su020-20060519IMG_2887.jpg
Grand sumo tournaments are held six times a year in Jan., March, May, July, Sept., and Nov. They are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo in Jan., May, and Sept. In March, it is in Osaka, July in Nagoya, and Nov. in Fukuoka. This is the Kokugikan.
su021-20050508IMG_0476.jpg
Each tournament is 15 days long, and each wrestler in the top two divisions wrestle once a day. A wrestler must win at least 8 times during a tournament to get promoted. Otherwise, he is demoted in rank. The more he wins, the higher he is promoted.
su022-20050508IMG_0482.jpg
There are about 800 sumo wrestlers, called rikishi, and they belong to one of six divisions. Each day of the tournament starts in the morning with the lower divisions as you see here. They are skinnier and wear drab-looking black mawashi.
su023-20050508IMG_0474.jpg
The sumo matches have five judges (shinpan), dressed in formal black kimono, sitting on each of the four sides of the sumo ring. There is also a referee (gyoji) on the ring. This is former yokozuna Takanohana who has lost much weight and looks like a kid.
su024-20050508IMG_0487.jpg
One colorful highlight each day during a tournament is the dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony performed by rikishi in the top two divisions. These are rikishi in the second highest division called Juryo. 十両
su025-20050508IMG_0495.jpg
Juryo wrestlers performing the ring-entering ceremony.
su026-20050508IMG_0496.jpg
The wrestlers are divided into east and west, and both groups perform the dohyo-iri. They wear colorful ceremonial aprons called kesho mawashi made of silk. They can cost up to 500,000 yen.
su027-20050508IMG_0505.jpg
You can see sumo for as cheap as 2100 yen. You can buy tickets at the box office where the tournament is held. The cheap tickets may sell out, so go early.
su028-20050508IMG_0529.jpg
JUryo wrestlers continue to fight.
su029-20050508IMG_0533.jpg
This is Hakurozan, who was arrested for drug use in 2008 and booted out of sumo along with his brother Roho.
su030-20050508IMG_0518.jpg
On the first day of the tournament, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (shown here is Kitanoumi) and top rikishi go on the ring to convey greetings to the crowd.
su031-20050508IMG_0521.jpg
The chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (shown here is Kitanoumi) greets the crowd and thanks everyone for coming.
su032-20060119IMG_5988.jpg
Next we have the ring-entering ceremony by the top division wrestlers in the Makunouchi Division. Rikishi from the east side come down the aisle first. They are led by a referee.
su033-20060119IMG_5989.jpg
They enter as wooden clappers are clapped by someone.
su034-20060119IMG_5991.jpg
The colorful kesho mawashi are expensive to make, and each wrestler has a sponsor who donates an apron. The sponsor's name is usually on the bottom.
su035-20060119IMG_6001.jpg
The higher ranking rikishi are at the end of the line. (Hakuho and Kotooshu here).
su036-20060119IMG_5994.jpg
They make their way around the ring.
su037-20060119IMG_6003.jpg
The sumo tournaments are broadcast live every day on TV by NHK, focusing on the Makunouchi Division matches.
su038-20060119IMG_6007.jpg
After the last wrestler is on the ring, they all turn around and raise their arms.
su039-20060119IMG_6009.jpg
Getting off the sumo ring.
su040-20060119IMG_6012.jpg
Ozeki Kotooshu.
su041-20050508IMG_0544.jpg
Ozeki Kotooshu with an apron by Bulgaria Yogurt. (Kotooshu is from Bulgaria.)
su042-20060119IMG_6013.jpg
Next are rikishi from the west side.
su043-20060119IMG_6017.jpg
su044-20060119IMG_6019.jpg
Takamisakari is one of the more popular rikishi.
su045-20060119IMG_6023.jpg
Unfortunately, there are people ignorant of sumo who think it is just nearly naked, fat men charging at each other. Famous American newspaper columnist Mike Royko once wrote one of the worse and most insulting pieces about sumo in his column.
su046-20060119IMG_6027.jpg
During a sumo exhibition tour in the US, first lady Nancy Reagan rejected having the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony performed in the Rose Garden of the White House. It was performed at the State Department instead with Secretary George Schultz attending.
su047-20060119IMG_6028.jpg
Fortunately, there are many people who do appreciate sumo, like former French president Jacques Chirac. (THe current French president has no interest in sumo.)
su048-20050508IMG_0547.jpg
Wrestlers wait until everyone is on the ring. Notice that Takamisakari (second from the left) and the rikishi on the far right have almost the same aprons. They will serve as the sword bearer and dew sweeper for the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony.
su049-20050508IMG_0548.jpg
Some of the designs on the aprons are quite beautiful. Some are also pretty much advertisements for the sponsor who could be a support group, fan club, company, or rich individual.
su050-20050508IMG_0552.jpg
su051-20050508IMG_0553.jpg
Roho's apron actually had little lights which flashed.
su052-20060519IMG_2903.jpg
Hakuho, before he became yokozuna.
su053-20060519IMG_2911.jpg
Baruto, from Estonia, at the center. He's well on his way to become Ozeki. There are many foreign sumo wrestlers. Unfortunately, there are none from Hawaii. Mostly Europeans and Mongolians.
su054-20060519IMG_2915.jpg
su055-20060519IMG_2916.jpg
su100-20050508IMG_0565.jpg
Right after the Makunouchi dohyo-iri is the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri. This is Yokozuna Asashoryu. A major highlight during the tournament.
su101-20050508IMG_0567.jpg
The yokozuna is flanked by two attendants, a sword bearer on the left and dew sweeper on the right. Their kesho mawashi ceremonial aprons are a matching set.
su102-20050508IMG_0571.jpg
He claps his hands to get the attention of the gods. 横綱土俵入り
su103-20050508IMG_0572.jpg
su104-20050508IMG_0573.jpg
su105-20040916IMG_8949.jpg
su106-20040916IMG_8952.jpg
He extends his arms to show that he conceals no weapons. I'm not too crazy about the way Asashoryu does the dohyo-iri though. A few little details make it less dignified.
su107-20040916IMG_8958.jpg
su108-20050508IMG_0577.jpg
Then he steps forward and turns to the front.
su109-20060119IMG_6038.jpg
He claps his hands and stomps his foot.
su110-20060119IMG_6039.jpg
su111-20060119IMG_6040.jpg
su112-20060119IMG_6041.jpg
He stomps the ground to drive away evil.
su113-20060119IMG_6042.jpg
Asashoryu performing the yokozuna dohyo-iri or ring-entering ceremony. There are two styles of the yokozuna dohyo-iri. One is the Unryu style which Asashoryu performs. One hand is on his hip as he rises here. 雲龍型
su114-20060119IMG_6045.jpg
The ring-entering ceremony starts at around 4 pm. The yokozuna's rope belt and zig-zag paper streamers look very similar to the sacred rope found at Shinto shrines.
su115-20050508IMG_0578.jpg
He turns around and goes back to his place. You can see that his rope belt is tied with a single loop on the back. This is the Unryu style. It differs from the Shiranui style performed by Hakuho.
su116-20050508IMG_0581.jpg
Claps his hands for the last time. The man in purple is the referee.
su117-20050508IMG_0583.jpg
The two rikishi who escort him are either from his own sumo stable or an affiliate sumo stable.
su118-20050508IMG_0585.jpg
The yokozuna dohyo-iri ends. It is performed every day during the 15-day tournament as well as at exhibition tournaments.
su119-20060119IMG_6034.jpg
Side view of Asashoryu's dohyo-iri. Looks like we'll have to wait a lot longer to ever see another Japanese yokozuna. No one is even on the horizon as of this writing. The next yokozuna might as well be another foreigner (Baruto perhaps).
su119-20130125-1735.jpg
Yokozuna Hakuho from Mongolia performs the dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony in Jan. 2013.
su119-20130125-1736.jpg
su119-20130125-1746.jpg
Yokozuna Hakuho
su119-20130125-1752.jpg
su119-20130125-1756.jpg
su119-20130125-1759.jpg
su119-20130125-1773.jpg
su119-20130125-1783.jpg
Next is Yokozuna Harumafuji.
su119-20130125-1789.jpg
su119-20130125-1790.jpg
Yokozuna Harumafuji from Mongolia performs the dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
su119-20130125-1794.jpg
su119-20130125-1797.jpg
Yokozuna Harumafuji from Mongolia performs the dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
su119-20130125-1800.jpg
su119-20130125-1808.jpg
su119-20130125-1811.jpg
Yokozuna Harumafuji
su119-20130125-1813.jpg
su119-20130125-1817.jpg
su119-20130125-1822.jpg
su119-20130125-1823.jpg
su119-20130125-1827.jpg
su119-20130125-1834.jpg
su119-20130125-1836.jpg
su119-20130125-1838.jpg
su119-20130125-1842.jpg
su119-20130125-1845.jpg
su119-20130125-1846.jpg
su150-20050508IMG_0589.jpg
Also on the first day of the tournament, the previous tournament winner receives a large portrait of himself to be hung in the Kokugikan. This is the ceremony for it.
su151-20050508IMG_0590.jpg
In this case, Asashoryu receives a new portrait which is then unveiled. The portrait is usually sponsored by a major newspaper.
su152-20050508IMG_0592.jpg
Everyone looks up at the unveiling of the framed portrait hanging near the ceiling. Also see my YouTube video of this unveiling.
su153-20050508IMG_0595.jpg
A portrait of Asashoryu is ceremoniously unveiled in the Kokugikan. On the right is the tournament date, on the left is the rikishi's name, and the sponsor's name is on the bottom. The portrait is actually B/W photo hand-painted in color.
su153a-20130125-1864.jpg
The "Full House" banners are unfurled above the Shinto-style roof.
su153b-20130125-1863.jpg
su154-20050508IMG_0609.jpg
And so the day's sumo matches continue as the wrestler walks up to the sumo ring to wait his turn.
su155-20060119IMG_6158.jpg
The rikishi sits at ringside until his name is called by the yobidashi (caller or usher) here who is announcing the wrestler's name while holding a fan.
su156-20040916IMG_9020.jpg
The yobidashi changes once in a while. Dressed in black and sitting as one of the judges is former yokozuna Chiyonofuji, now Kokonoe oyakata.
su157-20060119IMG_6160.jpg
The two rikishi who were called up go on the ring and stomp their foot.
su158-20050508IMG_0611.jpg
Then they rinse their mouths with water for purification. Another wrestler holds the water ladle and tissue paper.
su159-20060119IMG_6162.jpg
su160-20060119IMG_6109.jpg
They spit out the water into a small bucket in the corner.
su161-20060119IMG_6170.jpg
Then they throw salt onto the ring for purification. They do this a few times before the match. These are all Shinto-based religious rituals. Even the roof above the sumo ring looks like a Shinto shrine roof.
su162-20060119IMG_6081.jpg
Takamisakari does his "Robocop" act in his corner to psych himself up.
su163-20050508IMG_0613.jpg
On the ring, they spread their arms to show that they carry no weapons.
su164-20040916IMG_9051.jpg
Asashoryu
su165-20040916IMG_9034.jpg
Musoyama (in Sept. 2004).
su166-20050508IMG_0615.jpg
Many matches also have sponsor who pay money to the winner of the match. Each banner represents a sponsor.
su167-20050508IMG_0617.jpg
Takamisakari
su168-20040916IMG_9054.jpg
They glare at each other a few times before the match. They repeat the salt throwing and glaring for four minutes before the match starts.
su169-20050508IMG_0606.jpg
The initial charge or tachiai is crucial, and can determine who will win the match. The rikishi on the right has charged earlier than the other, giving him the advantage.
su170-20050508IMG_0672.jpg
Often the wrestlers will lock onto each other while gripping each other's mawashi belts (made of silk). (Ozeki Kaio vs. Tamanoshima in May 2005.)
su171-20050508IMG_0673.jpg
There are many sumo techniques (called kimarite) to defeat the opponent. This is okuridashi or rear push out. Once your back is toward the opponent, you have little chance to recover.
su172-20040916IMG_9063.jpg
Oshidashi or frontal push out, a common technique.
su173-20050508IMG_0472.jpg
Overarm throw called uwatenage.
su174-20040916IMG_8916.jpg
Sometimes a match is too close to call. The ringside judges will hold a conference in the ring and either decide who was the winner or declare a rematch. The referee must accept the decision. Judges in the video room may also examine a replay on video.
su175-20060119IMG_6086.jpg
After losing, Takamisakari dejectedly leaves the ring. The crowd sympathizes with him and applaud.
su176-20060119IMG_6139.jpg
Referees are also ranked. The higher ranking referees appear for the matches of the higher-ranking rikishi. They have different dress as the rank goes higher. The lowest-ranked referee may be barefoot.
su177-20060119IMG_6193.jpg
The color of the tassel hanging from the referee's fan indicates his rank. Purple or purple and white indicates the highest ranking referee who judges the yokozuna matches. A red tassel is for the sanyaku matches (Ozeki, Sekiwake, Komusubi).
su178-20050508IMG_0625.jpg
Kotooshu is from Bulgaria.
su179-20050508IMG_0630.jpg
He defeats his opponent who also pushes down the referee.
su180-20050508IMG_0632.jpg
The referee is thrown into the crowd by the wrestler (by accident, of course). An attendant carries the water bucket out of the way so the referee does not crash into it and spill the water. A judge looks on concerned, while some spectators are amused.
su181-20060119IMG_6053.jpg
Once in a while, they freshen up the sumo ring, sweeping it.
su182-20060119IMG_6165.jpg
Kotooshu on the right.
su183-20060119IMG_6168.jpg
su184-20060119IMG_6178.jpg
The wrestler must start the match from a "three-point stand" position where both his feet and at least one of his hands are touching the ground.
su185-20060119IMG_6179.jpg
su186-20060119IMG_6180.jpg
Trying for a yorikiri or frontal push out while grabbing the belt.
su187-20060119IMG_6181.jpg
su188-20060119IMG_6182.jpg
Grabbing the opponent's mawashi belt to throw him down or out is a key technique.
su189-20060119IMG_6184.jpg
The referee points his fan toward the side of the winner.
su190-20050508IMG_0644.jpg
Kokkai on the left. He is from Georgia in eastern Europe.
su191-20050508IMG_0645.jpg
Kokkai means "Black Sea."
su192-20050508IMG_0655.jpg
Both tumble off the ring...
su193-20050508IMG_0656.jpg
And into the front row of spectators. I've never heard of any spectators who got injured by sumo wrestlers falling on top of them.
su194-20050508IMG_0661.jpg
There were also two Russian sumo wrestlers. Roho and his brother Hakurozan. This is Roho in May 2005. Both got busted for drug use in 2008 and were kicked out of sumo.
su195-20050508IMG_0665.jpg
Roho vs. Tochiazuma
su196-20050508IMG_0666.jpg
Seeing sumo live is much better than seeing it on TV. The atmosphere can't be beat when you're actually there. Taking photos and videos are of course permitted.
su197-20050508IMG_0667.jpg
Roho vs. Tochiazuma
su198-20060119IMG_6135.jpg
Hakurozan on the right in Jan. 2006.
su199-20060119IMG_6136.jpg
Hakurozan at the initial charge.
su200-20060119IMG_6146.jpg
A large cushion is brought in for Kotooshu.
su201-20060119IMG_6148.jpg
Kotooshu sits on his own cushion at ringside before his bout.
su202-20050508IMG_0637.jpg
Besides Europeans, there are numerous Mongolians in sumo. This is Hakuho in May 2005. He's now a yokozuna.
su203-20050508IMG_0639.jpg
Hakuho
su204-20050508IMG_0640.jpg
Hakuho throws salt on the sumo ring.
su205-20050508IMG_0641.jpg
su206-20060119IMG_6153.jpg
Ama, another Mongolian and now Yokozuna Harumafuji. The Mongolians are taking over the top echelons of sumo dominated by foreigners. We haven't had a Japanese yokozuna since 2003.
su207-20050508IMG_0686.jpg
The most famous Mongolian sumo wrestler is Asashoryu who has been quite controversial at times.
su208-20050508IMG_0687.jpg
su209-20050508IMG_0689.jpg
su210-20050508IMG_0691.jpg
su211-20050508IMG_0692.jpg
Asashoryu won this one.
su212-20050508IMG_0693.jpg
Asashoryu collects a big paycheck.
su213-20050508IMG_0635.jpg
Sumo scoreboard. The names of all the wrestlers are displayed in the order of the sumo matches (from right to left). The winner is indicated with a red lamp.
su250-20060119IMG_6191.jpg
Another match with Asashoryu.
su251-20060119IMG_6194.jpg
Lots of sponsors for this match between Asashoryu and Hakuho on Jan. 19, 2006. Both Mongolians.
su252-20060119IMG_6198.jpg
Asashoryu
su253-20060119IMG_6199.jpg
Asashoryu and Hakuho glare at each other.
su254-20060119IMG_6202.jpg
su255-20060119IMG_6204.jpg
A false start by Hakuho.
su256-20060119IMG_6205.jpg
If you want to photograph sumo, you'll need a good telephoto lens. The sumo ring has mostly tungsten lighting.
su257-20060119IMG_6206.jpg
su258-20060119IMG_6207.jpg
There goes Asashoryu.
su259-20060119IMG_6212.jpg
The striking yokozuna upset makes the crowd go wild as they throw zabuton cushions in glee.
su260-20060119IMG_6214.jpg
Hakuho collects his pay.
su261-20060119IMG_6215.jpg
The cushions are quickly cleared away.
su262-20060119IMG_6216.jpg
Also see my YouTube video of the flying cushions.
su263-20060119IMG_6226.jpg
The thrown cushions are hastily piled up at ringside.
su264-20130125-1892.jpg
Ozeki Kotooshu in Jan 2013.
su265-20130125-1901.jpg
su266-20130125-1902.jpg
su267-20130125-1907.jpg
su268-20130125-1916.jpg
su269-20130125-1923.jpg
Ozeki Kisenosato
su270-20130125-1929.jpg
Ozeki Kisenosato vs. Yokozuna Harumafuji in Jan. 2013.
su271-20130125-1931.jpg
su272-20130125-1932.jpg
su273-20130125-1935.jpg
su274-20130125-1938.jpg
su275-20130125-1945.jpg
Harumafuji doing his very low stance.
su276-20130125-1952.jpg
su277-20130125-1958.jpg
su278-20130125-1961.jpg
Harumafuji's common technique is to sidestep his opponent and push him out from behind.
su279-20130125-1964.jpg
Kisenosato loses this one.
su280-20130125-1967.jpg
su281-20130125-1969.jpg
Yokozuna Hakuho vs. Ozeki Kakuryu in Jan 2013. They are both Mongolian.
su282-20130125-1978.jpg
su283-20130125-1979.jpg
su284-20130125-1982.jpg
su285-20130125-1984.jpg
su286-20130125-1985.jpg
Ozeki Kakuryu in an 2013.
su287-20130125-1990.jpg
su288-20130125-1992.jpg
su289-20130125-1999.jpg
su290-20130125-2000.jpg
su291-20130125-2007.jpg
Hakuho beats Kakuryu.
su292-20130125-2014.jpg
su300-20060119IMG_6219.jpg
Bow twirling (called Yumitori-shiki) is the final ceremony at the end of the tournament day which is around 6 pm.
su301-20050508IMG_0703.jpg
The bow twirler is a Makushita Division wrestler (third highest division). Afterward, the entire sumo ring is covered with a cloth. Also see my Kokugikan photos here.
     
193 files on 1 page(s)