Recommended Posts

I've just watched a couple of wonderful interviews that Kintamayama posted in another thread. Is "zeki" after a rikishi's shikona essentially similar to -san or -sama, and used as an honorific? Google doesn't want to translate zeki. It suggests that it means zeki in English...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's simply the honorary address for Sekitori.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Jakusotsu said:

It's simply the honorary address for Sekitori.

So O-zeki is the honorific on -zeki?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Yamanashi said:
18 hours ago, Jakusotsu said:

It's simply the honorary address for Sekitori.

So O-zeki is the honorific on -zeki?

No; as someone pointed out in the Ikioi thread relating to okamisan, the o- honorific prefix in ocha, oyu, okamisan etc is a completely different kanji from the о̄- prefix in о̄zeki that means large.

Sekitori and ozeki both contain the same seki/zeki character for barrier, but it's being used in slightly different senses. When one refers to a sekitori as X-zeki, that is in recognition of crossing the "barrier" between heaven or hell, i.e. juryo and makushita. The rank's meaning is probably a step removed and uses that abstraction, referring to its holder as a "great zeki" i.e. the best of all the sekitori, which reflects ozeki's historic role as the highest rank before yokozuna.

EDIT: While the above is a possible explanation, it doesn't necessarily reflect the historical development of the term: see Asashosakari's post below. 

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Looking around, the most common theory appears to be that "seki" was derived from 関所 sekicho and/or 関門 sekimon, roadside checkpoints/barriers used for protection and tax collection. Supposedly "seki" came to be used as a term for "powerful sumo wrestler" either because they were likened to the big, strong guards at those checkpoints, or because such sumotori were prominent enough to be able to pass through checkpoints just by giving their names. The -tori part of "sekitori" then just developed in analogy to the general term for those who do sumo, i.e. sumotori.

Unsurprisingly "ōzeki" is all but certain to have been a way to style the best among seki. It's attested since the oldest surviving banzuke (from a 1699 tournament in Kyoto), so it may have been in use since even before sumo went commercial in the late 17th century.

In any case, the current use of "sekitori" to describe all of makuuchi and juryo is much, much younger than that, and was apparently the result of a slow creep in meaning. In the early days it really did just refer to the strongest of the strong (depending on source either ōzeki alone, or ōzeki and those close to them in skill), and not even the whole of makuuchi. It likely came to be seen to cover all makuuchi wrestlers once professional sumo was sufficiently established to have a recognizable not-makuuchi faction among the wrestlers (i.e. what was makushita then).

Edited by Asashosakari
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, back to the original question, which Jakusotsu may have answered but without an example. Would you refer to a sekitori as simply "zeki?" Or, would it be his shikona+zeki. (Ishiura-zeki for instance)? I may as well get this right just in case I get to use it someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Counter question: Would you address somebody simply as "san"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

The reply to this is: I believe there is a generalised form of address if you do not know who the chap is from Adam - something like "o-sumo-san" or the like. I believe Shodai got subjected to that by a random festival stall merchant during one of the jungyo, way back when he was still going up and down the maegashira ranks.

For anyone else you do know, of course shikona + zeki (or if unsalaried, shikona + san).

Then again, if you don't know the chap at all, I highly doubt you'd be in a hurry to hail him with the right form of address...

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

The reply to this is: I believe there is a generalised form of address if you do not know who the chap is from Adam - something like "o-sumo-san" or the like. I believe Shodai got subjected to that by a random festival stall merchant during one of the jungyo, way back when he was still going up and down the maegashira ranks.

For anyone else you do know, of course shikona + zeki (or if unsalaried, shikona + san).

Then again, if you don't know the chap at all, I highly doubt you'd be in a hurry to hail him with the right form of address...

I should have asked this of my Japanese friends at the time or paid more attention to how they addressed the rikishi (if I could follow the speed at which they speak). Although it doesn't look to be any time soon, I did not want to repeat my poor manners if I ever get another opportunity. I sadly admit that I incorrectly addressed Hakuho, Ishiura, and Enho by simply using their shikona with no suffix, although it's possible that I never addressed them by name while talking with them. But I am an oaf at heart and from many trips to Japan, I know perfectly well that the Japanese do not expect gaijin to know much of anything and that supposition is generally correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Kaminariyuki said:

I sadly admit that I incorrectly addressed Hakuho, Ishiura, and Enho by simply using their shikona with no suffix,

Would Hakuho be addressed as "Hakuho-zeki" and not "Yokozuna"?

[Sorry for upping the flop-sweat pressure if you meet them again].

Edited by Yamanashi
spelling, of course

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28/06/2021 at 17:38, Asashosakari said:

...the oldest surviving banzuke (from a 1699 tournament in Kyoto).

Is there a pic of this banzuke online? I see it mentioned on https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/両國梶之助_(初代), but I can't seem to find a pic of it.

The oldest one I can find online is from 1788. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/07/2021 at 00:55, Seiyashi said:

The reply to this is: I believe there is a generalised form of address if you do not know who the chap is from Adam - something like "o-sumo-san" or the like.

Just popping in to confirm that o-sumo-san is the generic form of address for a sumo wrestler: Hakuho said in his yusho interview today that his youngest daughter only knew that her father was an "o-sumo-san" and he wanted to show her exactly how good he was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Just to add a tiny bit of information to Asashosakari-zeki's fine post. The term sekitori has two parts: seki ( gate ) and tori  < toori < tooru = to go through/to clear, as one theory holds. 

 

When speaking to a sekitori person to person, you might want to start the conversation by  "***-zeki, ..." "Sekitori ( if he is not Yokozuna/Ozeki ), ..."  "Yokozuna / Ozeki, ..." , or you may even use those titles as a subject of the sentence you speak if you are Japanese - the Japanese language does not really use "you" referring to the person you're talking to.  But if I come across my gohiiki walking in Kokugikan, Tokyo Tower,  local jungyo tour, etc., I would probably not call out "Sekitori!" but "**-zeki!" or "Yokozuna/Ozeki!" to show my enthusiasm.  And when it comes to cheering ( yelling! ) for your favorite man performing on the dohyo, you might want to call him just by his shikona, at the top of your lungs. :) 

Edited by Amanogawa
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Amanogawa said:

And when it comes to cheering ( yelling! ) for your favorite man performing on the dohyo, you might want to call him just by his shikona, at the top of your lungs. :) 

I miss this aspect of the sumo broadcasts now that we're in COVID times. It really added to the atmosphere of yokozuna bouts and/or the dohyo-iri where the air would be thick with calls of shikona (and during dohyo-iri, the simultaneous yoisho from the crowd).

Terunofuji's delayed first dohyo-iri at the Meiji Shrine will be devoid of these as well, sadly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

And why don't we hear any Covid-safe noisemakers like rattles etc. used in the arena where before you'd just shout? 

When I was in the KKgan there was a long row of schoolgirls behind me waving shikona banners and fans and screaming ENDOOOOO! ENDOOOOOOOOO!!!! which was deafening.

Edited by orandashoho

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now