Sumo’s Female Executives: Okamisan

Among the long list of expectations Yokozuna Akebono faced were that he become a Japanese citizen and that, believe it or not, he get married. Japanese citizenship is a requirement for oyakata [‘stable bosses’], which as a yokozuna [‘grand champion’] he was almost certain to become. While marriage is not an actual Kyōkai [‘Association’] requirement for its oyakata, tradition dictates that one must be married; it is understood that a heya [‘stable’] cannot be run by an oyakata alone. An oyakata’s okamisan [‘headmistress’] does far more than act as a kind of mom away from mom for the heya’s deshi [‘apprentices’], many of whom are still kids. In many cases, the okamisan is a sumo-beya’s primary administrator. She organizes kōenkai [‘fan club’] functions and dinners with other friends and supporters. She can also be involved in recruitment. If the heya has a sekitori [‘paid professional’], she organizes everything related to his promotion parties and his wedding—sometimes right down to introducing prospective brides. In many cases, she handles all of the money coming through the heya. Hers is the only position of importance and respect for any woman in the Nihon Sumo Kyōkai.

SOURCE: Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan, by Mark Panek (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2006), p. 230

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Filed under Hawai'i, Japan, sumo

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