The art of wetting sumo 11 – The January 2023 Tournament

Sumo NHK World Japan Yokozuna Dosukoi
Sumo NHK World Japan Yokozuna Dosukoi

The January championship in Tokyo from Sunday 08/01 to Sunday 22/01/2023

2022 was a special year as each tournament was won by a different wrestler. So what’s in store for us in 2023? Though it’s impossible to predict the results, this year has already started with an unusual situation in the rankings.
It’s exceptional, even historic, because for the first time in 125 years there will be only one yokozuna and one ozeki at the top of the pyramid.

At the top of the pyramid is the title of yokozuna — once earned, it lasts for life. To achieve this supreme rank you already need to be an ozeki, then win two consecutive tournaments. Unlike other titles a yokozuna cannot lose his title even if he is defeated. However, if his defeats continue he will have to resign to preserve his dignity.  

The rank of ozeki comes just below that of yokozuna. Appointed at a full extraordinary meeting, he needs to have accumulated 33 victories during the previous three tournaments to be worthy of the title. If his defeats outnumber his wins he does not lose his rank immediately but becomes kadoban. To earn back his titlethe ozeki must score eight wins at the following tournament. 

Below them, four sekiwake will be competing. One of them, former ozeki Shodai, will have to win at least ten matches in order to regain his place beside Takakeisho. It’s been a remarkable promotion for Takayasu who rejoins the sekiwake following his excellent results in November. The last time he was in this position was in July 2021. The two other sekiwake, Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu, remain unchanged.

As in November, there will be four komusubi with only Kiribayama returning. This is the highest level reached by Kotonowaka and Wakamotoharu, and Mesei returns after spending the past five years as maegashira.

January already raises several questions. Will yokozuna Terunofuji, absent in November, return after his knee surgery, and in what condition? Will ‘bulldozer’ Takakeisho succeed in obtaining promotion to the rank of yokozuna if he wins the next cup? Will Shodai be able to make a comeback? Will the ambitious Hoshoru be promoted to ozeki?

Some of the many questions and challenges that should spice up this first competition of the year.

Yohann Valdenaire
Illustration: POSTICS

To not miss out on anything, visit the NHK WORLD-JAPAN website, which will broadcast edited highlights from 8 January.


The tournament in Tokyo Sunday 8 to Sunday 22 January 2023

SCREENING GRAND SUMO Highlights at Japan House London

8 – 22 January 2023 (GRAND SUMO Highlights)
Every day at 17:30-18:00

Sumo Japan house London