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Sumo Wrestling in Fukuoka

We have shown you how they prepare for battle.   Now it is time to share some photos of the Sumo competition itself.  Last November, the world’s top Sumo wrestlers gathered in Fukuoka City for the Kyushu Bashoo.  Fukuoka is one of only four cities where Sumo competitions are held in Japan.  It was the first time for both Asawa and I to see a Sumo competition so we were naturally excited.  The wrestlers did not disappoint as they put on an amazing show for us.  As I said in the prior post, I have a whole  new respect for sumo wrestlers and their sport.  It takes a lifetime of commitment, passion and humility to excel in it.

For the uninitiated,  here are some clips about Sumo from Wikipedia:

There are six divisions in sumo: makuuchi, jūryō, makushita, sandanme, jonidan, and jonokuchi . Wrestlers enter sumo in the lowest jonokuchi division and, ability permitting, work their way up to the top division. Wrestlers in the top two divisions are known as sekitori, while lower division wrestlers are generally referred to by the generic term for wrestlers, rikishi.

The topmost makuuchi division receives the most attention from fans and has the most complex hierarchy. The majority of wrestlers are maegashira and are numbered from one (at the top) down to about sixteen or seventeen. Above the maegashira are the three champion or titleholder ranks, called the sanyaku. These are, in ascending order, komusubi, sekiwake, and ōzeki. At the pinnacle of the ranking system is the rank of yokozuna.

Yokozuna, or grand champions, are generally expected to compete for and to win the top division tournament title on a regular basis. Hence the promotion criteria for yokozuna are very strict. In general, an ōzeki must win the championship for two consecutive tournaments or an “equivalent performance” to be considered for promotion to yokozuna. More than one wrestler can hold the rank of yokozuna at the same time.

Now that we got that out of the way on to the photos.

Sumos enter the ring for their Introduction

Yokozunas have their own entrance ritual (Dohyo-iri) which is more elaborate. Here, Asashoryu enters the ring with his Sword Keeper to the right and Dew Sweeper to the left.
Asashoryu performs his ritual on the Dohyo

Hakuho, eventual tournament Champion performs his a ritual dance

Fukuoka Local and Crowd-favorite Kaio pumps up the crowd before his match.

...unfortunately for the locals, he loses!

What is a sports event without calendars of your favorite athlete?

Sometimes even Sumo Wrestlers can find themselves in a David vs. Goliath situation. There are no weight divisions in Sumo so this is common.

But as with the story of David and Goliath . . .

A Yobidashi (announcer) calls the names of the next competitors. It would be more accurate to say he "chants" the names.

Some companies give out cash prizes on important bouts in exchange for having their names advertised in these banners. The bigger the match, the more of these banners you will see before the set.

Speaking of ads, I need to insert some of my own!


Ok back to the  match!

We were seated this far away!

Live Coverage of Sumo. While Sumo is still very popular in Japan, I couldn not help but notice quite a few empty seats at the arena.

Retired Sumo find jobs as security personel. Still an intimidating force.

This kid is a die-hard sumo fan, cheering his lungs out when his favorite wrestlers compete. Here, much to the amusement of those around him, he is trash talking a guy who is cheering for the opponent.

One of the competitors is from Bulgaria so it is only natural that a famous Bulgarian yougurt company advertise (extreme left, partially cut). It is also an important match hence the many other ads, including ANA airlines.

When it is a Yokozuna who competes, expect a lot more ads. Here, there were two rounds of Ads, w ith the most ad space bought by the fastest way to become a Sumo...McDonalds.

In a rare case, the yokozuna loses. In the last bout of the day, Asashoryu loses to a lower ranked wrestler. A few years ago, this would have prompted the audience to throw their pilows onto the ring as per tradition when a higher ranked sumo loses. Now it is banned much to my dismay.

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11 Comments

  1. Japundit says:

    Story added…

    Your story has been featured on Japundit! Here is the link: http://www.japundit.com/Sports/Kyushu_Bashoo_Sumo_Wrestling_in_Fukuoka

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  5. I love the McDonalds advertising :)

  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Muzachan: Reading: Sumo Wrestling in Fukuoka http://bit.ly/7bL98q

  7. Sumo wrestling is my all time favorite. i always watch it a lot in Japanese channels.”*.

  8. Ayleen says:

    May I ask what kind of camera you took, and if you had any trouble at the venue if it was an SLR?

  9. Kaeru says:

    Hi, thanks for visiting. I used a DSLR with a 150mm lens so it was quite obvious. I didnt have any trouble. Many people use their SLRs and even use tripods (but they were on their mats, half-mast). Just don't block people's view I guess.

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  11. Really awesome sharing admin

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