Quiz !Yokozuna performances

Last week’s series on winners of most bouts during a calendar years have raise debates upon readers – many thanks for that. Apart from the topic, many questions where about yokozuna or yokozuna wanna-be performances, which broadened our views and enriched the discussion. It was largely helped by the first part, which was dedicated to Hakuho – the GOAT’s aura really shines at every corner, doesn’t it ?

Anyway, thanks to our readers, a new topic is opened, about yokozuna performances. To entertain you, we will publish first a series of questions. Answer, as well as more detailed information will be brought after.

Unless said otherwise, our questions refer to the modern era only (starting from 1958). Enjoy our quiz !

1. Let’s start with a reasonable warm up: who is the only yokozuna who never won a single basho during his entire career ?

a. Futahaguro

b. Wajima

c. Kirishima

d. Kotokaze

2. We have to look before the modern era to find the last ozeki to be promoted to yokozuna without having won a tournament. Who was it ?

Tip : unlike Futagahuro, he won yushos after his promotion.

a. Terukuni

b. Tochinishiki

c. Azumafuji

d. Chiyonoyama

3. Speaking about yushos, how many wrestlers have not won a single yusho during their yokozuna careers ?

Note : the yushos may have been won before 1958. We’re looking at the whole careers of yokozuna who have been active since 1958.

The correct answer of the first question is, of course, included !

a. Two

b. Three

c. Four

d. Five

4. How many yokozuna have been make-koshi despite competing all fifteen days ?

a. One

b. Two

c. Three

d. Four

5. What happened to him / them ?

a. It caused huge scandal and he was / they were expelled from sumo

b. He was / they were allowed to continue, due to the fact that he / they won the previous basho

c. He / they retired from their duties

d. The Yokozuna Deliberation Council did not consider resignation

6. And how many yushos has he / have they won, combined, afterwards ?

a. None

b. One

c. Six

d. Twelve

7. Of the ten last yokozuna, how many have earned promotion without winning two yushos in a row as ozeki ?

a. Two

b. Three

c. Four

d. Five

Yokozuna Deliberation Committee Soken. Moshiai. Ryogoku Kokugikan. Kisenosato vs Kakuryu. 3 May 2018. Photo by Nicola Hetherington for Tachiai.

8. How many dai yokozuna were active during the modern era ?

a. Nine

b. Ten

c. Twelve

d. Fifteen

9. Sumo year 2017 saw a quartet of yokozuna, composed of Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kakuryu and Kisenosato. Which year saw the creation of the previous quartet ?

a. 1990

b. 1992

c. 1995

d. 2000

10. The four yokozuna were…

a. Chiyotaikai, Musashimaru, Hokutoumi, Asashifuji

b. Onokuni, Hokutoumi, Akebono, Kirishima

c. Chiyonofuji, Onokuni, Hokutoumi, Asashifuji

d. Chiyonofuji, Chiyotaikai, Takanohana, Onokuni

11. What can we say about the situation that happened after eleven bashos ?

a. Each tournament has been won by a yokozuna

b. Each tournament has been won by a non yokozuna

c. Each yokozuna won at least one yusho

d. There were no more yokozuna

e. There was a fifth yokozuna

12. By the way, what is the highest combination of yokozuna seen at the same time ? The question covers the period from 1909 to 2019

a. Four active yokozuna

b. Four active yokozuna and a fifth awaiting retirement ceremony

c. Five active yokozuna

d. Five active yokozuna and a sixth awaiting retirement ceremony

Yokozuna Deliberation Committee Soken. Butsukari. Ryogoku Kokugikan. Hakuho & Endo. 3 May 2018. Photo by Nicola Hetherington for Tachiai.

13. Back to the modern era, the three yokozuna to have won six yusho in a row are…

a. Chiyonofuji, Takanohana II, Asashoryu

b. Chiyonofuji, Taiho, Hakuho

c. Taiho, Asashoryu, Takanohana II

d. Taiho, Asashoryu, Hakuho

14. The feat of winning seven yusho in a row has been accumplished by…

a. Taiho

b. Takanohana II

c. Asashoryu

d. Hakuho

e. No one

15. And many foreigners have been promoted to yokozuna ?

a. Four

b. Five

c. Six

d. Seven

Good luck, don’t hesitate to drop a comment with your answers!

Jungyo off day – some footage

We interrupt today’s scheduled programming to inform you that the rikishi had a bit of a rest today at Okayama, where they will resume their activities tomorrow.

Unfortunately, tomorrow I won’t be able to cover the events, with both work and a Euroleague basketball game to attend.

So I’ll try to give you a double helping on Wednesday. And in the meantime, here is some interesting footage that turned up from yesterday at Osaka:

The difference between butsukari and reverse butsukari

So, those who followed this program in the past few days should already know what a butsukari geiko is: Up-ranker exposes his chest. Down-ranker needs to throw himself at that chest and push the up-ranker all the way to the edge. Done? Good. Squat at the edge, and give the up-ranker a nice bow. Not done? Up-ranker will usually throw you to the ground. Occasionally, he’ll take you for a monkey-walk around the dohyo.

So here is Hakuho giving Takakeisho TLC from yesterday:

The ceremony usually ends with an “itten” (一転), where the low ranker symbolically knocks on the chest of the up-ranker, and gets thrown one last time. Here Hakuho seems to go for a “san-ten” (三転) – three final throws? Hmm…

A reverse butsukari (not an official name) is when an up-ranker wants to practice pushing. So he asks a low-ranker to do the honors. The rules are supposed to be the same. In the previous Jungyo, Kisenosato did one of those – I think it was with Kagayaki. Kisenosato is a conservative… so he kind of insisted on the itten: knocked on his opponent’s chest, and immediately threw himself to the ground. :-)

(Those throws are not actually like the ones in an actual bout. The ukemi knows he is supposed to be thrown, and usually performs a korogari as soon as the up-ranker touches him. Kisenosato simply did one without his opponent laying more than one finger on him).

So usually a reverse butsukari looks quite different than the “normal” one, which is a show of authority. How different? Take a look at Harumafuji who was doing that  yesterday, (and three days in a row, apparently):

So… no actual rolls. And the squats don’t end with much of a bow.

Chikara-mizu jokes

So, if you only ever watch the Kintamayama shorts or the NHK highlights, you probably haven’t seen many chikara-mizu (power-water) ceremonies. Before each bout, one rikishi who has not been tainted with a loss takes a ladle of water from the yobidashi and hands it to the next rikishi who goes up to wrestle. That rikishi accepts it, rinses his mouth with it, and then  accepts a piece of paper which is usually used to cover the mouth while spitting the water down into a spittoon at the side of the dohyo.  The rikishi who hands the water is the one who won the last bout, and on the other side of the dohyo, where the previous wrestler lost, the rikishi of the next bout, one who has not fought yet, will do the honors. On the musubi-no-ichiban, the last bout of the day, the role will be left to the last winner on that side, who has to stay there for this purpose.

So, during honbasho, this is all done quite seriously (though I find the constant spitting kind of yucky, especially for the yobidashi who has to clean up the spittoon from time to time). But during the Jungyo, rikishi like to play around. One of the common jokes is to add some of the dohyo salt to the ladle. The yobidashi usually keep silent, though this is done right in front of their eyes.

But this is not the only possible prank.

Here are the bouts of the Juryo division from yesterday (yes! Aminishiki can win by yori-kiri!) for your enjoyment. And pay attention to Osunaarashi handing the chikara-mizu to Amakaze. Ahem.

It’s good to be the king!


When a Yokozuna makes an appearance, the other sekitori greet him with a bow. When it’s Hakuho, that includes Harumafuji as well. Hakuho returns a nod.

I watched a similar video the other day, in which Harumafuji arrived at the dohyo, and everybody was bowing to him, but he and Kakuryu just exchanged nods and a friendly pat. Hakuho has a special status. In fact, apparently Kakuryu, Harumafuji and Kisenosato, when they mention each other, use their respective shikona. But when they refer to Hakuho, it’s “Yokozuna”, whether he’s present or not. As in Kakuryu saying to Harumafuji “We need to wait for Kisenosato and the Yokozuna”. That kind of thing.

You’ll notice that the Yokozuna himself bows. That is directed at Tamanoi oyakata. When Takanohana is present, a bow will be directed at him as well.

Note another interesting form of expressing respect: mizu-tsuke. This is similar to the chikara-mizu explained above, only without the paper to hide the spits and without a yobidashi on hand. And look how many of those there are.

(Many short butsukaris in that video as well).

Chiyonofuji Celebrates 60th Birthday

Chiyonofuji turned 60 and the sumo kyokai rolled out the red tsuna (the rope belt yokozuna wear). I had to make the joke.

Two of the three current yokozuna accompanied him for the event as his sword bearer (Hakuho) and dew sweeper (Harumafuji).

Analysis: Kinboshi Rates for Current Yokozuna

*Update 6 (7/12/16): Okinoumi defeated Harumafuji. Tochiozan defeated Kakuryu.

*Update 5 (5/10/16): Ichinojo defeated Harumafuji again. I will recalculate the totals. He faces Myogiryu tomorrow, another maegashira who already has a gold star, so another update may be coming tomorrow.

*Update 4 (3/24/16): Several tournaments of updates. He gave up another kinboshi to Osunaarashi in November but still won the tournament. Another kinboshi to Shohozan in January and Kotoyuki in March. I still hope to expand this analysis but I need to figure out a way to automate these updates.

*Update 3 (8/6/15): Tochinoshin’s default win over Harumafuji does not count as a kinboshi but I wanted to make a note.

*Update 2 (5/19/15): I tried to go to sleep but had to wait to see if Gagamaru would get a gold star. Surprise, surprise! I’m trying to also keep the numbers in the article below up-to-date. Harumafuji was at almost 1 gold star per 10 bouts but after this streak it’s almost 1 every 9 bouts!
*Update 1 (5/18/15): Harumafuji has given up 2 more kinboshi in the May tournament…and counting. I will try to update this article to keep it current. The latest recipients are M5 Tamawashi and M3 Sadanoumi.

After Harumafuji gave up 3 gold stars in the Haru basho, I wondered how many he’d yielded overall and how his rate compared with the other active yokozuna. I found out Harumafuji is quite prone to losing to maegashira, yielding one for every 9.1 bouts. He’s given up 26 in all, in about 209 bouts as yokozuna. The kinboshi seem to come in spurts. Also, Takayasu and Toyonoshima have been particularly effective against Harumafuji, winning 3 gold stars each. However, against Toyonoshima Harumafuji still holds a big 35-10 lead in their rivalry but he’s lost 3 of their last 9 bouts. Against Takayasu he’s only lost 3 of their 12 bouts.

In comparison, Kakuryu has given up 5 gold stars in the 74 bouts he’s had as yokozuna – a rate of 1 per 14.8 bouts, or about one per tournament. *(3/24/16) He’s given up 2 more in the past year, one to Aminishiki and another to Yoshikaze.

However, superzuna Hakuho has an amazing record against maegashira. He’s given up half as many gold stars as Harumafuji has but he’s fought in about 700 bouts as yokozuna. That’s an astonishing rate of 1 gold star every 70 bouts, or 1 gold star in just under 5 tournaments. I hope to expand this analysis to look at where these yokozuna fit in with other yokozuna through history.

Plainly, if Harumafuji is going to win another tournament soon, he can’t give up any losses in the first 10 days. *update, not only did he lose on Day 2 and win the Kyushu basho, he gave up yet another gold star to Osunaarashi.

Here’s a list of the gold stars Harumafuji has given (up-to-date as of 3/24/16):
Okinoumi (2),
Ichinojo (2),
Toyonoshima (3),
Takayasu (3),
Yoshikaze (2),
Osunaarashi (2),
Shohozan (2),
Chiyotairyu (2),