A Day in the Life of a Sumo Rikishi



What sort of life do rikishi lead in a sumo stable?

Except during official tournaments or tours, rikishi spend most of their time in their stables. All rikishi, despite their rank, train every day to polish their skills. Below is a typical schedule for a non-tournament day.

Wake up

toriteki (makushita-rank and under): 5:00-5:30 a.m.
sekitori (juryo-rank and above): 7:00-7:30 a.m.
Lower-ranked rikishi always get up first.

Training

toriteki: 6:00-9:30 a.m.
sekitori: 8:00-10:30 a.m.
Training begins with the lower ranks. Rikishi of the same or similar rank usually train together. If a sekitori helps a lower-ranked man with his training, he will often be offered a cup of water as a sign of thanks. Even when not training themselves, rikishi will watch others and strive to learn from them. Toriteki attend to sekitori by toweling them off, brushing sand from their backs, bringing them salt, sweeping the dirt in the ring, and taking care of other details.

Bath and meal

toriteki: 11 :30 a.m.-l :30 p.m.
sekitori: 11 :30 a.m.-l :00 p.m.
Sekitori bathe first. Their attendants wash them off. Meals are also eaten in order of rank, with the top wrestlers served by their attendants.

Afternoon nap

After a short period of free time, most rikishi take a nap until 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. Sekitori sometimes miss their naps if they are invited out or asked to attend special events.

Free time

After their naps, rikishi have free time. If the sekitori have no special outside appointments, they are completely free. Toriteki are often occupied with cleaning, supper duty, or errands for the sekitori. Otherwise, they are free and can go out as they please.

Supper

Usually somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

After supper

Free time. Attendants have jobs to do. Some stables have curfews, and everyone must be in by then.

Lights out

Although it depends on the stable, sekitori go to bed later than the lower-ranked men.

Is the rikishi lifestyle different on tournament days?

A little bit different. Basically, they get up later than usual, and they only train long enough to warm up.

Do rikishi return to their stables after their bouts?

Sekitori bathe before going home. Toriteki, who have bouts earlier in the day, also bathe, but stay if they are acting as sekitori attendants. If they have a long wait, they may go home first and then return. Attendants help dress sekitori in their mawashi (belt) and kesho-mawashi (formal aprons for the ring-entering ceremony). Other toriteki have jobs to attend to at their stables, such as preparing meals and cleaning.

Why do rikishi wear a topknot?

In 1871, all men were required to cut off their topknots, but the sumo world was exempted, and rikishi were allowed to retain the ancient hairstyle. The big ginkgo leaf style first appeared sometime between 1781 and 1801.

Why is the style called “big ginkgo leaf”?

It is so named because the tip of the topknot worn by top-ranked rikishi is fanned out into a shape that resembles the leaf of the ginkgo tree.

Who makes chanko (one pot meals)?

Makushita rikishi and under are in charge. Sometimes the lowest-ranked rikishi cook after their morning training sessions. They always have enough time because their training begins so early in the morning. They do not cut it short to help with chores.



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