Pandaazuma

Sumo Superstitions

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I did a quick search and saw a few smatterings on this topic but nothing definitive (although no doubt someone will point out my incompetence with the search function) so I thought I'd bring this topic up as something to mull between basho.

Most will be aware of the superstitious nature of many rikishi. Who can forget Kokkai's spectacular stubble on those rare winning streaks? There are also stories about black dots/spots on clothes being unwelcome within heya and stadia where sumo is practised.

I came across an interesting one the other day: that tables with legs are unpopular because four legs symbolize a losing posture (hands and feet on the dohyo). I also read somewhere that chanko using the meat of four-legged animals is also not popular in the run-up to hon basho for the same reason, and they tend to prefer chicken or fish at those times.

Well, I'm not sure about the veracity of some of these superstitions so I thought it might be nice to defer to the knowledge of some of the insiders on the forum. What other superstitions have you heard of? And how many are actually practised in real life? And what are their origins...no doubt Shinto in many cases.

Edited by Pandaazuma
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Rikishi sometimes sprinkle salt during the salt throwing over existing injuries - at least some used to. Can't think of any rikishi at present who does this...

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Rikishi sometimes sprinkle salt during the salt throwing over existing injuries - at least some used to. Can't think of any rikishi at present who does this...

The ones with slug DNA don't sprinkle salt. Re the salt- I suppose its antibacterial. http://www.nihonbunka.com/shinto/blog/archives/000026.html

I stopped throwing so much salt Mitoizumi style when my Takmisakari eyesight meant that I got myself and the gyoji on the head. I then checked a little bit and tasted some like the previous Tochinowaka but it was a stciky batch and i got too much and then had trouble wiping it off on the mawashi .These days I just throw it downwards.

I like the superstition about not swerving fish with its belly towards you because of the seppuku connotations.

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The newest fad is about mobile phones bringing bad luck. They're even banned from the shitakubeya these days.

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pre bout rituals are traditional symbolically rooted from Shinto beliefs. Like the dohyo iri. You notice the different times allowed for the different divisions to prepare for a bout:

Makuuchi - 4 minutes

Juryo - 3 minutes

Jonokuchi and below - 2 minutes

Yokozuna each have their own timing, rhythm, ect. and of course is longer. They are Yokozuna after all...

Also many of you already know about the clapping of the hands....which is to purify and alert the sumo gods that a match is about to start. Then the fighters extend their arms out to show proof of no weapons. Just their badass selves.

The leg stomping(shiko), and if I remember correctly, raising the kesho mawashi on the dohyo is a ritual to drive out evil spirits.

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pre bout rituals are traditional symbolically rooted from Shinto beliefs. Like the dohyo iri. You notice the different times allowed for the different divisions to prepare for a bout:

Makuuchi - 4 minutes

Juryo - 3 minutes

Jonokuchi and below - 2 minutes

Yokozuna each have their own timing, rhythm, ect. and of course is longer. They are Yokozuna after all...

Kitataiki - 1 hour and 10 minutes

Also many of you already know about the clapping of the hands....which is to purify and alert the sumo gods that a match is about to start. Then the fighters extend their arms out to show proof of no weapons. Just their badass selves.

The leg stomping(shiko), and if I remember correctly, raising the kesho mawashi on the dohyo is a ritual to drive out evil spirits.

The list of times allowed for preparation needed an addendum... :-p

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Oh, and the baby thing...

That I have no clue of it's origins but if a pregnant woman touches a yokozuna's belt she is 'guaranteed' a safe delivery during birth.

If sumotori hols a baby the baby supposedly will grow up to be big and strong.

I'm sure most of you know this already.

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There are also stories about black dots/spots on clothes being unwelcome within heya and stadia where sumo is practised.

The flags outside the Kokugikan representing names of sumotori during tournaments never use black. It represents kuroboshi (loss).

Edited by inhashi
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Rikishi sometimes sprinkle salt during the salt throwing over existing injuries - at least some used to. Can't think of any rikishi at present who does this...

I've seen both Osunaarashi and Kotoshogiku do this.

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pre bout rituals are traditional symbolically rooted from Shinto beliefs. Like the dohyo iri. You notice the different times allowed for the different divisions to prepare for a bout:

Makuuchi - 4 minutes

Juryo - 3 minutes

Jonokuchi and below - 2 minutes

Yokozuna each have their own timing, rhythm, ect. and of course is longer. They are Yokozuna after all...

Kitataiki - 1 hour and 10 minutes

The list of times allowed for preparation needed an addendum... :-P

Ah, Kitataiki. Now I see why there's no more time left for Makushita/Sandanme/Jonidan. B-)

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http://www.japan-zone.com/omnibus/superstition2.shtml

"There are many things that are considered to bring good or bad luck. The large sea bream is known in Japanese as "tai", which is part of the word "medetai" (good luck). So this fish is often served on auspicious occasions, such as when a sumo wrestler wins a tournament. Ebisu, one of the seven gods of good fortune, is often depicted riding on top of one of these fish."

Based on the above superstition would it be safe to say that Sumotori prefer Ebisu or would that be only the ones that think they can win an Emperors cup?

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The Japanese culture has so many superstitions, I'm sure these are just the tip of the iceberg!

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On 11/24/2014 at 23:55, Jejima said:

Rikishi sometimes sprinkle salt during the salt throwing over existing injuries - at least some used to. Can't think of any rikishi at present who does this...

Hope it's OK to dredge up an old thread ...

I just saw a Youtube video from Nagoya 2012 showing Kisenosato during pre-bout activities; he sprinkled salt on each shoulder, then some into the ring.  I had not seen that behavior before.

 

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On 25/11/2014 at 04:55, Jejima said:

Rikishi sometimes sprinkle salt during the salt throwing over existing injuries - at least some used to. Can't think of any rikishi at present who does this...

I saw a makuuchi do this in the most recent basho - I forget who - a kind of ‘sign of the cross’ with the salt on each shoulder and a few other places as well. At first I thought he was perhaps a Christian but then it occurred to me he was probably purifying his joints and body to keep them safe from injury.

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Onosho does this, right? I also remember Osunaarashi does the kind of pseudo 'sign of the cross' thingy.

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