, which literally means "part of a house," is the Japanese word for "room." It is often one of the first words learned by beginning students of Japanese
, and occurs frequently in everyday conversation, as in:
I cleaned my room today.
Heya is also an important term in the world of sumo wrestling, where it refers to the training stables to which all sumo wrestlers belong. Each heya is run by a former sumo champion, known as an oyakata, who with the assistance of his wife and family, runs an all-in-one dormitory, dining-hall, and training center at which he coaches and oversees the care and feeding of several up-and-coming, and if he is lucky and talented, currently dominant, rikishi. At present there are 49 heya, most of which located are in or around Tokyo. The heya have names dating back to their Edo-Period founders which never change - each new master of the heya simply takes on the name of the heya as his own name. The heya are grouped into "Eastern" and "Western" divisions which only wrestle competitively with each other, to keep rikishi from the same heya from ever having to wrestle against each other.
Life in the heya is rigidly controlled and strictly hierarchical. Despite the fact that their denizens are 350-pound men who you might think could easily have their own way, heya often have extremely strict rules including curfews and behavioral codes. Junior-senior relations based on current ranking are strictly adhered to, with the lower ranked wrestlers having to serve the higher ranked wrestlers, regardless of age or past achievements. Despite the severity, most wrestlers conform to the norms of heya life, because the alternative is frontier-justice style beat-downs by the other wrestlers, or even black-listing and ignominous expulsion from the insular world of sumo.