July 27

Mawashi

The sacred Belt of Sumo

Hemp used in cultural practices is still relevant today. Sumo wrestlers wear a mawashi, a large belt or loincloth, as part of their traditional costume. The mawashi, or belt is made from lightweight, yet very strong, hemp that is woven in a special way to give it a unique texture.The outside is wrapped with sarashi cloth, but there is about 15 kg of hemp inside.The wrestlers rub hemp fiber with rice bran to make them into threads, and then twist them to make the mawashi. They spend two days making it themselves. The material is also believed to bring good luck to the wrestler also providing a grip for the wrestlers to hold on to during their matches, and helps protect the wrestler from their opponent’s throws.

The tsuna is an official clothing worn by a sumo champion, also known as a Yakuzuna. The paper rectangles are made up of five strands of a hemp rope that has been tied together. This clothing, like that of a semi-god, provides the wearer with a high level of status. The highest ranking sumo wrestler in Japan, is honored with this special clothing around his waist for the ceremonial events to show his dedication to the Kami (God/spirits), with the ring purified by the great sumo, and his sacred hemp belt the match may begin.