(GMT)20 JUL 2017 WALSLO1:
Sumo, Japanese wrestling
Travellers and backpacker may have seen this two half naked fat men's wrestling before. The rules of this 2,000-year old sport are refreshingly simple. Two strong men, wearing nothing but a loincloth (cotton for the lower divisions, silk for the elite) enter a roped ring of 4.5 meters’ diameter. To win a bout, a wrestler must either push his opponent out of the ring, or knock him down within it. The raised solid clay surface makes for extra painful landings, especially when wrestlers can weigh up to 273 kilograms.
The pre-bout rituals make for particularly nice photographs – which are permitted so long as you remain in your seat. Wrestlers will thunderously clap their hands and stamp enormous feet to ward off evil spirits. Hands are also spread wide open before a bout, palms facing down, to prove that no concealed weapons lie within. Elite wrestlers also throw salt to purify the ring, in line with the sport’s Shinto underpinnings. The lacquered hairstyles, of course, evoke the topknots of samurai, symbolizing sumo’s status as the greatest living link to the samurai era.