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Gyoji with fan

A sumo gyōji wielding a gunbai

The gunbai (軍配?, short for 軍配団扇 gunbai-uchiwa) military leader's fan (in old Japan); umpire's fan (in sumo wrestling)[1] is a type of Japanese war fan.


Gunbai were used by samurai officers in Japan to communicate commands to their troops, and were solid, not folding, and usually made of wood, wood covered with metal, or solid metal.

It is also a key accessory of a gyōji in professional sumo. One use is at the end of a bout, when the gyoji points the gunbai at the wrestler he judges to be the victor. Reflecting this, the gyōji's decision itself is often informally referred to as a "gunbai". If this is called into question and the shimpan (umpires) hold a consultation, a decision to uphold the gyōji's judgement is announced as gunbai-dōri (軍配通り), literally "according to the gunbai", while a decision to overturn it is gunbai-sashichigae (軍配差し違え), literally "gunbai miss-pointed."

In Popular CultureEdit

In the Naruto series, two leading antagonists Tobi and Madara Uchiha are regularly seen carrying and wielding a yellow gunbai, the latter was known for having great expertise in using it.


  1. Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Kenkyusha Limited, ISBN 4-7674-2015-6

See alsoEdit

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