Although I am not a fan of sumo wrestling, I was told that they smell very sweet whenever you are near them. Since I have never been to a match, I was fortunate to have crossed path with a few sumo wrestlers on their off training days in local cities and markets. I do agree; sumos do smell great. So what is that sweet smelling aroma? It is call tea seed oil (camellia oil) that sumo use to style their hair in a top-knot Tokoyama tradition before a bout. In addition to sumo wrestlers, geisha use tea oil as well to smooth and condition their hair for many centuries.

Tea seed oil is cold-pressed mainly from the seeds of Camellia oleifera, Camellia sinensis or Camellia japonica. It is bottled up in a pale amber-green fixed oil with a sweet, herbal aroma. Tea seed oil resembles olive oil and grape seed oil enriched with vitamin E and is low in saturated fat. You would think tea oil is edible. Well, it is. If you ever eaten tempura, you have tasted tea seed oil. Among culinary uses, tea seed oil can be found in industrial such as manufacturing of soaps, paints, and lubricants.

What is in a hairstyle for sumo wrestlers? It is of great importance. The type of hairstyles worn for wrestlers are for ranking. There are two types: chonmage and oichomage. The latter style is only to be worn for top division wrestlers, while to first is for all wrestlers. Chonmage were first introduced in the Edo era and is favored by samurai. It was originally a method of using hair to hold a samurai's helmet steady during battles. In modern times, the status symbol carries on by sumo wrestlers.

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