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Jonosuke

Yokozuna Dohyo-Iri Q & A

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With Kaiu's imminent...OK...OK....a possibility of Yokozuna promotion, there were some questions posed on the yokozuna dohyo-iri form, Unryu and Shiranui so I put together some information on it. Please make any corrections necessary as most of them I did from my head but I did check a few like the year of Tanikaze and Onogawa dohyo-iri so that should be correct.

Dohyo-iri Q & A

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Q: Where does a newly crowned yokozuna perform his first Dohyo-Iri?

A: At the Meiji Jungu Shirine in Tokyo.

Q: Does the East Yokozuna always enter from the East?

A: Yes.

Q: If there are more than one yokozuna, from which side they enter first?

A: On odd numbered days, East first. On even numbered days, the first yokozuna enters from West.

Q: What are the dohyo-iri forms?

A: There are two - Unryu and Shiranui.

Q: What are the major difference between the two?

A: 1. how the knot is tied - Shiranui has two coils while Unryu has only one.

2. how a yokozuna raises himself up ("seriagari").

Q: Elaborate on the above answer number 2.

A: After the yokozuna performs "shiko", he will raise himself up slowly.

While doing this, in the Shiranui form, the yokozuna will extend his both arms wide and display a scooping motion from below. This is said to display the form of offense.

In the Unryu form, the yokozuna will hold his left side (around his waist) using his left hand and with his right arm, he will perform the scooping motion from a lower level. This is said to display the form of defense using his left hand and the form of offense using his right hand.

Q: Who were the originators of each form?

A: The Shiranui form is said to be originated by Shiranui Kouemon, the 11th Yokozuna. The Unryu form is said to be originated by Unryu Hisakichi, the 10th yokozuna.

However some maintain that the current Shiranui form started with Umegatani Toutaro II, the 20th yokozuna and the current Unryu form by Tachiyama Mineemon, the 22nd yokozuna.

Basically you can say no one is really sure. However it is being said that the two forms were kept on as they displayed more grace and beauty than other earlier forms.

Q: Who decides which from to use? Does the Kyokai advise or recommend one to the new yokozuna?

A: It's determined by the new yokozuna and his shisho, sometimes after consulting with those close to them professionally. The Kyokai has no say in their selection. There is no form set by heya or Ichimon.

Q: How does a Yokozuna dohyo-iri ceremony performed?

A: There are four men present including the yokozuna. The others are Tate-gyoji (Chief gyoji, Shonosuke or Inosuke), Tsuyuharai, Tachimochi.

They follow the same order coming in from Hanamichi - they enter in order, first Tate-gyoji, then Tsuyuharai, Yokozuna and Tachimochi. If you look from the front side for the East and West dohyo-iris, the position of Tsuyuharai and Tachimochi is reversed on the dohyo.

When a yokozuna enters the dohyo, he will bring both hands together, shows his hands clearly and then extends his arms to side. He claps twice and moves to the center by walking three steps and does shiko.

He will follow it with extending his arms. then he will rise up following his Unryu or Shiranui form. Then he will go back to the side he came in and does the same procedure as when he came in initially (like clapping twice.)

He will leave the dohyo after Tsuyuharai. The yokozuna is followed by Tachimochi and tate-gyoji. In the earliest time the yokozuna dohyo-iri ceremony was performed alone but it is said at a Sumo tournament held for Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa (in 1791), two yokozunas (the fourth yokozuna Tanikaze and fifth yokozuna Onogawa) accompanied to assume the role of Tsuyuharai and Tachimochi.

Q: What are the roles of Tsuyuharai and Tachimochi?

A: Tsuyuharai assumes a role of leading the yokozuna. He always walks in front of yokozuna.

A Tsuyuharai comes from the old days of outdoor sumo tournaments. He was supposed to "wipe away" (harai) dews (tsuyu) with his hands for the yokozuna so he would not get wet. He carries no item.

A Tachimochi carries a small sword wrapped in a cloth with his right hand and his left hand is normally on his knee. He is said to protect the yokozuna.

Both are supposed to be Makuuchi rank rikishis from yokozuna's heya but if there is no Makuuchi rikishi, they can come from the same Ichimon (exception to this rule is when the yokozuna dohyo-iri is performed at a retirement sumo or other purely ceremonial occasion held at a shrine or temple.

A Tsuyuharai rikishi has a lower ranking than the Tachimochi rikishi but both will never be performed by Juryo or lower ranked rikishis.

Q: When and where do they make the yokozuna's tsuna (rope)?

A: It is made at the yokozuna's heya. It is done three times a year, just prior to a Tokyo basho. The cost of the rope is paid by the Kyokai and provided to the heya's oyakata.

Edited by Jonosuke

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Very informative. Thank you.

P.s. To the mods, perhaps informative posts of this calibre deserve to be transfered to the sumo information pond.

Also the pinned thread about accommodation.

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Nice post -- thanks.

Is there anything to prevent the next Yokozuna from coming up with his own tsuna style, not unryu or shiranui? From your post we know alternatives have existed in the past. I also know at least in recent years the tsuna style choice has been partially done in light of superstitions about bad luck. But there's no rule that says the Yokozuna must use one of these two styles, right?

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Is there anything to prevent the next Yokozuna from coming up with his own tsuna style, not unryu or shiranui?

Say, a left-handed Unryu, for example? :-P

To the mods, perhaps informative posts of this calibre deserve to be transfered to the sumo information pond.

Also the pinned thread about accommodation.

Good point. I'll see what we can do about that.

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