Jinmaku Kyugoro (陣幕久五郎)

Kyugoro JINMAKU (June 4, 1829 - 21 October, 1903) was sumo wrestler of the Edo period. He was the 12th Yokozuna (sumo grand champion). He was the last sumo wrestler who received a Yokozuna license during the Edo period. He was a very strong Yokozuna with a nickname of 'Mr. Never-Lost'. He is sometimes counted as one of the 10 strongest Yokozuna in the history. It has been said that he was 174 centimeters in height and weighed 138 kilograms.

Personal Profile

Jinmaku was from Ou-no-kori, Izumo Province (current Higashi-Izumo-cho, Yatsuka County, Shimane Prefecture). His real name was Shintaro ISHIGURA.

In 1847, he became a pupil of a wrestler Kyugoro HATSUSHIO of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. His skill was approved and he changed his name to Makinosuke KUROODOSHI.

When Hatsushio died in 1848, Jinmaku moved to Osaka and became a pupil of Shiroemon ASAHIYAMA. In 1850, he had his first sumo bout in Osakazumo (Osaka Sumo). He was raised to the Makuuchi (top) rank at the New Year tournament in 1858. In 1850, he moved to Edo (Tokyo) and became a pupil of Raigoro HIDENOYAMA (the ninth Yokozuna).

He began his career as a retained Sumo wrestler of the Tokushima clan, however during the term, he temporarily served as a retained wrestler of the Matsue clan, then from October of 1864, he became a retained wrestler of the Satsuma clan. This shifting helped Jinmaku's activity during the Meiji period.

However, his perpetual transfers caused the hatred of the retainers of the Tokushima clan, which burst up at the match between Jinmaku and Haridashi-Komusubi (wrestler at the fourth highest rank, lower grade) Tanigoro KIMENZAN on the seventh day of the April Tournament in 1867. Kimenzan had been a retained wrestler of the Tokushima clan since joining the Makuchi rank and he was a strong wrestler once called Shitenno (The Big Four) of Awa together with Jinmaku; and Jinmaku was of the Satsuma clan which was building on the momentum at the end of the Edo period. In the explosive atmosphere as the retainers of both clans were glaring at each other at the Sunakaburi (lit. sand-covered seats) right next to the ring with their hands on their swords hilts, and the referee Inosuke SHIKIMORI's face white as a sheet, both wrestlers fought and after the referee called Matta (false start of a match) twice and Mizuiri (break granted to wrestlers during a prolonged match) twice, the match ended in a draw. The noise the audience made at each Mizuiri was like thunders roaring the place.

Jinmaku became Ozeki (the second highest rank) in the November Tournament in 1866 and he was awarded with Yokozuna licenses, initially from the Gojo family at the New Year of 1867 and from the Yoshida-tsukasa family in October of the same year.

However, he only wrestled until the November Tournament in 1867 and after that he was involved in the turbulent of the Meiji Restoration.
His record in the top rank was 19 tournaments, 87 wins, 5 defeats, 17 draws, 3 holds and 65 absences; winning average 94.6%
He got 5 titles which are equivalent to the Championship level today. As Yokozuna, his winning average was 100% (7 wins and 2 draws in March of 1867 and 7 wins in November of the same year, which brings the number of win to 14, draws to 2 and no defeat); so as a result he established a great record which would be never broken.

On December 25, 1867 (in old lunar calender), just before the attack against the residence of the Satsuma clan of Mita in Edo, he walked near the residence by accident; he had a premonition and called fellow retained wrestlers and went back to the residence with them. However, the residence was already set fire and attacked by the retainers of the Shonai clan, so Jinmaku ran all the way to Kawasaki to ask his acquaintance to write to Takamori SAIGO (a retainer of the Satsuma clan) who was staying in Osaka. The letter reached Saigo in the morning of January 2, 1868 (in old lunar calendar). At the Boshin War, Jinmaku went to Kyoto to protect Tadayoshi SHIMAZU, the lord of the Satsuma Domain.

After that, he was involved deeply in the development of Osakazumo as Toshiyori (retired wrestler), however he resigned at the end of the September Tournament of 1880 and withdrew from the sumo world, and became a business man. He devoted himself especially to erect memorial monuments to sumo and built monuments in many places in Japan including the 'Yokozuna Rikishi Memorial Monument' in Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine in Fukagawa, Tokyo in 1900. This earned him a nickname of 'Kenpikyo' (electing monuments maniac). Many politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats such as Genkun (the statemen who contributed in Meiji Restoration) and Genro (elder chairmen) co-operated in his business, which means that he fully used his career as an ex-retained wrestler of the Satsuma clan.

He dedicated his Dohyo-iri (ring-entering ceremony) at Honozumo (ritual Sumo matches) held at Yasukuni-jinja Shrine in May, 1887. In 1895 he published 'Junmaku Kyugoro Michitaka's Jiseki' (Jinmaku's Achievement) which was the first autobiography sumo wrestler had ever written. In November, 1901, he again presented his Dohyo-iri at the ceremony to celebrate the completion of the main building of Yasukuni-jinja Shrine.

It has been said that in his later years, he was selling Yokozuna Senbe (Yokozuna rice crackers) at the open in Higashi-Ryogoku town.

He died on October 21, 1903 at the age of 74. According to his will, a Yokozuna rope was tied around his hinoki coffin.

The Nishiki-e (colored woodblock print) and photo of Jinmaku shows his piercing eyes which must have intimidated people easily. However, at first he did not look strong, so some wrestler, who had been boasting that he would cut his head off, ended up apologizing desperately, and Mitsuemon SHIRANUI, who had snubbed him, was never given even a slight chance to win.

His graves are in Koshu-ji Temple in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo and in Komyo-ji Temple in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture.

The sumo wrestler's professional name of Jinmaku was decided to be inherited by Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Japan Sumo Association) and until today, it has been inherited as a professional name of a Toshiyori (retired wrestler) year after year.

Trivia

Ninety-five years after the death of Kyugoro JINMAKU, when Mitsugu CHIYONOFUJI, the greatest Yokozuna of the Showa period, retired and inherited the name of Jinmaku as Toshiyori, the Jinmaku's hometown Higashi-Izumo-cho invited Chiyonofuji and his master Katsuaki KITANOFUJI and held a ceremony to honor Jinmaku.