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traditional Japanese wrestling, is one of Japan's most interesting—and unique—spectator
sports. With roots stretching back for centuries, sumo is as much about ceremony
and ritual as it is about performance. Wrestlers, weighing 100 to 200 kg (220
to 440 pounds), dress much as they did during the Edo Period, with loincloths
barely covering their big midriffs and their hair pulled up in topknots. Before
matches, they throw salt in the ring to purify it and lift and stamp their feet
to chase away evil spirits.
The rules of sumo are simple compared to Western styles of wrestling. The object is to push, shove, throw or even carry the opponent outside the ring, which measures just 4.5 meters (15 feet) in diameter, or cause him to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet. Top-ranking sumo wrestlers, called yokozuna, enjoy a revered status in Japanese society and can never be demoted.
There are six annual sumo tournaments, each lasting 15 days, held in January, May and September in Tokyo, in March in Osaka, in July in Nagoya, and in November in Fukuoka. Games are televised live every day in the afternoon.
[More info: www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html]