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:

4421620285_5227d3f439_m

Onsen

Japan is one of the countries located along the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.  Countries along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” have high seismic and volcanic activity.  This explains why earthquakes are common in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.  There are many  volcanoes in Japan.  In fact, approximately ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes […]

Read Article

midori no hi

Golden Week – Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day

Continuing our feature about Japan’s Golden Week, this post will feature the second and third holidays, the Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day. Constitution Memorial Day The Constitution Memorial Day, or Kenpō Kinenbi (憲法記念日) as it is known in Japan, is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated every May 3. The date signifies […]

Read Article

tanuki illust

Are you okay, Tanuki? – The Japanese Raccoon Dog in Legends and Popular Culture 2

Last time, we featured how the tanuki is similar to the kitsune in terms of how they are portrayed in Japanese legends and myths. In this post, we will talk about how the tanuki is depicted in modern Japan and in popular culture. When you stroll around Japan, you will notice that restaurants and pubs, […]

Read Article

real life tanuki

Are you okay, Tanuki? – The Japanese Raccoon Dog in Legends and Popular Culture

Last time, we talked about the sly kitsune or the Japanese fox. In this post, we will feature another animal that is popular in Japanese legends and myths and just like the kitsune, is sometimes depicted as a trickster, the tanuki or the Japanese raccoon dog. Tanuki, Not Your Ordinary Raccoon Though they look like […]

Read Article

kanpai

The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking

A nomikai (飲み会) is a drinking party event particular to Japanese culture. It is a part of the culture of most places of employment. They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya (drinking place, bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue. The following two […]

Read Article

Cascading water

Kyoto: Strolling around Kamogawa River and iconic Gion

After enjoying our morning hunt for momiji leaves (we enjoyed it so much that we did not realize that we have walked for more than two hours), we decided to take a short break before we continue our hunting trip. I know Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy Japanese cuisine but we […]

Read Article

Kendo

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Grades

Just like other martial arts, practitioners also are ranked by kendo grades. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – June 1, 2015 The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking – May 28, […]

Read Article

Kanpai

Gaijin Chronicles : Kangeikai and Edamame

Japanese companies usually hold 歓迎会(kangeikai or welcome party) to welcome new employees and 送別会( Soubetsukai or farewell party) for those leaving. In some cases, the welcome and farewell parties are combined into one — 歓送迎会(kansougeikai). These are usually dinner parties held in nice restaurants.The party is usually started with speeches by the company president or any […]

Read Article

Escalator scene shot in Roppongi Hills

Japanese Customs: Riding the Escalator – Tokyo and Osaka-style

One of the things I noticed during my first visit in Japan is the custom of riding an escalator. In my country, I haven’t really thought about which side of the escalator to stand. But when I came here in Japan, I noticed that people stand on one side to give way to other people who are in […]

Read Article

Honguu of the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 3 –

Konpira in Kagawa (3) Konpira Shrine (3) [Shoin (Library building)] To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total. The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building. This […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑