When you think of Japan, lots of weird and wonderful things will come to mind! From the food, to onsens, geisha, and temples, Japan is really popular at the moment…I mean we’re going to win the Rugby World Cup there this year!
I’ve been to Japan a couple times over the last 3 years and I can easily say a real highlight is going to a Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. There are only around 6 tournaments a year in Japan (in various arenas) so if it’s on your bucket list definitely make sure you’re travelling during tournament time.
I also absolutely recommend visiting a tournament as part of a tour. JTB, our specialist Japan supplier can provide a very well-priced day trip with transport, tickets and most importantly a guide to explain it all! Sumo fighters are very well respected and quite sociable – you’re able to make your way to the stables area and have photos with them. Our guide explained the best sumo fighters bodies feel like marshmallow – I guess so they can squishy maneuver themselves out of the way during a competition.
JTB explains Sumo as below :
Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. Many rituals with religious background, such as the symbolic purification of the ring with salt, are still followed today. In line with tradition, only men practice the sport professionally in Japan.The rules are simple: the wrestler who first exits the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body besides the soles of his feet loses. Matches take place on an elevated ring (dohyo), which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand. A contest usually lasts only a few seconds, but in rare cases can take a minute or more. There are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning that wrestlers can easily find themselves matched off against someone many times their size. As a result, weight gain is an essential part of sumo training.