The Makuuchi Division ( Japanese幕 内) is the highest league in Japanese professional sumo . It is the only one of the six divisions that is subdivided into individual ranks, in descending order these are yokozuna , Ōzeki , sekiwake , komusubi and maegashira . The latter make up the vast majority of the 42 makuuchi fighters.
The name of the league, which literally means "behind the curtain", recalls the early days of sumo, when the division's fighters waited in a curtained part of the arena before the fight.
Makuuchi Division and Jūryō Division together form the sekitori ranks, in which the fighters receive fixed monthly salaries; in the leagues below there is only one kind of pocket money. If a lower ranking maegashira achieves a make-koshi (fewer wins than losses in a tournament), he can be demoted to the Jūryō division. With a kachi-koshi (more victories than defeats in a tournament), however, a fighter rises in the ranks and can thus reach the san'yaku ranks.
Before the fighters of the Makuuchi Division fight on a tournament day, they perform the Dohyō-iri together . This is a ritual in which the sumo wrestlers are called one by one and then stand in a circle in the dohyo (ring) for a short ceremony. Only the yokozuna has its own yokozuna Dohyō-iri , in which he alone carries out a somewhat longer ceremony. In the Makuuchi Division, four minutes are always allowed for the preparation ceremony and battle. With up to 21 fights in the elite league per tournament day, almost two hours are needed.