Sumo 101: Wrestlers' clothing and footwear

Sumo Nov 23, 2018

Sumo 101: Wrestlers' clothing and footwear

Sumo is a world where success or failure in the ring has direct and tangible effects on a wrestler's life. The more you win, the better your situation becomes in many ways. One visible sign of how well a rikishi is doing is what's on his ...

Sumo 101: Museums

Sumo Nov 22, 2018

Sumo 101: Museums

It's no surprise that sumo, an activity hundreds (possibly thousands) of years old, has several museums solely dedicated to its history. What is surprising however is just how small the official Japan Sumo Association one is. Tucked away inside Ryogoku Kokugikan the museum consists of a ...

Sumo 101: Keiko (training)

Sumo Nov 21, 2018

Sumo 101: Keiko (training)

Amateur sumo is a sport and nothing more. Participants lead lives away from the ring and its governing body has long-standing aspirations to one day be accepted into the Olympic Games. Professional sumo, on the other hand, is a lifestyle. Wrestlers are never off the clock. ...

Sumo 101: Gyoji

Sumo Nov 20, 2018

Sumo 101: Gyoji

Sumo referees are arguably the most elaborately outfitted arbiters in the sporting world. The brightly colored kimonos they wear in the ring provide a dramatic contrast to wrestlers clad only in mawashi. The intricateness of the attire, which is based on traditional clothing, increases as gyoji ...

Sumo 101: Ozeki

Sumo Nov 19, 2018

Sumo 101: Ozeki

Yokozuna are the stars of sumo. Always in the spotlight, they get the lion's share of column inches. Rightly so, given that only 72 men have ever attained the rank. And yet, yokozuna wasn't always the sport's highest position. For most of sumo's history, ozeki was its ...

Sumo 101: <em>Oyakata</em> (stablemasters)

Sumo Nov 18, 2018

Sumo 101: Oyakata (stablemasters)

Sumo is not a team sport, but neither is it an individual one. While wrestlers face opponents alone in the ring, their everyday existence is intertwined with others to a far greater degree than any other athlete. The closest relationship is with the oyakata (stablemaster). Unlike athletes ...

Sumo 101: Tsuriyane (Raised roof)

Sumo Nov 17, 2018

Sumo 101: Tsuriyane (Raised roof)

One of the most striking sights in sumo is the giant roof suspended over the ring. The 6.5-metric-ton structure is modeled on the roofs of Shinto shrines and held in place by 2.2-cm thick wires that can bear almost five times as much weight — ...

Sumo 101: Kensho

Sumo Nov 16, 2018

Sumo 101: Kensho

One of the defining sights of a sumo tournament is the parade of brightly colored kensho banners around the ring before the highest- ranked wrestlers fight. While many bouts in the top division have three to five banners, those involving the most popular wrestlers such ...

Sumo 101: Shitakubeya (dressing rooms)

Sumo Nov 15, 2018

Sumo 101: Shitakubeya (dressing rooms)

Whether in the Kokugikan in Tokyo, or at one of the regional tournaments in Osaka, Nagoya or Fukuoka, sumo wrestlers warm up and prepare for their bouts in dressing rooms called shitakubeya. There are always two shitakubeya and they are designated East and West. Wrestlers who ...

Sumo 101: Tokoyama (Hairdressers)

Sumo Nov 14, 2018

Sumo 101: Tokoyama (Hairdressers)

Outside of wrestlers and stablemasters, there are three main jobs in the Japan Sumo Association: gyoji (referee), yobidashi (ring announcer) and tokoyama (hairdresser). While the first two appear on and around the ring during tournaments, the tokoyama do their work behind the scenes. As with gyoji ...