NEWSWORTHY

Sumo 101: Special prizes

Sumo Jan 27, 2019

Sumo 101: Special prizes

by John Gunning

The Emperor's Cup isn't the only prize awarded on the final day of a sumo tournament. The new champion receives an array of trophies and gifts from various organizations and locales around Japan as well as prizes from several foreign governments. Two to four men normally ...

Sumo 101: Sumo's birthplace

Sumo Jan 25, 2019

Sumo 101: Sumo's birthplace

by John Gunning

Ryogoku is the center of the sumo world. The district on the east bank of the Sumida River is home to Ryogoku Kokugikan and several stables. There are also numerous sumo specific- stores, shrines and museums in the area. Despite all that, Ryogoku can't claim to be ...

Sumo 101: Trading cards

Sumo Jan 23, 2019

Sumo 101: Trading cards

by John Gunning

With a sport as ancient as sumo, trading cards aren't the first things that spring to mind when you think of memorabilia. A person could be forgiven for assuming that if such cards existed, they must be just a recent concession to western tastes. The reality ...

Sumo 101: Keshō-mawashi

Sumo Jan 22, 2019

Sumo 101: Keshō-mawashi

by John Gunning

One of the first orders of business for a rikishi promoted to sumo's second-highest division (jūryō) is getting a keshō-mawashi (ceremonial apron-style belt). Large and heavy, keshō-mawashi are only worn during ring-entering ceremonies and special events. The starched cords attached to a wrestler's regular mawashi during ...

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

Sumo Jan 21, 2019

Sumo 101: Pre- and post-bout rituals

by John Gunning

From once they are called to mount the dohyo, makuuchi division wrestlers have four minutes to prepare for their bout. After bowing to each other, they go to the corner, do shiko (foot stomps) and receive the chikara mizu and chikara gami (power water and ...

Sumo 101: Akeni

Sumo Jan 20, 2019

Sumo 101: Akeni

by John Gunning

Sekitori (wrestlers in the top two divisions) have a lot of accouterments. There are kesho-mawashi (ceremonial aprons), kimono, sandals, cushions and items like knee braces and tape that must be transported from the stables to the arena and brought on regional tours. While athletes in team ...

Sumo 101: Championship portraits

Sumo Jan 19, 2019

Sumo 101: Championship portraits

by John Gunning

One of the most striking features of Ryogoku Kokugikan is the ring of giant portraits hanging from the rafters. The 32 images (each 3.17 x 2.22 meters including frame) show the winners for the past 32 tournaments. Prior to each of the three annual Tokyo meets, ...

Sumo 101: A wrestler's typical tournament day

Sumo Jan 18, 2019

Sumo 101: A wrestler's typical tournament day

by John Gunning

The six annual honbasho (tournaments) are the fulcrum around which the sumo world turns. Ninety days a year sumo wrestlers participate in events whose outcome determines not only how high or low they will be ranked but also what clothes they can wear, whether or ...

Sumo 101: Stable locations and layout

Sumo Jan 16, 2019

Sumo 101: Stable locations and layout

by John Gunning

The majority of sumo stables are concentrated in a couple of locations not far from Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. Of the 48 currently active stables, roughly half are within two kilometers of the sport's main arena Shikihide Beya and Tatsunami Beya, both situated in Ibaraki Prefecture, are ...

Sumo 101: Banzuke

Sumo Jan 15, 2019

Sumo 101: Banzuke

by John Gunning

All professional sumo wrestlers are listed on a 58x44 cm sheet of paper that is released about two weeks before the start of each tournament. For the ongoing basho that amounts to 636 men ranked in order from yokozuna Kisenosato at the top all the ...

Sumo 101: Sanyaku

Sumo Jan 14, 2019

Sumo 101: Sanyaku

by John Gunning

Sanyaku is the collective noun for the three ranks below yokozuna. In reality though, ozeki is rarely included when the term is used, with the vast majority of incidences referring only to komusubi and sekiwake. Unlike sumo's top two ranks, there is no special criteria for ...

Sumo 101: Becoming a rikishi

Sumo Jan 13, 2019

Sumo 101: Becoming a rikishi

by John Gunning

How does a person go about becoming a professional sumo wrestler and what is the initial process like once you sign up? Basically it's as simple as contacting a stable and asking to join. Most heya (stables) have phone and email details on their websites. There ...