After some thorough and detailed research, here’s a brief introduction to the fattest sport in Japan (that will be the last “big fat men” quip, I promise). Sumo, or 相撲 in Japanese, is a contact sport with very few rules and lots of Shinto tradition and ritual. It originated many years ago, and takes place on a circular mound covered with sand, or dohyo. The aim of the game is to force your opponent out of the ring, or make him fall over inside the ring. This is accomplished through a variety of techniques- pushing, grabbing, side-stepping, throwing your opponent off balance etc. Contrary to the initial impression that bigger is better, many sumo who aren’t so fat have a large advantage through their agility. The basho (tournament) I’ll be attending is the Haru Basho (Spring Tournament), taking place in Osaka. There are six tournaments a year- three in Tokyo, and one each in Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Each tournament runs for 15 days. Here’s three sumo wrestlers to look out for…
Asashoryu, Yokozuna rank (Mongolian)
Asashoryu is one of the most successful, and controversial, sumo wrestlers in history. After gaining fame and fortune through his sumo skills, he become embroiled in controversy when, on returning home to Mongolia to “recover” from an injury, he was spotted participating in a charity football match. Despite weighing over 23 stone, he showed some silky skills on the football pitch. This didn’t go down well with the big-wigs at Sumo HQ though, who banned him for two tournaments. That’s all behind him now though, and after a strong performance in the January basho he’ll be looking to continue his good form into the Osaka tournament.
Hakuho Sho, Yokozuna rank (Mongolian)
Hakuho is the only other wrestler who currently holds the top rank of Yokozuna. Also from Mongolia, he is a mere 23 years old. His real name is Monkhbatyn Davaajargal.
Kotooshu Katsunori, Ozeki rank (Bulgarian)
Of the four wrestlers who hold the number two Ozeki rank, Kotooshu is the only non-Japanese. Being a gajin, he has been labelled by the public as the “David Beckham of Sumo”, a title he understandably dislikes. He is smaller and lighter than most, and often appears in adverts for yoghurt.
Ok thats it for now- I have been informed we haven’t technically got the tickets for thursday yet, but it looks like we will do. So fear not everyone!