|Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine|
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What's this? Overview of the Fukagawa Hachimangu Shrine in Koto Ward, Tokyo and its ties to sumo.
To commemorate its historic ties to sumo, the shrine has two monuments dedicated to sumo. One is the Yokozuna Monument (Yokozuna Rikishi-hi) and the other is the Ozeki Monument (Ozeki Rikishi-hi).
The Yokozuna Monument (right picture) consists of a few large slabs of stone inscribed with the ring name, hometown, and yokozuna promotion date of each yokozuna grand champion who have attained this lofty rank since the Edo Period in the 18th century.
The centerpiece is a 3.5-meter tall, 20-ton monument made in 1900 by the 12th yokozuna Jinmaku Kyugoro after collecting donations from business and political circles.
After the inscriptions of 45 yokozuna names (up to Wakanohana I) filled the original monument, two new monument slabs were built alongside the original monument in 1983. Each time a new yokozuna was promoted, his name was inscribed onto the monument. No ceremony was held for the inscription of a new yokozuna's name.
But after Takanohana was promoted to yokozuna in November 1994, many people called the shrine to ask when the name would be inscribed. Shrine parishioners also suggested holding a name-inscription ceremony with Takanohana himself in attendance. The proposal was submitted to the Japan Sumo Association which promptly agreed to the idea and decided to also have all former yokozuna still living to attend as well.
On April 23, 1995, the shrine's Yokozuna Monument was inscribed with the name of the newest and 65th yokozuna, Takanohana. To commemorate the occasion, the shrine and the Japan Sumo Association held a formal Shinto ceremony (Kokumei-shiki or Name Inscription Ceremony) at the shrine with former and current yokozuna in attendance.
On the day of the ceremony, security was tight. The perimeter of the shrine grounds was roped off and guarded by police. Spectators could enter only through the main entrance under the torii. This was where our personal effects were searched by police. Police were everywhere within the shrine as well. (The sarin gas attack in the subway had occurred not too long before.)
The crowd lined the short route from the torii to the shrine. The ceremony started at 11:00 a.m. with a procession of Shinto priests, former yokozunas, Akebono, Takanohana, and local dignitaries. Fourteen former yokozuna and the two current yokozuna attended the ceremony.
L-R: Dewanoumi (former yokozuna Sadanoyama), former Wakanohana I, Taiho, and former Kitanofuji lead the sumo contingent into the shrine.
Akebono and Takanohana proceed to the Shrine.
Former Yokozuna Kotozakura and Kashiwado were absent. (Former yokozuna Wajima and Kitao, although still living, were not invited because they are not Sumo Association members. Their names, however, remain on the Monument.)
Other members of the exclusive yokozuna club were on hand: former Sadanoyama (Stablemaster Dewanoumi and the Japan Sumo Association Chairman), former Wakanohana I, former Tochinoumi, Taiho, Kitanoumi, former Kitanofuji, former Mienoumi, former Wakanohana II, former Takanosato, former Chiyonofuji, former Hokutoumi, former Onokuni, and former Asahifuji. Former Chiyonofuji drew the most oohs and aahs while Akebono awed everyone with his sheer size as he towered above everyone in the procession.
The procession proceeded to the shrine and entered the shrine hall where Shinto prayers were held to inform the gods. Then they went outside and gathered in front of the Yokozuna Monument behind the shrine where the name-inscription ceremony was held.
The public was unable to witness the ceremonies because it was physically impossible to accommodate everyone. We instead stood patiently along the path between the torii and shrine and waited until the ceremonies ended so we could see the procession pass by again as they left the shrine.
During the hour or so of waiting, we were twice entertained by sumo jinku (sumo folk songs) by a small group. The first song was about Akebono and the other was about Takanohana.
After the ceremonies ended and the procession left, the police disappeared and we were allowed to see the Yokozuna Monument and Takanohana's newly-inscribed name right next to Akebono's. (See right picture.)
As for the Ozeki Monument, it is dedicated to sumo's second highest rank (photo here). Built during the Meiji Period by two prominent kabuki actors, it consists of a few stone slabs inscribed with over 100 names of Ozeki champions like Kirishima and Konishiki (from Hawaii). One stone slab has hand prints and foot prints of sumo wrestlers.
A visit to Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine is a must for sumo fans.
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Last modified: 2004-05-15