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Sumo match with kids1875 viewsA retirement ceremony for an important sumo wrestler includes a variety of activities besides the actual ceremony of cutting away the topknot. It involves almost the entire Japan Sumo Association, and most wrestlers in the top three divisions (Makushita, Juryo, and Makunouchi) also appear in exhibition matches.
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Snip by Yokozuna Asashoryu and a symbolic passing of the baton from one foreign yokozuna to the next (and only) foreign yokozuna.1418 viewsMongolia's Golden Age of Sumo has begun.
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Yokozuna Musashimaru1252 viewsHis last dohyo-iri.
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Musashimaru's final dohyo-iri1238 views
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Asashoryu sips water offered by Ozeki Chiyotaikai1113 viewsAs soon as Asashoryu entered the arena, many wrestlers went up to him to offer water as a show of respect.
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Asashoryu and Tochiazuma1047 viewsAfter offering water, Tochiazuma shares a laugh with the yokozuna.
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Musashimaru right after I shook his hand.982 views
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Kumu hula Sonny Ching beats the ipu gourd drum, a traditional Hawaiian instrument. This must be a first, a kumu hula performing on the sumo ring in Japan.925 views
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The final cut by stablemaster Musashigawa Oyakata.912 views
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Final match of the day with Yokozuna Asashoryu912 views
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Friends after all877 viewsKyokushuzan chats with fellow Mongolian Asashoryu.
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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.794 views
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777 viewsA retirement ceremony for an important sumo wrestler includes a variety of activities besides the actual ceremony of cutting away the topknot. It involves almost the entire Japan Sumo Association, and most wrestlers in the top three divisions (Makushita, Juryo, and Makunouchi) also appear in exhibition matches.
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Takamisakari for butsuri keiko760 viewsEverybody cheered whenever he entered the ring.
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The Kokugikan as seen from JR Ryogoku Station platform.753 views
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Musashigawa Stable wrestler wearing Aloha-print yukata746 viewsFlowery pattern (plumeria) with "Musashimaru" imprinted.
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Musashimaru and his flowers739 viewsThis was his last appearance at this retirement ceremony.
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Sumo ring (dohyo). A new sumo ring is constructed for every tournament. See sumo tournament photos here.734 views
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"Robocop" Takamisakari gets ready722 viewsThe top-division Makunouchi wrestlers went through their matches quickly.
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Konishiki also sings. (His company arranged the entertainment.)720 views
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Snip and a hug by Konishiki (Question: Where was Akebono??)664 views
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Former yokozuna Taiho, Takanosato, Kotozakura, and Wakanohana watch intently.653 views
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PR poster, painting by Lynn Matsuoka. Also see my photos of Akebono's Retirement Ceremony.634 views
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Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena as seen from Ryogoku Station613 views
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Tying the rope at the back.613 views
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Crazy sumo fan610 viewsThey also sold the real banzuke for 50 yen.
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Musashimaru minus his topknot608 views
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He was grim-faced all throughout597 views
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Hawaii's last sumo wrestler shakes hands.590 viewsIf he were married, his wife would be beside him.
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Rear view of the shiranui style of tying the rope.584 viewsHe turned in all four directions to show everyone what it looked like. This is what is called the shiranui style of tying the rope. It is characterized by a single loop in the back. The other style, called unryu, has twin loops.1 comments
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Snip by Musashimaru's brother577 views
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Konishiki is called and he enters573 views
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But his mom cannot step on the sumo ring...573 viewsFemales are prohibited from entering the sumo ring. Barring women from stepping onto the sumo ring, even to give an award to a wrestler, is one of the most blatant and preposterous forms of sexual discrimination in Japan. It was devised centuries ago, and for the sake of tradition, traditionalists in the sumo world have maintained this extremely absurd custom and belief that women are considered to be impure (due to menstruation). I'm not saying this as a gaijin (foreigner) who likes to criticize Japan or the Japanese. Nor am I saying this as a women's rights advocate. I say this from the standpoint of plain, old common sense.

Up to 1909, women were actually not allowed enter a sumo arena to view sumo matches. And once upon a time, women were prohibited from setting foot on sacred Mt. Fuji. Can you imagine if these traditions were still being practiced today?

Such discriminatory practices were abolished long ago, and here we are in the 21st century with women still unable to step into the sumo ring. The Japan Sumo Association has constantly rejected requests from important female ministers in the Prime Minister's Cabinet to give an award to the tournament winner in the sumo ring.
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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.567 views
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They wrap the rope around his waist from the front, or the thickest part of the rope.566 viewsThis was a demonstration on how they tie on the thick, white rope (tsuna) around his waist. The tsuna is the symbol of the yokozuna. It takes several assistants to put it on. They are all wearing white gloves.
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Signboard for retirement ceremony at entrance.564 viewsIt reads "Musashimaru, Intai Danpatsu Hiroo Ozumo" which means "Musashimaru Topknot-Cutting and Retirement Sumo Exhibition."
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More blood relatives (or brothers)563 views
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Snip by stablemate Ozeki Musoyama551 views
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Me next please!!!548 viewsThe winner gets to decide who to wrestle next. The rikishi all beg to be picked.
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Comic sumo (shokkiri sumo)532 viewsThis is comedy time with two young wrestlers performing various comical antics (spitting at each other, kicking, and other illegal sumo acts) on the ring.
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Nephews give a flower bouquet (they can step on the sumo ring)531 views
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Box seats. Cramped space for four people.530 views
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Pulling it tight525 views
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524 views
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Musashimaru's final dohyo-iri522 views
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Ozeki Musoyama is defeated.520 views
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Musashimaru finally appears for a yokozuna belt demo514 views
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Snip by Kitanoumi, the head of the Japan Sumo Association514 views
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His mom is next...512 views
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Oh, I gotta take a picture of this...511 viewsLook at the gyoji referee who must be thinking, "C'mon, hurry up!"
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Musashimaru's final dohyo-iri506 views
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Comic sumo (shokkiri sumo)505 viewsThis is comedy time with two young wrestlers performing various comical antics (spitting at each other, kicking, and other illegal sumo acts) on the ring.
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Musashimaru's final dohyo-iri504 viewsHe could have had Yokozuna Asashoryu be either the sword bearer or dew sweeper, but he chose to have his stablemates to join his final dohyo-iri.
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Yumitori-shiki bow-twirling ceremony503 views
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The End of Hawaii's Golden Age in sumo. For the first time since 1968, no wrestler from Hawaii is in the top Makunouchi division.500 views
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Bow twirling (called Yumitori-shiki) is the final ceremony at the end of the tournament day which is around 6 pm. 497 views
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Giant painted pictures of Musashimaru decorating the arena inside. Each one commemorates a tournament victory.495 viewsThese giant pictures are actually black-and-white photographs taken in a photo studio and printed on large paper. Then it is hand-painted in color by a woman who has been doing it for years.
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Makushita sumo match495 viewsLower-division wrestlers wear black belts, while the upper division wrestlers wear white belts (during practice) or colored belts during official matches.
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Musashimaru acknowledges a spectator as he proceeds to the ring.492 viewsThis was a demonstration on how they tie on the thick, white rope (tsuna) around his waist. The tsuna is the symbol of the yokozuna. It takes several assistants to put it on. They are all wearing white gloves.
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The scissors (golden)491 viewsI think it was given by French President Chirac who is a sumo fan.
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The first snip. Also see the video at YouTube.485 views
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Practice481 views
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More people than the real tournament480 viewsAbout 8,000 people took time out from their Golden Week holidays to see this official sumo practice of all sumo stables.
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Sumo jinku475 viewsThey are singing sumo jinku, a chant-like song about sumo and sumo wrestlers. They are singing about Musashimaru and his career.
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Musashimaru's final dohyo-iri ends467 views
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Panoramic shot of the Kokugikan466 viewsNotice the upper floor was quite empty, similar to Akebono's retirement ceremony.
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Musashimaru greets the crowd463 views
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He performs his last yokozuna dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony. He is flanked by Musoyama on the left as the sword bearer, and Miyabiyama on the right as the dew sweeper.462 views
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Musashigawa stablemaster (former Yokozuna Mienoumi) in the entrance hall461 viewsInside the entrance hallway, there was a long table on the left side with ribbons which served as name tags for distinguished guests. Musashigawa is the name of Musashimaru's sumo stable.
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Exiting the building458 views
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The Bulgarian (Kotooshu) on the left455 views
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Asashoryu joins in454 views1 comments
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452 views
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Yokozuna "tsuna" belt demo452 views
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450 views
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Awaiting the final cut as we listen to one of his famous matches.449 views
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Snip by actor Hiroshi Fujioka, who played Kamen Rider in the '70s.448 views
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The yobidashi changes once in a while. Dressed in black and sitting as one of the judges is former yokozuna Chiyonofuji, now Kokonoe oyakata.441 views
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Hairdressing demonstration438 views
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It is really good! Different flavors are offered during different days of the tournament. Top is shoyu (soy sauce) flavor, and bottom is salt flavor. Miso flavor is also offered.434 views
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The kids gradually get bigger.429 views
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Male hula dancer at one corner426 viewsThe original plan was for the hula dancers to perform on the ring itself. But at the last minute, Musashimaru decided that it was not appropriate so they danced outside the ring.
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Snip by singer Shigeru Matsuzaki426 viewsFamous for his classic hit, "Ai no Memory."
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Both ozeki watch425 views
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Asashoryu in the face-off421 views
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Head supporter speaks415 views
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Butsuri keiko411 views
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Musashimaru goes back and then comes back...411 views
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Asashoryu later won410 views
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Musashimaru doll409 views
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The thrown cushions are hastily piled up at ringside.409 views
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri407 views
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri407 viewsNext was exhibition sumo matches by the top-division Makunouchi wrestlers. Musashimaru never appeared again.
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This is the lower level with zabuton box seats costing over 10,000 yen.405 views
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Calling Musashimaru (with a conch shell)401 views
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The retirement ceremony had a lot of Hawaiian touches. This was only the beginning.397 viewsHula dancers and live Hawaiian band from Hawaii.
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Yokozuna Asashoryu performs his dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony397 views
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This must be a first, a kumu hula (hula teacher) from Hawaii performing on the sumo ring.392 viewsHe is Sonny Ching, a well-known hula teacher in Hawaii. He brought four male hula dancers who danced at the four corners of the ring.
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Panorama shot of sumo arena during a sumo tournament. There are two levels.391 views
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In the entrance hall, hula and Hawaiian music direct from Hawaii385 views
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The chair384 views
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Here he comes...383 views
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He goes back to the dressing room380 views
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Takamisakari wins379 views
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Asashoryu gets thrown377 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.372 views
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Giant portrait of Yokozuna Akebono367 viewsThese are B/W photographs painted over with oil.
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A "darn it" look on his face366 views
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Juryo sumo match366 views
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Ready to pounce on the winner364 views
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Juryo Division dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony364 views
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Asashoryu exchanges a few words358 viewsAfter the practice was over at 11 am, the sole yokozuna went over to the council.
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Sumo exhibition matches with lower division Makushita wrestlers.357 viewsA retirement ceremony for an important sumo wrestler includes a variety of activities besides the actual ceremony of cutting away the topknot. It involves almost the entire Japan Sumo Association, and most wrestlers in the top three divisions (Makushita, Juryo, and Makunouchi) also appear in exhibition matches.
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Makunochi dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony357 views
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Asashoryu greets the council upon entry356 views
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Upper level and VIP booth.353 views
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352 views
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Upper level and giant sumo portraits of 32 past tournament winners. As of Jan. 2012, there are no portraits of Japanese sumo wrestlers. Only foreigners.349 views
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri348 views
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The ceremony opens with taiko drum beating on the sumo ring.347 views
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Musashimaru souvenirs at the Kokugikan's souvenir shop344 views
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Laying the red carpet for the main event.344 views
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Asashoryu collects a big paycheck.343 views
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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. Names of sumo wrestlers absent from the tournament (due to injury, etc.) are listed on the far le339 views
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Yobidashi wearing Aloha-print garb338 views
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Sumo ring and suspended roof (no pillars).333 views
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri332 views
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Giant portrait of Yokozuna Musashimaru331 views
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Musashigawa Stable wrestlers greet visitors329 viewsIncludes Miyabiyama and Musoyama.
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Finish, everybody out please...324 views
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Giant portrait of Yokozuna Takanohana323 views
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322 views
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I'm waiting...320 views
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Musashimaru merchandise317 views
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Entrance hall is clogged up by a side show of hula.315 views
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Break308 viewsAsashoryu took a water break between each practice bout.
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Giant portrait of Yokozuna Asashoryu308 views
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Tidying up the ring305 views
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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 2003.304 views
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Musashimaru at the entrance302 views
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Taiko drum demonstration300 views
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Sumo figurines.292 views
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Yokozuna Deliberation Council members290 viewsIn the middle is Kitanoumi.
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VIP booth or "Royal Box" where the Emperor and Empress (or Crown Prince and Princess) or head of state watch sumo.290 views
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Shinto-style roof. If the house is full, the "Full House" banners are rolled down above the roof. (Now rolled up.)288 views
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Hakuho collects his pay.287 views
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Crowd outside the Kokugikan await their favorite wrestlers.285 views
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Upper level seats.284 views
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Sumo elders in the front row283 views
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Box seat for two.278 views
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263 views
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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.261 views
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Musoyama (in Sept. 2004).261 views
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The striking yokozuna upset makes the crowd go wild as they throw zabuton cushions in glee.260 views
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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.257 views
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He stomps the ground to drive away evil.250 views
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Passing out programs248 views
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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.247 views
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Crowd enters the Kokugikan for Musashimaru's retirement ceremony on Oct. 2, 2004.243 views
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Door to arena.239 views
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Lecture classroom (previously used as a dining room for chanko-nabe during tournaments). 相撲教習所231 views
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Kokugikan ticket office (right). Ticket prices range from 2,100 yen to 14,300 yen.222 views
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Entrance lobby. At the end of the lobby is a trophy showcase. On the last day of the tournament, the tournament winner will walk through here to his car for a victory parade amid a large crowd.220 views
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Sumo wrestlers enter through a side entrance. Fans wait for their favorite wrestlers.218 views
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At the gate, you might see a famous former wrestler (like former Takamiyama from Hawaii, now Stablemaster Azumazeki) taking your ticket.217 views
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Kokugikan ticket office. Cheap tickets costing 2,100 yen are sold every day of the tournament, but sell out fast by noon or so.216 views
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Kotooshu sits on his own cushion at ringside before his bout.215 views
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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214 views
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Way to Kokugikan. The guarded side gate on the right is for sumo wrestlers.211 views
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The chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (shown here is Kitanoumi) greets the crowd and thanks everyone for coming.211 views
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He claps his hands to get the attention of the gods. 横綱土俵入り211 views
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Sumo mural in lobby.207 views
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Corridor and souvenir shops.205 viewsA corridor encircles the arena.
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The sign reads "Physical body, Technique, Heart." What you need to succeed in sumo.199 views
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Nameplates of tournament winners on Emperor's Cup198 views
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Kokugikan197 views
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Sumo Museum. Open only during tournament days. Free admission.196 viewsThe wall on the left show portraits of all the yokozuna in the modern era.
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Sumo wrestler and sumo stable banners192 views
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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.192 views
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The tournament winner receives numerous prizes from various organizations and companies.191 views
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Next to the chanko dining room is a sumo ring for practice and deliberation exhibition matches.191 views
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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.190 views
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Trophy case in lobby. This is the Emperor's Cup awarded to the tournament winner.189 views
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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.187 views
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Kokkai means "Black Sea."187 views
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Taiko drum tower185 views
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The higher ranking rikishi are at the end of the line. (Hakuho and Kotooshu here).184 views
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Ozeki Kakuryu in an 2013.184 views
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If you want to photograph sumo, you'll need a good telephoto lens. The sumo ring has mostly tungsten lighting.183 views
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Hakuho throws salt on the sumo ring.182 views
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Ozeki Kotooshu.180 views
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Front of Kokugikan. The wide stairs make it quick for many people to exit the building. It is a sleek, modern building with a spacious interior. The roof collects rainwater for use in the toilets.178 views
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In the back on the left is a prize from Mexico and one from Hungary on the right. In the front on the left is a prize from Mongolia, middle is from NHK, and right is from China.178 views
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178 views
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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.176 views
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Prime Minister's Cup on left, the middle is the President Chirac Award from France, and the glass on the right is a prize from the Czech Republic.172 viewsPresident Chirac is a sumo fan. There is also a Czech wrestler in the lower division.
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Roho vs. Tochiazuma172 views
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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169 views
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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.169 views
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Ozeki Kotooshu with an apron by Bulgaria Yogurt. (Kotooshu is from Bulgaria.)169 views
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Yokozuna Hakuho169 views
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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.167 views
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167 views
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There goes Asashoryu.167 views
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Print Club photo sticker booth.167 views
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Prize from the United Arab Emirates.165 views
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165 views
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Yokozuna Harumafuji164 views
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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.160 views
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Sumo wrestler banners159 views
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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.)157 views
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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.156 views
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The two rikishi who were called up go on the ring and stomp their foot.155 views
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Takamisakari154 views
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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.153 views
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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.151 views
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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.149 views
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Sumo figurines.149 views
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Taiko drum tower148 views
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Kokugikan Cafe snack bar147 views
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Overarm throw called uwatenage.147 views
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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.147 views
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Also see my YouTube video of the flying cushions.147 views
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The sumo tournaments are broadcast live every day on TV by NHK, focusing on the Makunouchi Division matches.146 views
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After the last wrestler is on the ring, they all turn around and raise their arms.146 views
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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.146 views
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Kotooshu is from Bulgaria.146 views
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Asashoryu and Hakuho glare at each other.146 views
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Then they rinse their mouths with water for purification. Another wrestler holds the water ladle and tissue paper.144 views
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Emperor's Cup. This is what all sumo wrestlers dream about.143 views
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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.143 views
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Hakuho, before he became yokozuna.142 views
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After you go through the ticket gate, the front of Kokugikan has two large murals.142 views
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Getting off the sumo ring.141 views
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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.141 views
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On the ring, they spread their arms to show that they carry no weapons.139 views
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139 views
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Takamisakari does his "Robocop" act in his corner to psych himself up.138 views
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138 views
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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.137 views
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The cushions are quickly cleared away.137 views
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Side of lobby. (Passing out free calendar posters during Jan. tourney.)136 views
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Fortunately, there are many people who do appreciate sumo, like former French president Jacques Chirac. (THe current French president has no interest in sumo.)136 views
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Many matches also have sponsor who pay money to the winner of the match. Each banner represents a sponsor.136 views
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Old Nameplates of tournament winners that were on the Emperor's Cup.136 views
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Bulgaria (Kotooshu)135 views
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