Sumo

Sumo 101: Hobbies

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

All sumo wrestlers get a week off starting the day after a tournament ends.

Most head back to their hometowns for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Some just continue to work out and lift weights daily.

A few spend most of the time either sleeping or eating.

Pretty much every wrestler, though, uses the downtime to catch up on whatever their favorite pastime or hobby is.

In a sport that dominates virtually all of their waking hours in some form or other, having an outside interest is crucial for stress release.

Just as wrestlers themselves come from a variety of backgrounds, their diversions span a wide range of interests and activities.

Former yokozuna Harumafuji famously loves to paint and indeed has an exhibition of his work currently running in a Ginza gallery.

Shikihide oyakata, who fought under the name Kitazakura, creates intricate and elaborate works of art as well as pieces of jewelry using beads.

Pop culture is big among wrestlers. Anime, manga and video games are all common sights in sumo stables.

Music, of course, is popular, and tastes are pretty much those you would expect among a population of mostly 18-25-year-old men.

There are, of course, intriguing exceptions. Onosho has a more eclectic palate and often displays a solid knowledge of American hip-hop on his social media feeds.

Sport, naturally, is very popular with men who are themselves athletes. Terutsuyoshi and a couple of the wrestlers in his stable attend soccer games whenever they get a chance.

American football also has a solid following and is Kisenosato’s favorite sport. I shared a Tokyo Dome suite with him at the Rice Bowl this year and he displayed a deep understanding of the game. Able to (figuratively) let his hair down and just enjoy the event, the yokozuna showed a relaxed, laughing and chatty side we rarely get to see.

Canadian Homarenishiki was a huge fan of drifting and insisted we sit in the “best” seats when watching an event in Odaiba. By best, of course, he meant those at the very front, where waves of acrid tire smoke wash over you. Three years later and I’m still coughing from the experience.