The art of wetting sumo 12 – The may 2023 Tournament

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

The May tournament in Tokyo from Sunday 14/05 to Sunday 28/05/2023

The world of sumo is currently going through a period of doubt and disillusion, but also of hope. Though some wrestlers are having a difficult time, others seem to be on their way to the top.

Among the most eagerly anticipated, Kiribayama, who won in March, has a chance to reach the the rank of ozeki. With 11 wins in January and 12 in March, the Mongolian is only 10 wins away from promotion. So his goal is now within reach.

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. 

Another hopeful prospect is the return to the first division of Asanoyama. He was sanctioned in June 2021 for breaching health safety regulations during the pandemic. Removed from the dohyo for six tournaments, a whole year, the deposed ozeki is close to a perfect record with 46 wins out of 51 matches played. If he continues like this, he could well regain his prestigious rank.

Having missed the previous four tournaments due to injury, Terunofuji, the only yokozuna, has announced he will finally be coming back. Let’s hope that after his long convalescence, his results will live up to his demigod status.

Wakamotoharu holds the position of sekiwake, while his older brother, the talented Wakatakakage, is relegated to komusubi, one level below. Unfortunately for him, he will continue to fall in the rankings as he will be absent for between six months to a year to recover from knee surgery.

Takakeisho, the only ozeki in the competition, missed out on the opportunity to rise to the top rank of yokozuna in March. Even worse, following his withdrawal from the competition, he will need a minimum of eight wins to avoid demotion.

Yohann Valdenaire
Illustration: POSTICS

To ensure you miss none of the action, visit the NHK WORLD-JAPAN website from 14 May, where edited highlights will be broadcast.


The tournament in Tokyo Sunday 14 to Sunday 28 January 2023

SCREENING GRAND SUMO Highlights at Japan House London

14 – 28 Mai 2023 (GRAND SUMO Highlights)
Every day at 17:30-18:00

Sumo Japan house London