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Culture Club: Sumo Yokozuna Tea Cup

The Sumo Yokozuna Tea Cup ($7) shows mini portraits of the sumo elite, and only those who received the highest rank are pictured. The grid-like arrangement of athlete heads and Japanese characters builds an interesting rhythm that would add variety to other patterns in our kitchen or dining room. No faces repeat in this legendary legion - each likeness is unique and full of character.

There's so much to learn about sumo that we frankly don't have the space to explain everything, but you may want to know about the terms concering this cup. The top division of professional sumo (Makuuchi) is fixed at 42 top world wrestlers, and to earn the supreme title of Yokozuna, an athlete must have unparalleled power, skill and grace. Yokozuna (lit. "horizontal rope") refers to the white rope worn around the waist of wrestlers at this level, similar to the sacred shimenawa enclosing rope in the Shinto religion.

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