Sumo 101: JSA chairman

Sumo Jul 21, 2019

Sumo 101: JSA chairman

by John Gunning

The Japan Sumo Association's highest authority is the chairman of its board of directors. The current occupant is 56-year-old Hakkaku, who has been in power since 2015. Like the majority of his predecessors, Hakkaku is a former yokozuna. Known as Hokutoumi when at that rank, he won ...

Sumo 101: Non-traditional training

Sumo Jul 20, 2019

Sumo 101: Non-traditional training

by John Gunning

Sumo is often described as a lifestyle rather than a sport. As regimented as a military and requiring the total immersion of a religious order, it's certainly much more multifaceted than any other activity that makes the sports section of this paper. For many in sumo, ...

Sumo 101: Press club

Sumo Jul 19, 2019

Sumo 101: Press club

by John Gunning

Sumo receives extensive coverage year- round in the Japanese media. While it may not get the column inches that baseball does (understandable when you consider the respective sizes and number of participants in both sports) it's still a significant amount of media attention. To facilitate that, ...

Sumo 101: Tsukebito

Sumo Jul 18, 2019

Sumo 101: Tsukebito

by John Gunning

Sumo is a life built around the carrot and stick approach. The higher a rikishi rises up the rankings, the easier his life becomes. Changes are incremental and consist of things like better quality yukata, less chores, being allowed to own a cellphone, etc. The biggest jump ...

Sumo 101: Regional tours

Sumo Jul 17, 2019

Sumo 101: Regional tours

by John Gunning

An oft-heard refrain from fans new to sumo is that wrestlers get paid huge sums for just a few seconds work each day. It's one of the more common misconceptions, along with thinking that success in Japan's national sport is just a matter of eating ...

Sumo 101: Futabayama's win streak

Sumo Jul 16, 2019

Sumo 101: Futabayama's win streak

by John Gunning

Sumo fans these days have the privilege of being able to watch the greatest rikishi of all time live in the ring. For a sport that's been around for a couple of millennia in one form or another that's no small thing. While Raiden may have ...

Kids sumo offers wrestlers an early start

Sumo Jul 16, 2019

Kids sumo offers wrestlers an early start

by John Gunning

As outlined in a previous Sumo 101, joining sumo is often a matter of just getting in touch with a stable. Experience in the ring or a background in the sport aren't prerequisites, as virtually anyone with Japanese nationality will be accepted into sumo. The reality, ...

Sumo 101: Shikiri sen

Sumo Jul 14, 2019

Sumo 101: Shikiri sen

by John Gunning

There are two parallel white lines in the center of every sumo ring known as shikiri sen. Ninety cm in length and 6 cm wide, they are painted directly onto the clay surface using enamel paint. Rikishi must stay behind the line on their side before ...

Sumo 101: Joining sumo

Sumo Jul 13, 2019

Sumo 101: Joining sumo

by John Gunning

Virtually every athlete on teams like Real Madrid or the Chicago Bears came up through a youth system or showed promise while playing in high school or college, with many of them already well versed in their sport of choice by the time their ...

Sumo Jul 12, 2019

Sumo 101: Wakanohana-Tochinishiki rivalry

by John Gunning

As with boxing, wrestling, MMA or any other activity where two contestants face off in a ring, great rivalries are the lifeblood of Japan's national sport. While it's true that sumo is a lifestyle more than a sport, and its day-to-day practices and rituals are ...

Sumo 101: Teahouses

Sumo Jul 11, 2019

Sumo 101: Teahouses

by John Gunning

There are many ways to purchase sumo tickets. As with other sports, phone or online sales, as well as specialized ticket agents account for a large proportion of seats sold. The best seats in the house at five of the six yearly Grand Sumo tournaments, however, ...

Sumo 101: Kokugikan

Sumo Jul 10, 2019

Sumo 101: Kokugikan

by John Gunning

Three of the six yearly Grand Sumo tournaments are held in Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. The large structure, located next to the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida Ward, opened in 1985. It also houses a sumo museum as well as the offices of the Japan Sumo Association. The ...