Yokozuna Comparisons
Joe Kuroda
SFM’s historian, JK, wraps his two-part article on the greatest of the tsuna wearers

Amateur Sumo's Global Aspirations
Courtesy: International Sumo Federation
What exactly is it and furthermore, what does it do? The ISF explain themselves and their purpose in existing

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Man or myth? Sumo's first yokozuna comes under the spotlight

Heya Peek
Barbara Ann Klein
Tokitsukaze-beya and its famous find themselves the target of Barbara's peek into life inside the heya

SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Featuring interviews with amateur sumo's European Sumo Union General Secretary and the President of the newly founded Irish Sumo Federation

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Would chanko exist without sumo? What is chanko anyway? Find out in Sumo 101

Photo Bonanza
See the Haru
Basho through the eyes of the fans in the seats as SFM gives the mantle of photographer(s) for this basho to Barbara & Gerald Patten. And don't miss our all-Mongolian Bonanza supplied by our Editor, Barbara Ann Klein

Haru Basho Review
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Haru Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila covers the lower division goings on like nobody else around

Natsu Basho Forecast
Mark Buckton
Mark Buckton glances back to look forward in his ones to look out for come May

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Our man Mikko takes us on a tour of his chosen kimarite

Sumo in Print
Mark Buckton
Our gaming thread takes a break for April so we can look at the Spanish language book on the sport not long since released

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s bimonthly focus on 3 of the WWW's best sumo sites today

Fan Debate
Facilitator – Lon Howard
April's man VS monkey debate covers the issue of reducing the number of honbasho

SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
Sit back and enjoy the offerings

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that
made you a sumo fan? Thierry Perran lets us in on his reasons for loving this sport

Readers’ Letters
See what some
See what our featured letter is for this issue

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

The First Yokozuna (Akashi Shiganosuke) – and the history
of sumo's ultimate rank

by Joe Kuroda
1. Akashi Shiganosuke never existed as an historical figure. He was simply part and parcel of sumo folklore in stories told and re-told by storytellers during the Edo era.
2. Two Akashis existed and even though they lived in different eras, their life stories merged to form the Akashi Shiganosuke we know today.
3. One Akashi Shiganosuke existed in sumo but was not a rikishi of yokozuna caliber.

So, while Akashi's claim to have been the first yokozuna is believed to be doubtful at best, Jinamku must have had good reasons to have selected him as the first. That said, let us digress for a moment and review briefly how a yokozuna is promoted to provide background for the mystery.

Since 1951, the Sumo Association, the governing body of ozumo, has officially taken the responsibility of promoting yokozuna. The official rule book states the prime qualification to be two consecutive tournaments victories of a ‘yusho’ or ‘yusho equivalent’ (but not necessarily at ozeki rank).

The members of the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee (YDC),

The Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Sumo Association) acknowledges Akashi Shiganosuke to be the very first yokozuna in the history of the sport – an acknowledgement memorialized on the Yokozuna Rikishi Memorial Monument erected in 1900 by the 12th yokozuna Jinmaku Kyugoro (1829-1903). Set on the grounds of Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine in Tokyo's Koto-ward, the granite block is approximately 3.5 meters tall and 1 meter thick – and weighs in at 20 tons. On the back of the monument, yokozuna names are carved. Starting with Akashi Shiganosuke, including one “unrivalled” rikishi, Raiden Tame-emon, and running up to the 45th yokozuna Wakanohana I, this stone is the predecessor to the new monument nearby – a stone engraved with all yokozuna names since the 46th yokozuna Asashio Taro.

The monument was Jinmaku's lifelong personal project as he tirelessly collected donations
from throughout Japan to achieve his goal after leaving the ranks of professional sumo. By erecting the stone, Jinmaku was the first person to formally list yokozuna in a previously unrecognized order as well to establish Akashi Shiganosuke, Ayagawa Goroji, and Maruyama Gonzaemon, in order, as the first three to reach the rank of yokozuna.

Tochigi Prefecture near Tokyo still considers Akashi Shiganosuke to be one of their favorite sons and has even noted in days gone by that Akashi was born as the second son of Yamanouchi Shuzen, an Utsunomiya (Tochigi Prefecture) area-based samurai who moved to Tokyo to become a recruit of Sumaura Rinemon.

Unfortunately, there is very little else known about Akashi Shiganosuke. There are however, three theories concerning this ‘name’ as an actual historical figure:
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