Sumo Okiagari Roly-poly Doll
Sumo, Japanese national sport, retains much of the Shinto tradition and symbolism, and it is considered an art. It was originally practiced by the samurai. Nowadays, the sumo wrestlers are celebrities, respected and venerated.
The Japanese soul vibrates during the struggles of these titans. The interior of the stadium has a circle, the dohyo, which defines victory or defeat. Before starting the fight, salt is poured into the dohyo as a practice to purify the sand. The gesture of the fighters to hit the ground strongly with their feet serves to frighten the evil spirits.
Okiagari-koboshi means literally “getting-up little priest”. It’s a traditional Japanese roly-poly doll made from papier-mâché and designed so that its weight causes it to return to an upright position when knocked over. Okiagari-koboshi have been part of Japanese children’s toys for a very long time; they were already mentioned in documents from the XIVth century. During the Tokaichi festival, also called the Tenth Day Market, people throw several roly-poly dolls down at the same time and the ones that stand back up are considered good-luck charms.
Okiagari-koboshi is a symbol of perseverance and resilience in times of adversity. Just like this Japanese saying: “Fall seven times, stand up eight”. According to tradition, one okiagari-koboshi should be given as a present to each member of the family plus one extra in the hope that the family will grow over the following year.