Unlike during tournaments, an occasional smile crept across Kisenosato's face.

But the 30-year-old mostly maintained his signature stern expression, perhaps anticipating the responsibility about to be bestowed upon him as he ascends to highest rank in the world of sumo.

Kisenosato was told by messengers from the Japan Sumo Association at a Tokyo hotel that he had been unanimously approved as the 72nd yokozuna by the sport's governing body at its executive committee meeting Wednesday.