JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.60

~Scenery of Japan~ Sumo


Sumo, a form of full-contact wrestling, has a history of approx. 1,500 years in Japan. Originally a sacred Shinto rite with its origin believed to date back to the mythical era, sumo is more than a simple sport. It maintains the beauty of ritual and etiquette in a fair competition of skill and strength. Sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, are naked except for mawashi, a silk loincloth of approx. 10m long by 60cm wide. Mawashi is folded in four and then wrapped around the waist for four to six times. As a tradition, rikishi scatter a handful of salt on the ring to purify the place before the match. The rule of sumo game is simple: a wrestler wins a bout by forcing his opponent out of a circular ring marked on the ground or by making him touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet.

Every year, the GSDF Eastern Army Band plays the national anthem on the closing day of January sumo tournament. Their solemn, magnificent sound echoes throughout the sumo hall after all the exciting matches for the season.

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