Sumo Gyoji costume

Does the gyoji have a uniform?

Yes. The outfit the gyoji wears is called gyoji sozoku or “costume of ancient nobles,” and it is required dress for gyoji in the ring. The gown and hat are a part of the costume, as is the all-important gunbai.


Are costumes different depending on gyoji rank?

There are eight gyoji ranks, and the differences are evident in the colors of the rosettes on their costumes which match the color of the tassels on their gunbai. Rosettes are the round decorations on the breast, collar, and back of the gown. There are also tassels on the tie for the hat, and on the breast and sleeves of the gown. All tassels in a gyoji’s costume and accessories are of the same color. There are no other rules on colors for gyoji sozoku.

  Rank Tassel Color Footwear
1 tate-gyoji   a. Kimura Shonosuke all purple tabi, sandals, short dagger
                   b. Shikimori Inosuke purple and white tabi, sandals, short dagger
2 san ‘yaku crimson tabi and sandals
3 makuuchi red and white tabi only
4 juryo green tabi only
5 makushita black or green bare feet
6 sandanme black or green bare feet
7 jonidan black or green bare feet
8 jonokuchi black or green bare feet

Gyoji of makushita rank and below all have the same color of tassels and they wear nothing on their feet. Juryo rank and above wear summer costumes of thin linen fabric and winter costumes of heavy silk. Lower ranks wear gowns of cotton year in and year out. Juryo and above wear trousers that are long and open. Trousers for lower ranks are fitted at the knees. All sleeves are the same; all are tied with the tassels colored to indicate rank.

Why do the tate-gyoji carry short daggers?

The dagger in the sash of the tate-gyoji indicates that he is willing to assume responsibility for a mistaken call by taking his own life. This implies that the bouts of ozeki and yokozuna are so important that the gyoji must demonstrate his determination to referee fairly and accurately. In reality, gyoji submit reports on their mistaken calls, and are never required to commit ritual suicide. They have, however, been known to quit over a disputed bout.

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