Outdoor Sumo at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo
May 13, 2013 7:58 PM
Outdoor Sumo at Yasukuni Shrine in TokyoOutdoor Sumo Photos
Outdoor Sumo Video
Yokozuna Match - Hakuho vs Harumafuji
In April, sumo gets back to its roots at Yasukuni Shrine with an outdoor event. In olden times, sumo was generally held outdoors at shrines and temples or before gathered assemblies of august groups such as the shogun, daimyo (feudal lord), even the Emperor.
Hono Ozumo is a special ceremonial sumo event held at a shrine such as Yasukuni Shrine. Lower rank wrestlers (maku-shita) and top rank wrestlers (maku-uchi) compete. Even the yokozuna the highest rank in sumo compete at Hono Ozumo. If there is more than one yokozuna, they will compete against each other. Sumo can have several yokozuna at the same time but it is relatively rare to have more than two. Usually to see a yokozuna match between two yokozuna is a rare treat. Only on the last day of a tournament can one see this and it's very difficult to get tickets for that day.
This year was a chance to see such a yokozuna match, the first in four years as Yokozuna Asashoryu retired in February of 2010. Hakuho has been the only yokozuna until September of 2012 when Harumafuji was promoted. This was their first yokozuna match at Yasukuni. Watch the video to see the result.
There are a few differences with this event and a regular basho (tournament). At Hono Ozumo you can see a comedy sumo performance and listen to sumo wrestlers sing. Like a day at the basho, they do ring-entry ceremonies including the one performed by the yokozuna and at the end of the event the bow dance. However, unlike the basho, the event is free.
Another difference is the number of "pick ups" in the matches. At a basho, you're not likely to see many wrestlers pick their heavyset opponents up and carry them over the ring barrier. At Hono Ozumo this technique abounds. Perhaps because losing here does not bring with it the fear of demotion that you have at a basho, the wrestlers are more carefree and playful.
Outdoor sumo takes place on the first Friday in April from 10ish to about 3.
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