time at his retirement ceremony. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Takanohana III Koji (貴乃花 光司, born August 12, 1972 as Hanada Koji) is the younger son of Futagoyama oyakata, formerly Ozeki Takanohana II. He entered sumo in March 1988, at the same time as his elder brother Wakanohana Masaru, and also Akebono Taro. ... Wakanohana III Masaru (若乃花 勝) (born January 20, 1971 as Hanada Masaru (花田 勝)) is the elder son of Futagoyama oyakata, formerly Ozeki Takanohana II. He is also the nephew of Wakanohana I Kanji, who was a famous Yokozuna of the 1950s. ... Asashōryū Akinori (朝青龍 明徳), born as Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj (Долгорсүрэн Дагвадорж) on September 27, 1980 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is the first Mongolian sumo wrestler to reach the... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

External links

  • Japan Sumo Association

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