Top Rank Sumo Wrestler Wows Fans with Ghostly Kimono

29 Jul

By James (“I am Lame”) Shaw 

Born in Tottori in Tottori Prefecture, Ishiura Masakatsu is that region’s pride and joy, not only because he is within the top ranks of Japan’s professional sumo league but because he won the “Fighting Spirit” prize at November’s Kyūshū basho in Fukuoka. Having the least amount of weight in the top division (260lbs), the wrestler from Miyaginobeya (beya meaning “stable” which is a home that sumo wrestlers live in both full and part time) has done considerably well for one who got a late start in the sport at the age of 23. Ishiura had no plans to enter sumo but changed his mind after seeing many wrestlers from his amateur days turn professional.

Here is Ishiura facing bigger-sized rikishi (sumo wrestler) Gagamaru:

Ishiura is also as active on social media as he is in the ring. He’s previously contributed videos for fans to enjoy. One of those videos involved his stable mates playing arcade games. And it was on his Twitter account where he showed off two beautiful kimonos recently presented to him. Both are of original design by Japanese artists.

On April 23, 2017 free hand tattoo artist Gakkin posted on his Instagram:

The day of of presentation came on July 27th when Ishiura posted on his Twitter account:


In the tweet he thanks both Gakkin and fellow tattoo artist Akilla for the kimonos.

Ghostly Kimono

I believe Gakkin’s kimono uses female ghosts from Japanese folklore but as of this time, I do no know which ones. It is entirely possible the ghosts depicted on the kimono with the grey background is using characters of his own creation.

Notice the unnatural twisting of the body of the deceased character. And take note how the depiction of blood isn’t just random splatter but placed selectively and almost resembles red flowers.

The ghost in the photo below reminds me of Oiwa, the character from the Kabuki drama Yatsuya kaidan. In this tale Oiwa is married to a ronin (a samurai without a master) named Iemon. Iemon wants to marry a rich local’s daughter who has fallen in love with him. To make the marriage possible, Iemon poisons his wife but she does not die from the poison, instead her hair begins to fall out and she becomes horribly disfigured. On seeing her reflection she dies after falling on a sword only to return to the earth as a spirit to seek revenge on her former husband.

Rabbit Kimono

This blue kimono by Akilla has Japanese kanji written on the front bottom half with a white rabbit wearing a red mawashi (a mawashi is a loin cloth worn by wrestlers in the sport of sumo). The letters in kanji may spell out the name of Ishiura Masakatsu.

On the back, the rabbit in the red mawashi is balancing himself on what appears to be sharks in the ocean.

This scene reminds me of the tale of Okuninushi and the Rabbit. It is where servant Okuninushi meets a rabbit at Cape Keta in Inaba. There Okuninushi takes pity on the rabbit who is suffering greatly. The rabbit crossed to the mainland from the island of Oki. He had done so by tricking the sharks in the surrounding waters to let him climb upon their backs and count them, only to have his skin ripped off by the last shark after prematurely revealing his trickery. It is a very good tale and a much more explained version can be found here.

If any of our readers can tell us the meaning of the crane in the rabbit kimono, can read the kanji, or can tell us what ghosts are depicted on the ghostly kimono, please drop us a message. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

One Response to “Top Rank Sumo Wrestler Wows Fans with Ghostly Kimono”

  1. JJ 2019-10-24 at 5:40 am #

    Probably too late to be of any interest, but the kanji on the kimono (both front and back) simply say ‘Ishiura’.


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