Sumo, the National Sport of Japan
Sumo is a
competitive contact sport where two wrestlers weighing about 100 to 200kg are
matched against one another within a ring of 4.5 meters in diameter. A bout is
won by forcing the opponent out of the ring or forcing him to touch the ground
with any part of his body.
Ground Sumo Tournament
There are six Grand Sumo Tournaments a year; three are held in Tokyo, one
each in Osaka, Nagoya and Kyushu. A tournament lasts fifteen days starting
and ending on Sunday. The wrestlers
are arbitrarily divided into east and west teams, although they
do not compete as teams. Each wrestler fights once every day with a different
opponent. The matches start in the morning with the lowest ranking wrestlers,
followed by those of progressively higher and higher ranks, building up a
climax toward the end of the day with the final bouts featuring the yokozuna,
Sumo dates back to over 1500 years ago and appears in myths and legends.
The sumo matches were a form of ritual dedicated to the gods with prayers
for a bountiful harvest and were performed with dances and dramas within
the precincts of the shrines. The matches were rough and tumble, combining
elements of boxing and wrestling. However, when sumo was introduced into
the ceremonies of the Imperial Court in the 8th century, rules were
formulated and techniques developed. Later, it was used as a training tool in periods of civil strife and evolved into a martial
art. It was in the 17th
century when peace was finally restored under the Tokugawa Shogunate that sumo
became entertainment for common people as in today.
Daily Life of Sumo Wrestlers
The junior wrestlers must get up
the earliest, around 5 a.m., for training. The seniors start training around 7,
while the juniors do chores such as cleaning, cooking lunch, preparing a bath
and assisting their seniors. The wrestlers take a bath around 10 am after
training and have lunch at 11 am, And then they have a siesta. (This regimen of
no breakfast and a large lunch followed by a sleep helps wrestlers gain weight.)
The junior wrestlers again do the cleaning and other chores while the seniors
relax or go out. Their dinner time is 6pm and the bed time 10pm.
is a one-pot dish, containing meat, seafood, tofu and vegetables and is eaten
in vast quantities every day by sumo wrestlers. It is also a popular restaurant
dish, often served in specialized
chankonabe restaurants, which are run by retired sumo wrestlers.