How can you tell the differences in sumo ranks?
Salary, hairstyle, clothing, footwear, belt, attendants, meals, etc. All of these and more (see below) are determined based on rank. It is said that in the world of sumo, rank means everything.
The big ginkgo leaf (oitcho) hairstyle
Sekitori do their hair in the big ginkgo leaf style, toriteki do theirs in a simple topknot.
yukata (simple kimono)
lonokuchi and jonidan wear only a yukata all year round. Makushita get to wear a muffler and coat. At tournaments, sekitori wear dressier kimono, while toriteki dress in yukata.
haori (jacket worn over kimono)
Worn from the rank of sandanme.
hakama (trousers worn over kimono)
Sekitori ranks only.
obi (sash for kimono or yukata)
Sandanme and below wear a simple obi. Makushita and above wear one with a finer weave. Yokozuna wear a fine silk obi.
lonokuchi andjonidan wear wooden sandals (geta) with bare feet. Sandanme wear plastic tatami-stylesandals (setta). Makushita can wear sandals lined with real tatami made from the skin of the bamboo.
Makushita and above wear tabi with their sandals. The lower three ranks have bare feet all year round.
Practice belt (keiko mawashi)
Makushita and under wear black or dark purple belts, butjuryo and above train in white belts. Juryo and makushita and under all wear practice belts of cotton, but you can tell ranks apart by color.
Only sekitori have ring-entering ceremonies.
Shimekomi is the belt used during official bouts . Makushita ranks and under wear their practice belts for all competition. Juryo and above have special shimekomi belts made of silk.
sagari (strands on belts)
Juryo and above have elegant starched strands. Those of lower ranks are unstarched and limp.
kesho-mawashi (long, embroidered apron)
Sekitori wear kesho-mawashi for ring-entering ceremonies. Toriteki have neither kesho -mawashi nor ring-entering ceremonies.
Only sekitori have salaries. Lower ranks have none, because they are “sumo trainees.”
Only sekitori have personal attendants. At official tournaments, juryo have 2-3 attendants, makuuchi have 2-5, and a yokozuna will have 7-10 men looking after him. Numbers depend on the stable and whether a tournament is underway. Attendants are rikishi of makushita rank and below.
A sekitori have a private room at his stable. Toriteki ranks live together in large, communal rooms.
Number of bouts in an official tournament
Sekitori have fifteen; lower ranks have only seven.
All makuuchi rikishi have a large, personalized cushion that they use when sitting ringside. Juryo men do not have their own. They are provided with a soft, thick cushion, but it is used by other juryo rikishi, too. Makushita rank and under have a thin, board-like item to sit on, but not what one would call a “cushion.”
Wicker trunk (akeni)
All sekitori have a lacquered wicker trunk to keep their possessions in. Makushita and under tie theirs up in a piece of cloth.
Juryo and above are rinsed off by their attendants. Makushita and under wash themselves.
The top rikishi eat first. Sekitori are served by the lower ranks.
Only yokozuna and ozeki arrive at tournaments in a car, probably because there are so few parking spaces. The JSA seems determined to have parking available at least for their top drawing cards.
shinkansen (bullet train)
When traveling to other cities for tournaments and touring events, sekitori get special treatment. Makuuchi ride in first class, while others travel in the regular cars.
What do attendants do?
They take care of the details of the lives of sekitori: wash their underwear, serve their meals, assist them in the bath, clean their rooms, and run other errands. During tournaments, attendants help sekitori into and out of their belts, carry their cushions to the ring.
What do sekitori do in return for their attendants?
Sekitori are duty-bound to help their attendants train. They also teach them about the sumo world, take them out for meals, provide pocket money, and listen to their problems.
Who chooses attendants?
There is often a duty schedule, but the stablemaster makes the choices. Sometimes he may change all the attendants for a tournament, only make a few changes, or make no changes at all.