Sumo Wrestlers Tanikaze and Onogawa with Referee Kimura Shonosuke
by Katsukawa Shunsho
Edo period, 18th century
Large-size nishiki-e print
(Tokyo National Museum)
Sumo matches between the early grand champions (yokozuna) Tanikaze and Onogawa drew great crowds and became subjects to be recounted by professional storytellers and written about in story magazines. This print is somewhat different from ordinary "sumo pictures" (sumo-e). The referee (gyoji) has given the signal for the match to start by turning around the staff (gumbai) he holds in his hand, but Onogawa still has not risen although Tanikaze already has. The match shown in this print was probably a so-called tenran-zumo match performed before the shogun within the grounds of the Edo Castle in the summer of 1791. It is said that Onogawa was declared by the referee to have "lost" this match before it was really begun because he had indicated he wanted more preparation time.