Sumo Wrestling: Things to Know

Sumo wrestling rules and how to watch Sumo in Japan

SUMO (相撲) is a famous wrestling sport from Japan, which is the only country where it is practiced professionally.

It’s said that Sumo has started in ancient time in Japan and it’s been associated with Shinto ritual. The sport become hugely popular and an entertainment for nations in Edo Period. Now, the grand tournament is held 6 times a year and it is one of most popular sports in the country.

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-How do they play SUMO??

Simple rule of Sumo, Rikishi (wrestlers) attempt to force an opponent to out of circle ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet. There is Gyoji (referee) inside the circle as well while they play.

Sumo is played inside the circle ring called Dohyo, which is 4.55m diameter made with clay and sand. There are 6 things burried underneath Dohyo to purify the field, which are kaya nut, washed rice, chestnuts, kelp, salt and dried cattlefish.

-What’s SUMO techniques??

Sumo’s winning technique is called Kimarite in Japanese. There are 82 winning techniques approved by Japan Sumo Association today. Here are most commonly used ones.

Oshidashi (押し出し) – Pushing an opponent of the circle without holding Mawashi (sumo belt)

Yori Kiri (寄り切り) — Forcing out an opponent out of the circle by holding Mawashi

Tsuridashi (吊り出し)— Lifting an opponenet to out of the circle

Hatakikomi (叩き込み)– Slapping an opponent down to the ground

Uwatenage (上手投げ)– Throwing an opponent to the ground by grabbing Mawashi (overarm throw)

Shitatenage (下手投げ)- Throwing an opponent to the ground by grabbing Mawashi (underarm throw)

Hikiotoshi (引き落とし) — Pulling on an opponent’s shoulder, arm, or mawashi and forcing them to the ground

-What’s SUMO divisions??

There are over 600 professional Sumo wrestlers and over 40 Sumo stables in Japan. There are 6 divisions in Sumo: Makuuchi (max 42), Juryo (fixed at 28), Makushita (fixed at 120), Sandanme (fixed at 200), Jonidan (about 185), Jonokuchi (about 40). Wrestlers enter sumo in the lowest jonokuchi division, and ability permitting, work their way up to the top division. The grand tournament is only played by Makuuchi wrestlers.

Also there are several ranks in Makuuchi devision: Yokozuna (the grand champion), Ozeki (champion), Sekiwake (the second champion), Komusubi (the third champion) and Maegashira. There has been only 72 Yokozuna wrestlers in the history of Sumo and currently 4 of them still play. (April 2017)

-Where can we see SUMO??

Watch the tournament

The grand Sumo tournaments are held 6 times every year: three in Tokyo (January, May and September) and one in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November), and each tournament lasts for 15 days.

Check more details about to How to Buy the Tickets and Watch Sumo in Japan:

Watch the morning practice

There is also a unique way to see Sumo by visiting a Sumo stable and watch their morning practice. It’s totally private and exclusive experience to watch Sumo wrestlers very close.

Booking ▶ Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour

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"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈