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Talking Japanese Culture, Season 1, Lesson 23 – Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Sumo
Hello, and welcome to JapanesePod101.com. I’m Eric.
In this lesson we will talk about the ​"Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Sumo”.
The first topic (on the list) is about (J: Yokozuna).
(J: Sumō) is Japan’s national sport and it has a ranking system for wrestlers. The highest rank is (J: Yokozuna) and it is the rank greatly respected by everyone.
But there are some strict guidelines to be promoted as the top wrestler. To become Yokozuna, one has to win two consecutive tournaments as (J:ōzeki) which is a rank immediately below Yokozuna, or achieve similar results while holding the Ozeki title. On top of such skills, a candidate also needs to possess excellent dignity and grace.
But unlike other ranks, a Yokozuna never loses this prestigious title until he retires.
The next topic (on the list) is about the cushion-throwing called (J: Zabuton no mai).
This is a unique aspect of sumo culture where audiences throw (J: Zabuton) cushion they were sitting on into the ring after a Sumo match. People usually throw cushions when a Yokozuna has been knocked out by a lower-ranked wrestler. Flying cushions can also been seen when a non-Yokozuna wrestler wins the tournament, or when a wrestler performs an excellent bout.
However, cushion-throwing is now prohibited at most of the games because it may hurt other audience members.
The next topic (on the list) is about the Sumo ring, which is called (J: Dohyō).
The sumo ring is a circle of rice-straw bales 4.55 meters in diameter placed on a square-shaped clay platform that is 6.7 meters across.
No woman is allowed to step foot in the ring because sumo was originally for pleasing the goddess of good harvests by having half-naked men pray for a bumper crop. It is believed that the female goddess would be jealous if she saw a woman in the ring.
The next topic (on the list) is about the last day of the tournament called (J: senshūraku).
Sumo tournaments are held six times a year with each tournament lasting for 15 days. The highlight of the last day is the last three matches, called (J: kore yori san-yaku). These are the matches that decide the winner of the tournament.
Another exciting ceremony on that day is (J:san-yaku soroibumi). For this ceremony, three wrestlers from the East side stamp their feet in unison on the ring, then another three from the West side come on to the ring to stamp together.
The last topic (on the list) is about (J: Mawashi).
This is a piece of cloth wrapped around a sumo wrestler’s waist, and looks like a kind of a belt or Japanese traditional underwear for males known as (J: fundoshi).
But don’t be surprised by their price tags. The gorgeously embroidered ones that wrestlers use for the ring-entering ceremony often cost tens of millions of yen.
The length of this belt is as long as 6 meters so that it can wrap around the body really well. If a wrestler’s Mawashi comes off during the match, he will be disqualified for “losing for obscenity” which is called (J: fujō make).
That’s all we have for this lesson. A lot of people think sumo is just a funny game for two fat men. But the truth is that sumo is an incredibly skillful sport full of religious essence. Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts about this extraordinary sport. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time. Bye!