Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

Sumo Jan 21, 2019

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

From once they are called to mount the dohyo, makuuchi division wrestlers have four minutes to prepare for their bout. After bowing to each other, they go to the corner, do shiko (foot stomps) and receive the chikara mizu and chikara gami (power water and ...

Sumo 101: Akeni

Sumo Jan 20, 2019

Sumo 101: Akeni

Sekitori (wrestlers in the top two divisions) have a lot of accouterments. There are kesho-mawashi (ceremonial aprons), kimono, sandals, cushions and items like knee braces and tape that must be transported from the stables to the arena and brought on regional tours. While athletes in team ...

Sumo 101: Championship portraits

Sumo Jan 19, 2019

Sumo 101: Championship portraits

One of the most striking features of Ryogoku Kokugikan is the ring of giant portraits hanging from the rafters. The 32 images (each 3.17 x 2.22 meters including frame) show the winners for the past 32 tournaments. Prior to each of the three annual Tokyo meets, ...

Sumo 101: A wrestler's typical tournament day

Sumo Jan 18, 2019

Sumo 101: A wrestler's typical tournament day

The six annual honbasho (tournaments) are the fulcrum around which the sumo world turns. Ninety days a year sumo wrestlers participate in events whose outcome determines not only how high or low they will be ranked but also what clothes they can wear, whether or ...

Sumo 101: Retirement ceremonies

Sumo Jan 17, 2019

Sumo 101: Retirement ceremonies

Now that Kisenosato has retired, one of the first orders of business for him will be arranging a retirement ceremony. Virtually all wrestlers end their career with a dampatsu-shiki (hair-cutting ceremony) but for lower-ranked wrestlers it's normally just part of their stable's regular end-of-tournament party. For ...

Sumo 101: Stable locations and layout

Sumo Jan 16, 2019

Sumo 101: Stable locations and layout

The majority of sumo stables are concentrated in a couple of locations not far from Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. Of the 48 currently active stables, roughly half are within two kilometers of the sport's main arena Shikihide Beya and Tatsunami Beya, both situated in Ibaraki Prefecture, are ...

Despite injuries, Kisenosato embodied rikishi ideals

Sumo Jan 16, 2019

Despite injuries, Kisenosato embodied rikishi ideals

Kisenosato's retirement, while both inevitable and expected, casts a pall over the ongoing tournament. The veteran yokozuna has been one of sumo's most popular wrestlers over the past decade and a half. Initially a bright young talent whose rapid rise was catnip to a Japanese public ...

Sumo 101: Banzuke

Sumo Jan 15, 2019

Sumo 101: Banzuke

All professional sumo wrestlers are listed on a 58x44 cm sheet of paper that is released about two weeks before the start of each tournament. For the ongoing basho that amounts to 636 men ranked in order from yokozuna Kisenosato at the top all the ...

Sumo 101: Sanyaku

Sumo Jan 14, 2019

Sumo 101: Sanyaku

Sanyaku is the collective noun for the three ranks below yokozuna. In reality though, ozeki is rarely included when the term is used, with the vast majority of incidences referring only to komusubi and sekiwake. Unlike sumo's top two ranks, there is no special criteria for ...

Sumo 101: Becoming a rikishi

Sumo Jan 13, 2019

Sumo 101: Becoming a rikishi

How does a person go about becoming a professional sumo wrestler and what is the initial process like once you sign up? Basically it's as simple as contacting a stable and asking to join. Most heya (stables) have phone and email details on their websites. There ...