<DATE> Contents

Attention to Akeni
Carolyn Todd
SFM's newest addition to the writing staff takes an in-depth look at akeni, their history and production techniques
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda slides former yokozuna Minanogawa under his SFM microscope
Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric's wit scythes through the SML and makes clear his opinion of where the future lies for online sumo forums.
Eternal Banzuke Phase II
Lon Howard
Stats, equations and mathematics all lead to a list of sumo's most prolific up and downers
Matta-Henka: Another View
Lon Howard
A row that will never be fully decided but Lon gives his impressions on it all the same
Heya Peek
Mark Buckton
Mihogaseki, former home of Estonian sekitori Baruto is toured (and peeked at) by SFM's Editor-in-Chief
SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews shin-komusubi Kokkai
Photo Bonanza
See the Nagoya basho and Akeni photo bonanzas
Nagoya Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Nagoya basho summary, along with the henka sightings results
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila casts his watchful eye over lower division goings on in makushita and below.
Aki Ones to Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn takes over the job of rikishi job performance prediction for SFM as she looks at those to keep an eye on come September
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Our man Mikko's latest trio of kimarite get thrown about the SFM literary dohyo
Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
Howard returns with the second of his columns on the amateur sumo scene.
Sumo Game
SFM's very own quiz comes in for a bit of self scrutiny by our secretive man of questions. We'll call him 'X'.
Sumo in Print
Barbara Ann Klein
SFM’s Editor reviews “The Little Yokozuna”, a book for “young” (and older) adults
Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Check out Todd's bimonthly focus on 3 of the WWW's best sumo sites
Fan Debate
Facilitator - Lon Howard
Keri Sibley and Eduardo de Paz  ponder the concept of ‘to pay or not to pay’ makushita salaries
SFM Cartoons
Stephen Thompson
Sit back and enjoy the offerings of one of sumo's premier artists
Lets Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? SFM’s own Todd Lambert details his path into sumofandom
Readers' Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last went out
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

Attention to Akeni
by Carolyn Todd

Photos by Carolyn Todd
cabinet to breathe but the frame made it sturdy. Only two of these cabinets are still in existence. They were popular in Tokyo but during WWII they were mostly destroyed.

Peeling Bamboo

Mr. W’s father used to work as a craftsman for a company, but he was frustrated as an employee and started his own workshop in 1932. At that time, boxes, and most other craft items, were made through the division of labour.   Each craftsman had a different role: one would make the frame; Mr. W’s father wove the bamboo, then passed the box along to the next craftsman who applied the washi paper, and so on until the boxes were finished.


In most sports, competitors tote their equipment, boots, racquets, or whatever, in technology-riddled bags produced by sports company sponsors. In sumo, however, they have to make do with bamboo and paper boxes designed in the Edo period (1603-1867). Unless you’ve got Japanese TV or you’ve seen a bunch of dressing room photos, you might never have seen these bright red and green boxes, known as akeni, which hold the kesho mawashi (the long, elaborate “apron” worn during the dohyo-iri), mawashi, and anything else a sekitori needs during a basho, but they’re yet another example of the history and tradition surrounding sumo. And, instead of multinational companies using multitudes of employees to churn out bags by the gazillion, sumo relies on the craftsmanship of only two men, Takekazu Watanabe and his son, Yoshikazu.

All sumo wrestlers strive to
obtain their first akeni and kesho mawashi as a rite of passage and 

symbol of their success, as only juryo and makunouchi wrestlers and gyoji are permitted to use them. Gyoji order their own akeni through their heya when they are promoted, but sekitori akeni are ordered by sponsors.

Akeni cost 100,000 yen per box from Mr. Watanabe (hereafter, “Mr. W”) but kesho mawashi makers sell akeni and kesho mawashi as a set, bumping up the price considerably. And what do you get for your yen? Akeni weigh about 15kg (33 pounds) empty and measure approximately 80 x 45 x 30 cm (31.5 x 18 x 12 inches), the perfect size to hold a kesho mawashi. 

This type of bamboo and paper box arrived from China around the 15th century. The oldest type of this box is called a tsuzura, and they were originally used to store clothes, traditionally kimono, because there were no closets.
Then a cabinet was developed with a wooden frame covered with the same woven bamboo as the boxes. This allowed the


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