Chiyonokuni and Momotaro

Sumo and art are intertwined and often those ties develop from deep cultural and historical roots. We were reminded of that relationship when Sanoyama-oyakata (newly retired Chiyonokuni) shared posts on Social Media where he showed off a retirement gift he received from the artist, Takishita Kazuyuki (瀧下和之).    Takishita’s body of work includes a series of paintings and figures based on the legend of Momotaro.

You may remember a post that I’d written in the past about Momotaro and Tsurugisho, whose first name is Momotaro. Tsurugisho adopted the name Momotaro because of the strong image evoked by the folk-hero who, along with his monkey, dog, and pheasant companions, battles the demons from the island of Oninoshima that had been pestering his home. He defeats them and returns with the demons’ leader.

An interesting aspect of Takishita’s works, “Momotaro-zu” (桃太郎図), is that it seems to come from an alternate Momotaro universe featuring the demons, occasionally pestered a bit by Momotaro’s animal companions – but seemingly devoid of Momotaro, himself. The demons take center stage in his works, as in the kessho mawashi worn by Chiyonokuni. Takishita’s work has been featured at several galleries museums and the art books, figurines, and other pieces are available from various sites.


I wish I had known of this connection before Chiyonokuni’s retirement because it would have offered up a great back story and new significance to a rivalry between Tsurugisho Momotaro and Chiyonokuni as the anti-Momotaro. Here, we have their first bout. Pretty lit there, no? Momotaro seemed mad at Kuni’s slaps.

Momotaro vs anti-Momotaro: Rivalry Initiated

However, this script gets flipped with today’s Social Media posts as they feature a new figurine. In this last frame we see a Yokozuna stomping on an oni. (This is a reminder to do your shiko.) I like to think that these new pieces are of Momotaro vanquishing the oni with his shiko. Pretty fierce there with the wild, asymmetrical eyes.

I do like his style. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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