Glossary of sumo terms

  (Redirected from San'yaku)

The following words are terms used in sumo wrestling in Japan.


amazumo (アマ相撲)
Amateur sumo, consisting of bouts between non-professionals, ex-professionals, or people otherwise ineligible to compete professionally such as women and minors. Includes individual and team competition at the international level.
azukari (預り)
'Hold' or 'no decision', a kind of draw. After a mono-ii, the gyōji or the shimpan "holds" the result if it was too close to call,[1] which is recorded with a white triangle. In 1927, the system was abolished and a torinaoshi (rematch) now takes place instead; the last azukari was recorded in 1951.[1][2]


Banzuke for the January 2012 tournament
banzuke (番付)
List of sumo wrestlers according to rank for a particular grand tournament, reflecting changes in rank due to the results of the previous tournament. It is written out in a particular calligraphy (see sumō-ji) and usually released on the Monday 13 days prior to the first day of the tournament.
banzuke-gai (番付外)
'Outsider to the list'. A wrestler who is not yet ranked, or has fallen off the banzuke due to injury or other reason for non-participation.[3]
basho (場所)
'Venue'. Any sumo tournament. Compare honbasho.
binzuke (鬢付け)
Also called binzuke abura ('binzuke oil'). A Japanese pomade, which consists mainly of wax and hardened chamomile oil that is used to style sumo wrestlers' hair and give it its distinctive smell and sheen. It is used exclusively by tokoyama hairdressers.


chankonabe (ちゃんこ鍋)
A stew commonly eaten in large quantities by sumo wrestlers as part of a weight gain diet. It contains dashi or stock with sake or mirin to add flavor. The bulk of chankonabe is made up of large quantities of protein sources, usually chicken, fish (fried and made into balls), tofu, or sometimes beef; and vegetables (daikon, bok choy, etc.).
chikara-mizu (力水)
Power-water. The ladleful of water with which a wrestler will ceremonially rinse out his mouth prior to a bout. It must be handed to him by a wrestler not tainted with a loss on that day, so it is either handed to him by the victorious wrestler of the previous bout if he was on the same side of the dohyō, or if that wrestler was defeated, by the wrestler who will fight in the bout following. This system works well until the last match of the day (musubi no ichiban (結びの一番)) when one side will not have someone to give them the power water. This is due to the fact that one of the sides from the previous match lost and there is no next match, so there is neither a winner from the previous match, nor a next wrestler to give them the water. In this case a winner from two or three prior matches will be the one to give them the power water. This wrestler is known as the kachi-nokori (勝ち残り), which means "the winner who remains".
chikara-gami (力紙)
Power-paper. The piece of calligraphy-grade paper with which a wrestler will ceremonially wipe the sweat off his face prior to a bout. It must be handed to him by a wrestler not tainted with a loss on that day, in the same manner of the chikara-mizu (力水) described above.
chirichōzu (塵手水)
'Washing the hands'. One of the many rituals preceding a sumo bout, in which both wrestlers squat facing each other, display their open hands, clap and extend their arms. This is done to demonstrate they do not hold or carry weapons, and that the fight will be a fair and clean one.
chonmage (丁髷)
Traditional Japanese haircut with a topknot, now largely only worn by rikishi and so an easy way to recognize that a man is in the sumo profession.


A dohyō
A dohyō-iri ceremony
A yokozuna (Kakuryū Rikisaburō) performing a dohyō-iri
danpatsu-shiki (断髪式)
Retirement ceremony, held for a top wrestler in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan some months after retirement, in which his chonmage, or top knot, is cut off. A wrestler must have fought as a sekitori in at least 30 tournaments to qualify for a ceremony at the Kokugikan.[4]
deashi (出足)
Constant forward movement. Term used to refer to when a wrestler continuously moves forward as opposed to moving backwards or being moved backwards.
dohyō (土俵)
The ring in which the sumo wrestlers hold their matches, made of a specific clay and spread with sand. A new dohyō is built prior to each tournament.
dohyō-iri (土俵入り)
Ring-entering ceremony, performed only by the wrestlers in the jūryō and makuuchi divisions. The east and west sides perform their dohyō-iri together, in succession; the yokozuna have their own individual dohyō-iri performed separately. The main styles of yokozuna dohyō-iri are Unryū and Shiranui, named after Unryū Kyūkichi and Shiranui Kōemon. A yokozuna performs the ceremony with two attendants, the tachimochi (太刀持ち) or sword carrier, and the tsuyuharai (露払い) or dew sweeper.


ebanzuke (絵番付)
Picture banzuke with paintings of top division sekitori, gyōji and sometimes yobidashi.


fudadome (札止め)
"Sold out," meaning that seats are 100% sold out. In contrast to man'in onrei which means full house and can be claimed when seats are anywhere between 75-95% filled, depending on what the officials decide.
fundoshi ()
Also pronounced mitsu. General term referring to a loincloth, ornamental apron, or mawashi.
fusenpai (不戦敗)
A loss by default for not appearing at a scheduled bout. If a wrestler withdraws from the tournament (injury or retirement), one loss by default will be recorded against him on the following day, and simple absence for the remainder. Recorded with a black square.
fusenshō (不戦勝)
A win by default because of the absence of the opponent. The system was established for the honbasho in the May 1927 tournament. After the issue of Hitachiiwa Eitarō, the system was modified to the modern form. Prior to this, an absence would simply be recorded for both wrestlers, regardless of which one had failed to show. Recorded with a white square.


gaburi-yori (がぶり寄り)
Pushing the opponent with the torso.
ginō-shō (技能賞)
Technique prize. One of three special prizes awarded to rikishi for performance in a basho.
gunbai (軍配)
A war fan, usually made of wood, used by the gyōji to signal his instructions and final decision during a bout. Historically, it was used by samurai officers in Japan to communicate commands to their soldiers.
gunbai-dori (軍配通り)
The decision following a mono-ii affirming the original decision of the gyōji. Literally, "according to the gunbai".
gyōji (行司)
A sumo referee.
gyōji gunbai sashichigae (行司軍配差し違え)
The decision following a mono-ii reversing the gyōji's original decision. Literally, "referee pointed the gunbai incorrectly".


hakkeyoi (はっけよい)
The phrase shouted by a sumo referee during a bout, specifically when the action has stalled and the wrestlers have reached a stand-off. It means, "Put some spirit into it!"
hanamichi (花道)
The two main east and west "paths" leading from the preparation rooms to the dohyō.
haridashi (張り出し)
'Overhang'. If there are more than two wrestlers at any san'yaku rank, the additional wrestlers are termed haridashi. Prior to 1995, such wrestlers were listed on the banzuke in extensions or "overhangs" to the row for makuuchi wrestlers. This is now an informal designation, since presently all wrestlers are listed within the normal bounds of the row.
hazuoshi (筈押し)
Pushing up with hands under opponent's armpits. Hazu refers to the nock of an arrow where it makes contact with the bow string. Hazu can also mean the nock-shaped area of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, so in this case means using the hazu of the hand to lock into the armpit of the opponent and push them upward to prevent them from getting a hold of one's belt.
henka (変化)
A sidestep to avoid an attack. If done, it is usually at the tachi-ai to set up a slap-down technique, but this is often regarded as bad sumo and unworthy of higher ranked wrestlers. Some say it is a legitimate "outsmarting" move, and provides a necessary balance to direct force, henka meaning "change; variation".[5]
heya (部屋)
Literally "room", but usually rendered as "stable". The establishment where a wrestler trains, and also lives while he is in the lower divisions. It is pronounced beya in compounds, such as in the name of the stable. (For example, the heya named Sadogatake is called Sadogatake-beya.)
heyagashira (部屋頭)
The most senior-ranked wrestler in a stable (or heya).
higi (非技)
'Non-technique'. A winning situation where the victorious wrestler did not initiate a kimarite. The Japan Sumo Association recognizes five higi. See kimarite for descriptions.
hikiwake (引分)
A type of draw caused by a long bout that exhausted both wrestlers beyond the point of being able to continue. Also possibly known as a yasumi (休み).[6] In modern sumo, this situation is resolved with a break and subsequent restart or rematch.[1] Though common in early sumo, hikiwake are very rare in the modern age and have not been declared since 1974.[7] Recorded with a white triangle.
Hinoshita Kaisan (日下開山)
A nickname used to describe the first yokozuna, Akashi Shiganosuke. The term is sometimes used in reference to yokozuna in general, and appears stamped only on the tegata of yokozuna to signify their rank.
honbasho (本場所)
A professional sumo tournament, held six times a year since 1958, where the results affect the wrestlers' rankings.
hyōshi-gi (拍子木)
The wooden sticks that are clapped by the yobidashi to draw the spectator's attention.


ichimon (一門)
A group of related heya. There are five groups: Dewanoumi, Nishonoseki, Takasago, Tokitsukaze, and Isegahama. These groups tend to cooperate closely on inter-stable training and the occasional transfer of personnel. All ichimon have at least one representative on the Sumo Association board of directors. In the past, ichimon were more established cooperative entities and until 1965, wrestlers from the same ichimon did not fight each other in tournament competition.
inashi (往なし)
To sidestep or dodge. As opposed to when done at the tachiai when it is referred to as a henka, inashi is done after the initial tachiai to catch the opponent off guard and force him out in another direction.
itamiwake (痛み分け)
A draw due to injury. A rematch (torinaoshi) has been called but one wrestler is too injured to continue; this is no longer in use and the injured wrestler forfeits instead.[1] The last itamiwake was recorded in 1999.[8] Recorded with a white triangle.


jōi-jin (上位陣)
"High rankers". A term loosely used to describe wrestlers who would expect to face a yokozuna during a tournament. In practice this normally means anyone ranked maegashira 4 or above.
jonidan (序二段)
The second-lowest division of sumo wrestlers, below sandanme and above jonokuchi.
jonokuchi (序の口)
An expression meaning "this is only the beginning". The lowest division of sumo wrestlers.
jungyō (巡業)
Regional tours in Japan and sometimes abroad, undertaken between honbasho, during which the wrestlers give exhibition matches.
junyūshō (準優勝)
An informal designation for a second-place finish in a sumo championship.
jūryō (十両)
"Ten ryō", for the original salary of a professional sumo wrestler. The second-highest division of sumo wrestlers, below makuuchi and above makushita, and the lowest division where the wrestlers receive a salary and full privileges.


An Edo-period wrestler wearing a keshō-mawashi
kabai-te (庇い手)
Literally translates as "defending hand". When the two wrestlers fall together, the wrestler on the lower side is referred to as shini-tai, or "dead body", meaning that he is the loser even if he does not touch the ground first. In this case, if injury is foreseen, the wrestler on the upper side is allowed to support his weight by sticking out a hand on the ground (kabai-te) prior to the shini-tai wrestler touching the ground first. Although the wrestler on top touches first, he is still declared the winner.
kabu ()
See toshiyori kabu.
kachi-age (搗ち上げ)
Technique where the wrestler folds his arms and rushes forward to hit opponent's chest or chin to make his posture upright. This is most commonly done at the tachi-ai and can also result in stunning the opponent. Literally translates as striking upward. The first kanji character is uncommon, and is also the one used to describe polishing rice or pounding mochi cakes.
kachi-koshi (勝ち越し)
More wins than losses for a wrestler in a tournament. This is eight wins for a sekitori with fifteen bouts in a tournament, and four wins for lower-ranked wrestlers with seven bouts in a tournament. Gaining kachi-koshi generally results in promotion. The opposite is make-koshi.
kachi-nokori (勝ち残り)
Literally translates as "the winner who remains". During a day of sumo the "power water" is only given to the next wrestler by either a previous winner on their side of the ring or the next wrestler to fight on their side of the ring so as not to receive the water from either the opposite side or from a loser, which would be bad luck. However at the end of the day, one side will not have a winner or a next wrestler to give them the water. In this case the wrestler who was the last to win from their side will remain at the ringside in order to give them the "power water". This individual is known as the kachi-nokori.
kadoban (角番)
An ōzeki who has suffered make-koshi in his previous tournament and so will be demoted if he fails to score at least eight wins. The present rules date from July 1969 and there have been over 100 cases of kadoban ōzeki since that time.
kanreki-dohyōiri (還暦土俵入り)
Former grand champion's 60th birthday ring-entering ceremony.
kantō-shō (敢闘賞)
Fighting Spirit prize. One of three special prizes awarded to rikishi for performance in a basho.
keiko (稽古)
Term referring to practice or training in sumo.
kettei-sen (決定戦)
A playoff between two or more wrestlers in a division who are tied for the lead on the last day of the tournament.
kenshō-kin (懸賞金)
Prize money based on sponsorship of the bout, awarded to the winner upon the gyōji's gunbai. The banners of the sponsors are paraded around the dohyō prior to the bout, and their names are announced. Roughly half the sponsorship prize money goes directly to the winner, the remainder (minus an administrative fee) is held by the Japan Sumo Association until his retirement.
keshō-mawashi (化粧廻し)
The loincloth fronted with a heavily decorated apron worn by sekitori wrestlers for the dohyō-iri. These are very expensive, and are usually paid for by the wrestler's organization of supporters or a commercial sponsor.
kimarite (決まり手)
Winning techniques in a sumo bout, announced by the referee on declaring the winner. The Japan Sumo Association recognizes eighty-two different kimarite.
kinboshi (金星)
"Gold star". Awarded to a maegashira who defeats a yokozuna during a honbasho. It represents a permanent salary bonus.
kinjite (禁じ手)
"Forbidden hand". A foul move during a bout, which results in disqualification. Examples include punching, kicking and eye-poking. The only kinjite likely to be seen these days (usually inadvertently) is hair-pulling.
Kokusai Sumō Renmei (国際相撲連盟)
International Sumo Federation, the IOC-recognized governing body for international and amateur sumo competitions.
komusubi (小結)
"Little knot". The fourth-highest rank of sumo wrestlers, and the lowest san'yaku rank.
kore yori san'yaku (これより三役)
"These three bouts". The final three torikumi during senshūraku. The winner of the first bout wins a pair of arrows. The winner of the penultimate bout wins the string. The ultimate bout winner is awarded the bow.[9]
kōshō seido (公傷制度)
"Public Injury System". Introduced in 1972, this system allowed a wrestler who had been injured in the ring during a tournament to sit out the next tournament without any effect on his rank. It was abolished at the end of 2003 because it was felt too many wrestlers were missing tournaments with minor injuries.[10]
kuisagaru (食い下がる)
Grabbing the front of the opponent's belt, placing one's head against their chest, and lowering one's hips in an effort to lower one's center of gravity in order to force out an opponent.
kuroboshi (黒星)
"Black star". A loss in a sumo bout, recorded with a black circle.
kyūjō (休場)
A wrestler's absence from a honbasho, usually due to injury.


A mono-ii
maegashira (前頭)
"Those ahead". The fifth-highest rank of sumo wrestlers, and the lowest makuuchi rank. This rank makes up the bulk of the makuuchi division, comprising around 30 wrestlers depending on the number in san'yaku. Only the top ranks (maegashira jō'i (前頭上位)) normally fight against san'yaku wrestlers. Also sometimes referred to as hiramaku (平幕), particularly when used in contrast to san'yaku.
maemitsu (前褌)
Front of the mawashi. Often referred to as a maemitsu grip, when one has a hold of the front of the mawashi.
maezumō (前相撲)
"Before sumo". Unranked sumo wrestlers in their first bouts. Participation in at least one maezumō bout is required to enter the jonokuchi division for the following honbasho.
make-koshi (負け越し)
More losses than wins for a wrestler in a tournament. Make-koshi generally results in demotion, although there are special rules on demotion for ōzeki. The opposite is kachi-koshi.
makikae (巻き替え)
Changing from an overarm to an underarm grip on one's opponent's belt. If done properly can lead to a speedy victory, however if not done properly will often end in quick defeat.
makushita (幕下)
"Below the curtain". The third highest division of sumo wrestlers, below jūryō and above sandanme. Originally the division right below makuuchi, explaining its name, before jūryō was split off from it to become the new second highest division.
makushita tsukedashi (幕下付け出し)
A system where an amateur wrestler who has won one of the four major amateur titles is allowed to skip the bottom three divisions and enter pro sumo at the makushita third highest division at the rank of makushita 15. In the event of achieving two of these titles in the same year, he can begin at makushita 10. The original system has existed since the Taishō period, and until 1966 any wrestler who was a university graduate could enter pro sumo at the bottom of makushita. The system was changed in 1966, and from then until 2001 a wrestler who had achieved success as an amateur would begin at the rank of makushita 60, though the criteria were not as strict as post 2001. (See also sandanme tsukedashi.)
makuuchi (幕内) or maku-no-uchi (幕の内)
"Inside the curtain". The top division in sumo. It is named for the curtained-off waiting area once reserved for professional wrestlers during basho, and comprises 42 wrestlers.
man'in onrei (満員御礼)
Full house. Banners are unfurled from the ceiling when this is achieved during honbasho. However, it is not necessary to be at 100% capacity to unfurl the banner. Typically when seats are over 80% filled the banner is unfurled, however they have been unfurled with numbers as low as 75% and not unfurled with numbers as high as 95%.
matta (待った)
False start. When the wrestlers do not have mutual consent in the start of the match and one of the wrestlers starts before the other wrestler is ready, a matta is called, and the match is restarted. Typically the wrestler who is at fault for the false start (often this is both of them; one for giving the impression that he was ready to the other and the other for moving before his opponent was ready) will bow to the judges in apology. The first kanji means 'to wait', indicating that the match must wait until both wrestlers are ready.
mawashi (廻し)
The thick-waisted loincloth worn for sumo training and competition. Mawashi worn by sekitori wrestlers are white cotton for training and colored silk for competition; lower ranks wear dark cotton for both training and competition.
mizu-iri (水入り)
Water break. When a match goes on for around 4 minutes, the gyōji will stop the match for a water break for the safety of the wrestlers. In the two sekitori divisions, he will then place them back in exactly the same position to resume the match, while lower division bouts are restarted from the tachi-ai.
mochikyūkin (持ち給金)
A system of bonus payments to sekitori wrestlers.
mono-ii (物言い)
The discussion held by the shimpan when the gyōji's decision for a bout is called into question. Technically, the term refers to the querying of the decision: the resulting discussion is a kyogi. Literally means, a "talk about things".
moro-zashi (両差し)
Deep double underarm grip which prevents the opponent from grabbing the belt.
mushōbu (無勝負)
"No result". A kind of draw; the gyōji does not count a win or a loss. This outcome was recognised in the Edo period.
musubi no ichiban (結びの一番)
The final bout of the day.


nakabi (中日)
"Middle day". The eighth day of a honbasho, always a Sunday.
negishi-ryū (根岸流)
The conservative style of calligraphy used in the banzuke. See sumō-ji.
nekodamashi (猫騙し)
Clapping of the hands at the tachi-ai to distract the opponent.
Nihon Sumō Kyōkai (日本相撲協会)
The Japan Sumo Association, the governing body for professional sumo.
nodowa (喉輪)
Thrusting at an opponents' throat.
nokotta (残った)
Something the referee shouts during the bout indicating to the wrestler on defense that he is still in the ring. Literally translates as "remaining" as in remaining in the ring.


ōichōmage (大銀杏髷)
Literally "ginkgo-leaf top-knot". This is the hair style worn in tournaments by jūryō and makuuchi wrestlers. It is so named because the top-knot is fanned out on top of the head in a shape resembling a ginkgo leaf. It is only worn during formal events such as tournaments. Otherwise even top rankers will wear their hair in a chonmage style.
Stablemaster's wife. She oversees all stable's activities except coaching.[11]
onna-zumō (女相撲)
Sumo between female competitors. Women are not allowed to compete professionally or even touch a professional dohyō, but informal bouts between women did occur in the 18th century and women currently compete in amateur competitions.
oshi-zumō (押し相撲)
There are two main types of wrestling in sumo: oshi-zumō and yotsu-zumō. Oshi-zumō literally translates as "pushing sumo", and is more commonly referred to in English as a Pusher (oshi)-Thruster (tsuki). One who fights in the oshi-zumō style prefers fighting apart, not grabbing the belt as in yotsu-zumō, and usually winning with tactics of pushing, thrusting, and tsuppari. Oshi-zumō when done effectively can lead to a quick and decisive victory, but its exponents often fall prey to dodging motions or being slapped down, and may become helpless once the opponent gets a hold of their belt. Oshi-zumō fighters are generally thought of as simplistic, while yotsu-zumō fighters are seen more as technicians.
ottsuke (押っ付け)
Technique of holding one's opponent's arm to prevent him from getting a hold on one's belt. Literally, "push and affix" as in affixing the opponent's arm against one's body and preventing it from reaching the belt.
oyakata (親方)
A sumo coach, almost always the owner of one of the 105 name licenses (toshiyori kabu). Also used as a suffix as a personal honorific.
ōzeki (大関)
"Great barrier", but usually translated as "champion". The second-highest rank of sumo wrestlers.


rikishi (力士)
Literally, "powerful man". The most common term for a professional sumo wrestler, although sumōtori is sometimes used instead.


A yokozuna performing a shiko
The Prime Minister's Cup on display
Sumōmoji sample depicting the term edomoji
sagari (下がり)
The strings inserted into the front of the mawashi for competition. The sagari of sekitori wrestlers are stiffened with a seaweed-based glue.
sandan-gamae (三段構え)
A rare ceremony, performed by the two highest ranking wrestlers and a gyōji to demonstrate the "three stages" of sumo poise, seen only on special occasions. It has been performed only 24 times since the Meiji period, most recently with Harumafuji and Kakuryū in 2016 and with Hakuhō and Kisenosato in 2017.[12]
sandanme (三段目)
"Third level". The third lowest division of sumo wrestlers, above jonidan and below makushita.
sandanme tsukedashi (三段目付け出し)
A system instituted in 2015 where an amateur wrestler finishing in the top 8 of either the All-Japan Championships, All-Japan Corporate Championships, National Student Championships, or the National Sports Festival Adults tournament is allowed to skip the bottom two divisions and start at the bottom of the sandanme division. (See also makushita tsukedashi.)
sanshō (三賞)
"Three prizes". Special prizes awarded to makuuchi wrestlers for exceptional performance.
san'yaku (三役)
"Three ranks". The "titleholder" ranks at the top of sumo. There are actually four ranks in san'yaku: yokozuna, ōzeki, sekiwake and komusubi, since the yokozuna is historically an ōzeki with a license to perform his own ring-entering ceremony. The word is occasionally used to refer only to sekiwake and komusubi.
san'yaku soroibumi (三役揃い踏み)
Ritual preceding the kore yori san'yaku or final three bouts on the final day (senshūraku) of a honbasho, where the six scheduled wrestlers, three from east side and three from the west side in turn perform shiko simultaneously on the dohyō.
sekitori (関取)
Literally "taken the barrier". Sumo wrestlers ranked jūryō or higher.
sekiwake (関脇)
Literally "next to the barrier". The third-highest rank of sumo wrestlers.
senshūraku (千秋楽)
The final day of a sumo tournament. Senshūraku literally translates as "many years of comfort." There are two possible explanations for the origins of this term. In gagaku (traditional Japanese court music) the term is tied with celebratory meaning to the last song of the day. In classic nōgaku theater there is a play known as Takasago, in which the term is used in a song at the end of the play. Today the term is used in kabuki and other types of performances as well.
sewanin (世話人)
"Assistant". A retired wrestler (usually from the makushita division) who remains a member of the Sumo Association within his own stable to assist with various tasks, administrative or otherwise, in the stable and at tournaments and regional exhibitions.
shikiri (仕切り)
"Toeing the mark". The preparation period before a bout, during which the wrestlers stare each other down, crouch repeatedly, perform the ritual salt-throwing, and other tactics to try to gain a psychological advantage.[13]
shikiri-sen (仕切り線)
The two short white parallel lines in the middle of the ring that wrestlers must crouch behind before starting a bout. Introduced in the spring tournament of 1928, they are 90 cm (35 in) long, 6 cm (2.4 in) wide and placed 70 cm (28 in) apart using enamel paint.[14]
shiko (四股)
The sumo exercise where each leg in succession is lifted as high and as straight as possible, and then brought down to stomp on the ground with considerable force. In training this may be repeated hundreds of times in a row. Shiko is also performed ritually to drive away demons before each bout and as part of the yokozuna dohyō-iri.
shikona (四股名)
A wrestler's "fighting or ring name", often a poetic expression which may contain elements specific to the wrestler's heya. Japanese wrestlers frequently do not adopt a shikona until they reach makushita or jūryō; foreign wrestlers adopt one on entering the sport. On rare occasions, a wrestler may fight under his original family name for his entire career, such as former ōzeki Dejima and former yokozuna Wajima.
shimpan (審判)
Ringside judges or umpires who may issue final rulings on any disputed decision. There are five shimpan for each bout, drawn from senior members of the Nihon Sumō Kyōkai, and wearing traditional formal kimono.
shimpan-iin (審判委員)
"Umpire committee". The shimpan as a group.
shin-deshi (新弟子)
"New pupil". A new recruit into sumo.
shingitai (心技体)
"Heart, technique, and body": the three qualities of a wrestler. The most successful wrestlers will be strong in all three categories.
shini-tai (死に体)
"Dead body". A wrestler who was not technically the first to touch outside the ring but is nonetheless ruled the loser due to his opponent having put him in an irrecoverable position.[15]
shinjo (新序)
A designation given to wrestlers who had performed well in maezumō that allowed them to participate in jonokuchi in the same tournament. Additionally, if they performed well at this stage, they were allowed to skip straight to the jonidan rank in the next tournament. This system is no longer used.
shinjo shusse hirō (新序出世披露)
Occasion co-ordinated where new wrestlers who have been accepted into professional sumo are presented to audience; they wear borrowed keshō-mawashi during this ceremony which takes place on the middle Sunday of each tournament.[16]
shiomaki (塩撒き)
One of the many rituals preceding a sumo bout, in which the wrestlers throw handfuls of salt before entering the dohyō. According to Shinto beliefs, salt possesses purifying properties; as they cast salt into the ring, the wrestlers would then be cleansing the dohyō of bad energy and possibly protecting themselves from injury. The average amount a wrestler grabs and throws is around 200 g (7.1 oz), although some wrestlers throw up to 500 g (18 oz).[17]
shiroboshi (白星)
"White star". A victory in a sumo bout, recorded with a white circle.
shishō (師匠)
"Master, teacher". A sumo elder in charge of a sumo stable.
shitaku-beya (支度部屋)
"Preparation room". Room in which rikishi in the ranks of jūryō and above wait before their matches. This is where they will place their belongings, put on their belt, and warm up for their match.
shokkiri (初っ切り)
A comedic sumo performance, a type of match common to exhibition matches and tours, similar in concept to the basketball games of the Harlem Globetrotters; often used to demonstrate examples of illegal moves.
shonichi (初日)
"First day". The first day of a tournament, or the first win after a series of losses.
shukun-shō (殊勲賞)
Outstanding performance prize. One of three special prizes awarded to rikishi for performance in a basho.
shusshin (出身)
"Birthplace" or "place of origin". Similar to the term "fighting out of" in sports like boxing or MMA. Heya are restricted to having no more than one rikishi whose shusshin is outside of Japan.
sōridaijin-hai (総理大臣杯)
"Prime Minister's Cup". Ceremonial cup presented by the sitting Prime Minister or an intermediary to the makuuchi champion.
sumō-ji (相撲字)
Calligraphy style with very wide brushstrokes used to write the banzuke.
sumōmoji (相撲文字)
See sumō-ji.
sumōtori (相撲取)
Literally, "one who does sumo". Sumo wrestler, but occasionally refers only to sekitori.


A tegata made by Terao
Emperor's Cup on display
tachi-ai (立ち合い)
The initial charge at the beginning of a bout.
tate-gyōji (立行司)
The two designated highest ranking gyōji, who preside over the last few bouts of a tournament day. The highest ranking gyōji takes the professional name Kimura Shōnosuke while the lower takes the name Shikimori Inosuke.
tawara ()
Bales of rice straw. Tawara are half-buried in the clay of the dohyō to mark its boundaries.
tegata (手形)
"Hand print". A memento consisting of a wrestler's handprint in red or black ink and his shikona written by the wrestler in calligraphy on a square paperboard. It can be an original or a copy. A copy of a tegata may also be imprinted onto other memorabilia such as porcelain dishes. Only sekitori wrestlers are allowed to make hand prints.
tegatana (手刀)
"Knife hand". After winning a match and accepting the prize money, the wrestler makes a ceremonial hand movement with a tegatana known as tegatana o kiru (手刀を切る) where he makes three cutting motions in the order of left, right, and center.
tennō-hai (天皇杯)
Emperor's Cup, awarded to the winner of the top division tournament championship since 1925.
tenran-zumō (天覧相撲)
Sumo performed in front of the emperor. In the past women were forbidden from watching sumo, however nowadays the empress joins the emperor in watching sumo. They are escorted to their seats called kihin-seki (貴賓席), which are only used by the royal family, by the Chairman of the Sumo Association who sits behind them and explains the happenings.
tokoyama (床山)
Hairdressers employed by the Sumo Association to style the hair of wrestlers and to fashion the elaborate ōichomage of sekitori for official tournaments and public engagements.
torikumi (取組)
A bout during a tournament. May also refer to a day's bout schedule.
torinaoshi (取り直し)
A rematch. When the result of a bout is too close to call even after the shimpan hold a mono-ii, they may call for the bout to be refought from the tachi-ai.
toshiyori (年寄)
A sumo elder.
toshiyori kabu (年寄株)
A coaching license, of which there are a limited number of 105, which a recently retired sekitori can either buy from its previous owner or inherit from his father or father-in-law.
tsukebito (付け人)
A rikishi in the lower divisions who serves as a personal attendant to a sekitori-ranked wrestler.
tsuna ()
The heavy rope worn by the yokozuna from which that rank takes its name. It weighs about 15 kg (33 lb), and is much thicker in front than where it is tied in back. Five shide, zig-zag paper strips symbolizing lightning, hang from the front. It strongly resembles the shimenawa used to mark sacred areas in Shinto.
tsuppari (突っ張り)
To rapidly deliver harite (張り手) or "open hand strikes" to the opponent. This technique is frequently employed by oshi-zumō wrestlers.


wakaimonogashira (若い者頭)
"Youth leader". A retired wrestler (usually a former jūryō or maegashira) who is a functionary of the Sumo Association, working with new recruits at his former stable or associated ichimon, and who also arranges maezumō matches.
wanpaku-zumo (腕白相撲)
Literally "unruly sumo" or "mischievous sumo". Sumo for elementary school-aged children. The national final is held at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan.


The yumitori-shiki ceremony, performed by Satonofuji.
yaochō (八百長)
"Put-up job" or "fixed game", referring to a bout with a predetermined outcome.
yobidashi (呼出 or 呼び出し)
Usher or announcer. General assistants at tournaments. They call the wrestlers to the dohyō before their bouts, build the dohyō prior to a tournament and maintain it between bouts, display the advertising banners before sponsored bouts, maintain the supply of ceremonial salt and chikara-mizu, and any other needed odd jobs.
yokozuna (横綱)
"Horizontal rope". The top rank in sumo, usually translated "Grand Champion". The name comes from the rope a yokozuna wears for the dohyō-iri. See tsuna.
Yokozuna Shingi Kai (横綱審議会) or Yokozuna Shingi Iinkai (横綱審議委員会)
"Yokozuna Deliberation Council", a body formed in 1950 whose 15 members are drawn from outside the Japan Sumo Association, that meets following each honbasho to consider candidates for promotion to yokozuna. A recommendation is passed back to the Sumo Association who have the final say. It also offers opinions on the performance of current yokozuna.
yotsu-zumō (四つ相撲)
There are two main types of wrestling in sumo: oshi-zumō and yotsu-zumō. Yotsu-zumō is where both wrestlers grasp the other's belt with both hands, hence the literal translation: "four sumo" or "four hands on the mawashi sumo". There are a few sub-types of yotsu-zumō. Migi-yotsu (右四つ) is when one has sashite (差して) on the right (migi), meaning that one has his right hand under his opponent's left arm and grasping his mawashi. Hidari-yotsu is the opposite where one's left (hidari) hand is inside the opponent's right arm. A yotsu-zumō fighter will typically prefer left or right and is referred to as migi-yotsu or hidari-yotsu fighter. If one has no preference, they are referred to as namakura-yotsu (鈍ら四つ), where namakura literally translates as lazy or cowardly, suggesting that having no preference is seen in a negative light. There is one other final yotsu grip known as moro-zashi (両差し), literally "sashite on both sides", where both hands are inside and is a very strong grip. The only real defense for a moro-zashi grip is the kimedashi (極めだし) technique where the defending wrestler wraps both of his arms over the moro-zashi grip and locks his hands underneath, which squeezes the double inside grip together, weakening it, and allowing one to force the opponent out of the ring. Kime-dashi is also known as kannuki () (usually written in hiragana as かんぬき), and means to bolt or bar. When two wrestlers who both fight in the yotsu-zumō style oppose each other and favor the same style grip, either migi-yotsu or hidari-yotsu, then they will fit together nicely in what is called ai-yotsu (相四つ), or together yotsu. If however they are of opposite preferences, then it is known as kenka-yotsu (喧嘩四つ), literally fighting yotsu. In this situation, whoever gets his preferred grip is usually the victor.
yumitori-shiki (弓取式)
The bow-twirling ceremony performed at the end of each honbasho day by a designated wrestler, the yumitori, who is usually from the makushita division, and is usually a member of a yokozuna's stable.
yūshō (優勝)
A tournament championship in any division, awarded to the wrestler who wins the most bouts.


zanbara (ざんばら)
Loose and disheveled hair. Term for style of hair before wrestler's hair is long enough to put in chonmage hair style. When seen in upper divisions it is a sign of a wrestler who has come up the ranks quickly as his hair has not yet had a chance to grow to a length in which it can be tied into a chonmage. In succession a wrestler starts with the zanbara style, then moves to the chonmage style, and then finally the ōichōmage style, which can only be worn by wrestlers in the top two divisions.
zenshō (全勝)
A perfect tournament where, depending on the division, the wrestler finishes 15–0 or 7–0 in the tournament.


  1. ^ a b c d Gunning, John (July 7, 2019). "Sumo 101: Tied bouts". The Japan Times. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Sumo Reference: Bout query result (azukari)
  3. ^ Gunning, John (15 September 2019). "Sumo 101: Banzuke-gai". The Japan Times. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  4. ^ "「引退相撲」と「断髪式」はどう違う? 力士は全員、国技館で引退相撲ができる? Q&Aで回答". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). 28 May 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  5. ^ "henka".
  6. ^ Sumo Reference: Bout query result (yasumi)
  7. ^ Sumo Reference: Bout query result (hikiwake)
  8. ^ Sumo Reference: Bout query result (itamiwake)
  9. ^ "What is the significance of Ya (Arrow) ?".
  10. ^ Gunning, John (7 November 2019). "Sumo injuries pose ever-present issues for wrestlers, rankings". Japan Times. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  11. ^ Gunning, John (6 June 2018). "Army of okamisan work behind scenes to keep sumo stables running smoothly". Japan Times. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  12. ^ Gunning, John (2 June 2021). "Dual yokozuna promotion could join list of recent rare events in sumo". Japan Times. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  13. ^ Shuji, Miki (4 June 2020). "Long and short of sumo's prematch ritual shikiri". The Japan News. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  14. ^ Gunning, John (July 14, 2019). "Sumo 101: Shikiri sen". The Japan Times. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  15. ^ Morita, Hiroshi. "Sumo Q&A". NHK World-Japan. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  16. ^ Hall, Mina (1997). The Big Book of Sumo (Paperback). Berkeley, CA, USA: Stone Bridge Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-880656-28-0.
  17. ^ "Salt Tossing [塩まき] - SUMOPEDIA". YouTube. NHK WORLD-JAPAN. Retrieved 5 January 2022.

External linksEdit