Raiden Tameemon

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Raiden Tameemon
雷電爲右衞門
Raiden Tameimon.jpg
Personal information
Born Seki Tarokichi
January 1767
Tōmi, Nagano, Japan
Died February 11, 1825(1825-02-11) (aged 58)
Height 1.97 m (6 ft 5.6 in)
Weight 169 kg (373 lb)
Career
Stable Urakaze (Isenoumi)
Record 254–10–41
Debut November 1790
Highest rank Ōzeki (March 1795)
Retired February 1811
Championships 28 (Makuuchi, unofficial)
* Up to date as of June 2013.

Raiden Tameemon (雷電爲右衞門), born Seki Tarokichi (January 1767 - February 11, 1825) is considered one of the greatest sumo wrestlers in history, although he was never promoted to yokozuna.[1]

Early life[edit]

Raiden was born to a farming family in a village in rural Shinano province. He is said to have possessed great physical strength even in childhood. His father Hanemon, who enjoyed sumo as much as sake, allowed 14 year old Raiden to attend sumo classes at Nagaze (today called Murokocho), the neighbouring village. When Raiden was 17, the Urakaze-beya stablemaster noticed him when he came through the area while on jungyō (regional tour) with his wrestlers. He was especially impressed with the young man's physique, which was extraordinary at the time. Young Raiden was 1.97 metres (6 ft 5.6 in) tall, which was three headlengths taller than most of his contemporaries. He also had matching long arms and large hands; a handprint at the Shofukuji temple near Okayama, which is said to be of Raiden's hand, measures 24 cm (9.4 in) from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger. When Raiden trained as a wrestler, he developed a weight of 167 kg (368 lb).

When Urakaze Kazuki invited him to Edo and started training him, it turned out that Raiden possessed not only the body of a giant (by 18th-century Japanese standards), but also a talent for sumo wrestling. He was especially talented in oshi-sumo techniques and was able to move at a high speed considering his size. Soon Raiden left his stable and unofficially joined Isenoumi-beya, where yokozuna Tanikaze became his coach.

Professional sumo career[edit]

In 1789, the shikona (wrestler name) "Raiden," which means "Thunder bolt," appeared in the banzuke ranking, although Raiden did not have his debut until fall 1790. Raiden was ranked as a sekiwake, as was common practice then. He won the basho (tournament) without a defeat. After Tanikaze's death, Raiden was promoted to ōzeki in March 1795—a rank he retained for nearly 17 years. Between November 1793 and April 1800, Raiden won all tournaments he participated in, without leaving even one title to the other great fighters of his time, Tanikaze and Onogawa. After 1800, he remained dominant, and sumo officials even disallowed him to use his favourite techniques in order to keep his matches interesting.

Of 35 tournaments he fought in during his career—there were only two basho a year at the time—Raiden was victorious in no fewer than 28. (His tournament championships are, however, regarded as unofficial by the Japan Sumo Association, as before the current yūshō system was established in 1909, there was no prize given for individual performances in tournaments.) In seven of those, he won without suffering a single defeat or draw. In total, he achieved 254 victories and only ten defeats, a winning percentage of 96.2, an all-time record.[2] His longest winning streaks were eleven consecutive tournaments or 44 bouts.

Retirement from sumo[edit]

Finally, in spring 1811, Raiden retired from sumo at the age of 43. He became chairman of the sumo association of Izumo province (located in today's Shimane prefecture), where his sponsor daimyo resided. In 1816, he moved to Edo and finished his diary Shokoku Sumo Hikae-cho ("journal of sumo in various regions"), which describes his time as an active wrestler since 1789.

After his death, he was buried in Akasaka in Edo. Two locks of his hair are buried in other graves which are located in his home village and in Matsue in Shimane.

When Raiden was still an active wrestler, his home village's residents built monuments honoring his parents. Raiden himself contributed a sake barrel made of stone in memory of his father. Since his death, Raiden appeared not only as subject of a number of statues, but also on postage stamps and beer labels.

Unsolved riddle[edit]

Despite his dominance, he never was promoted to yokozuna, the highest title in sumo. The reason remains a mystery in the history of sumo.

According to Masahiko Nomi's theory, 19th Yoshida Oikaze granted yokozuna licences to only two wrestlers, Tanikaze and Onogawa, and did not intend to honour any in the future, but the 20th Yoshida Oikaze attempted to defeat the Gojo family, which wanted to promote Kashiwado and Tamagaki to yokozuna, by awarding a yokozuna licence to Ōnomatsu Midorinosuke later.[3] Ōnomatsu was the first new yokozuna in 30 years.

Another theory suggested that the reason for this can be found in the family history of his sponsor, Daimyo Matsudaira Harusato, who was a descendant of Yūki Hideyasu, a son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. On the other hand, the Yoshida family, who held the privilege of awarding the yokozuna license, supported the Hosokawa clan, who had a history of supporting Ishida Mitsunari.

The yokozuna rank did not count as an official rank on the banzuke until the beginning of the 20th century. In spite of his never having been officially promoted, Raiden's name has been added as "peerless rikishi"[4] in the yokozuna memorial monument at the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, Tokyo, in 1900.[5]

Top division record[edit]

  • The actual time the tournaments were held during the year in this period often varied.
Raiden Tamemon[6]
- Spring Winter
1790 x West Sekiwake
8–0–2
2h
Unofficial

 
1791 West Sekiwake
6–1–2
1nr

 
West Sekiwake
8–0–1
1h

 
1792 Not enrolled West Sekiwake
2–0–1
 
1793 West Sekiwake
8–1
 
West Sekiwake
8–0–1
1h
Unofficial

 
1794 West Komusubi
6–0–2
1d 1h
Unofficial

 
West Sekiwake
8–0–1
1h
Unofficial

 
1795 West Ōzeki
5–0
Unofficial

 
Not enrolled
1796 Not enrolled West Ōzeki
9–0–1
Unofficial

 
1797 West Ōzeki
8–1–1
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
10–0
Unofficial

 
1798 West Ōzeki
8–0–1
1nr
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
9–0–1
Unofficial

 
1799 West Ōzeki
6–0–1
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
9–0–1
Unofficial

 
1800 Not enrolled West Ōzeki
6–1–2
1h

 
1801 West Ōzeki
6–0–3
1h
Unofficial

 
Not enrolled
1802 Not enrolled West Ōzeki
8–0–2
Unofficial

 
1803 West Ōzeki
5–0
2h
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
9–0–1
Unofficial

 
1804 Not enrolled West Ōzeki
8–1–1
Unofficial

 
1805 West Ōzeki
10–0
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
9–1
Unofficial

 
1806 West Ōzeki
3–1–1
 
West Ōzeki
9–0
1h
Unofficial

 
1807 West Ōzeki
8–0–1
1h
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
8–0
1h 1nr
Unofficial

 
1808 West Ōzeki
7–0–2
1nr
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
9–1
Unofficial

 
1809 West Ōzeki
8–0–1
1h
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
7–1–2
Unofficial

 
1810 West Ōzeki
9–0
1nr
Unofficial

 
West Ōzeki
7–1–1
1d
Unofficial

 
1811 West Ōzeki
Retired
0–0–10
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Retired Lower Divisions

Key:  =Kinboshi(s);   d=Draw(s) (引分);   h=Hold(s) (預り);   nr=no result recorded
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: 
Yokozuna (not ranked as such on banzuke until 1890)
ŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

*Championships for the best record in a tournament were not recognized or awarded before the 1909 summer tournament and the above unofficial championships are historically conferred. For more information see yūshō.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kuroda, Joe (February 2006). "Yokozuna Comparison". sumofanmag.com. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  2. ^ "shigeno" (in Japanese). Shinano Railway Line. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  3. ^ "雷電の謎・横綱の「制度化」" (in Japanese). Atsuo Tsubota. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  4. ^ http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/ej2/53393/m0u/peerless/
  5. ^ Kuroda, Joe (April 2006). "The First Yokozuna (Akashi Shiganosuke) and the history of sumo's ultimate rank". Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  6. ^ "Raiden Tamemon Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. 

External links[edit]