[sumo] Tokutsuumi's dampatsu-shiki today [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Catherine.Wallace at dfat.gov.au Catherine.Wallace at dfat.gov.au
Sun Oct 5 20:46:39 EDT 2008

Thanks Doreen for that very interesting and warm account of the ceremony.

Catherine Wallace
キャサリン ウォレス

Doreen Simmons <jz8d-smmn at asahi-net.or.jp> 
Sent by: sumo-bounces at webtrek.com
05/10/2008 07:40 PM
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[sumo] Tokutsuumi's dampatsu-shiki today [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

I went along to the Kokugikan today for a very warm and successful
retirement ceremony for Tokitsuumi, who was forced to step into the
position of Tokitsukaze as the stablemaster last year. The unusually
long wait seems to have been a good idea, as todays events were
distanced from then.

I didn't get an advance ticket but went to the window and bought the
most expensive ticket on sale, 9,000 yen for one cushion  in a
four-seat  C-seki box  -- and had it to myself the whole time, as did
the man in the next one. All the others were full of people, many of
them first-timers. Getting around was a bit of a problem since the
narrow paths between masu-seki  were full of shoes, bags and paper cups
of beer. To my surprise there was a good showing of people upstairs.
Some of these dampatsu-shiki events get hardly anybody in the chair

Th event started with all the yobidashi of the Tokitsukaze ichimon
doing a bit of drumming and calling out the names of the men appearing

Then a knock-out tournament of 16 sandanme and makushita -- obviously
someone had put up a money prize that was worth getting -- this was
some of the best sumo of the day. It was won by Sotairyu.

Then the traditional songs, sumo jinku, sung by six men below sekitori
rank, dressed up in the kesho-mawashi of their seniors. Tochinoyama was
the oldest; I didn't recognise all the others and had to figure who was
which by checking out which heya the owner of the kesho-mawashi
belonged to.

After that, shokkiri, spoof sumo. Hayasegawa and Kongofuji were the
'contestants', and the gyoji taking part in the fun was Kimura Seiji.
This will probably be his last, since he will go up to juryo-kaku in
January and shokkiri will be beneath his dignity. Incidentally, the
lower-ranked rikishi doing this act are allowed to wear their hair in
the oicho-mage, the fan-shaped style, of the sekitori. Anybody know the
other cases where this happens?

Then we saw a real ochicho-mage being formed by a tokoyama, with
Toyonoshima as the "model" -- that's what the program said.

Already running late, the juryo dohyo-iri followed, then an exhibition
of solo taiko drumming by yobidashi Jiro.

There was a short and moving final appearance on the dohyo of
Tokitsuumi in a kesho-mawashi. He held the hands of his two young sons,
also in their own size of kesho-mawashi.  While they stood there, a
specially-written jinku was sung from below the dohyo by Toyozakura.
(It was also printed on the front of the program.)

Then the juryo bouts (with only two judges, east and west), after which
the retiree got on the dohyo with the head of his supporters' club who
made a speech. Then a chair was brought for Tokitsuumi to sit on in the
middle of the dohyo, and -- to everyone's surprise, a group of students
walked in and lined up at the sides of the dohyo, carrying green
pompoms in one hand and large  daikons (giant radishes) in the other,
and prepared to give a rah-rah performance normally reserved for the
Tokyo Agricultural University's baseball matches. A long time later (or
so it seemed) the students left, the deputy chief gyoji got up carrying
the the wooden tray and the gold-plated scissors, and the haircut
began. I started my stopwatch, watched the first few and spent the next
40 minutes going around checking on the stalls. They were doing good
business with so many excited first-timers. I bought a pack of cards,
guessing, rightly, that they were the end of the run and still
contained the three Russians. Earlier I had gone for a beer, and
standing in a second floor doorway looking down at the action was Hiro
Morita, one of the play-by-play men I work with. Surprised to see him
there, I asked him if he was covering the event, and he said no, during
the actual haircut the sekitori, the gyoji and the oyakata were going
to the sumo training school at the rear of the stadium for the promised
session on tachiai, and he was there to cover that. Brilliant idea, as
they all had to be there anyway, and knew they'd have over an hour to

The haircutting went on for about an hour and a half, and we were told
that 300 men had each taken a tiny snip. These included long-retired
ozeki Kitabayama, who got a big cheer. Finally came the representative
of the ichimon, Isenoumi oyakata, the representative of the Rikishikai
-- big surprise -- Asashoryu, in his silk tournament mawashi, to
tumultuous cheers the whole time he was in. Stopped on the way out to
sign one autograph for a small boy. Then Tosanoumi and Shimotori, and
finally, to make the final cuts that would detach the whole mage, the
last-but-one master, former ozeki Yutakayama, looking only a bit older
and with calm dignity. He'd done this job quite a few times before, and
soon the two stood side by side and bowed to the front, east, rear,
west and front again. Inosuke, having stood there with the tray and
scissors for all that time, got down and probably rested his poor legs
for a while. Tokitsuumi, now really Tokitsukaze, took a sheet of paper
from his sleeve and read his own short speech of thanks, bowed and
walked out (to get a real haircut).

Then it was just regular makuuchi sumo, but in a cut-down form. The
dohyo-iri was gone through at about twice the usual speed, with the
names being called out by a gyoji who had clearly been told to get it
moving. It was scheduled for 2:30 but by the time it started it was
3:17. Another pleasant surprise -- after Hakuho's dohyo-iri, in came
Asashoryu, and again the crowd showed its appreciation. He didn't take
part n the bouts, of course, but I think it was a lesson for both sides
how pleased the people are to see a yokozuna in the flesh.

An "extra" came after: an in-heya match between Toyonoshima and
Tokitenku. Oe of the best bouts of the day. Toyo won but it was close.

Then in came two judges, and we had the full makuuchi bouts except that
the warm-up time was only a couple of minutes and most of the sumo was
pretty samey. There's no point in telling you the scores because these
bouts don't count.

The whole thing ended half an hour late, at 4:30. I hope it had
awakened the interest of some new fans.

Doreen Simmons
jz8d-smmn at asahi-net.or.jp

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