Sumo: A History

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Sporting Heroes: Asashoryu Akinori, big daddy of all sumo wrestlers | The Independent

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25 Fast Facts about Sumo Wrestling

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Sumo is a form of competitive full-contact wrestling where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force his opponent out of a circular. A nishiki-e woodblock print depicting a sumo bout (Japan Sumo Association) the Kojiki and Nihonshoki (Japanese history books written in the eighth century).

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Loading comments Please try again, the name must be unique. Cancel Post. There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. And kelp, cuttlefish, and chestnuts are placed in the ring along with prayers for safety.

enter site Each day of the tournament basho , a ring entering ceremony is held, wherein each wrestler's body and spirit undergoes purification. Yokozuna are dressed in mawashi with five white zigzag folded strips of paper on the front, the same as those found at the entrance of Shinto shrines. On the front of all mawashi are sagari, which are fringes of twisted string tucked into the belt, and they represent the sacred ropes in front of shrines. Numbers of strings are odd, between seventeen and twenty-one, which are lucky numbers in the Shinto tradition.

And of course, the salt that is tossed before each bout is an agent for purification and one of sumo's most visible rituals. As a religion of customs and not laws, Shinto developed as a religion to please the gods in order to ensure a good harvest and divine protection, but soon made headway into the sport of sumo as a way to entertain those same gods, purify the sport itself and protect the rikishi from harm.


Currently, there are about rikishi, or wrestlers, in the professional sumo world, from the youngest trainees to the top champion, or yokozuna. After a serious car accident involving a sumo wrestler, the Sumo Association banned wrestlers from driving their own cars. Basho A sumo tournament, usually consisting of 15 matches held over a day period. The contest was known as sumai no sechie , or "sumai party". Located right inside the Ryogoku sumo stadium, the museum showcases rotating exhibitions of art and paraphernalia related to the history of sumo wrestling. Japan's shinkansen network is one of the most efficient ways to travel the country - and one of the quickest ways of getting from Point A to Point B on your vac.

The first ceremony of the day is the dohyo-iri, or ring ceremony performed by Juryo and Makuuchi rikishi before their bouts begin. The rikishi are grouped into two groups—East and West—and each group takes a turn entering the ring. The lowest-ranked rikishi enters first and walks a complete circle around the ring followed by the other rikishi in ascending order according the rank.

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Before the individual rikishi enter the ring, they are introduced to the spectators. Once the last rikishi in the group has been introduced, the rikishi, who are facing the spectators, turn inward and face each other around the ring. After clapping their hands once, they raise their right hand, lift their kesho-mawashi decorative aprons created for the ring ceremony , and finally raise both hands in unison. This tradition goes back to the samurai days and represents the rikishi showing each other that none is armed.

During the Makuuchi ring ceremony, the Yokozuna are notably absent from the group as they must perform their own individual ring ceremonies. When a Yokozuna performs his ring ceremony, he will wear a white tsuna, or zuna braided rope with five zig-zag strips hanging from the front , around his waist to signify his rank. Once the actual bouts begin, the two rikishi spend several minutes before their match lifting their legs high in the air and stomping them down, a practice said to scare away any demons. They also throw several handfuls of salt into the ring, which is said to purify the ring.

Many rikishi will also sprinkle salt around their bodies as a means of protecting them from injury. After the last bout of the day, the yumi-tori bow twirling ceremony is performed by a makushita-ranked rikishi from the same stable as a Yokozuna. True fans of the sport will not leave their seats until this ritual is performed.