Sumo Culture

Look at the picture on the textbook of Cultural Anthropology on page 43. It is a picture of sumo wrestler and on his waist there is s rope tied around him. The highest rank of sumo wrestler called “yokozuna” only has the rights to put shimenawa around their waist. The rope that is tied around yokozuna is the same rope called “shimenawa” that are displayed in shrine as an object of worship. Every year in New Years Eve we put shimenawa up our front door and whish for a great year. Japanese people have valued the tradition and it has been adapted to our normal life of modern society without any feeling of wrongness.

The sumo wrestling fights are one of Shinto ritual and the sumo wrestler that is ranked as yokozuna is capable of attracting the spirit of god. The picture of sumo wrestler on the textbook is a famous sumo wrestler named Taiho from showa period and he was a yokozuna. He was half Russian and half Japanese and nobody criticized despite the fact that sumo wrestling is a sacred ceremony. Recently there are many sumo wrestlers that are from foreign country and the existing yokozuna are all from Mongolia. This shows that Japan value tradition but very open to the foreigners that are willing to participate in it.

Since we are talking about gender in class, there is a strict rule in sumo wrestling that women can’t go on the official playing field of sumo which are called “dohyou.” The reason for this is that the god will be envious of the women. As a sport there are women sumo wrestling where women can also participate in sumo.


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