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.

  Shikimori, the current two houses of gyoji active in ozumo.

The House of Yoshida Tsukasa issued the first two yokozuna licenses to Tanikaze Kajinosuke and Onogawa Kisaburo in November 1789. In fact, this act heralded the house's dominance of ceremonial matters in the world of sumo. In 1789, the 19th head of the house, Oikaze Yoshida, devised a plan to grant a license to the most powerful rikishi so they could perform one man dohyo-iri ceremonies on the dohyo in order to promote sumo tournaments and to advance their own presence in the sumo world. Their family history says that the Emperor Gotoba (1183-1198) assigned the title of Oikaze to the first Yoshida in 1186. Indeed, the family line was preserved to this day – the time of the current 25th Oikaze.

At the time of the issuance of the first yokozuna title by the House of Yoshida Tsukasa, such ceremonies and publicly held events were strictly regulated. The 19th Oikaze requested permission from the local authorities to perform an official “dohyo-iri” ceremony by citing a previous case in which Ayagawa and Maruyama had performed a similar event although, due to a fire, records
of that event had been lost. The document did not make any mention of Akashi Shiganosuke. In addition, the records of the Yoshidas listed Genjiyama Tsunagoro as the second yokozuna rather than Ayagawa.

Overcoming bureaucratic problems, Oikaze successfully arranged to have sekiwake Tanikaze Kajinosuke and Onogawa Kisaburo perform the ceremony with a hemp rope around their kesho mawashi. Neither were ozeki at the time as in this period, ozeki- ranked rikishi were not real competitive rikishi but were more ‘physically large with striking looks’ used solely to bring in more paying customers; as an “attraction” more than anything else. In essence then, the sekiwake rikishi, despite being outranked by ozeki, were generally far superior and the more capable of the rikishi during tournaments.

The main reason Oikaze Yoshida selected Tanikaze and Onogawa to be the first officially-sanctioned yokozuna centered on their rising popularity and the numbers of people eagerly awaiting a tournament in which they would go head-to-head. They became good rivals and were well known
for being involved in more exciting sumo than displayed by others. In effect, they attracted more fans to the tournaments and helped promoters achieve greater financial success than ever before which, added to the fame and rewards that went their own way, only helped solidify the position of the House of Yoshida Tsukasa within ozumo.

Earlier in history, a ceremonial sumo tournament was said to have been staged for an Emperor, and then, in the era of Nobunaga Oda, the first Shogun to attempt to unite Japan, the actual balance of national power shifted to the Shogun from the Imperial House, meaning that subsequent tournaments were to be held on behalf of the Shoguns. In fact, during the Edo era, all rikishi belonged to their local ‘daimyo’ (samurai lords) and were then invited to appear at a tournament by the hosting daimyo. Throughout this time, non-sanctioned sumo tournaments were organized by peasants and amateur rikishi in different regions, but were never able to turn the corner into becoming going concerns.

About the same time, a few