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A tokoyama dressing the hair of Takayasu for an audience. Da Xiang Pu Chuan Qi Chang Suo 2017 (33234081643).jpg
A tokoyama dressing the hair of Takayasu for an audience.

A tokoyama (床山) is a hairdresser employed by the Japan Sumo Association to cut and prepare sumo wrestlers' hair, which is done in the chonmage style. [1] [2] The Sumo Association ranks them according to experience and ability and only the most senior tokoyama are entitled to prepare the more ornate ōichō, or ginkgo leaf form of topknot, which sekitori -ranked wrestlers wear in their bouts and on other formal occasions. Tokoyama employ similar hairstyling techniques to those found in the construction of nihongami , and are expected to be on hand to fix the chonmage of sumo wrestlers during bouts.[ citation needed ]


The term tokoyama can also be used in its original form, which was for specialists who worked in hairstyling in kabuki.

Ranks and training

There are a total of about 50 tokoyama employed by the Sumo Association, and as in sumo and most other Japanese disciplines, they are divided into ranks. Just as with gyōji , yobidashi and most any other sumo-related job, each tokoyama is attached to a sumo stable and has his own shikona . All of the shikona start with the kanji in their names, pronounced toko. This kanji is also used for tokoya, a more traditional word for hairdresser in Japan.

The training for a tokoyama is lengthy, taking about 10 years. Beginners start at level 5 (五等, gotō) and are promoted along with their years of experience until they reach level 1 (一等, ittō). When they have reached level 1 and have demonstrated exceptional skill, tokoyama can ascend to tokutō (特等), a special rank of tokoyama. There are normally only two tokoyama at this rank at any given time, and they are the only ones allowed to style the top knot of a yokozuna , the top rank in sumo.


The tools of a tokoyama include several kinds of wooden combs, binzuke (special pomade or wax), and waxed strips of paper for tying the knot. The combs have been handmade for centuries by the Shingō Mori family. Each type of comb is made from a different type of wood. [3] An araigushi comb is first used on the hair, followed by a sukigushi to spread out the pomade and shine the hair. [3] A soroigushi is used to tidy up the hair when everything is done. [3] A maekaki is used only to make the ōichō style of topknot, where the hair is then spread out using a metal pick called a magebo. [3]

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  1. Gunning, John (2018-11-14). "Sumo 101: Tokoyama (Hairdressers)". The Japan Times . Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  2. Schwartz, Daniel (2016-10-13). "The Sumo Top Knot Is the Original Man Bun". Meridian. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  3. 1 2 3 4 The Hairdresser to Japan's Sumo Wrestling Elite (web video). Great Big Story. 2019-11-07. Retrieved 2023-04-09.