Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The dohyo or sumo ring.
Last month we attended our first Sumo tournament up at the Kokugikan in Tokyo.  Sumo is Japan's national sport and dates back some 1,500 years ago, with its origin being of a religious nature.  Sumo, along with dramas and dancing, were performed inside shrines as rituals to ask the gods for bountiful harvests.  Although the sport has made many transitions since its beginning, the Edo Period was credited for shaping the sport and how it is played today.

Sumo is played in a dohyo, or ring and  measures 18 square feet by 2 feet high.  The stage is built of clay, has a sand surface and the bouts are performed inside a 15 feet in diameter circle.  This is not much space to bout especially given the size of the wrestlers.  Basically, the first person to force the opponent outside the ring, or push them down inside the circle wins.  The bouts were rather suspenseful especially when the more advanced wrestlers were in the ring.  I found myself covering my eyes many times.  Most of the time the bouts were quick but we did witness a few wrestlers being thrown off the dohyo.  One wrestler even hit his head, and another one got a bloody nose.
Chiri-o-kiru.  Means sumo will respect fair play.
Sumo trivia:
  • There are 6 grand tournaments a year that are 15 days in length.
  • The average age of a sumo wrestler is 20-35.
  • Wrestlers live together in a place called a stable.
  • Each player has a ritual of throwing salt in the ring.
  • There are many foreign sumo wrestlers participating in the Japanese Sumo circuit.
  • The loincloth the wrestlers wear is called a mawashi.  It measures 10 yards in length/2 ft in width.  There are approximately 70 winning maneuvers a wrestler can use with the mawashi during a bout.
Here are some websites if you are interested in additional information on sumo:

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