Rikishi, the art of Sumo wrestlers

02 Dec 2016 in Discover Japan

Sumo wrestling is an extremely popular sport in Japan, but it remains primarily an artform that requires an strong discipline ...


Sumo wrestling is a combat sport that is greatly enjoyed by Westerners. Like the geishas, ​​it is a tourist attraction eagerly sought out by visitors.

The origins

Sumo arena in Japan

Sumo wrestling is believed to have developed 1,500 years ago through Shinto religious rituals. At that time, arranged fights were dedicated to the gods to whom people prayed for fruitful harvests. Sumo wrestling contests were subsequently introduced into the ceremonies of the imperial court during the 8th century, but in a more violent form than we are familiar with today. In those days it was a combination of boxing and wrestling. During the 17th century, groups of sumo wrestlers were formed to entertain the middle classes, and that was when the sport took on its current guise.

Sumo wrestling in the present days
Professional sumo wrestling is managed by the JSA (Japan Sumo Association). The Association organises six major annual tournaments – hon basho – which are held around the country. They take place during January in Tokyo, March in Osaka, May in Tokyo, July in Nagoya, September in Tokyo and November in Fukuoka.

The rules
During your stay at HOSHINOYA Tokyo, take the opportunity to attend a wrestling match and discover this ancient art.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo hotel

Sumo fight in Japan

The rules are simple: the two wrestlers fight in the combat arena, a ring with a diameter of 4.55m, and the objective for each of them is to put his opponent out of the arena, or to make him touch the ground with a part of his body (excluding the soles of his feet). The rikishi, as the wrestlers are called, wear only a mawashi, a strip of fabric wrapped tightly around the waist and between the legs. This provides the only firm hand-hold allowed during the combat. This is definitely a spectacle not to be missed.


Photo credits : Edward Dalmulder & Better Than Bacon



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