Teruofuji (center) entering the ring | Photo by Hitomi Mori
When the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament kicked off last week, it was sole yokozuna Terunofuji’s kesho-mawashi that caught our attention. As the dominating wrestler entered the ring in ceremonial fashion, he was wearing a traditional embroidered silk apron designed by artist Enrico Isamu Oyama: a rare collaboration between contemporary art and sumo wrestling.
FFIGURATI #351, #350, #352 (left to right), 2022 Silk embroidery | Artwork courtesy Enrico Isamu Oyama, Photo by Shu Nakagawa
The kesho-mawashi is a ceremonial silk belt and apron worn only by wrestlers in the two upper divisions. With thick tassels at the bottom, the apron is typically heavily embroidered and will often advertise the sponsor of the wrestler. And top-ranking yokozuna have matching sets of three kesho-mawashi, with two being worn by his wrestler assistants during his ring entrance ceremony.
In a bold move by dominating wrestler Terunofuji, artist Enrico Isamu Oyama used his signature QTS (“Quick Turn Structure”) style to create a series of black and white kesho-mawashi. Coined by Enrico himself, QTS is a derivative of actual graffiti terminology and refers to lines that slash back, spin and intercross. They’ve been a recurring motif in Enrico’s work since the early 2000s.
We visited Enrico Isamu Oyama in his studio and interviewed him (members-only content).
FFIGURATI #350, 2022 Silk embroidery | Artwork courtesy Enrico Isamu Oyama, Photo by Shu Nakagawa