Yokozuna (sumo)

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Yokozuna Asashōryū (centre) performing the ring-entering ceremony accompanied by a sword bearer on the left and dew sweeper on the right

A Yokozuna (横綱) in the sport of Sumo is the highest rank any wrestler (Rikishi) can attain. The word means "Horizontal Rope" and it comes from one of the symbols that Yokozuna wear; a thick rope (綱 tsuna) which is worn around the waist. It is a sign of their rank. This rope can be very heavy, weighing around 20 kilograms (44 lb). It is not worn for fights, but only for the wrestler's entrance ceremony into the ring at the start of a tournament. The rope is similar to that which is used in Shinto religion for purification and to mark off sacred areas of the temple.

Yokozuna are stars in Sumo. They are in many ways, the public face of Sumo and their behaviour is watched very closely.