(January 12 to 26 at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena )

It's official. On Jan 29, messengers of the Japan Sumo Association visited the Takasago Stable, and told Asashoryu and his stable master, the former Asashio that he has won an unanimous vote for promotion to the highest ranking in sumo. Asashoryu became the 68th yokozuna. He's clinched the post in 25 tourneys or basho--the quickest ever among those who have started sumo from the very bottom. The next day, his white straw belt was woven and he practiced the yokozuna's ring entrance ceremony by receiving instruction from Akebono. And on Jan 31, the real ceremony took place at the Meiji Shrine. He was accompanied by Takamisakari as "dew sweeper and Tohki as sword bearer.


Outstanding Performance Award:
Outstanding Technique Award: None
Fighting Spirit Award: Kasugao, Wakanosato

Final day
One bout was deliberately stopped temporarily. It's between Kotoryu and Kyokushuzan. It went beyond 3 minutes, that the judges had to halt it. And when it was resumed, Kyokushuzan quickly moved to take out Kotoryu. Its the Mongolian's 7th win. He said after the bout he was motivated to do well because there were so many Mongolians who won first place in various divisions. They're in Sandanme, Juryo and of course Asashoryu, winner of the Emperor's Cup. Dejima went forward fast, and this time, managed to drive out Wakanosato. Both ended the tourney with 11 wins 4 losses. Takanonami took Takamisakari to the edge of the ring, but Takamisakari survived on his toes, staying on the straw ring at worse. Then he threw the former ozeki to win his 10th bout. Takanonami took a majority loss. Kotomitsuki gave Takanowaka a big slap in the face, and then drove him down. Takanowaka could not get up for a while. His face was drenched in blood. And even after he got on his feet, he could barely leave the ring. He was wheelchaired off. Musoyama seemed to be fighting against Asashoryu well, but his arm slipped from the soon-to-be yokozuna, and was driven out. Musoya finished the tourney with only 8 wins. Asashoryu, with 14 wins to pave his way to promotion to the highest ranking in sumo.

14th day
Dejima again tried to go for a quick start, but Tosanoumi thrust him down. Dejima's succumbed to his 4th loss. Kaiho seemed impatient to start his bout, but could not get Takanonami to start twice. When the bout finally took off, Takanonami tried to get his arms ove Kaiho to control the match based on his pace, but Kaiho threw the big former ozeki. It's Kaiho's 7th win, while Takanonami's 7th loss. Kyokushuzan tried to attack Wakanosato's legs, but he was down too low that he fell. The Mongolian marked a majority loss. Wakanosato took his 11th win. Takamisakari could not control of his bout against Takanowaka and easily lost. Asashoryu was matched with his rival Kotomitsuki. Asashoryu fought full of energy. He even tried to attack Kotomitsuki's legs. In the end he shoved Kotomitsuki out to not only clinch his 13th win, but also to secure the Emperor's Cup. He won the Cup for the 2nd time. After he finished his bout,Asashoryu stood by the ring with his eyes closed. Then after he sat by the ring to wait for the end of the next bout, his eyes were watering. His chance to gain promotion to yokozuna has strenghtened. The final bout of the day was between Musoyama and Kotoryu. Musoyama struggled, but in the end drove Kotoryu out to at last win his 8th bout.

13th day
Dejima charged forward. But his back belt was taken and Takamisakari drove him out of the ring. Dejima faced his 3rd loss while Takamisakari clinched his 9th win. Takanonami struggled against Tosanoumi but in the end pushed Tosa's head down and won his 7th bout. Kotomitsuki grinned as he was taken out by Iwakiyama. Takanowaka drove Kyokushuzan out to secure a majority win, meaning he will be able to retain his sekiwake position. Musoyama fought hard that Hokutoriki turned his back toward him. It's Musoyama's 6th win. Wakanosato tried to get his arm around Asashoryu's head but he missed it. Asashoryu drove him out. Asashoryu with one more win clinches the Emperor's Cup.

12th day
Takanotsuru's power overwhelmed Dejima's. Dejima fell on his belly to succumb to his 2nd loss. Takanonami had no problem driving out Iwakiyama. His record is 6 to 6. Takamisakari lost to Wakanosato to take his 4th loss. Wakanosato clinched his 10th win. Kotomitsuki pushed out Kaiho to secure a majority win. Asashoryu was aggressive. He drove out Shimotori for his 11th win. Since Dejima lost, Asashoryu is the sole leader.

11th day
Takamisakari had a slow start against Tochinohana. Perhaps that's the reason why he could not take control of the bout and lost. It's his 3rd defeat. After that bout, the crowd became restless. It was introduced on TV that American athlete Bob Sapp who fights in mixed matches in Japan was at the arena to enjoy sumo. He may have been impressed by the speed of sumo by Dejima who drove Kyokutenho out for his 10th win. Wakanosato held down Tokitsuumi by his top knot and barely won with an overarm throw. Wakanosato is with 9 wins. Takanonami fought with fervor against Takanowaka resisting his shoves, returning a thrust and then trying to force his opponent out, but instead, his foot left the ring. It's Takanonami's 6th loss while Takanowaka earned a 7th win. Musoyama shoved down Kaiho's head and seeing him lose balance pushed the small rikishi out. For the ozeki, it's only his 5th win. Asashoryu tried to attack Iwakiyama's leg with his hand and then took the big guy out. Dejima and Asashoryu continue to lead the tourney.

10th day
Takamisakari strongly showed a never-give-up attitude fighting Gojoro. He clinched a majority win with an underarm throw. Musoyama at last won his 4th bout defeating Iwakiyama. Dejima pushed and pushed to beat Kotoryu. Takanonami got his arm around Kotomitsuki to drive him out. The former ozeki's 5 to 5. Asashoryu who was reported to have injured his toe and shin, got his arm around Kotonowaka and threw him down. The top two are still Asashoryu and Dejima.

9th day
The day everyone feared finally came. Takanohana phoned his stablemaster/father Futagoyama to tell him in the morning that he has lost his stamina, to pronounce his retirement. The Japan Sumo Association accepted his decision and permitted him to continue to use the name of Takanohana, and also decided to grant a special bonus of 130 million yen. Takanohana held a press conference and told reporters that he felt relieved. And indeed his expression was soft. When asked who was his number one rival in sumo, he said straight away it was Akebono. He did not fail to mention that he loved sumo and hoped to contribute to the tradition. At the Ryogoku kokugikan, fans showed disappointment that they will never again see Takanohana again. But as always, the bouts were on. Takamisakari pushed down Wakanoyama for his 7th win. Dejima clinched a majority win by pushing out Tohki. Aminishiki, who fought Takanohana in his final bout, went down. He lost to Kotomitsuki. Kotonowaka was the last one matched with Takanohana but his opponent was obviously not there. Kotonowaka automatically won. Musoyama faced a disappointing 6th loss powerless before Tokitsuumi. Kaiho fought fiercely against Asashoryu and got his leg around the Mongolians. Both seemed to go down together, but the refree gave the bout to Kaiho. There were no oppositions. So Asashoryu took his first loss. Now the ozeki and Dejima are tied for first place.

8th day
Takamisakari seened to have missed the right timing to resnatch Shimotori's belt as he was fighting. Shimotori pushed him to the ring. Takamisakari tried to throw him, but he rolled down first, into one of the judges. It's Takamisakari's 2nd loss. Kotoryu faced his 2nd loss too in a bout against Hokutoriki. Dejima beat Takanonami to improve his record. Tokitsuumi fought well against Asashoryu but not enough. He was thrown down by the Mongolian ozeki. Asashoryu already clinched a majority win and brightening his chance to become yokozuna. Kotomitsuki with a grip of Musoyama's belt, swung the ozeki around and then drove him out. Musoyama faced his 5th loss. Aminishiki was on the ring despite his injury. He was swift. He got Takanohana's belt and continuously changed position, unabling the yokozuna to control the bout. It's Takanohana's 3rd loss besides having missed a bout. Speculations are on whether or not he will retire.

7th day
Takamisakari faced another Nihon University graduate Ootsukasa. Takamisakari who's 6 years younger immediately got hold of his rival and took him out for his 6th win. Kotoryu is another who improved his record to 6 wins by clinching his bout against Kasugao with an overarm throw. Takanonami could not wrap his leg around Kyokutenho's strong enough and lost. Both are 4 to 3. Musoyama forced a throw by snatching Aminishiki's left arm. He started to fall himself, but managed to put down Aminishiki first. The worry is Aminishiki held his arm with a painful look. Asashoryu quickly put down Takanowaka to earn another win. Dejima charged forward towards Takanohana. The yokozuna did not however stand up to a good start. Dejima then attacked Taka's leg and made him fall off the ring. Takanohana's record stands at 4 wins 2 losses and 1 absence. Dejima is among the runner up for the Emperor's Cup.

6th day
Takamisakari won again defeating Iwakiyama. Dejima drove out Kyokushuzan. Wakanosato overwhelmed Musoyama. The ozeki took his 4th loss. It was announced that Tochiazuma pulled out after having dislocated his shoulder the previous day. Tochiazuma was unable to win even one bout this tourney. Takanonami who was slated to fight him automatically earned his 4th win. Asashoryu threw Aminishiki on the ring to keep the tourney lead. Takanohana shifted to the side when he faced off against Tosanoumi. Tosa lost balance and was driven out.

5th day
Takamisakari pushed down Kasuganishiki for his 4th win. Tosanoumi shoved Kaiho down. Kaiho succumbed to his first loss. Takanonamai got himself around Tokitsuumi and thrust him down. Kotomitsuki and Wakanosato both faced outwards and tried to force eachother down. But the win went to Kotomitsuki. Both are 3 to 2. Asashoryu held Kyokutenho's head down and gave an overarm throw to win again. Dejima fell forward but Tochiazuma was ruled to have fallen first, on his back. Dejima won his 4th bout. Kotonowaka overpowered Musoyama by taking the ozeki out. It's the ozeki's 3rd loss. Takanohana became the 1st yokozuna since 1954 to reregister during a tourney to fight. He resisted Tohki's attack on his throat and in the end took him out. Takanohana clinched his 3rd win.

4th day
The good news is, Takanohana will return to the ring from the 5th day. His stablemaster/father Futagoyama told the press that the yokozuna is feeling much better. However, the sad news is Miyabiyama has broken his ankle and needs 2 months to recover. The former ozeki had been fighting the tourney in good shape. So Kotomitsuki luckily was given a win. For the first time, Takamisakari lost this tourney. It's against Tamanoshima. Dejima fought strong against Shimotori to earn his 3rd win. Tosanoumi won with an overarm throw over new sekiwake Takanowaka. What is wrong with Tochiazuma. Kyokutenho got the back of his belt and swung the ozeki down. Musoyama managed to get his record even by taking out Tohki. Takanonami tried to fight briskly against Asashoryu, and tried to throw him. But it was the Mongolian who threw stronger to win again.

3rd day
Disappointing news on the day. Takanohana told the Japan Sumo Association that he will pull out. The previous day, he hit his shoulder on the dirt. Although he intended to fight the 3rd day, he could not lift his arm, so had no choice but to stay out of the ring. So Kyokutenho whom he was slated to face was automatically given a win. In the days bouts, Takamisakari resisted Hokutoriki's thrust towards his throat, and took him out for his 3rd win. Takanonami pulled Aminishiki towards him and thrust him down. Kotomitsuki pushed out Tohki for his 1st win. Dejima banged into Takanowaka and took him out. Both are 2 to 1. Musoyama fought with all his might against Tosanoumi but in the end, Tosanoumi won with a push out. Asashoryu got the back of Miyabiyama's belt and threw him on the ring. Miyabiyama could hardly stand up after as his right ankle was already injured in his previous bout against Takanohana. He was wheelchaired away. Tochiazuma was powerless. He was taken out by Wakanosato. He's still without a win.

2nd day
Veteran rikishi Akinoshima reversed the flow of the bout to defeat Kasuganishiki with an overarm throw and win his first bout. The popular Takamisakari drove Kokushuzan out for his 2nd win. Takanowaka with thrusts defeated Kotonowaka. Kotomitsuki who's with a cartilage problem in his arm could not give enough. He lost to Tokitsuumi. Asashoryu immediately grabbed the front of Dejima's belt and drove out the former ozeki. As soon as he stood up, Tochiazuma touched the dirt, losing to Tosanoumi. Takanonami lost to Musoyama. The final bout was intense. Miyabiyama shifted a bit to make Takanohana lose balance. And the former ozeki with his one leg around Taka's threw him. The yokozuna hit his shoulder while falling backward, while Miyabiyama dropped forward. The gyoji gave the bout to Miyabiyama, but the stable masters ruled it as a draw. So the two stood up to fight again. This time, Takanohana gave a powerful throw to win.

1st day
The sumo arena drew a fullhouse. And of course, it's because Takanohana is back after missing 2 tourneys. The first bout that called curious eyes, Takamisakari vs Akinoshima. The veteran rikishi pushed forward, but Takamisakari who was in danger of being pushed out instead threw Akinoshima. Returning to Komusubi ranking, Takanonami took control of the bout, driving out Kotonowaka. Dejima charged forward fast and took out Kotomitsuki. Takanowaka was overwhelming. The new sekiwake pushed out his opponent. Miyabiyama was too powerful. He shoved out Tochiazuma. Musoyama had a grip just below Kyokutenho's belt, but as he tried to change position, he lost complete control and was taken out. Asashoryu who's trying out for yokozuna this tourney was in good shape. He prevented Tosanoumi from having his way and with thrusts drove him out. Takanohana was welcomed by unified applause by fans. He clashed into Wakanosato who shifted to his side. That got the yokozuna off balance, and it seemed clear that he had no chance of winning. But no. As Taka lost balance, he hooked his leg around Wakanosato, and pulled him down. Wakanosato's knee touched the dirt first, so the bout was given to Taka.

Pre Tourney highlights
Asashoryu is wed
It was unveiled on Jan 8 that Asashoryu had registered his marriage with the Mongolian Embassy in Tokyo on Dec 30. He's married his 22 year old Mongolian girlfriend and she's set to have a baby in April. Congratulations!

Yokozuna perform at shrine
Both Musashimaru and Takanohana went to the Meiji Shrine on January 6, and performed the grand champion's ritual there. Musashimaru is however, expected to pull out from the New Year tourney, while Takanohana has not yet specificed whether or not he will take part.

Takanohana's first practice in 3 months
Takanohana came out to practice on Dec 28 and he actually trained inside the ring against makuuchi wrestlers. This was the final practice session at the Fukagoyama stable for the year. It's not known at this point whether Takanohana will take part in the New Year tourney.

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