Tag Archives: Shikona

The Yamawaro: A Legend of Japan

With mere hours before Kyushu Basho starts, I figured I’d kill some time by doing a write up on the Yamawaro, the namesake of this blog. Some of you may have thought that this was a shikona or just a random Japanese word, but it is, in fact, a legendary entity from Kyushu (how situationally appropriate) in Japan.

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An artist’s (Matthew Meyer) depiction of the yamawaro.

Yamawaro are minor mountain deities. They are short, covered in hair, walk upright, and have a single eye in the middle of their foreheads. Yamawaro are very good at mimicking sounds in nature as well as human speech and songs. But, the most imporant thing about yamawaro is that they love sumo. They are, in fact, considered to be better at sumo than any human can be.

So, at the end of the day, the blog is named after a sumo-wrestling mountain spirit with one eye and a skill for mimicry.

If you’d like to learn more about the yamawaro, consider visiting the amazing Yokai.com. It is run by the talented Matthew Meyer who researches and illustrates yokai from all across Japan. He has two books in print with a third on the way. Be sure to swing by and check it out.

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Legends of the Dohyo – 2 – Ayagawa Gorōji

Ayagawa Gorōji

Ayagawa Gorōji

Personal Information

  • Birth Name – Ayagawa Gorōji
  • Date of Birth – Circa 1703
  • Place of Birth – Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
  • Date of Death – March 14th, 1765 (62 years)

Professional Information

  • Debut – N/A
  • Shikona – Ayagawa Gorōji
  • Heya – N/A
  • Height – 6’7″ / 2 m
  • Weight – 330 lb / 150 kg
  • Promoted to Yokozuna – Circa 1915
  • Retired – N/A
  • Career Record (Win/Loss) – N/A
  • Career Record (Yusho) – N/A

Ayagawa Gorōji came from the Tochigi prefecture and is recognized as the second yokozuna. In 1717, he received his promotion to ōzeki and, according to sumo folklore, he was the strongest rikishi in the Genbun era.

Despite being famous in Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka, precious little is known about Ayagawa’s career in sumo. It wasn’t even until 150 years after his death that he was recognized as a yokozuna by the twelth yokozuna Jinmaku Kyugoro.


This information was taken from Wikipedia and Sumo Database.


Ayagawa Gorōji

Legends of the Dohyo – 1 – Akashi Shiganosuke

Akashi Shiganosuke

Akashi Shiganosuke – Yokozuna #1

Personal Information

  • Birth Name – Akashi Shiganosuke
  • Date of Birth – Circa 1600
  • Place of Birth – Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
  • Date of Death – Circa 1649

Professional Information

  • Debut – 1624
  • Shikona – Akashi Shiganosuke
  • Heya – N/A
  • Height – 8’6″ / 2.58 m
  • Weight – 406 lbs / 184 kg
  • Promoted to Yokozuna – Circa 1900
  • Retired – 1643
  • Career Record (Win/Loss) – N/A
  • Career Record (Yusho) – N/A

Though formally recognized as the first yokozuna in sumo history, the actual existence of Akashi Shiganosuke is disputed. According to sumo folklore, Akashi first took part in a sumo tournament in 1924, in Yotsuya, Tokyo. He was such an instant star that sumo organizers were able to charge admission to the event for the first time ever.

By 1900, Akashi was such a legendary figure in sumo that when Jinmaku Kyugoro (the 12th yokozuna) began to compile a list of yokozuna, he put Akashi at the top of the list. Despite this honor, Tanikaze Kajinosuke (the 4th yokozuna) was the first rikishi to receive a yokozuna license and to perform the yokozuna dohyo-iri, so he is often regarded as the first “official” or “real” yokozuna.


This information was taken from Wikipedia and Sumo Database.


Akashi Shiganosuke