What is the Yumitori-shiki ceremony in Grand Sumo?

Sumo is a traditional sport in Japan, with origins dating back to ancient times. It is believed to have started as a ritual to dedicate to the gods and pray for a good harvest. Among them, the "Yumitori-shiki" is a traditional ceremony held after the final match of the day, loved by many for its beauty and symbolism.

The Yumitori-shiki, literally meaning "bow-taking ceremony", is held after the matches are over to celebrate victory and express gratitude to the gods. The ceremony involves a sumo wrestler holding a large wooden bow and performing specific movements. This ritual symbolizes the wrestler swinging the bow and driving away demons with arrows.

There are several reasons why the Yumitori-shiki is important. First, it symbolizes the spiritual aspect of sumo. Sumo is not just a sport, but a cultural phenomenon that includes religious elements. Therefore, the Yumitori-shiki emphasizes this religious aspect and shows respect to the gods at the end of the match.

In addition, the Yumitori-shiki provides visual beauty. The sight of a wrestler swinging a large bow is spectacular and leaves a deep impression on the audience.

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Details of the Yumitori-shiki

The Yumitori-shiki, or bow-taking ceremony, is a beautiful and symbolic tradition in sumo wrestling. Here's a simplified explanation of the process:

1. Appearance of the Bow Wrestler: The wrestler performing the Yumitori-shiki sits on the east or west side, depending on who won the final match of the day.

2. Receiving the Bow: The wrestler receives a large wooden bow from the Gyoji. 

3. Swinging the Bow: The wrestler swings the bow. This symbolizes driving away demons with arrows.

4. Shiko(Stomping): The wrestler performs a stomping motion called "shiko". This is a basic move in sumo that demonstrates strength and balance.

When the bow is dropped, it is picked up with the foot without using the hands, so as not to touch the dohyo (sumo ring) with the hands.

So, in essence, the Yumitori-shiki is a ceremony where a wrestler swings a large bow to symbolize driving away evil spirits, and performs a stomping motion to show strength and balance. It's a beautiful tradition that adds depth to the sport of sumo

The History and Cultural Significance of Yumitori-shiki

The Yumitori-shiki is a traditional ceremony that concludes a day's matches at a Grand Sumo Tournament. This ceremony takes place after the last match of the day, showcasing a dance to celebrate the victory.

The origins of the Yumitori-shiki can be traced back to the Heian period. At that time, the Left and Right Imperial Guards would wrestle, and the referee, carrying arrows, would perform a dance to celebrate the winner. This tradition formed the prototype of the modern Yumitori-shiki in 1791 when the second Yokozuna, Tanikaze Kajinosuke, received a bow on the dohyo at an exhibition sumo match for Tokugawa Ienari and "respectfully swung it around in all directions."

In the Yumitori-shiki, a sumo wrestler swings a bow without a string in a grand manner, displaying a brave figure. The ceremony concludes with the audience's shout of "Yoisho~!" and the wrestler stomping his feet.

The Yumitori-shiki also serves as an effective means to prompt spectators to leave, preventing crowd congestion and stampede accidents.

From this perspective, the Yumitori-shiki is an important symbolic element in Japanese culture and forms a traditional part of Grand Sumo. It is a tradition that has continued from its historical origins to modern times and also functions as an entertainment element for spectators.

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