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is a form of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
ese traditional haircut worn by men. It is most commonly associated with the Edo Period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...
, and in recent times with sumo
is a competitive full-contact sport where a wrestler attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally...
wrestlers. It was originally a method of using hair to hold a samurai helmet steady atop the head in battle, and became a status symbol among Japanese society.
A traditional Edo-era chonmage
featured a shaved pate. The remaining hair, which was long, was oiled and tied into a small ponytail which was folded onto the top of the head in the characteristic topknot.
In modern times, the only remaining wearers of the chonmage are sumo wrestlers. This style of chonmage
is slightly different, in that the pate is no longer shaved, although the hair may be thinned in this region to allow the topknot to sit more neatly.
Sumo wrestlers with sekitori
A sekitori is a sumo wrestler who is ranked in one of the top two professional divisions: makuuchi and juryo.Currently there are 70 rikishi in these divisions...
status are allowed, on certain occasions, to wear their hair in a more elaborate form of topknot called an oicho
or ginkgo leaf style, where the ends of the topknot are splayed out to form a semicircle. Given the uniqueness of the style in modern Japan, the Sumo Association employs specialist hairdressers called tokoyama
A tokoyama is a hairdresser employed by the Japan Sumo Association to cut and prepare sumo wrestlers' hair, which is done in a chonmage style...
to cut and prepare sumo wrestlers' hair.
is of such symbolic importance in sumo that snipping it off is the centerpiece of a wrestler's retirement ceremony. Dignitaries and other important people in a wrestler's life are invited to take one snip, with the final one taken by his trainer.