Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Sumo: More Than Just a Martial Art – The Sumo Wrestler

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture ,

As sumo has its roots from a religious background (originally performed to entertain Shinto deities), sumo wrestlers lead a highly regimented way of life.

The Rikishi or The Sumo Wrestler

The Sumo Association prescribes the behavior of its wrestlers in some detail. On entering sumo, they are expected to grow their hair long to form a topknot, or chonmage, similar to the samurai hairstyles of the Edo Period. Furthermore they are expected to wear the chonmage and traditional Japanese dress when in public. Consequently, sumo wrestlers can be identified immediately when in public.

chonmage

Portrait of an Edo man with a chonmage hairstyle. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Rikishi’s Lifestyle

The type and quality of the dress depends on the wrestler’s rank. Rikishi in jonidan and below are allowed to wear only a thin cotton robe called a yukata, even in winter. Furthermore, when outside they must wear a form of wooden sandals called geta that make a distinctive clip-clop sound as one walks in them. Wrestlers in the makushita and sandanme divisions can wear a form of traditional short overcoat over their yukata and are allowed to wear straw sandals, called zōri. The higher ranked sekitori can wear silk robes of their own choice and the quality of the garb is significantly improved. They also are expected to wear a more elaborate form of topknot called an ōichō (lit. big ginkgo leaf) on formal occasions.

sumo heya (2)

Sumo wrestlers wake up early for their daily exercise routine. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Similar distinctions are made in stable life. The junior wrestlers must get up earliest, around 5 am, for training whereas the sekitori may start around 7 am. When the sekitori are training the junior wrestlers may have chores to do, such as assisting in cooking the lunch, cleaning and preparing the bath, or holding a sekitori’s towel. The ranking hierarchy is preserved for the order of precedence in bathing after training, and in eating lunch.

Wrestlers are not normally allowed to eat breakfast and are expected to have a form of siesta after a large lunch. The most common type of lunch served is the traditional sumo meal of chankonabe which consists of a simmering stew cooked at table which contains various fish, meat, and vegetables. It is usually eaten with rice and washed down with beer. This regimen of no breakfast and a large lunch followed by a sleep is intended to help wrestlers put on weight so as to compete more effectively.

In the afternoon the junior wrestlers will again usually have cleaning or other chores to do, while their sekitori counterparts may relax, or deal with work issues related to their fan clubs. Younger wrestlers will also attend classes, although their education differs from the typical curriculum of their non-sumo peers. In the evening sekitori may go out with their sponsors while the junior wrestlers generally stay at home in the stable, unless they are to accompany the stablemaster or a sekitori as his tsukebito (manservant) when he is out. Becoming a tsukebito for a senior member of the stable is a typical duty. A sekitori will have a number of tsukebito, depending on the size of the stable. The most junior are given the most mundane tasks and only the senior tsukebito will accompany the sekitori when he goes out.

The sekitori also are given their own room in the stable or may live in their own apartments, as do married wrestlers. In contrast, the junior wrestlers sleep in communal dormitories. Thus the world of the sumo wrestler is split broadly between the junior wrestlers, who serve, and the sekitori, who are served. Life is especially harsh for new recruits, to whom the worst jobs tend to be allocated, and there is a high dropout rate at this stage.

What do you think of a sumo wrestler’s life? Share it with us in the comments section below!

1. Sumo. Wikipedia.

2. Sumo. Japan Guide.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

IMG_0312

Omihachiman and the man named William Merrell Vories – Part 1

Every time I visit Japan for work, one of the many highlights I look forward during my stay is to get to travel with my Japanese language teacher – I fondly call her sensei. We have traveled together to so many different tourist destinations around Kyoto and Okayama. Having her as a travel buddy is […]

Read Article

10933010884_bef367e053_z

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Techniques

Kendo techniques are divided into shikake-waza (to initiate a strike) and ōji-waza (a response to an attempted strike). Kendoka who wish to use such techniques during practice or competitions, often practice each technique with a motodachi. This is a process that requires patience. First practicing slowly and then as familiarity and confidence builds, the kendoka […]

Read Article

vacation

Golden Week – Furikae Kyūjitsu and Golden Week History

Today is the last day of the Golden Week this year in Japan. For this year, this day has no particular celebration or holiday. Today is just a Compensation/Substitute Holiday (振替休日 Furikae Kyūjitsu) that is observed when any of the Golden Week holidays fall on Sunday. Past Observances of Furikae Kyūjitsu Furikae Kyūjitsu of the […]

Read Article

12373664483_237f540c51_m

New Year Holidays in Japan: Japanese Traditional Games

As kids, we all played games and while living in Japan I wondered what sort of games do kids here play. Were the games they played similar to the games I used to play growing up back home? Do they also roll over the dirt, enjoy playing catch or maybe play hide and seek? Or […]

Read Article

Sakura - hanami -

Hanami

Imagine yourself standing underneath a canopy of Cherry Blossom trees (Sakura) in full bloom, its delicate petals slowly dancing in the gentle spring breeze blowing. Its sounds like a scene from a movie right? But for the Japanese people these is no movie, it happens every spring. The annual Hanami – the Japanese tradition of […]

Read Article

kana cards

Kotoba Asobi: Kaibun – Learning the Japanese Style of Wordplay 1

The Japanese language is a very beautiful and fun language. On the contrary though, it’s also a very difficult language for non-native speakers. A word in English can have many translations in Japanese depending on the context. Wrong pronunciation of a certain Japanese word can also mean another non-related word. A fun way to learn […]

Read Article

judo

The “Gentle Way” of Judo – History

Judo is a martial art that was born in Japan, and it is now known around the world as an Olympic sport. Judo was established in 1882 by combining jujitsu, a form of wrestling, with mental discipline. The roots of jujitsu lie in sumo, which has a long, long history; sumo is mentioned in the […]

Read Article

089508

Keirou no Hi or Respect for the Aged Day

Today is a special day for the elderly in Japan. Special in the sense that the government really made a holiday to celebrate and pay homage to them. People across the country travel to their hometown to visit their parents and relatives. But what exactly is “Respect for the Aged Day”? The following two tabs […]

Read Article

Katana blade

Katana : Japanese traditional sword – Part 1-

Katana : Japanese sword (1) At first, I was going to post an article about “Muramasa”, a very famous cursed “katana”, but I thought it might be better to write simple explanations of Japanese traditional swords beforehand.   “Unbreakable, unbending and very sharp” sword A sword has to be hard to be unbending and sharp, […]

Read Article

mikan

Gaijin Chronicles : Mikan and Japanese Gift Giving Etiquette

Early autumn of 2012, my friends and I went to Kuroisan Green Park in Setouchi-shi, Okayama for mikan harvesting.  Mikan, according to its Wikipedia entry, is a sweet,  seedless,  and easy-peeling citrus species about the size of mandarin oranges but smaller than an orange. For a fee of 700 yen, we were led to the orchard […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑