Makuuchi fashion: Somenuki

Sumo fans in Tokyo and Nagoya really have access to something special. Starting in May and running through September, Makuuchi wrestlers turn the city streets into a catwalk of sorts. When arriving at the arena, our top-division favorites will stray from the formal kimono we often see and wear customized yukata, called somenuki (so-meh-new-key). The picture here comes from Tachiai reader, Rob Donner. It’s Sadanoumi in a brilliant purple yukata with this amazing, turbulent coastal design.

Sumo wrestler attire is subject to strict guidelines, especially when they’re at official events, like honbasho. We’re more familiar with them wearing hakama and haori, especially in the colder winter months. I was particularly struck by Chiyoshoma’s somenuki in this tweet, so I thought I would share with Tachiai readers. In contrast, Kinbozan is still wearing the hakama and haori that many are probably more familiar with. But at this time of year makuuchi wrestlers have the privilege of cutting loose on their way to work by ditching the standard stuff provided by the heya and wearing these yukata which are often provided by supporters and usually customized with their shikona.

My guess is that Kinbozan is so new to Makuuchi that he might not yet have much in the way of these custom threads. While some are quite simple, with just the shikona, many of them will feature very intricate designs with fantastic animals, landscapes, and other patterns. Endo’s for example, usually features the familiar shibaraku image of his Nagatanien sponsors. Sometimes, the front is simple, as might be the case with Asanoyama’s yukata here…but the back can be a whole different story. Think of the mullet: “business up front, party in the back.” That sentiment applies here sometimes, too. So we really need to get these guys to do their little turn so we can see who the partiers are.

I would love to retweet any of your examples of fantastic somenuki patterns, so @ me on Twitter @tachiai_blog and I will share. Maybe we can get a poll going for the most fashion-forward rikishi. Chiyoshoma is my early entry. Frankly, I love that mint green with the various colors in the mix of numbers. Do you have any others?

Andy’s brain when wrestlers do their little turn on the catwalk.

6 thoughts on “Makuuchi fashion: Somenuki

  1. Love this little nugget of sumo culture! Thanks! I’ve been enjoying some of these images but I didn’t realise there was a specific word for what I was seeing. It’s also been fun trying to work out who’s who behind their masks. I think I’ve done fairly well for what is only my sixth basho!

  2. The numbers one is sponsored by a high end watch maker, but I can’t recall which one. I think Chiyotairu used to have one. If you look through the NSK social media accounts, I’m sure you will find a photo of it, including the back.


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