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JapanFriday, March 3

Grand Champion Set for Debut

The Japan Sumo Association is getting ready to debut its latest grand champion in the spring tournament. Kisenosato, the first Japanese-born yokozuna in 2 decades, is busy prepping for the big day.

Ten wrestlers in the top division took part in an annual joint training session, and Kisenosato practiced with Yoshikaze, who has both speed and technique.

They fought 13 bouts and the new grand champion gave a solid performance. He sometimes forced Yoshikaze out of the ring, and won all their bouts.

His stablemaster was on hand to watch. He's been coaching Kisenosato on how to perform the ring-entering ritual.

"Kisenosato looked even bigger than before, now that he's been promoted to grand champion," the stablemaster says.

Kisenosato attended a party held by his sumo stable where a new set of ceremonial aprons and swords for the ring-entering ceremony were unveiled. A crane and a red Mount Fuji reflect the hope that Kisenosato will become an outstanding champion.

"I will meet people's expectations, as symbolized by the new aprons and swords. I will try hard. I'm looking forward to your support," Kisenosato says.

He has already become a hit with children, and is featured on the cover of school notebooks that go on sale on the day the tournament starts.