Sumo wrestling, japan's national sport


Originated in Japan, sumo wrestling is the nation’s most prestigious size of thể thao holding the status of national sport. Its history dates back as early as the 7th century with the Imperial family as huge fans. Watching a sumo tournament is one of the greatest experiences when in Japan.

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Introduction lớn Sumo



Sumo 相撲, which translates to lớn “mutual strikes”, is one of Japan’s oldest form of thể thao spanning centuries of history. The sport is said khổng lồ have existed as far back as 2,000 years ago. What started as a religious ceremony offered lớn the gods as a prayer for good harvest evolved into entertainment in the form of a spectator thể thao enjoyed by the Imperial family as well as nobles. During the Sengoku period, sumo wrestling was also used as a form of warrior training for samurais. Come the Edo period, sumo was practiced nationwide và recognized as a major sport.

※ Nihon Sumo Kyokai, “History of Sumo”

Japan’s National Sport, or is it?

Though sumo is frequently called Japan’s National sport, you’ll be surprised khổng lồ know that there has not been any official declaration that it is the National Sport. At the same time, there has also been no official announcement khổng lồ the contrary. More importantly, sumo’s long history và intertwining with Japanese traditions and culture has made it beloved lớn the people.

Importance to lớn Japanese Culture

As previously mentioned, sumo wrestling has a close relationship with religion. Specifically Shintoism as the harvest ceremonies would be performed at shrine grounds. Although sumo has long since parted from its religious roots, some things are hard to let go of. For instance, the sacredness of the wrestling area, the act of purification before sumo wrestlers enter the ring, the referees costume, and the clapping of hands before the match starts.

Life of a Sumo Wrestler


Sumo wrestlers are called rikishi 力士 in Japanese which means man of strength:

meaning Strength

meaning Man, or Persons

Becoming a sumo wrestler is a huge life decision that needs khổng lồ be made no later than adolescence. Thereafter, the budding sumo wrestler will be enrolled in a sumo stable for training which is quite challenging. Discipline, hard work & strong self-control are absolute necessities. The stable master who acts as a coach or trainer will control most of the student’s life including diet, schedule, and clothing.

With perseverance và a strong will, one can reach the highest rank of yokozuna in sumo wrestling, of which there are few. Actually, at time of writing, there is only 1 yokozuna rank holder after the second yokozuna retired.

Greatest Sumo Wrestlers of All Time


With such a long history of sumo wrestling, there are of course certain fighters who stand a cut above the rest breaking records và reaching great heights. Here are four of Japan’s sumo legends:


Hakuho is often called the greatest sumo wrestler. As of September 2021, he has retired after a 2 decade long career due lớn a chronic knee injury & plans to operate a sumo stable. He holds the highest record of wins at 45 tournament wins, overwhelmingly beating the previous record of 32. His other records & titles held include most tournaments as yokozuna - 84, most career wins - 1187, và more.

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※ BBC, “Hakuho: Sumo wrestling's greatest champion retires”※ Nihon Sumo Kyokai, “Rikishi Profile - Hakuho Sho”TaihoTaiho was considered the greatest sumo wrestler of all time up till Hakuho. One of his most memorable feats và hardest records lớn break is winning at least once a year consecutively from career start lớn retirement. He is also famed as being the youngest rikishi to earn the rank of yokozuna at 21 years old. Prior khổng lồ Hakuho, he held the highest record of tournament wins at 32. He has unfortunately passed away several years ago.

※ Taiho-Kikaku, "Profile"ChiyonofujiChiyonofuji is a lightweight sumo wrestler as compared to lớn his competitors being only a little over 100kg. He was not lớn be underestimated by his opponents however, as his skills, speed và pure muscular strength made up for what he lacked in weight. After Hakuho & Taiho, he is the record holder of tournament wins at 31. He has since passed away from cancer at 61 years of age.

※ The nhật bản Times, "Sumo icon Chiyonofuji dies at 61"

Income of a Sumo Wrestler

A sumo wrestler’s income doesn’t just consist of a regular salary, it is also affected by tournament prizes, endorsements & sponsorship, fan contributions, and more. In the first place, depending on the athlete’s ranking the regular income will differ as well. Essentially, the higher the rank, the more they earn.

The average annual income of a sumo wrestler according lớn rank is:

Sumo Rank

Annual Salary (Million Yen)


3 ~ 36


2.5 ~ 30

Sekiwaki / Komusubi

1.8 ~ 21.6


1.4 ~ 16.8


1.1 ~ 13.2

Prize money is one of the main ways sumo wrestlers can boost their earnings. Grand prize winnings can go up khổng lồ 100 million yen.

※ Yahoo News, “前頭は140万円、大関は250万円、では横綱の月収は…? 力士の“収入事情”の実態に迫る”

Typical Diet of a Sumo Wrestler


In order khổng lồ reach their weight target by bulking up and also to get enough energy for their daily training regiment, sumo wrestlers need to lớn abide by a strict supervised diet. An average male requires around 2,500 calories per day, sumo wrestlers consume at least 4,000 calories a day. They usually consume only 2 huge meals a day skipping breakfast. A staple dish, or more accurately meal, for them is chanko nabe. There is no fixed menu for what ingredients go into the hotpot but it usually contains lots of protein (seafood or meat) và vegetables.

Match Rules and Where khổng lồ Watch Sumo Wrestling

The match rules are quite simple; basically push your opponent out of the ring or topple him over.

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Sumo matches can be enjoyed on TV or live at the stadium. One place lớn watch is Ryogoku Kokugikan which we have written about here:

Ryogoku Kokugikan, The Sumo Stadium

To Sum(o) It Up


Sumo has developed over the years into the sport it is today. More people have become interested in the sport, so much so that foreign nationals like Hakuho (greatest sumo wrestler in Japan, above) have decided lớn take on the challenge. Whether it’s on TV or watching a live tournament, or even just eating chanko nabe, give sumo a chance và get lớn know Japan’s oldest traditional sport.