Sumo wrestlers, hired swords, and the heads of fire fighting brigades were known as the `three men of Edo`, and were much swooned over by women. Unfortunately, however, women were not allowed to watch sumo wrestling matches. It was only after the Meiji Restoration that women were permitted to attend sumo tournaments. The fact that women are still not permitted to step up onto the dōhyō is a legacy of this proscription.
When a wrestler rose to the rank of Ozeki, he would be removed from his room in his former stable and would come under the protection of a daimyo, whereupon he would be given the rank of samurai and awarded a stipend. He would be allowed to wear two swords, and could come and go as he pleased. When a wrestler was supported by a daimyo, he would be seen as upholding the honor of the daimyo, therefore when he wrestled on the dōhyō he had to give it his all.
There were edoites who were fairly fired up by sumo matches, declaring that `those blokes who go to see a sumo match and who don`t come away with at least one bruise aren`t real men`. Fights broke out at matches and sometimes people were killed, thus resulting in numerous bans over the years.
At matches where the dōhyō was enclosed within 4 wooden pillars (which supported the roof over the dōhyō), a number of swords would be tied to each pillar. If a fight broke out, each stable master would grab a sword and go and defend their students.
There were also referees who drew swords on occasion. This was the `standing official` who played a particularly important role in matches, and who would have to draw his sword and commit seppuku as a means to apologize if he made a wrong decision in a match (remembering that each wrestler fought for the honor of their daimyo and thus could not be humiliated). Being an official meant putting your life on the line.
Sumo was performed outdoors. Stands known as the `Yoshizukake` would be erected for the audience (similar in style to those stands available for spectators at the Rio Carnivale), which would be dismantled once the tournament ended.
Matches could not be held if it rained, hence there may have been a long waiting time during particularly wet seasons when rain could continue for months.
There is an expression that speaks of `men who are happy living for just 20 days during the year`, for there were tournaments that would last for 20 days. Those sumo wrestlers known as `ten ryō` would receive that amount over the course of a year. It was, in a sense, their annual wage.
There were smaller wrestlers who used particular techniques, and there were large wrestlers. There is no reliable data available on wrestlers themselves, however some wrestlers were said to be 2 meters, 35 centimeters tall. When the Black Ships arrived from the U.S, some sumo wrestlers lined up on the shore to watch them. Some of them were shipped over to be viewed by the American representatives. These representatives were surprised to see them, and remarked `that there are also such large Japanese`. (80-84)