Japanese Sumo Wrestling
Japanese Sumo wrestling is a spectator sport and the national sport of Japan. The winner of a Sumo wrestling match is the first person who either touches the ground with a body part other than the feet or leaves the ring. Sumo wrestlers typically have a large build with lots of body fat.
A Japanese Sumo wrestling ring is called a "dohyo". It is a raised clay plateau covered with sand.
Japanese Sumo wrestling is a very competitive sport and a full time lifestyle for most Sumo wrestlers. Wrestlers usually live together in dorms and train daily. When one becomes a "yokozuna", the highest title in Sumo, he must keep his status or retire. There have been 68 yokozunas in recorded history.
The origins of Japanese Sumo wrestling date back to within 500 years B.C. Before Sumo became a competitive sport in the 1700's, it was a purification ceremony within the Shinto tradition. Shinto is the national religion of Japan. In the early days, Sumo was more of an elaborate dance ritual that involved a set of rituals to please the gods, wrestle with them and become fit for a divine existence. Many of the purification rituals still exist in the modern competitive form of Sumo.
There are six Japanese Sumo wrestling tournaments each year in Japan. Each of them are 15 days long. Most of the Sumo routine surprisingly does not involve wrestling. Most of the time is spent in elaborate rituals that come from this sport's Shinto roots. There is a foot stomping ritual, for instance, which is said to scare away demons.