Sumo

Sumo wrestlers make beefy salute to first day of Japan's new era

Kyodo

Sumo’s biggest stars joined some 70 fellow heavyweights of the sport in using their bodies to spell out the two kanji characters representing Japan’s new imperial era name, as the country celebrated the enthronement of its new emperor Wednesday.

The wrestlers from the top two professional divisions, including two top-ranked yokozuna, Hakuho and Kakuryu, as well as newly promoted ozeki Takakeisho, took part in the celebration at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Dressed in black montsuki hakama, a traditional family crest-bearing garment worn over a kimono, the wrestlers threw their weight behind celebrations of the new era and the rise of Emperor Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Reiwa, a name unveiled by the Japanese government on April 1, is officially translated as “beautiful harmony.”

On Tuesday, the new banzuke rankings for the May 12-26 Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, the first sumo meet of the Reiwa Era, were released by the Japan Sumo Association. Fans lined up to purchase the official ranking publication dated Reiwa gannen, or the first year of Reiwa.

Tuesday marked the end of the 30-year Heisei period with the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicating and his son, now-Emperor Naruhito, ascending to the throne.

On Monday, the 158-kg Hakuho led a group of 25 wrestlers born in the Showa Era (1926-1989), bare-chested and wearing only mawashi belts, in gathering for a photo on the final day of the spring promotional tour at Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The day of the photo, April 29, was the last Showa Day, a national holiday honoring the birthday of the Emperor Showa, of the Heisei Era (1989-2019).