A Sumo tournament day

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What is the schedule for a tournament day?

A tournament runs for fifteen days, but not every day has the same schedule. Some days there are pre-sumo bouts, and there are different schedules for the eighth (middle), thirteenth, and final day. A day’s bouts also begin at different times. During the March tournament in Osaka, pre-sumo begins on the second day. At other tournaments, it starts on the third day. In either case, jonokuchi bouts begin after pre-sumo.
The schedule for the January 1997 tournament is given below. The only times listed are for the beginning of bouts, the juryo ring-entering ceremony, and the mid-day break between juryo and makuuchi bouts.

8:00 drumming (yosedaiko)
The drumming lasts for thirty minutes. The drummers are young yobidashi who sit at the top of the scaffolding raised in front of the tournament hall.

8:30 Bouts begin

  • lonokuchi bouts
  • lonidan bouts
  • Sandanme bouts
  • Makushita bouts

2:40 luryo ring-entering ceremony
This ceremony is held before the top five makushita bouts. This means there are several bouts after the juryo make their entrance before they actually begin their bouts.

  • Top five makushita bouts
  • Juryo bouts
  • JSA greetings – Greetings are given before the final three juryo bouts.
  • Top three juryo bouts

3:50 Mid-day break (nakairi)

  • Makuuchi ring-entering ceremony
  • Yokozuna ring-entering ceremony – After the yokozuna enter the hall, the Emperor’s Cup and the Championship Flag from the previous tournament are returned, and pictures of champions from the previous two tournaments are unveiled. Other presentations may also be made.
  • Announcement of next day’s bouts – This may be left out if there are time considerations.
  • Makuuchi bouts

5:55 Bow-twirling ceremony
6:00 Drumming (uchidashi)

*The day before a Tokyo tournament begins, the pictures of the last two tournament champions are presented. The pictures are unveiled on the first day of bouts.

*On the fourth day of the January 1997 tournament, presume began at 8:30 a.m., the juryo ring-entering ceremony at 2:50, and the mid-day break at 4:00 p.m. Bouts on the twelfth day began at 8:40, with other times the same. This shows how the times vary slightly from day to day.

What is the bow-twirling ceremony?

In this ceremony which follows the final bout of the day, a makushita rikishi, usually the same one each time, accepts the bow from the gyoji in the place of winning rikishi,and performs a ritual to symbolize the joy of victory.

Who performs the bow-twirling ceremony?

As a rule, it is performed by a makushita rikishi from the stable of one of the yokozuna, although there have been cases where a rikishi continued to do it even after promotion to juryo. The stablemaster chooses the rikishi, but he may consult with the yokozuna or other staff. Rikishi from another stable may do the honors, but he will usually be from within the same clan of stables as a yokozuna.

What is uchidashi drumming?

The term uchidashi literally means “start beating,” and originated in the fact that the drumming begins as soon as the last bout is over. You can hear the drumming as you leave the Kokugikan Hall on a virtual wave of humanity, and it makes you want to come back for another day of sumo.

What are the JSA greetings?

On the first and last days of a tournament, the JSA chairman of the board of trustees and the top-ranked rikishi (yokozuna and san ‘yaku) assemble in the ring, and the chairman sends greetings from the JSA. He dresses in formal kimono, and the rikishi wear their shimekomi.
JSA greetings were first delivered at the January 1926 tournament. The combinations of rikishi who appear in the ring have varied over the years, with the current line up in place since March 1991.

What is the champion picture?

A ceremony is held at the Kokugikan Hall to present pictures of the past two tournament champions on the day before a Tokyo tournament begins, and they are unveiled on the first day of bouts. As tournaments alternate between Tokyo and other cities, there are always two new pictures.
There are currently thirty-two pictures on di splay at the Kokugikan. The pictures are black-and-white photographs tinted with water colors. When a new picture is displayed, the oldest one is removed. The first championship picture, a gift from the Mainichi Newspaper, was presented at the May 1909 tournament. The practice was discontinued once and then beginning again in January 1951.

What is yaku sumo?

Yaku sumo refers to the three bouts on the final day of a tournament. The winners receive, respectively, a bow, a bowstring, and an arrow.

What is the san’yaku assembly?

The final three bouts on the last day of a tournament are called the yaku bouts, but there are occasions when hiramaku rikishi participate. Before they are held, however, the rikishi in those bouts assemble, east and west separately. First they clap, then raise their right leg twice and their left leg once, stamping each time.

The three stand in a triangle shape. For the east side, the lowest ranked rikishi stands in the front to the right, the next rank up in the front to the left, and the top-ranked east-side rikishi in the back. For the west side, the positions of the two rikishi in front are reversed.

It should be noted that although san’yaku refers to komusubi, sekiwake, and ozeki, other rikishi also participate in the final bouts. For example, yokozuna.
Based on the ranking chart, a makuuchi rikishi may participate in the san’yaku assembly, and he will receive the arrow, bow or bowstring if he wins his bout. The item received is determined by the order of the bout.

What do the winners of the bouts after the san’yaku assembly receive?

They receive either a bow, a bowstring, or an arrow.

  1.  The winner of the first bout recei ves an arrow “in honor of komusubi. “
  2.  The winner of the next bout receives a bowstring “in honor of sekiwake. “
  3.  The winner of the final bouts recei ves a bow “in honor of ozeki.”

When the gyoji declares the winner, he says “in honor of yaku-zumo” and then gives the name of the rikishi.

When are championship playoff bouts held?

When two or more rikishi are tied for the tournament championship, playoff bouts are held ten minutes after the final official bout. The first playoff was held in May 1947 tournament.

Who chooses the winners of the “Three Awards” (sansho)?

They are chosen by the sansho selection committee. This committee is comprised of three judging committee members, one sumo supporter, and several members of the EastWest Club, who are veteran sumo reporters. The committee meets at I p.m. on the final day of the tournament. If opinions are divided, the members take a vote. All three awards are not necessarily given out at each tournament, and occasionally two rikishi will be named for the same award .

When did the “Three Award” system begin?

It began in November 1944. The special awards were offered in an effort to revive the sport after the war. The awards, offered to all makuuchi rikishi except yokozuna and ozeki, also served to motivate the rikishi themselves. A winning record (at least eight wins) is a basic condition for all of the awards. The sansho winners receive a certificate, a trophy, and prize money. The names of and criteria for the awards are given below.

  • Outstanding Performance Award (shukunsho): Several wins against yokozuna and ozeki.
  • Fighting Spirit Award (kantosho): Enthusiastic competition and exceptional performance. 10 wins is the rule of thumb.
  • Technique Award (ginosho): Demonstration of superior sumo technique.

It is said that these three awards were born of discussion between the JSA and the mass media. At the time, the popularity of sumo was waning, and the awards were used as a way of rekindling interest.

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