Skip to the body

−Islands Connecting People and the Land− Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark Home


This Page: Home Lifestyle and Traditions Unique Culture of Oki Oki Traditional Sumo

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.

All night long Oki Traditional Sumo tournament
Three layer sumo ring of ceremonial sumo
Triumphant return of the winner upon his prize: a pillar from the sumo ring.

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.

Scroll to top