Sumo Wakaimonogashira and Sewanin

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What do wakaimonogashira (head of the youth) do?

They teach and supervise young lower-rank rikishi. They also keep track of win-loss records and run pre-sumo activities.

Duties of wakaimonogashira include the following.

  1. They draw the combinations for championship play-off bouts, and see that they run smoothly.
  2. They handle pre-sumo bouts, helping the new rikishi with their belts and teaching them the customs and manners of the ring. They also run the ceremony to present new rikishi promoted from pre-sumo into the jonokuchi rank.
  3. They monitor rikishi waiting ringside and give them instructions.
  4. They handle accounts for per-win incentive money.
  5. They assist with the makuuchi awards ceremony. When the champion receives the trophy and championshiop flag, he hands them to a man in a suit, a wakaimonogashira.
  6. They supervise lower-rank rikishi, and keep track of the habits and lifestyle of minors among the stable ranks. In other words, they are an extra set of eyes for the stablemaster.
  7. When rikishi are injured or ill, wakaimonogashira call the taxi and take them to the hospital, fill out admittance forms, etc. They also submit an absence form when a rikishi cannot compete in a tournament.
  8. They assist at touring and other special sumo events.
  9. Wakaimonogashira are secretaries, sending out ranking charts, arranging the schedules of sekitori, and other clerical business.

Wakaimonogashira not only train young rikishi, but also teach them the intricacies of sumo life, guiding them into social and professional adulthood .

What do sewanin (caretakers) do?

Sewanin are sumo property managers. They are the assistants of wakaimonogashira, and have the following duties.

  1. Sewanin transport and store equipment, raise the tents on tours, and carry in the necessary equipment.
  2. They are in charge of dressing rooms at tournament halls.
  3. They help out at hall entrances, assisting customers with tickets, lining them up, and otherwise keeping the human traffic flow smooth.
  4. They supervise parking lots and the roads in front of halls to keep them clear.
  5. Sewanin are available in the executive office to run errands for tournament officials .

Who can become wakaimonogashira and sewanin?

Wakaimonogashira are retired rikishi who have achieved juryo or makusahita standing. As with gyoji and rikishi, they are official employees of the JSA, but also members of stables. A candidate’s stablemaster applies to the JSA who then hires him. Qualifications and procedures for sewanin are exactly the same.

Are there a limited number of wakaimonogashira and Sewanin positions?

Yes, there are eight positions each, and the salaries are paid by the JSA. As sumo stables number 51, many have neither wakaimonogashira nor sewanin. In an increasing number of cases, former rikishi are hired by their stables as “managers.” A manager acts as the right-hand man of his stablemaster, giving guidance to young rikishi, negotiating with support groups, and handling other details.

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