Sumo 101: Keshō-mawashi

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

One of the first orders of business for a rikishi promoted to sumo’s second-highest division (jūryō) is getting a keshō-mawashi (ceremonial apron-style belt).

Large and heavy, keshō-mawashi are only worn during ring-entering ceremonies and special events.

The starched cords attached to a wrestler’s regular mawashi during a bout are said to represent the keshō-mawashi.

There are few rules about what can be on the front of the ceremonial apron, and as a result designs ranging from traditional Japanese painting to Hello Kitty to company brands can be seen.

Graduates of powerhouse universities or high schools often have keshō-mawashi with their alma mater’s logo.

The aprons are ordered and paid for by supporters or sponsors. The person or institution shelling out for the keshō-mawashi chooses the design but normally only after consultation with the rikishi in question.

The fringe at the bottom of a kesho displays the name of sponsor so you can easily see where each one came from.

The fringing is most often gold but it can be any color apart from purple as that is reserved for ozeki and yokozuna.

The longer a wrestler stays in the top two divisions the more keshō-mawashi he will accumulate.

If he makes it all the way to yokozuna he will start receiving special three-mawashi sets that he and his attendants use during the special ring-entering ceremony that grand champions perform.

When new recruits are introduced on the ring they normally wear apron-style belts belonging to their stablemaster or a sekitori in their stable.

Keshō-mawashi are expensive with the average price about ¥1 million. Some however cost many times that, especially those encrusted with precious gems.

Russian komusubi Roho brought things to a new level when he unveiled a keshō-mawashi that had blue and red stars that lit up and flashed on and off like Christmas decorations.

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