Sumo Is The National Sport of Japan.
A sumo wrestling match at Ryogoku Kokugikan. The referee yells and it begins. Two giant bellies slap together as the crowd cheers. They lock arms and go flying off the ring. One lands back-first in a group of sumo-goers who are enjoying their lunch o-bentos at ringside. As quickly as it has begun, the match is over.

Sumo is officially Japan’s national sport. It is a unique aspect of Japanese culture that is known worldwide. An outing to see sumo wrestling is a must for any traveler to Japan.

Sumo is an ancient sport. The exact origins of sumo are unknown. It is mentioned in the earliest written texts of Japan, from around the 8th century AD. It is said that sumo started with the gods fighting to see who was more powerful.

Although it just looks like two fat guys in diapers trying to push and shove each other out of the ring, there are actually tons of different techniques used in sumo. Still, the basic rule is that whoever touches the ground with any part of his body other than his feet, or who falls outside of the circle, is the loser. The matches usually only last a few short seconds, sometimes a match might stretch into a minute or more.

Sumo is more than just fighting; it is full of ceremony and ritual, like purification by salt, that go back to the early Japanese Shinto religion. Traditionally, sumo wrestlers prayed to the gods every day asking for power and success in their matches. They also kept to a strict diet in order to keep their bulk.

Sumo wrestlers are proud of their girth and power. While the bigger guys have a weight advantage over their opponent, there are some famous sumos that are smaller and scrappier and can overrun a bigger opponent. And, sumo is truly international. There are many foreign sumo wrestlers, from Mongolia, Korea and Eastern Europe.

If you travel to Japan, you should definitely take in a sumo match. Sumo season starts in January and goes for most of the year. In Tokyo, the big matches are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan, on Tokyo’s eastern side.

Tickets vary in price. Regular seats are quite cheap, anybody can go. For a little more you can get your own little booth for you and your friends to eat, drink and chat in.

Matches start at 9 in the morning and go for most of the day. They start with the lower ranked wrestlers and work their way to the higher ones. After the matches there are colorful ceremonies to enjoy.
[tags]sumo, sumo wrestling, wrestling, japan, japanese sumo, sports, japanese culture [/tags]

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