Sumo Sep 22, 2019

Sumo 101: Restaurants run by former rikishi

by John Gunning

Sumo stable life is communal. Rikishi take care of all of their own cooking and cleaning, and because they consume so much food the former is of paramount importance. Michelin stars are unlikely to be handed out in sumo anytime soon, but while the dishes cooked ...

Sumo 101: Championship scores

Sumo Sep 21, 2019

Sumo 101: Championship scores

by John Gunning

One of the side effects of having Hakuho, the greatest rikishi of all time, succeed another legend in Asashoryu at the top of the sumo pile, is that fans in recent years have become accustomed to seeing dominant championship performances. There have been 24 perfect ...

Sumo 101: Imperial family and sumo

Sumo Sep 20, 2019

Sumo 101: Imperial family and sumo

by John Gunning

You don't have to look far in sumo to find links with Japan's imperial family. Every two months the top rikishi compete for a whole host of prizes, the most prestigious of which is the Emperor's Cup. The sterling silver trophy stands 108 cm high and ...

Sumo 101: 'Dragons'

Sumo Sep 18, 2019

Sumo 101: 'Dragons'

by John Gunning

There are many ways of classifying rikishi and discussing those groups' various merits. Who are the best yokozuna or ozeki of all time for example? Which stable has been most dominant in history? Name your top ten Mongolians. The possibilities are numerous. In the early 2000s, one ...

Sumo 101: Sumo on the silver screen

Sumo Sep 17, 2019

Sumo 101: Sumo on the silver screen

by John Gunning

For an activity as visually fascinating as sumo, there are precious few movies about the sport. A typical day's action in the Kokugikan often involves more drama than a whole season in some other sports. Incredible athleticism and feats of strength, combined with elaborate ritual and ...

Sumo 101: Presentation of new recruits

Sumo Sep 16, 2019

Sumo 101: Presentation of new recruits

by John Gunning

Sumo is a world filled with ritual and costume. From daily training to tournament bouts to going out in public, there are rules governing what you should wear and how you should act. While formalized actions and detailed rules are part of Japanese life in general, ...

Sumo 101: <i>Banzuke-gai</i>

Sumo Sep 15, 2019

Sumo 101: Banzuke-gai

by John Gunning

It's common knowledge that the written banzuke (ranking sheet) contains the name of every single wrestler in professional sumo, from the yokozuna at the top right on down to those at the very bottom of the lowest (jonokuchi) division. The only problem with that is ...

Sumo 101: World championships

Sumo Sep 14, 2019

Sumo 101: World championships

by John Gunning

Broadly speaking, sumo is divided into two separate (but overlapping) sports. Professional sumo (known as ozumo or grand sumo) exists only in Japan and is by far the better-known version. It is run by the Japan Sumo Association. It is also much more than just a sport. ...

Sumo 101: Kaobure

Sumo Sep 13, 2019

Sumo 101: Kaobure

by John Gunning

Every day of a sumo tournament contains hundreds of bouts. From early in the morning until late in the evening, a virtually non-stop parade of wrestlers arrives at the arena. They change, warm up, stand in line in the hanamichi (aisle leading to the ring), ...

Sumo 101: Kitanofuji

Sumo Sep 12, 2019

Sumo 101: Kitanofuji

by John Gunning

Sumo tournaments are shown daily on NHK. While the play-by-play men rotate, one ever present is acerbic color commentator Kitanofuji. Often decked out in traditional Japanese attire, the sharp-tongued 77-year-old rarely sugarcoats his views. If anyone has earned the right to voice their opinion, however, it's ...

Sumo 101: Technique and strategy

Sumo Sep 11, 2019

Sumo 101: Technique and strategy

by John Gunning

One of the defining features of sumo is how quickly bouts end. Most fights take less than 5-6 seconds from start to finish. Japan's national sport is one in which a rikishi notorious for long, slow battles earned the nickname "Mr. One Minute." A matchup in any ...

Sumo 101: Kuramae Kokugikan

Sumo Sep 10, 2019

Sumo 101: Kuramae Kokugikan

by John Gunning

The six yearly grand sumo tournaments are held at four locations. The January, March and September meets are in Tokyo, while the March, July and November tournaments take place in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, respectively. The venues for all six have remained the same for decades ...