大相撲 O Sumo
The origins of Sumo date back to the Nara Period, (The 8th Century) which was introduced to the Imperial Court. The present Japan Sumo Association has its origins in groups formed in the Edo Period (1601-1864).
There are six Grand Tournaments a year, with three being held in Tokyo. This summer match has returned to Tokyo with some modifications to the wrestler rooms like acrylic partitions along with a limited number of attendees allowed to watch in person, and are required to have a temperature check before entering the hall.
I've been a serious fan since 2003 and over the years, have gone to many tournaments, private parties and public celebrations. I'd like to share a few items (among quite a pile of things) that I've collected through my passion of the National sport.
This is an original illustration of the Grand Champion Hakuhou by a famous artist who sets up a small selling booth inside the Ryogokukigan Hall during the tournaments.
That same artist drew a portrait of me, as a surprise gift from one of my best sumo buddies, a young man who has been bringing me into the world of Sumo since 2003.
Morning workout and lunch with one of the Greatest Grand Champions ever, Asashoryu (Morning Blue Dragon) 2007.
Asashoryu, Year End Party 2008
A signed wrestlers card from Osuna Arashi (Sand Storm), the very first wrestler in Japan from the African continent. He stopped for me, as he walked the hanamichi after his bout to sign my card, and did with a smile. Sometimes asking a wrestler to stop is not an easy thing to do, especially when they are popular because of their assistants who act as bodyguards. Osuna Arashi had to retire early due to a knee injury.
Grand Champion Hakuho as he walked in front of me, protected by his assistants at the Kyushu Tournament in 2010. He holds the record for the most undefeated tournament championships at fifteen, which is seven more than any other sumo wrestler in history. He has been called the “quintessential all-round sumo wrestler” because of his strength in both grappling and pushing techniques. My girlfriend and I were invited to join him and other wrestlers in Las Vegas during an overseas exhibition tournament and attended their private party at the Mandalay Bay. That was something!
Another signed card from Aminishiki, one of the oldest wrestlers in history to maintain an upper rank. He is in the all-time top ten for a number of sumo records, including most career wins, most top division appearances and most tournaments ranked in the top division. He retired at the age of 40 in 2019.
The “tegata” is an autographed hand print made from inking the wrestlers hand and making an impression on a paper board. They can be quite collectible. This one belongs to the 68th Yokozuna (Grand Champion) in the history of the sport and is sought after on the secondary market. Take note that the lower-ranked wrestlers aren’t allowed to make a tegata.
This collage photograph has a special memory. First, I was escorted down to the off limits area of the basement in the Hall where there is a known ghost who often pushes people from the back side (as so many stories have been told), but I went through without any such experience. Secondly, my friend Kumiko san (to my left) was with me on that day and is currently in her last stage of a battle with cancer.
Thank you for taking a peek at my favorite sport.