The Bow Twirling Ceremony
Once upon a time in Japan
, during the Edo Period
, a bow was given to a successful sumo
wrestler at the end of a tournament day. The sumotori
was so happy to receive the bow that he twirled it around, making quite a show of it.
That is - in short - the story at least, behind the "bow twirling ceremony" - Yumitorishiki - which is performed on the dohyo after the last bout of each day during a sumo basho (tournament). These days the ceremony is performed by the same sumotori every time as a show of gratitude or satisfaction on behalf of the victorious wrestlers of the day.
The yumitori - the wrestler performing the ceremony - is usually a lower ranking rikishi (makushita or even lower1), often he will be tsukebito of the Grand Master, the yokozuna. He will be wearing a beautiful keshomawashi (a heavy silk "apron") lent to him for the occasion by the Nihon Sumo Kyokai. His hair will also be shaped into the elaborate fan-like top knot oichomage. Normally a wrestler must be sekitori, ie. in the juryo division or higher, to be allowed to wear either keshomawashi or oichomage, but an exception is made for the yumitori.
- The divisions are, from the bottom up: maezumo (not included in the banzuke), jonokuchi, jonidan, sandanme, makushita, juryo, and makuuchi.
A few explanatory remarks:
- Mawashi - the "thong" sumo wrestlers wear. The apron you see occasionally is a keshomawashi.
- Oichomage - the hairdo of a sumo wrestler when he is in formal attire (or on the dohyo)
- Dohyo - well, it's the fighting arena. The dohyoiri is the "ring opening ceremony"
- Sumotori (sumo wrestler), and rikishi (strong man), can be used interchangeably.
- A basho will (almost) always be construed as one of the fifteen-day tournaments, held every odd numbered month.
- When a rikishi retires, a special ceremony is held: The danpatsushiki.
- The referees on the dohyo are the gyoji; the black clad judges are called shimpan. The yobidashi are the helpers.
Some of my sources are, besides being glued to the TV whenever sumo is on, http://sumo.goo.ne.jp/eng and http://www.sumoforum.net/glossary.html.