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Introduction to Japanese Sumo


Sumo is the national sport of Japan, which two sumo wrestlers (rikishi) fight in the sumo ring called dohyou. Japanese people affectionately call sumo wrestlers osumo-san.

Japanese professional sumo is managed by the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Japan Sumo Association), and each sumo wrestler (rikishi) belongs to a registered sumo stable (sumo-beya). Rikishi live and train in their sumo-beya. Some of Japanese sumo stables allow visitors to watch sumo practices. Practices usually take place in the morning.

There are six divisions in professional sumo: makuuchi, juuryo, makushita, sandanme, jonidan, and jonokuchi. Makuuchi is the highest division, and there are five ranks in makuuchi: yokozuna, ozeki, sekiwake, komusubi, and maegashira. Yokozuna is the highest rank. Only wrestlers promoted in juuryo and makuuchi are called sekitori.

Six Grand Sumo (ozumou) tournaments (basho) are held each year in Japan: the January tournament in Tokyo, the March tournament in Osaka, the May tournament in Tokyo, the July tournament in Nagoya, the September tournament in Tokyo, the November tournament in Fukuoka, Kyushu. Each tournament lasts for fifteen days. Also, sumo tours are often planned in different cities in Japan and around the world.

It's recommendable to buy tickets in advance if you want to get good seats. Tickets are usually sold about one month beforehand. There are special boxed area near the sumo ring called masu-seki. In masu-seki, people sit on cushions. Please refer to Sumo Ticket Information by Nihon Sumo Kyokai.

Grand Sumo tournaments in Tokyo are usually held in Ryogoku Kokugikan. The Sumo Museum is located there.
Ryogoku Kokugikan
Address: 1-3-28 Yokoami Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Access: JR Ryogoku Station

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