Sumô Wrestler Prints,

Part I

 

Sumô (相撲) is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport.  It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto gods.  Many rituals with religious background are still followed today.  The basic rules of sumô are simple: The wrestler who first touches the mat with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet, or leaves the ring, loses.  The bouts usually last only a few seconds and in rare cases up to one minute or longer.  I am grateful to Robert Pryor for contributing to this section and to Yasu Takano for identifying many of the wrestlers.

 

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Wrestler: Ôzora Buzaemon (大武左衛門) pulling up a bamboo tree

Date: 1827

Publisher: Yamaguchiya Tobei

 

NOTE: Ôzora Buzaemon had an unusually short sumô career.  He appeared only in the 1827 spring season, losing all seven matches, and retired immediately.

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) Mutsugamine Iwanosuke, 1853

 

Wrestler: Mutsugamine Iwanosuke (六ツヶ峰岩之助)

Date: 4th month of 1853

Publisher: Yamaguchi-ya Tôbei

 

Wrestler: Mutsugamine Iwanosuke (六ツヶ峰岩之助) in street attire

Date: 3rd month of 1852

Publisher: Kamaya-ya Kihei

 

This state of the above design has the seal of the publisher Koga-ya Katsugorô in the right lower corner.

 

Kamaya-ya Kihei

Koga-ya Katsugorô

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) Inagawa Masanosuke, 1845-6, pub

 

Wrestler: Inagawa Masanosuke (猪名川 政之助)

Date: 1845-1846

Publisher: Maru-ya Seijirô

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) sumô Wrestler Koyanagi Tsunekichi

 

Wrestler: Koyanagi Tsunekichi (小柳常吉)

Date: c. 1845-1846

Publisher: Maru-ya Seijirô

 

Wrestler: Shiranui Dakuemon (不知火諾エ門)

Date: c. 1845-1846 (censor Fakatsu Ihei)

Publisher: Maru-ya Seijirô

 

 

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) Nioarashi in professional attire (Marugame Genkai aratame Nioarashi Isogoro)

 

Wrestler: Nioarashi Isogoro (鳰嵐磯五郎) in professional attire (Marugame genkai aratame Nioarashi Isogoro)

Date: 1845

Publisher: Nishimura Yohachi

 

Wrestler: Arauma Kichigorô (荒馬吉五郎)

Date: c. 1839-1840

Publisher:

 

 

Wrestler: Unryű Kyűkichi (雲龍久吉)

Date: 1851 (censors Mera and Watanabe)

Publisher: Maru-ya Seijirô

 

NOTE: The name雲龍久吉 may also be read as Unryű Hisakichi.

 

Wrestler: Sendagawa Yoshizô

Text: Kishű, Sendagawa Yoshizô (紀州, 千田川吉蔵)

Date: 3rd month of 1855

Publisher: Tsuta-ya Jűzaburô

 

Wrestler: Inagawa Masanosuke (稲川政之助)

Date: 1837-1842

Publisher:

 

 

 

 

 

Wrestler: Shingari Katsugorô (肥後 殿勝五郎)

Date: 5th month of 1853 

Publisher: Kama-ya Kihei

 

 

Wrestler: Iozan Moriemon (猪王山森右工門)

Date: 5th month of 1856

Publisher: Yamada-ya Shôjirô

 

NOTE: This is a finished drawing for a woodblock print.

Oniwaka Rikinosuke

 

Wrestler: Oniwaka Rikinosuke (鬼若 力之助)

Date: c. 1850-1852

Publisher: Maru-ya Seijirô

 

NOTE: Oniwaka Rikinosuke was an extremely large child who participated in the ring entering ceremony (dohyo-iri) in the early 1850s.

Daidozan Bungoro, Famous Boy Sumo Wrestler

 

Wrestler: Oniwaka Rikinosuke (鬼若 力之助)

Date: c. 1850-1852

Publisher: Musashi-ya Isaburô

 

 

Wrestler: Oniwaka Rikinosuke (鬼若 力之助) in sumô attire

Date: c. 1850-1851 (censors Fuku and Muramatsu)

Publisher: Owari-ya Seishichi

 

 

Wrestler: Oniwaka Rikinosuke (鬼若 力之助) in street attire

Date: c. 1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

Publisher: Enami

Wrestler: Oniwaka Rikinosuke (鬼若 力之助) at age eight with his giant hand print

Date: 1849 (based on Oniwaka Rikinosuke’s age and the seals of censors Fuku and Muramatsu)

Publisher: Matsu-ya

Another state of the above design.  Note that the hand print is entirely different. 

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) Nioarashi Isogoro in street clothes (Marugame Genkai aratame Nioarashi Isogoro), pub

 

Title:  Maru Game Nioarashi aratame Koshinômi Isogorô (丸亀 鳰嵐 越ノ海 磯五郎)

Date: c. 1830

Publisher: Nishimura Yohachi

 

 

 

An alternate state of the above design with the wrestler’s name given as Nioarashi Isogorô (鳰嵐磯五郎).

 

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Kuniyoshi - (sumô) Ikezuki Geitazaemon, the big wrestler

 

Title: Ikezuki Geitazaemon (生月 鯨太左ェ門), the big wrestler

Date: c. 1844 (censor Watanabe Shôemon)

Publisher: Hon-ya Genpachi

 

Note: Ikezuki Geitazaemon was not a skilled sumô wrestler, but was a giant who was brought to Edo about 1844 as a special attraction to conduct a ring entering ceremony (dohyo-iri). 

Kuniyoshi - (sumô) w0000015

 

Wrestler: Ikezuki Geitazaemon (生月 鯨太左ェ門) in street attire

Date: 1844

Publisher: Sa (phonetic pronunciation of )

Kuniyoshi - Sumô wrestler Ôzora Buzaemon

 

Wrestler: Ôzora Buzaemon (大武左衛門)

Date: 1827

Publisher: Yamaguchi-ya Tobei

 

NOTE: Ôzora Buzaemon had an unusually short sumô career.  He appeared only in the 1827 spring season, losing all seven matches, and retired immediately.

Kuniyoshi - (sumo) The yearly wrestling meeting (Sumo Nenki), showing Raigen-dayu, probably a veteran wrestler or an umpire, in a dark robe, seated with his hands in his lap (title framed with symbols of longevity)

 

Title: Sumô Toshiyori Ikazuchi Gondaiyu (相撲 年寄 雷権太夫)

Description: The yearly wrestling meeting (sumo toshiyori, 相撲 年寄), showing Ikazuchi Gondaiyu (権太夫), a veteran wrestler or an umpire, in a dark robe, seated with his hands in his lap.  The title cartouche is framed with symbols of longevity.

Date: 2nd month of 1858

Publisher: Yamaguchi-ya Tobei (山口屋藤兵衛)

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“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.

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