A day of ropes at Isegahama beya

Image: Ajigawa oyakata

Yesteday, Ajigawa oyakata tipped us off about a tsuna-uchi taking place at Isegahama beya.

But – except to those who can estimate it by the amount of hemp – we were completely unready for two ropes in the same day!

Rikishi from Isegahama beya, with some assistance from Asakayama beya, started by rubbing the hemp with rice bran.

Image: isegahama.net

And then, under the watchful eyes of supervisors from the NSK, who were there to make sure tradition does not drift, the hemp was laid on the long sheets of white cotton:

Image: NSK Twitter

Tied off and anchored to the teppo pole:

Image: isegahama.net

But… more than one rope was being made. The other rope was red!

Image: Ajigawa oyakata

A red rope can only mean one thing: A Yokozuna is about to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Or, because this is the world of COVID, A Yokozuna is about to celebrate his 60th birthday a year or two after the fact.

In Japan, the 60th birthday, called “kanreki”, is a special occasion, and it is usually celebrated wearing something red – typically a red vest and big beret. But former Yokozuna get to celebrate it in a unique way – wearing a red tsuna, in their old style, and performing a dohyo-iri. Their assistants, the dew gatherer and sword bearer, are not mere rank-and-filers, but Yokozuna themselves, wearing their own tsuna. Most of the times, they are former Yokozuna, but on rare occasions, the 60-year old will have the privilege of being accompanied by active Yokozuna, as did the late Chiyonofuji in his kanreki dohyo-iri:

Isegahama oyakata turned 60 last year, and is now 61, and like all the oyakata who are waiting for their hair cutting ceremony, he is waiting for his kanreki dohyo-iri to be held, hopefully with spectators, as befits the occasion.

Back to Isegahama beya:

Video: Ajigawa oyakata

There is still no official date for Isegahama’s big event, but the rope is now ready.

Image: isegahama.net

And I think I will not be way off mark to think that at least one of the Yokozuna accompanying him there will be an active one.

Ah, yes. The white rope.

That one is actually the center of today’s attention. Here is a short video from the NSK summarizing Terunofuji’s big day:

Yeah, learning that dance isn’t easy.

Video: Ajigawa oyakata

Isegahama oyakata is apparently the only oyakata to have guided two of his own deshi in the Yokozuna dohyo-iri (Harumafuji and Terunofuji, in addition to Hakuho who is not his own disciple). Two Yokozuna from the same heya are relatively rare. Two Yokozuna from the same heya whose master was a Yokozuna is even rarer. Kitanofuji raised two Yokozuna, but his first (Chiyonofuji) was the one to guide his second (Hokutoumi).

It’s still unclear when Terunofuji’s first official dohyo-iri – the one performed at the end of the “suikyoshiki” ceremony at Meiji Grand Shrine in Tokyo – will take place. Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that Terunofuji was wearing one of his own Ozeki-era kesho-mawashi for this practice. And also, that Isegahama has borrowed one off of him. This means they have not as yet gone into the vault where, presumably, Asahifuji’s old kesho-mawashi sets are kept, and have not yet prepared a set for the suikyoshiki.

Congratulations to both the new and the old Yokozuna, may Terunofuji’s career be serene and his health as good as possible, and may Isegahama live a long and healthy life after his kanreki dohyo-iri, at least as long as Kitanofuji, and see more of his deshi and grand-deshi reach the highest rank of sumo.

10 thoughts on “A day of ropes at Isegahama beya

  1. So cool! And answering my previous question about the red tsuna. Isegahama looks like a very nice guy.

  2. It’s interesting to see how rare kanreki dohyo-iri at the Kokugikan are. Yokozuna sometimes leave the JSA orbit, die before the age of 60, or can’t complete the ceremony thanks to health problems.

    I can’t see Onokuni being fit to perform the dance in 2022, so the next two after Asahifuji (and the only two likely to occur in my lifetime) would be Hokutomi (2023) and Musashimaru (2031).

  3. When is the last time an active stablemaster had a kanreki attended by a yokozuna from his own stable?

  4. I have had a soft spot for him ever since I watched a teary Isegahama oyakata at the Harumafuji resignation press conference.
    Tears again, this time of joy, as he handed the victory banner to his deshi, Maegashira 17, Terunofuji, winner of the July basho last year.
    I would have loved to see him have his kanreki dohyo-iri flanked by both his yokozuna deshi, Harumafuji and Terunofuji, but sadly it is not to be.
    Yes, I do like Isegahama oyakata, I enjoyed watching him teach a very focussed, smiling Terunofuji the shiranui dohyo-iri.

    A big thank you to Herouth for keeping the community informed.

  5. Where is Takarafuji? Didn’t see him in any of the events and celebrations surrounding Teru’s ascension to Yokozuna.

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