Oki Traditional Sumo
‘Oki Traditional Sumo’ is held to commemorate auspicious occasions such as the replacement of the thatched roof of a shrine, or the completion of a large-scale public works project. While the name ‘Oki Traditional Sumo’ is new, the practice of ceremonial sumo in Oki has ancient roots. It was originally practiced as a ceremonial offering to the gods. Oki Traditional Sumo tournaments take place all throughout the night and have many unique features.
Features of Oki Traditional Sumo:
- Performed to commemorate an auspicious occasion such as the installation of a new shrine or the completion of a large-scale public works project.
- Takes place all throughout the night (commences in the evening, and finishes midday the following day).
- At large tournaments over 200 rikishi (sumo wrestlers) from all around the island compete.
- Around 300 sumo matches take place.
- Opponents are pre-decided.
- The final winner must win five matches consecutively or the matches continue.
- The highest rank is ‘ozeki’, which is the second highest rank in professional sumo (ozeki was traditionally the highest rank).
- The winner of a match must then compete again against the same opponent and lose (convincingly). This is referred to as ‘ninjo-sumo’, or compassionate sumo.
- The winners of the highest ranks (ozeki, sekiwake, and komusubi) are honored by receiving one of the pillars from the dohyo (sumo ring) as their prize.
- For tournaments to commemorate the installment or transfer of a shrine, the three-layered sumo ring is used. Two extra layers are placed on top of the sumo ring, like mochi (rice cakes) used as New Year’s offerings.