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Seiyashi

Anomalous Yusho Portraits (trivia)

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Posted (edited)

Looking back through the DB, I noticed Kotooshu's yusho portrait in Natsu 2008 being visually unusual (other than interrupting a succession of Hakuho and Asashoryu's portraits).

Then it hit me: not only was he in his shimekomi (vs the customary kesho-mawashi of most other yusho winners), he was also crossing his arms; most other winners would be standing in the typical hands to the side pose, doing shiko, or for the yokozuna, doing a freeze-frame from their dohyo-iri. John Gunning comments on this in his introduction to the yushogaku.

This was followed by Hakuho's yusho portrait in Nagoya 2008 where he was posing with his tachi more like an European knight rather than a Japanese samurai (i.e. hands on the pommel (kabuto-gane) of the tachi katana with the point down (resting on the sayajiri), rather than holding the tachi katana by his side as usual).

Does anyone know of any other yusho portraits, especially older ones (pre 1997) not on the db, where the pose chosen by the yusho winner was out of the ordinary for usual sumo portraiture?

EDIT - Found others from the DB:

  • Musashimaru in Aki 2002 - also in shimekomi and performing tsuppari
  • Asashoryu in Aki 2009 - also in shimekomi, and in the midst of performing his pre-bout dash to the salt bucket
  • Hakuho in Haru 2010 - does the European-style sword hold again albeit with one hand this time
  • Hakuho in Hatsu 2011 - also in shimekomi and posing in his pre-tachiai stance
  • Harumafuji in Aki 2012 - he's performing part of the seriagari from the yokozuna dohyo iri, but it's unusual because he won the yusho as an ozeki and lacks any of the yokozuna regalia in his portrait. That said, this was the second zensho that sealed his promotion and he may well have been formally promoted (Meiji jingu dohyoiri and all that) by the time the portrait was taken.

EDIT2: Looking at the Mainichi sumo site that lists the portraits: https://www.mainichi-sumo.com/. Other than the two below, everyone else appears to be bog standard.

EDIT3: It's also notable that many of the yushogaku variants don't start until the Waka-Taka era. Before that, it was pretty much a standard pose with the only variation being the addition of yokozuna regalia depending on the winner's rank.

EDIT4: Thanks to @RabidJohn for pointing out some things regarding the tachi, which led me down a rabbithole of the analysis of tachi in yusho portraits.

EDIT5: Older SF threads on yusho portraits below:

Edited by Seiyashi
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It's weird that they (whoever directs these) went for an unusual composition for Kotooshu's first/only portrait. Maybe they wanted to emphasize how tall he was, which I can kind of understand works better without a kesho-mawashi.

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Posted (edited)

Hakuho's in July 2009. I may be mistaken but i've never seen this pose any other time (maybe it's the way he's squatting). I've seen something like it in the pre-bout rituals but not in yokozuna regalia.

200907.jpg

I also find the pose in this Akebono one rather unusual...

199309.jpg

And here's one where Takanonami is standing in shimekomi:

199601.jpg

Nothing to unusual about this Chiyonofuji one from Hatsu 1981 until you realize it was the first portrait other than the straightforward standing pose in almost 25 years:

198501.jpg

The time before that a rikishi struck a pose of any kind was Aki 1960:

196009.jpg

And here's Tochinishiki in Hatsu 1960, in shimekomi:

196001.jpg

Note: Pictures were gotten from this quality website: http://heyaaz.nagioff.com

Edited by sahaven111
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Posted (edited)

Standing/Kesho: 354

Unusual Pose/Kesho: 1

Dohyo-iri Pose: 28

Standing/Shimekomi: 3

Pose/Shimekomi: 5

 

Also 60 Yusho Portraits have a yokozuna holding a sword in any way (43% of which were made after 2000)

Edited by sahaven111
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Posted (edited)

Out of likes for the time being but thanks very much for supplementing the list.

3 hours ago, sahaven111 said:

Hakuho's in July 2009. I may be mistaken but i've never seen this pose any other time (maybe it's the way he's squatting). I've seen something like it in the pre-bout rituals but not in yokozuna regalia.

It's part of the dohyo-iri: this is after the chiri-chozu concludes (so two claps then the hands raised with palm upwards), done while still crouching at the tokudawara with the attendants and before stepping into the ring proper. You can see Hakuho doing it in this dohyo-iri (courtesy of Jason) here, albeit at a different angle: 

 

3 hours ago, sahaven111 said:

I also find the pose in this Akebono one rather unusual...

Not as sure about this, but I think this is actually just before the chiri-chozu - at first I thought it was the Shiranui seriagari but then Akebono did Unryu so would never have two hands out that way in his dohyo-iri proper.

You can see Akebono briefly crouch in a similar position here - this is the only good quality, unblocked footage I can find of his dohyo-iri. That said, the difference between his and Hakuho's is that he's looking towards the camera while his body is angled elsewhere, so if you were being exact about it you wouldn't find a 100% equivalence in his dohyo-iri (where he would be looking forward in line with his body).

By the looks of it, "unusual" yushogaku seem to be a more recent trend then, with the most unusual portrait being the Unryu-style pose pre-1990 by Chiyonofuji, Wakanohana I (the lighting and shadows in his are absolutely terrible) and Tochinishiki. Speaking of Tochinishiki, his Unryu stance is also pretty unusual for his guard hand being so high.

I really like the composition of the Chiyonofuji one. Whoever planned the shoot did it very well; it's almost as if Chiyonofuji himself is inviting you into the portrait.

Edited by Seiyashi

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One more thing I've noticed is that almost all the modern yusho portraits are taken at an angle, so the rikishi is never entirely facing the camera square on even if they are looking at it. Either they are squared up in both feet and shoulders but the camera is angled with respect to them, or their feet are angled while their head and shoulders are square to the camera. I must say it makes for a more artistic composition than the traditional standing pose.

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10 hours ago, Naganoyama said:

@sahaven111 - perhaps you could credit the website you took your pictures from.

Ah yes, thanks a lot for your website! ;-) 

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In retrospect, it would have been awesome if Hakuho had basically done the exact same yusho portrait, but changed position slightly each time, so that across all 40+ pictures he, like, sees you and waves or something or does the John Travolta look around and wander out thing. 

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Just now, Benevolance said:

In retrospect, it would have been awesome if Hakuho had basically done the exact same yusho portrait, but changed position slightly each time, so that across all 40+ pictures he, like, sees you and waves or something or does the John Travolta look around and wander out thing. 

Or at least the yokozuna dohyo iri, then sell the yushogaku as a flipbook (Anidea...)

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Yes! The cross marketing there is brilliant! 

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For it to not look choppy, i think it would require even more yusho than hakuho.. (Eek...)

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And we should mention the site of those who own the portraits

On 24/05/2020 at 20:19, Akinomaki said:

Mainichi shimbun presents the yusho portraits for sale on a new site https://www.mainichi-sumo.com/. 380 exist on film, from 1951 till Hatsu 2020.

On 01/06/2020 at 13:57, Akinomaki said:

Delivery for portraits ordered from the site is only within Japan.

Size of the original portrait is 3.17m tall, 2.265m wide, the small ones are 32 cm tall, 23cm wide and 1.5cm thick. Also the small portraits without frame in the sample photo on the site have a wooden frame.

Before 2014 Fuji film took over, for 62 years, painter Suzue Sato 佐藤寿々江 alone put the color on 3 b/w photos put together to make the portraits.

18 portraits are lost and can't be produced:

1951 Natsu (o Chiyonoyama) and Aki (y Azumafuji) - 3 basho a year then

1952 Natsu (y Azumafuji) and Aki (s Tochinishiki)

1953 Hatsu (o Kagamisato) and Haru (o Tochinishiki) - 4 basho per year

1954 Natsu (o Tochinishiki) and Aki (o Tochinishiki)

1955 all 4 are missing: 2 x y Chiyonoyama, y Tochinishiki, y Kagamisato

1956 Hatsu (y Kagamisato), Haru (s Asashio) and Natsu (o Wakanohana)

1957 Haru (S Asashio) and Aki (y Tochinishiki) - 5 basho per year

1958 Nagoya (y Wakanohana) - 6 basho per year

After the yaocho scandal canceled 2011 Haru basho, the skill evaluation Natsu basho had no cup, no award ceremony and no yusho portrait

http://www.mainichi-sumo.com/about/

Taiho's 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th yusho have the apparently same base photo (with different kesho mawashi) and there are more double faces and poses like that -  if there were 3 b/w photos put together, maybe only the part with the kesho mawashi was replaced. Wajima's 3rd and 4th look exactly the same photo, with slightly different coloring.

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On 18/05/2021 at 04:35, Seiyashi said:

One more thing I've noticed is that almost all the modern yusho portraits are taken at an angle, so the rikishi is never entirely facing the camera square on even if they are looking at it. Either they are squared up in both feet and shoulders but the camera is angled with respect to them, or their feet are angled while their head and shoulders are square to the camera. I must say it makes for a more artistic composition than the traditional standing pose.

Take note of where the portraits are placed when they are raised in Kokugikan - there are eight yusho portraits hanging from each of the four walls. On each wall, the four to the left and the four to the right are facing inwards. So, when you stand in Kokugikan, all of the portraits are somewhat uniformly "facing" the dohyo.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, themistyseas said:

Take note of where the portraits are placed when they are raised in Kokugikan - there are eight yusho portraits hanging from each of the four walls. On each wall, the four to the left and the four to the right are facing inwards. So, when you stand in Kokugikan, all of the portraits are somewhat uniformly "facing" the dohyo.

Oooh. That's a nice catch - so the portraits are oriented with some sort of overarching pattern in mind. And that sort of implies the following:

  • Every portrait that replaces another will be identical in orientation.
  • Portraits will switch orientation from left to right in sets of 4 - so LLLL RRRR LLLL RRRR etcetc. You can sort of see this on the Mainichi site where there's a rough pattern of this sort.

I don't suppose anyone has a panorama photo of the portraits in the Kokugikan? (Can you enter the Kokugikan main hall on non-basho days? I was there during the Nagoya basho so the museum was free of charge, but other than that and the gift shop I didn't (darn it, should have) poke around too much.)

Edited by Seiyashi

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14 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

Oooh. That's a nice catch - so the portraits are oriented with some sort of overarching pattern in mind. And that sort of implies the following:

  •  Every portrait that replaces another will be identical in orientation.
  •  Portraits will switch orientation from left to right in sets of 4 - so LLLL RRRR LLLL RRRR etcetc. You can sort of see this on the Mainichi site where there's a rough pattern of this sort.

 I don't suppose anyone has a panorama photo of the portraits in the Kokugikan? 

Here are a couple of photos both taken by me that both prove and in somewhat more exceptional terms debunk the theory. Apologies for the crap quality from my old iPhone 7. I will point out that I understand the media/size/hosting concerns but it was a little difficult to get this worked out since the max upload size here is 0.49MB

IMG_5217.jpg

This first one was taken May 2019 and you can more or less clearly see the difference in the angles, with the four on the left "opposing" the stance of the first two from the right.

IMG_5921.jpg

On this second photo you have Hakuho's crazy run of consecutive yusho (I took this photo in September 2019) and you can see how the first two are in the normal pattern and angled "inward" and then he starts having a bit more fun with the poses.

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That frankly deserves multiple reacts. Thanks very much for the photos! 

Guess Hakuho isn't giving a hoot as usual about patterns and rules.. (Laughing...)

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Posted (edited)

On the other hand if he had all looked the same, it'd have been very boring and they could have just copied the last picture. Doing the dohyo iri at least looks interesting to the spectators.

Edited by Morning

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Posted (edited)
On 17/05/2021 at 10:54, Seiyashi said:

... Hakuho's yusho portrait in Nagoya 2008 where he was posing with his sword more like an European knight rather than a Japanese samurai (i.e. hands on the pommel (kabuto-gane) of the katana with the point down (resting on the sayajiri), rather than holding the katana by his side as usual).

Slightly off-topic point of order: it's not a katana, it's a tachi. 

The tachi is an older (therefore even more traditional) version of the samurai sword, generally heavier and longer than a katana. The main visual clue to the difference is the way the blade is mounted/worn. Tachi are meant to be worn blade down and the scabbard has fittings for it to be slung from a belt/sash. The katana is worn blade up and the scabbard has no fittings as it is tucked through the belt/sash. A less obvious visual clue is the sword maker's signature. It's on the right of a tachi and on the left of the katana, again because of the difference in the way they are meant to be worn.

Bringing it back on topic, there are several anomalous yusho portraits with yokozuna holding their tachi wrong; i.e. blade up.

Edited by RabidJohn
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

Slightly off-topic point of order: it's not a katana, it's a tachi. 

The tachi is an older (therefore even more traditional) version of the samurai sword, generally heavier and longer than a katana. The main visual clue to the difference is the way the blade is mounted/worn. Tachi are meant to be worn blade down and the scabbard has fittings for it to be slung from a belt/sash. The katana is worn blade up and the scabbard has no fittings as it is tucked through the belt/sash. A less obvious visual clue is the sword maker's signature. It's on the left of a tachi and on the right of the katana, again because of the difference in the way they are meant to be worn.

Bringing it back on topic, there are several anomalous yusho portraits with yokozuna holding their tachi wrong; i.e. blade up.

Thanks for the correction (my inner pedant is pained) - and that spurred me on to compile some stats on yokozuna tachi portraits.

Going through Mainichi's archive of sumo photos, and assuming (for speed and efficacy) that no one is carrying a reversed blade - so a sori (curve) with concave side up is assumed to be blade down and held as a tachi, and if concave side down then blade up and held as a katana - we get the following stats amongst yokozuna eligible to carry a tachi:

  • 68 photos with a tachi
    • Breakdowns:
      • Tochinishiki (1 - 1959.07)
      • Taiho (2 - 1961.11, 1971.01)
        • Taiho's only ever portraits in full regalia (with tachi) were his first and last portraits as a yokozuna. However, as there are no indications that Taiho intended to retire upon winning the 32nd, this might have been a coincidence - or a sign of some sort.
      • Asashio III (1 - 1961.03)
        • This was Asashio's last yusho.
      • Kashiwado (2 - 1963.09, 1965.09)
      • Tochinoumi (1 - 1964.05)
      • Sadanoyama (2 - 1967.11, 1968.01)
        • These were his last two championships, before he lost in 1968.03 to Takamiyama and retired. Likely serendipitious.
      • Tamanoumi (2 - 1970.09, 1971.03)
      • Kitanofuji (2 - 1971.09, 1972.09)
      • Wajima (3 - 1973.09, 1973.11, 1978.07)
      • Wakanohana II (3 - 1978.11, 1979.05, 1980.09)
        • Other than Kisenosato, the only yokozuna to hold the tachi in all of his yusho portraits.
      • Mienoumi (1 - 1979.11)
        • First yusho portrait as yokozuna.
      • Chiyonofuji (1 - 1983.03)
        • First zensho.
      • Takanosato (1 - 1983.09)
        • First yusho portrait as yokozuna.
      • Kitanoumi (1 - 1984.05)
        • This was Kitanoumi's last ever yusho - almost certainly a deliberate choice, given that we know he intended to retire after this zensho (but was asked to carry on to inaugurate the Ryogoku Kokugikan)
      • Akebono (2 - 1993.07, 2000.11)
        • Akebono also held a tachi for his first and last yokozuna yusho portraits. Again, likely a deliberate choice, given that we know Akebono intended to retire after that basho.
      • Takanohana II (2 - 1995.01, 2001.01)
      • Asashoryu (9 - 2003.05, 2004.03, 2005.01, 2005.03, 2005.05, 2006.07, 2006.11, 2008.03, 2009.01)
        • His first yusho portrait was with a tachi.
      • Hakuho (26 - 2008.01, 2008.07, 2008.11, 2009.03, 2010.03, 2010.09, 2010.11, 2011.09, 2011.11, 2012.03, 2012.11, 2013.03, 2013.05, 2013.07, 2013.09, 2014.01, 2014.05, 2014.07, 2015.07, 2016.05, 2017.05, 2017.11, 2018.09, 2019.03, 2019.11, 2020.03)
        • See below for notes on his first portrait.
      • Harumafuji (3 - 2013.01, 2015.11, 2017.09)
        • First and last portraits were with a tachi, although given the circumstances of his exit this is, as with Taiho, likely to be serendipitious.
      • Kakuryu (2 - 2015.09, 2019.07)
        • First and last portraits were also with a tachi - as with Harumafuji and Taiho, likely serendipitious.
      • Kisenosato (1 - 2017.03)
        • First (and last, and only) portrait was also with a tachi. Only the second yokozuna after Wakanohana II to hold the tachi in all of his portraits.
  • 1 tachi held wrong way up (only 1?)
    • Taiho's very first photo as a yokozuna (1961.11) has him holding the tachi as if it were a katana.
  • For all the flak Asashoryu catches for doing things with the wrong hand (such as accepting kensho left-handed), he is far from the only yokozuna to have held his tachi with the right hand (implying a left-handed wielder), even exclusively. Taiho, Kashiwado, Sadanoyama, Kitanofuji, Wajima, Akebono, Takanohana, and Asashoryu all hold their tachi with their right hands in all of their yusho portraits. (Do we know if all of these yokozuna were also left handed?)
  • While Wakanohana II, Hakuho, Kakuryu, and Harumafuji have also held their tachi with their right hands (implying a left-handed wielder), these four have mixed it up, and they have other portraits where they hold the tachi with their left hands as well. 

More anomalies/interesting observations:

  • Wajima either was a really tall chap, or his sekiwake yusho portrait was badly estimated - his mage almost brushes the frame. He also seems to be hunching over or scrunching up his upper body in most of his portraits.
  • Chiyonofuji seems to have started, then dropped, the idea of doing something unusual in his portraits for zensho. He held the tachi for his first zensho portrait, then did the angled standing guard stance for the first time in 25 years since Wakanohana I for his second zensho, but went back to standing normally for his next zensho. That said...
  • Chiyonofuji's 1990.01 portrait (not a zensho) is the first to depict a new "freeze frame" from the yokozuna dohyo iri - before that, all portraits had been standing, either in the usual face-on, arms slightly apart stance, or (very rarely) the standing "guard" stance - one arm extended, the other bent and resting over the torso. Chiyonofuji does the Unryu seriagari in this portrait, with knees bent at 90 degrees, and the camera is much more angled relative to him - almost 45 degrees. Takanohana and Akebono later made this more mainstream, letting Hakuho have a lot of fun with this.
  • Akebono's 1993.07 portrait shows a unique way of holding the tachi - instead of gripping it by the saya directly, he holds it by the obi-tori (the sashes attached to the two mounting points) so that it dangles. Together with Hakuho's two "European"-style portraits, these three are the most anomalous in terms of holding the tachi - everyone else just grips it by the saya.
  • Akebono's portrait from 1994.03 is very badly taken by modern standards - one can see where the background sheet ends! Presumably it would have been cropped or hidden under the frame, but it is still out of place compared to the better prepared portraits around him. The same occurs with some other portraits - like Taiho's portrait from 1966.07, but it's less obvious as it's monochrome, and Hoshi's portrait from 1986.03.
  • Hakuho's first yokozuna yusho portrait in 2007.09 is funny in hindsight given the discussion of the Shiranui curse: instead of going for the semi-traditional tachi portrait, he goes and does the Shiranui seriagari with both arms out - almost as if to say "Yeah, I'm a Shiranui yokozuna, what about it?". Compositionally, the portrait is a copy of Chiyonofuji's 1990.01's Unryu seriagari, but as Hakuho is a Shiranui yokozuna, that makes it the first time that the Shiranui seriagari is depicted in a yusho portrait.
    • If Hakuho wins 2021.07, given that it's likely to be his very last basho, I expect him to do something funny as well.
  • Both of Hakuho's "European" style portraits (2008.07, 2010.03) are zensho.

P.S. - any suggestions for better formatting of the table would be appreciated - it's really messy right now. I'm thinking by count of tachi portraits rather than by yokozuna.

Edited by Seiyashi
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4 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

Tachi are meant to be worn blade down and the scabbard has fittings for it to be slung from a belt/sash. The katana is worn blade up and the scabbard has no fittings as it is tucked through the belt/sash. A less obvious visual clue is the sword maker's signature. It's on the right of a tachi and on the left of the katana, again because of the difference in the way they are meant to be worn.

The things I learn on this forum never ceases to amaze me.

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Thanks for starting this great topic!

A small remark on your table: Kise has won 2 very memorable tournaments . Only the second is with tachi. 

Quote

 

Kisenosato (1 - 2017.03)

  • First (and last, and only) portrait was also with a tachi. Only the second yokozuna after Wakanohana II to hold the tachi in all of his portraits

 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Gooner said:

Thanks for starting this great topic!

A small remark on your table: Kise has won 2 very memorable tournaments . Only the second is with tachi. 

  •  

Yeah I meant as a yokozuna. As an ozeki he wouldn't be eligible to carry a tachi so it's not within my sample size. A similar logic applies to Wakanohana II where he won one as an ozeki and three as a yokozuna.

Edited by Seiyashi

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