Hatsu Dohyo Matsuri – Lets Get Started!

Hatsu 2019 dohyo matsuri

Saturday morning in Tokyo, the dohyo for the 2019 Hatsu basho was consecrated in a shinto ceremony. The event was open to the public, and attend by the top men of sumo along with community and government leaders. With the senior gyoji in full priest regalia, the symbolic offerings were placed in a small hole exquisitely cut in the center of the dohyo, and then sealed inside. With prayers for the safety of the competitors, the prosperity of Japan and the health of the nation, the ceremony was concluded. The dohyo is now ready for competition, which is just hours away.

Following the dohyo ceremony, the portraits of the last two yusho winners were presented, before being hoisted to the rafters of the Kokugikan to join the legion of images of past winners that encircle the upper deck. I have to say, this photo of the great Hakuho standing next to Takakeisho could serve as the iconic transition point for this era.

Hatsu Yusho Portraits [Hakuho and Takakeisho].jpg

7 thoughts on “Hatsu Dohyo Matsuri – Lets Get Started!

  1. Time will tell. It may be that the same Hakuho will stand there in 2020 with someone who is still in Makushita right now – Hoshoryu, maybe, or some other up-and-comer. And that will be the real transition.

    • I still imagine Hakuho with a greying-to-white oicho-mage going for #70 in 2030, walking with a cane till he gets to the dohyo, then thrashing all comers…only to gingerly walk away with the assistance of a yobidashi.

      • …who kindly assist him to his seat beside Aminishiki’s stretcher, where old Uncle is busy counting the kensho from his just-ended bout, carefully straightening the one hair left in his oicho, while the paramedics are busy rigging his legs up for the journey home. 😝

    • Sure, this is lifted directly from Wikipedia:

      The ceremony is done to purify and concentrate the dohyō, while also inviting the kami (Shinto deities) down to watch sumo. The ceremony is lead by one of the tategyōji (head referee) along with two other gyōji. The gyōji take the place of Shinto priests. The tategyoji will pray for the safety and well-being of the wrestlers. In the middle of the dohyō a square hole is cut in where the tategyoji will then place inside: torreya nuts, dried chestnuts, salt, washed rice, dried squid or cuttlefish, and kombu (seaweed). The tategyoji will then will pour sacred sake into the hole, and around several other places around the dohyō before he will put more clay into the hole. The yobidashi will eventually cover up the hole. The sacred sake is then shared with everyone in attendance.

      • Just to add, the sumo Kyokai’s website dates sumo’s origin to over 1000 years ago. http://sumo.or.jp/IrohaKnowledge/sumo_history/

        The Emperor in 734 (Shomu Tenno) hosted a tournament of the top sumo wrestlers to celebrate tanabata. It became a regular event for a few hundred years thereafter. At that time, sumo was incorporated into the harvest festival/ceremony. He’s the same guy who built the Daibutsu in Nara. So at that time, sumo had been a part of the larger festival.
        (大相撲あなたのしらない土俵の奥 by Satoshi Nagayama)

        My wife says there’s a similar dedication for new buildings or moving to a new office. And for traditional engagement gifts, the husband-to-be would bring the same items Bruce mentioned to the bride-to-be.

      • Of course I forgot to add the point my wife wanted to make. She mentioned this is why there’s an important link between the Emperor, his family, and sumo. She hopes he will show up. But at the same time she thought he may have more time to watch after he retires.


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