Ozeki promotion acceptance phrases

In a few hours, two representatives of the NSK will arrive at Chiganoura beya, wearing formal kimono, and formally inform Takakeisho of his promotion to Ozeki. He will bow, flanked by his oyakata and okami-san (stablemaster’s wife), and formally accept the honor.

The most recently promoted (and now demoted) Ozeki, Tochinoshin, uttering his phrase

Part of this formal acceptance speech is a phrase which is supposed to express the spirit in which the rikishi wants to undertake his new duty. This phrase is often a four-character set phrase (yojijukugo), but that’s not mandatory.

Sumo fans are speculating on the phrase Takakeisho will choose to use in his acceptance ceremony, and the Japanese media published all the phrases used by all Ozeki who were promoted in the Heisei era. I thought I’d share the list with Tachiai’s readers.

YearOzekiPhraseReadingMeaning
1990Kirishima一生懸命isshōkenmeiWith all my might
1992Akebono名を汚さぬようna o yogosanu yōNot to disgrace the title [of Ozeki]
1993Takanohana
不撓不屈futō-fukutsuIndomitable, Unyielding
1993Wakanohana一意専心ichiisenshinWholeheartedly
1994Takanonami勇往邁進yūōmaishinPush forward
1994Musashimaru日本の心を持ってnippon no kokoro o motteWith a Japanese heart
1999Chiyotaikai名を汚さぬよう(See Akebono)
1999Dejima力のもののふを目指しchikara no mononofu o mezashiAim to be a warrior of strength
2000Musoyama正々堂々seisei-dōdōOpen and aboveboard
2000Miyabiyama初心を忘れず
Shoshin o wasurezuAlways remember my initial resolve
2000Kaio地位を汚さぬようchii o yogosanu yōNot to disgrace the status [of ozeki]
2001Tochiazuma名に恥じぬようna ni hajinu yōNot to shame the title [of ozeki]
2002Asashoryu一生懸命(See Kirishima)
2005Kotooshu名に恥じぬようにna ni hajinu yō ni(See Tochiazuma)
2006Hakuho全身全霊zenshin-zenreiBody and Soul
2007Kotomitsuki力戦奮闘rikisenfuntō
Fighting with all my might
2008Harumafuji全身全霊(See Hakuho)
2010Baruto栄誉ある地位を汚さぬようeiyo aru chii wo yogosanu yōNot to disgrace the honorable status [of ozeki]
2011Kotoshogiku万理一空banri ikkūMany principles under one sky
2011Kisenosato名を汚さぬよう(See Akebono)
2012Kakuryu喜んでもらえるようなyorokonde moraeru yōnaTo be able to make people happy
2014Goeido大和魂を貫いて
Yamato-damashi o tsuranuiteTo carry on the Japanese spirit
2015Terunofuji心技体の充実に努めshin-gi-tai no jūjitsu ni tsutomeWork to bring heart, technique and body to the utmost
2017Takayasu正々堂々(See Musoyama)
2018Tochinoshin力士の手本rikishi no tehonA role model for rikishi

Some of these are quite unique. Dejima’s “chikara no mononofu” is actually written as 力の士 – the kanji that make up the word “rikishi” – “a man/warrior/samurai of power”. It’s not usually pronounced “mononofu”.

Kotoshogiku’s phrase is a kind of Zen phrase, which famously appeared in the “Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi. Its meaning is unclear and is supposed to be something to ponder as you prepare for a challenge.

Personally, I really like Kakuryu’s artless phrase. All he wants is to make people happy!

So, with a few hours to go, what kind of resolve or feeling do you think Takakeisho’s phrase will express?

28 thoughts on “Ozeki promotion acceptance phrases

  1. I am waiting for the day some cheeky new Ozeki will try some not-so-traditional yojijukugo, like 十人十色 (“Different strokes for different folks”), or 疑心暗鬼 (“suspicion will raise bogies”), or maybe 反面教師 (“good example of what not to do”). I think if Abi ever makes Ozeki we may be treated to one of these.

  2. Kakuryu words are very interesting. I thought the difference between Takanohana and Wakanohana was also pretty interesting.

    • Yes. Takanohana certainly lived up to his motto. Unbending, inflexible. As for his relationship with his brother – I also thought it was interesting that Wakanohana chose the Shiranui style when he became Yokozuna. I suspect he didn’t want to have his little brother teach him the dance.

    • Curiously, the Japanese Heart one was uttered by Musashimaru. Perhaps that’s why he is the only American who survived in the sumo world.

  3. I think Takakeisho’s will be most similar to Takanonami’s “Push Forward.” He already said in his post-Basho interview that he will remain focused on pushing and thrusting, rather than the mawashi. It’s just not in the man’s nature to grapple; he’s decisive and straightforward, earnest. So will his acceptance phrase be. But it probably won’t be four characters, because in both frame and style he is not beholden to the traditional expectations of sumo.

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