Sumo, the Japanese style of wrestling, is the national sport of Japan.In total,there are 6 Grand tournaments per year.While 3 are held in Tokyo,there’s one held each at Osaka,Nagoya and Kyushu.Recently we had been to the 1st day of the September Grand Sumo Tournament 2011, held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium in Tokyo.
The rules of Sumo and the tournament are quite simple.A tournament spans 15 days and the wrestler with the highest number of wins over losses is awarded the Emperor Cup on the final day of the tournament.
Before coming to the rules and ceremonies of Sumo, let’s get familiar with some imp people 🙂 🙂
Rikishi – the Sumo wrestlers
Oyakata– the coach
Gyoji– the referees (in exquisite colourful kimonos,with a fan in hand, conducting the match) and
The 5 Judges ( in formal black kimonos)
The Banzuke or the ranking of the wrestlers is like a pyramid with one Yokozuna at the top, followed below by few Ozeki, more Sekiwake and so on as depicted in this image taken from the official website at http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html
The day’s matches were scheduled from 8 am till evening.We joined the fun towards afternoon because we knew that the initial bouts would be in between the junior wrestlers/trainees followed by the Juryo and then by the senior-most Makuuchi players.The wrestlers entered either from the west or the east side.A match typically lasted for a few secs to some for a min.And forcing the opponent out of the circle or onto the ground made for a win 🙂 🙂 What took most of every 4 min match was the traditional ceremonies and symbolic rituals associated with it, followed by a few intense moments that kept us on the edge of our seats 🙂 🙂
The highlights were the Dohyo-iri or the ring-entering ceremony held separately for the Juryo/Makuuchi players before the corresponding bouts began.The players came in and mounted the Dohyo alongwith their introduction to the crowd.The Yokozuna wasn’t a part of this ritual as he came in later for an exclusive ceremony.