White Sumo Wrestler
• THE WHITE BIRD •
as he has the ring, Hakuho, the greatest sumotori in the field, possibly the greatest when you look at the reputation for the planet, dances like a tropical bird, like a bird of paradise. Flanked by two attendants — his tachimochi, whom carries their blade, and his tsuyuharai, or dew sweeper, just who keeps the way in which obvious for him — and wearing their embroidered apron, the kesho-mawashi, using its braided cords and intricate loops of line, Hakuho climbs on the trapezoidal block of clay, two legs large and nearly 22 feet across, in which he will be battling. Right here, marked off by rice-straw bales, is the group, the dohyo, which he has been taught to imagine while the top of a skyscraper: One step within the line and then he is dead. A Shinto priest purified the dohyo ahead of the competition; above, a six-ton canopy suspended from arena’s roof, a kind of floating temple roof, marks it as a sacred space. Colored tassels hang from canopy’s corners, representing the Four Divine Beasts regarding the Chinese constellations: the azure dragon of the east, the vermilion sparrow associated with the south, the white tiger of the western, the black tortoise of the north. On the canopy, off-center and lit with spotlights, flies the white-and-red flag of Japan.
Hakuho bends into a-deep squat. He claps two times, after that rubs his fingers together. He turns his palms slowly upward. He is bare-chested, 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds. Their tresses is drawn up in a topknot. Their smooth tummy strains contrary to the coiled gear at their waist, the literal referent of his ranking: yokozuna, horizontal line. Rising, he lifts his right arm diagonally, palm down seriously to show he is unarmed. He repeats the motion along with his remaining. He lifts their right knee high into the air, tipping his torso to the left like a watering can, then slams their base onto the clay. With regards to strikes, the crowd of 13, 000 souls inside the Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s nationwide sumo arena, shouts in unison: “Yoisho!” — seriously! Do it! He slams down their other foot: “Yoisho!” It’s just as if the power of his fat is striking the crowd inside tummy. Then he squats again, hands presented on winglike at his sides, and bends ahead at waist until his back is near parallel with the floor. Imagine somebody playing plane with a tiny child. With weird, sliding thrusts of his feet, he inches forward, gliding throughout the ring’s sand, raising and lowering their head in a manner that’s vaguely serpentine while gradually straightening their back. Once he’s upright once again, the crowd is booming.
In 265 many years, 69 men happen promoted to yokozuna. Simply 69 since George Washington was an adolescent. Just the holders of sumo’s greatest rank are allowed to make entrances like this. Formally, the objective of the fancy dohyo-iri will be chase away demons. (And this is something you really need to register about sumo, a sport with TV contracts and hundreds of thousands in revenue and fan blog sites and professional athletes in yogurt commercials — it’s at the same time a hobby for which demon-frightening are something’s official function.) But the ceremony is territorial on a person amount, too. It’s an email sent to adversaries, an easy method of saying This band is mine, an easy method of saying be ready for what are the results if you’re crazy adequate to enter it.