About Sumo | Detailed explanation of the history and outline of Sumo

🕓 2024/1/13

Detailed explanation of the history and outline of sumo

 DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.34.40 - A dynamic and powerful scene of a sumo wrestling match, capturing the intense moment of impact between two sumo wrestlers in the center of the dohyo.


 table of contents

  1. What is sumo?
  2. history of sumo
  3. sumo wrestler class
  4. Sumo tools
  5. A place where you can enjoy sumo


Sumo wrestling is not just a sport, but a profound world where the traditions and culture of Japan come alive. With a history spanning hundreds of years, this competition, with its unique rules, ranking system, and specialized equipment, has fans not only in Japan but around the globe. Each moment that the wrestlers battle in the ring carries significance beyond merely determining the winner or loser. In this article, we will delve into the basics of sumo and further explore its allure.

We'll start with the fundamental knowledge of sumo, looking back at its history. Next, we'll explain the ranking system of the wrestlers, and touch upon the essential tools and attire of sumo. Finally, we will introduce places where sumo can be enjoyed and offer tips for watching matches, providing information to deepen your understanding and enjoyment of sumo.


1. What is Sumo?

Sumo is more than just a sport where wrestlers compete in a ring; it originates from ancient Japanese rituals and festivals and is also considered a martial art or a form of Japanese traditional combat sport. Professional sumo embodies these traditions as a form of entertainment, deeply imbued with cultural aspects. The history of sumo goes back to ancient times, to the era of myths, and its formation and development are closely tied to Japanese society and culture.

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.39.41 - A dramatic and enchanting depiction of a sumo match taking place at a royal court during the Heian period, illustrating the evolution of sumo into a c

While sumo takes the form of a wrestling match on a clay ring, it is underpinned by a rich history and tradition, strict rules, and etiquette. Professional sumo, both nationally and internationally recognized, enjoys a fan base that cherishes the battles of the wrestlers. Amateur sumo, local rituals, and sumo as an entertainment also demonstrate the diversity and vitality of this traditional culture.

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.41.00 - A majestic and detailed illustration that captures the rich history and traditions of sumo wrestling, along with its strict rules and etiquette. The i

In sumo, there is a unique system of wrestler rankings, match rules, and formats. These are maintained while being updated over time to preserve the charm of sumo in the modern era.





2. The History of Sumo

The history of sumo can be traced back to the age of myths, establishing its status as a traditional Japanese cultural practice. Starting as a form of competition to express human primal instincts of combat, sumo is mentioned in ancient texts like "Kojiki" and "Nihon Shoki," showing its roots in myths and legends. Initially, it was performed as a ritual at festivals predicting the harvest, eventually evolving into a court event.​​

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.44.33 - A mystical and historical scene depicting the origins of sumo wrestling in the mythological era of Japan, with divine figures engaging in the first su

Through the Sengoku period and into the Edo period, sumo thrived as a form of entertainment for the masses, leading to the emergence of professional wrestlers. This era saw the establishment of sumo's foundations, with regular tournaments and the emergence of strong wrestlers like Tanikaze, Onogawa, and Raiden. The traditions of the ring-entering ceremony, ranking lists, ceremonial aprons, topknots, kimonos, and sumo matches have been passed down to the present day.

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.42.21 - An artistic interpretation of the ancient sumo rituals, where sumo wrestling is being performed as a ceremonial rite to predict the years harvest. Th

Sumo, a martial art, combat sport, and sport originating in Japan, is internationally recognized, especially professional sumo hosted by the Japan Sumo Association. Stemming from religious ceremonies, it emphasizes etiquette and maintains traditional lifestyles and appearances, distinguishing it from other professional sports.​​





3. Wrestler Rankings

In professional sumo, the rankings of wrestlers are as follows, from highest to lowest:

Yokozuna :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.44.23 - A powerful and dignified image of a Yokozuna, the highest rank in professional sumo wrestling, standing in the center of the dohyo (sumo ring) perform 
The highest rank in professional sumo, reserved for wrestlers who exhibit overwhelming ability and dignity. Yokozuna are symbols of sumo, expected to lead not just in tournaments but in the sumo world overall.

Ozeki :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.49.12 - A dynamic and powerful portrayal of an Ozeki in a victorious moment, embodying the strength and excellence required at this elite level of sumo wrestl 
Below Yokozuna, ozeki are wrestlers with consistent high performance. Promotion from ozeki to yokozuna is challenging, requiring exceptional achievements.

Sekiwake :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.50.16 - An intense moment of victory for a Sekiwake, capturing the emotion and achievement of maintaining their rank through excellent performance. In this im
One of the top ranks in the makuuchi division, sekiwake wrestlers aim for promotion to ozeki and must consistently perform well in tournaments.

Komusubi :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.53.38 - A dynamic image of a Komusubi, the rank just below Sekiwake, showing the determination and skill required at this level of professional sumo wrestling 
Just below sekiwake, komusubi is a top makuuchi rank. Wrestlers here often aim for higher ranks.

Maegashira :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.55.40 - A vivid portrayal of a Maegashira, a rank-and-file wrestler in professional sumo, showing the raw energy and commitment of those competing at this lev
These wrestlers do not hold any special title within the makuuchi division. Their rank can change based on tournament performance.

Juryo :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 18.57.16 - An inspiring scene of a Juryo wrestler, the initial rank where wrestlers attain the status of a professional in sumo wrestling, showcasing the moment  
Below the makuuchi division, juryo is the first step towards achieving a higher rank, with a fixed number of wrestlers.​​

Makushita :
 DALL·E 2024-02-23 19.03.42 - An evocative image of a Makushita wrestler, capturing the grit and determination needed to rise through the ranks in sumo wrestling. This rank, just b
This is a rank below Juryo, and is the rank that wrestlers who aim to be promoted to Sekitori go through. The position from makushita onwards is called sekitori.

Third stage :

 DALL·E 2024-02-23 19.05.20 - A dynamic scene from a Sandanme sumo match, capturing the crucial moment where a young wrestler demonstrates his potential against a formidable oppone
This class is located below the makushita and is an important step for young wrestlers to aim for promotion to a higher class.

Jo Nidan :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 19.07.09 - A compelling scene from a Jonidan division sumo match, illustrating the competitive spirit and ambition of wrestlers at this early stage of their care 
This is the rank below the third dan, and is the first position that new wrestlers under the shogunate experience.

Introduction :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 21.47.13 - An encouraging image of a Jonokuchi wrestler, representing the initial step into the world of professional sumo wrestling. This lowest rank is where n 
It is the lowest rank in sumo wrestling, and is the first rank for new disciples who have just graduated from sumo school.

These ranks are determined based on the wrestler's ability, track record, and evaluation by the Sumo Association, based on performance at each venue. In particular, promotion to higher ranks requires a certain number of wins and performance, making it extremely competitive. 




4. Sumo Equipment

Mawashi :

DALL·E 2024-02-23 22.32.28 - A sumo wrestler engaged in a match on a sumo ring, with an intense focus on the movement and power. The wrestler is in the midst of a powerful shove a 
The sole attire worn by wrestlers during matches, made of a thick fabric, playing a crucial role in their techniques and grip on the opponent.


The Ring:

DALL·E 2024-02-23 21.50.01 - A detailed and atmospheric illustration of a sumo dohyo, the sacred ring where sumo matches take place. This image should capture the essence of the d
Matches are held in a specially constructed ring, rebuilt for each tournament. Tools like hoes, nails, and other equipment are used to shape and firm up the ring.


Power Water:

DALL·E 2024-02-23 21.54.03 - An illustration capturing the traditional sumo ritual of chikara-mizu, where a wrestler purifies himself with water before stepping onto the sacred do
Wrestlers purify themselves with this water before entering the ring, preparing for the sacred space.


DALL·E 2024-02-23 22.08.06 - An illustration of the traditional sumo clappers, or hyoshigi, used by the yobidashi to call the wrestlers names before they step onto the dohyo. Thi
Used by the sumo announcer to call wrestlers' names, enhancing the traditional atmosphere and tension before a match.​​

These tools are not only vital for the sport but also symbolize Japanese culture and tradition, showing sumo's significance beyond mere sport.




5. Enjoying Sumo

As places where you can enjoy sumo, we will introduce stadiums where you can actually watch sumo, facilities where you can experience sumo for yourself, and places where you can learn about the history and culture of sumo.。

Ryogoku Kokugikan (Tokyo)

It is the center of the Japanese sumo world, where the official sumo tournaments are held. A 15-day tournament is held several times a year, and sumo fans can enjoy the highest quality of sumo here. In addition to sumo wrestling, various other events are also held at the Kokugikan.


Asakusa sumo experience


This program can be experienced in the Asakusa area of ​​Tokyo, and is popular with many people, including foreign tourists visiting Japan. Participants can learn basic sumo techniques and how to fight directly from actual sumo wrestlers and sumo instructors. You can also receive explanations about the history and rules of sumo, and gain a deep understanding of the cultural background of sumo.

This experience is recommended not only for those interested in sumo, but also for foreign tourists who want to experience Japanese culture. Advance reservations are often required, so if you wish to participate, it is important to check the latest information on the official website and apply in a planned manner.


Sumo Museum (Ryogoku, Tokyo)

At the Sumo Museum attached to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, you can learn about the history and culture of sumo, as well as the footsteps of famous sumo wrestlers. There is a wealth of materials and exhibits related to sumo, allowing you to experience the deep history and cultural background of sumo.
These places are suitable not only for watching sumo, but also for gaining a deeper understanding of the appeal of sumo through experience and learning. If you are interested in sumo, you should definitely visit these places. 




6. Finally

The traditional sport of sumo offers us much more than just sumo wrestlers competing in the ring. It is like a mirror that reflects Japanese culture, history, and spirituality. Through this article, we have delved into the basics of sumo, its appeal, and introduced places where you can enjoy sumo.

Learning about sumo is nothing less than learning about Japan. By learning about the history of sumo, you can reminisce about the good old days of Japan. You can also learn various life lessons from sumo wrestling techniques, fighting styles, and the lives of sumo wrestlers. Furthermore, watching a game at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, practicing at a sumo experience facility, and learning at the Sumo Museum are great opportunities to experience the deep appeal of the sport of sumo.