With a history stretching back millennia, sumo is often referred to as Japan’s kokugi, or national sport.

While not an official designation, it’s a description that few in the sport shy away from, with three of the Japan Sumo Association’s six yearly tournaments taking place in an arena called the Kokugikan (National Sport Hall), and the organization itself headquartered in the same building.

Sumo’s deep connection to its country of origin may be unparalleled, but for most of the last century it has played second fiddle to baseball in terms of popularity.