Hakuho Sumo Champion

The Invasion of Japanese Sumo

The Yokozuna (grand champion) Hakuho made history at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena by winning his 33rd Emperors Cup.

In the process, he surpassed the all-time record previously held by the legendary wrestler Kaiho.
What has shocked the Japanese public is that Hakuho is Mongolian. In fact all three current yokozuna are Mongolian, in this the most traditional of Japanese sports.

The last Japanese-born grand champion retired in 2003.

Many older Japanese consider the current young Japanese generation to be too weak and over pampered.

Sumo is still strongly linked to the pantheist religion Shinto. Sumo can be traced back to rituals at Shinto Shrines to honour the various gods and to implore them for a good harvest. Originally sumo tournaments were held in the grounds of a temple or shrine.

Sumo ceremonies (though not tournaments) are still held at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine.

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All photos and text copyright © Tony Smyth