Sumo wrestling, the national sport of Japan, dates back over 1500 years. The huge but graceful wrestlers proceed with precision and great formality through the elaborate ceremonies leading to the match. That doesn't stop crowds from going wild as the two huge wrestlers dressed only in loincloths battle each other. The fight proceeds in a series of infinitesimal moves made with as much power as the wrestlers can summon. When one wrestler's foot is out of the ring, or any part of his body touches the ground, the other has won. A match rarely lasts even a minute.
Japanese schoolboys learn Sumo as other children might learn hockey and baseball. Only the few who decide to make Sumo a career compete for acceptance in one of the Sumo stables where they are put on a special diet, a rich stew called chankonabe that bulks them up for combat. A champion Sumo wrestler will often weigh in at 400 lbs or more. Weight however is only one factor - it is skill in this simple but elegant sport that counts in the end.
The Story of Sumo introduces the pageantry and ritual preparations of wrestlers and supporting staff in the days prior to one of the six annual Grand Sumo Tournaments. The efforts of wrestlers, hairstylists, calligraphers, attendants and builders of the mud dohyo ring come together on opening day.
Spoken Languages: English.