Sumo referees and suicide [new title]

Last night, over a few beers, my friends and I got to talking (the best conversations are always in the pub).
Anyways, one of my friends resolutely insisted that the referees of sumo matches essentially live on borrowed time. ‘Why’s that?’ we all asked.
He smugly insisted that if a referee of a sumo bout makes a mistake, tradition dictates he must commit hari-kari by running a sword through his innards.
Is this true? I realise it might have been the case in times gone by, but surely not today. Or is my friend talking through his poo-tubes, which has been known to happen…
Fellow dopers, I’m relying on you in my time of need. There’s a night on the beer resting on this, and if you can help me out, I’ll buy everyone a Guinness :slight_smile:

I vote for poo-tubes.

yeah, he’s from Wexford, which explains a lot…

I used to be a sumo ref, and when I screwed up, I did indeed commit Harry Carey.

(I wasn’t very good at that, either)


Of course, you could also point out to him that it’s hari-kiri, not hari-kari. That might get you a bonus half. Or a smack upside the head for being a smart aleck.

Actually, it is hara-kiri.

utkik, you would get better response if you gave the thread a more descriptive title as you would attract those who might know something about sumo wrestling.

Oops. Bonus p(o)int for sailor.

I don’t know anything for sure, so I’m really talk out my behind here, but I would think that this is outdated. The Japanese used to (as in samurai used to) commit seppuku (hara-kiri whatever) if they were dishonered or had failed their master. I think that there was a highly publicized case of someone committing seppuku publicly in the past couple decades (don’t remember who), but then it was something abnormal, an anachronism. It is my opinion (not based on fact, but simply from what I’ve gleaned from Japanese history classes and extensive reading of modern Japanese fiction and such) that he’s talking out his poo-tubes if he thinks that this is still an accepted practice.

I remember about ten years ago the president of a Japanese airline did that after one of his planes crashed and killed a whole bunch of people. Perhaps that’s what you’re referring to.

I have changed the title of this thread. In the future please try to choose more descriptive titles.

moderator GQ

Possibly you’re thinking of Japanese writer & right-wing militarist Yukio Mishima, who committed ritual suicide Nov 25, 1970 (with his teenage lover).

His death got a lot of publicity, especially because of his political views, favoring a return to the “samuri tradition” (including the warior/squire male love part) and a rearmed & aggressive Japanese influence in the Far East. (Some said he was still fighting WWII, 25 years after it ended.)

Use any search engine to look up Yukio Mishima and you’ll find lots more details.

TRADITIONALLY it was supposed to happen. But there is no record of seppuku being forced on a gyoji in sumo. They are expected to offer to resign, though.

Nowadays it doesn’t, although the tate-gyoji (chief judge) and fuku-tate-gyoji (assistant chief judge) still carry a small sword. Its just for tradition.

Nowadays if a gyoji misjudges twice, he is demoted by one rank.