For around a decade much has been made of the lack of domestic born talent in professional sumo. No Japanese sekitori has won a yusho now for six full years — the last local winner being then ozeki Tochiazuma back in January of 2006.
And, in truth, when push comes to shove, despite a few “oh so nearly” one-offs, no local lad has really come close in the years since. In fact, of the 32 tournament winners’ portraits that currently hang in the rafters at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, just one portraying a Japanese fighter remains, that of the aforementioned Tochiazuma. This portrait will be removed in a few days time when, following the continuous updating of the images, the winner of last year’s September and November tourneys will replace the two oldest still in place. This in effect means another pair of these huge 80 kg images of Yokozuna Hakuho are set to appear just before the makunouchi action on Day 1, Jan. 8.