Prefecture: Whole of Japan
Sumo or sumo wrestling is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyō) or into touching the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet. Matches take place on a circular ring (dohyo), which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand. A contest usually lasts only a few seconds, but in rare cases can take a minute or more. There are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning that wrestlers can easily find themselves matched off against someone many times their size. As a result, weight gain is an essential part of sumo training.
There are six basho (tournaments) a year, each featuring bouts over 15 days. The wrestlers’ rank, which is called banzuke, can change depending on their performance in each tournament, with their new rank announced before the next tournament. The top rank is yokozuna, which is followed by ozeki, sekiwake, komusubi, and maegashira.
Life as a wrestler is highly regimented, with rules regulated by the Japan Sumo Association. Most sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal sumo training stables, known in Japanese as heya, where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition.
The Sumo Association prescribes the behaviour of its wrestlers in some detail. For example, in the wake of a serious car accident involving a wrestler and the fact that some wrestlers were too big to fit behind a steering wheel, the association banned wrestlers from driving their own cars. Breaking the rules can result in fines and/or suspension, not only for the offending wrestler, but also for his stablemaster.