Kaminariyuki

Yoshibayama, the accidental yokozuna

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So, I'm guessing many of you may know this story already but it was new to me, so I thought I'd share it. 

It turns out that young Ikeda Jonnusuke did not intend to become a rikishi. He was just a kid on his way to enroll in a new school in Tokyo. Coincidentally, a sumotori from Miyagino beya was awaiting the arrival of a shin-deshi on the same train. Turns out the intended recruit came to his senses before arriving at Ueno station and jumped train en route to the big city. Sumo life, she's a pretty tough path so I'm copasetic with the kid's call on this one. When the train pulled in, the young, but robust Ikeda-san was the only person who got off the train who looked anything like a promising sumo wrestler and he was whisked away to Miyagino-beya. He must not have been that keen on going to school, as he stuck around and would become ozumo's 43rd yokozuna, Yoshibayama Jonnusuke. (mostly from Lora Sharnoff's "Grand Sumo")

Another interesting bit about Yoshibayama, he was a yokozuna but only had one makuuchi yusho. Interesting, particularly when compared with the yokozuna I've known in my brief period of being a fan. As an ozeki he went 14-1 at natsu in 1953 with a jun-yusho. He followed this up with an 11-4 at the aki basho (during the period of four basho per year) and then went zensho-yusho for his only makuuchi championship at hatsu in 1954. He got the rope and sat out the next two tournaments, I presume due to injury.

If anyone knows of a more complete account of Yoshibayama's life in English, I'd kind of like to hear a bit more about the guy, even if it's only a small section in another book. 

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Posted (edited)

Here is the wikipedia page for Yoshibayama.  Fascinating story!  Thanks for your post, @Kaminariyuki!    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshibayama_Junnosuke

In reading the wikipedia page, several things about Yoshibayama stood out.
1) The train story that Kaminariyuki described above.
2) He changed his Shikona to Yoshibayama in May 1939 to honor the doctor, Shosaku Yoshiba, who saved his life after he came down with appendicitis.
3) In 1942, he was on the verge of promotion to Juryo, but was drafted into the Japanese army and fought in WW2.  He was seriously wounded -- shot in the leg twice, the second bullet permanently lodged in his foot.  He was reported as dead for some time but then turned up alive.  He returned to sumo in 1947, with the bullet still lodged in his foot.
4) In 1951, he was awarded a win when his opponent could no longer stand up in the ring.  He refused to accept the win and insisted it be declared a draw.  What an amazing man who had an amazing life.
 

Edited by sumojoann
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Posted (edited)

Here's a famous photo in the Library of Congress of Yoshibayama and Kagamisato wrestling in Tokyo in 1952.  This is one of, or maybe the first photo I remember seeing of sumo wrestlers.  https://www.loc.gov/item/98511423/

Edited by sumojoann

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I love digging up old bouts on Youtube.  Here is Sekiwake Yoshibayama vs Yokozuna Terukuni at Aki basho 1950, Day 15, kettei-sen which Terukuni won.  Kimarite yoritaoshi. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Here is another old bout from Haru 1956, Maegashira Yoshibayama vs Komusubi Rikidozan.  Rikidozan won, kimarite hatakikomi.  There are several more old videos but I decided to post only these.

 

Edited by sumojoann
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Posted (edited)

This is one of the best historical sumo videos I've ever seen!  BEST YOSHIBAYAMA VIDEO!!  A 12-minute special devoted to the career of Yokozuna Yoshibayama, uploaded Nov 2020.  Great historical photos and footage.  Some of what is shown is him performing the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri, multiple bouts (please note the Gyoji with the WILD WHITE BEARD who is refereeing several of the bouts), his tsuna being made, his parade after winning the Yusho, his intai being announced and a snowstorm in front of the old Kokugikan.  So much packed into 12 minutes.  Very enjoyable to watch.

 

Edited by sumojoann
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Posted (edited)

Ebay has this DVD for sale for $29.99 + $6 shipping.  It's called "Ozumo Best Bouts DVD #20 1946-53."  It features Yokozuna Haguroyama, Yoshibayama, Tochinisiki, Chiyonoyama, Azumofuji and others.  Region 2 (Japan).  You would have to make sure that your DVD player is capable of playing Region 2 DVDs.  (The seller is away until Sept 15).  https://www.ebay.com/itm/OOZUMO-BEST-BOUT-SELECTION-DVD-20-1946-53-Japan-sumo-Haguroyama-Yoshibayama/321060577130

Edited by sumojoann
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