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Sumo is traditional Japanese wrestling. It was established as the national sport in 1909. Sumo has existed since ancient times, it was practiced at agricultural and Shinto rituals, therefore today it still includes many ceremonial elements.
In a sumo match, two wresters face off in the middle of the "dohyou (ringed platform)" measuring 4.55m (14.9 feet) in diameter. They are bare-handed in their bouts and wear only "mawashi (loincloth)." Before the bout starts, they perform a series of ceremonial rituals. They stamp their feet, wash their mouths out with water, dry themselves with paper, and toss salt onto the ring as a purification symbol. They fight until one is pushed out of the ring, or touches the ground with any part of his body except the sole of his feet.
The Japan Sumo Association hold six tournaments (oozumo) a year, three in Tokyo and one each in Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. Each tournament lasts 15 days. Wrestlers are re-ranked after each tournament according to how many victories they obtain. Top of the ranks are the "yokozuna (grand champion)" and in the past 300 years only 60 have reached this grade.
Click here for information about Sumo Tournaments in Japan.
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