Sumo Frequently Asked Questions


Is there something about sumo you just don’t understand?  Or is there something you would like to know more about?  Send us your questions ( and we will answer them.

Can you explain the complex manner in which rikishi are paid? (submitted by Andy K.)


Though all sumo rikishi are considered professionals, only the rikishi from the top two divisions (Makuuchi and Juryo) receive a monthly salary.  Also, there are 5 different ranks within the Makuuchi division, and each rank is paid differently.  Here is a breakdown of the salaries:


Yokozuna ¥2,820,00

Ozeki ¥2,350,000

Sekiwake ¥1,700,000

Komusubi ¥1,700,000

Maegashira ¥1,300,000

Juryo ¥1,030,000


During the tournament, Makuuchi rikishi may also receive sponsor money (called a kensho) from winning their individual bouts.  Before many of the Makuuchi bouts, the yobidashi (ring keepers who take care of tasks around the ring) will walk around the ring holding a large banner with a company’s advertisement on it.  The company must pay ¥60,000 for each banner.  Half of the money goes to the Sumo Association, and the other half is put into an envelope and given to the winning rikishi after the bout.  If a Yokozuna averages 8 kensho per day, and he wins 12 of his bouts, he pockets an extra ¥2,880,000 (¥30,000 X 8 X 12) for the tournament.


A Maegashira rikishi may also pad his monthly salary by beating a Yokozuna—a term called kinboshi, or golden win.  If a Maegashira rikishi can topple a Yokozuna, he will receive an extra ¥15,000 a month for the rest of his career.  Kinboshi also add up, so Akinoshima, who holds the record with 15 kinboshi, receives an extra ¥225,000 a month regardless of his rank.


Finally, Makuuchi rikishi are paid for winning the tournament (¥5,000,000) or winning one of three special prizes (¥2,000,000).


All rikishi from Makushita and below may receive a monthly stipend from their stable master; however, there are no set rules dictating this amount.  The only two things a rikishi is guaranteed is free room and board.


Now having said this, there are other ways in which a rikishi can be paid.  Winning one’s division at a major tournament—no matter how low the division—guarantees some prize money.  Also, it is not uncommon for fan club members of a stable to give some of the lower-ranked rikishi money.  Most lower-ranked rikishi probably carry around a fair amount of spending money.

Is there any chance you could post a recipe for chanko-nabe? (submitted by Todd J.)



2 chicken thighs (500g)

4 inches (10 cm) of daikon root

½ a carrot

1 gobo root

½ head of hakusai (napa cabbage)

1 bunch of green onions

8 shiitake mushrooms

200g of ito-konnyaku (clear noodles derived from potatoes)

2 chicken bullion cubes

4 tablespoons of sugar

½ cup of soy sauce

1/3 cup of mirin (sweet cooking wine)


Slice the gobo root into thin sticks and place in bowl of water.  The water will need to be changed a few times as it turns black.  Slice the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces.  Slice the shiitake mushrooms in half.  Boil the ito-konnyaku noodles to desired texture.  Slice the carrots and daikon radish into thin sticks.  Cut the hakusai, or napa cabbage, into squares approximately 2 x 2 inches.  Slice the green onions into 2-inch lengths.  Pour 6 cups of water into a nabe (or pot) and bring to a boil adding the bullion cubes.  Add sugar, soy sauce, and cooking wine to the broth and continue to simmer.  Put the chicken pieces into the broth for 2-3 minutes and remove fat and dregs as they rise to the top.  Add the rest of the vegetables and noodles and cook on high heat until entire pot comes to a boil.  Serves 4.


* It should be noted that there are a great number of varieties of chanko-nabe.  Depending on the sumo stable, the broth and the ingredients are different.  Some stables prefer to add a few tablespoons of miso (soy bean paste) into the broth to spice up the flavor, and it’s even rumored that Azumazeki stable adds mayonnaise to their broth to give it a little tang.  Also, the ingredients that can be added are endless.  For example, fish, thinly sliced beef or pork, tofu, and virtually anything else can be added to increase protein and calories, or to add to the flavor.


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