葉巻スモーカー Yokozuna Onishiki Uichiro
Cigar smokers are not a common sight in Japan, neither today nor in the “good old days”. All the more was I surprised to learn that during the Taisho period a Yokozuna (the highest ranked wrestler in the Sumo world) was well known to be an enthusiastic cigar smoker.
Onishiki Uichiro was promoted to Yokozuna in 1917, making him the 26th Yokozuna to reach the highest rank in the world of Sumo. He was a strong Yokozuna winning five tournaments within his active career, which was cut short after he abruptly retired from sumo following the resolution of a strike among sumo wrestlers in January 1923.
Onishiki Uichiro’s cigar smoking was not the only character trait to make him stand out in the rather rigid world of sumo. Highly intelligent, Onishiki Uichiro after retiring enrolled at Waseda University, a place famous for attracting many avant-garde Japanese.
The picture of him smoking a cigar is from the cover of the January 1918 issue of Bukyo Sekkai Sumogo.