The oldest of Japan's various martial arts, sumo wrestling evolved from Japan's most distinct and ritualistic sports. The sport was first introduced 1500 years back when it used to be performed mainly to ensure good harvests. Sumo wrestling is still heavily centered around the Shinto religion.
Earlier, a lot of brutality was associated with the matches with the vanquished often expected to surrender his life. The 7 th c saw sumo wrestling coming under the protection of the warring Shogunite regime and eventually, being banned as a public spectacle. Only the samurai or warrior class was allowed to practice it as part of their military exercise.
Features of Sumo Wrestling in Osaka
• The sumotori or competitors weigh between 250 and 500 pounds.
• Their aim is to either knock down his opponent from a specially sized ring or make any part of his body touch the ground.
• There is a series of 70 accepted Sumo moves including pushing, slapping, hoisting, tripping, pinning or throwing.
• Six 15 day tournaments are held each year in Japan and one of them is held in Osaka.
• Sumo matches are fought in a dohyo or a raised and sanctified platform built with clay and sand.
• A 14 foot 10 inch circle is marked out on it using half buried straw bales.
• A wooden structure resembling the roof of Shinto shrine is suspended above the ring.
• Each Sumo tournament begins with a rich and spectacular ceremony.
• The wrestlers, the referees, the attendants and helpers wear colorful attire with motifs and significance dating back to Japan's Edo period.
• The grand champions enter the ring first and begin their own elaborate rituals called doyho-iri.
• After completing the rituals, they leave the ring making way for the other lower-ranked sumatori who perform the same ritual.
• The match begins when two Rikishi or competitors, in their traditional loin cloth or Mawashi, enter the ring.
• After the chiri-chozu ceremony and the Shiko ritual, each man tosses unrefined salt into the ring to purify it.
• Then, begins the real excitement, the match is almost ready to start.
• The strict and disciplined training regimen for sumo wrestlers is generally monitored by retired Rikishi.
• A Sumo wrestler's grading depends on the number of matches he wins during official tournaments.
• Twenty awards are divided amongst the competitors of the six different sumo divisions, the most esteemed being the Emperor's Cup.
• The sumo wrestler's dream is to have his name engraved on the cup.
• There are numerous Sumo schools across Osaka.
• Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium is a famous venue for Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.