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Sumo is a form of Japanese wrestling where two wrestlers called rikishi face off in a circular area. The Japanese consider Sumo a gendai budō: a modern Japanese martial art, even though the sport has a history spanning many centuries.
Prior to the bouts, there is a ritual lasting around five minutes. The two wrestlers called rikishi raise and lower their legs and slap themselves, while the referee or gyoji addresses each man.
The larger of the two rikishi gets his hand under the other wrestler’s belt (called a mawashi), and lifts and tosses him outside the ring. The vanquished wrestler returns to the ring, and the men face each other again. This time, though, they bow respectfully at each other in honour of their effort before the gyoji points his fan called a gunbai at the winner.
Each grand sumo tournament (honbasho) lasts for 15 days. There are six tournaments throughout the year, with every second tournament held in Tokyo.
The Nagoya Basho Sumo Tournament at the Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium in Nagoya, Japan takes place during the first 3 weeks of July. Tickets are ¥2,700 (US$27), and can be bought at the door. The ticket allows you general admission to sit anywhere someone else isn’t sitting, so you can get up close to the action.
At the centre of the Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium is a ring called a dohyō, raised a few feet off the floor. The ring, a circular field created using a thick rope, is covered with clay and sand. Spectators sit on cross-legged on purple pillows.
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