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And what exactly was that portly fella thinking when he wandered into the swim area buck naked? With no genitalia at that! As reality would have it, I soon discovered that he was not, in fact, naked.
This event took place at the Osaka Prefectual Gymnasium. Dressed in thong loincloths, hair slicked back into tight buns, two obese Japanese men were locked in a cellulite-riddled embrace. Out of context, the scene may have looked like a homoerotic ballet of fatty flesh, but in Japan, cheering half-naked men as they wrestle each other is a long-held tradition.
Many believe that those wrestlers adopt unhealthy diets that increased their weights, but the reality is that the sport requires the wrestlers to gain much weight and undergo intensive exercises so that they can play the game. The Japanese do not see sumo as a mere sport. It is the oldest religious book in Japanese history. According to the Kojiki, the first sumo wrestling match recorded in history was between Takemikazuchi and Takeminakata—two deities in Japanese mythology—and occurred on the Japanese archipelago.
The points where the tawara straw edge of the ring are slightly outside the circle used to be to let the rain water drain out. Not being able to conceal weapons might also have been a factor, along perhaps with nakedness signifying purity as part of the religious role of sumo. It purifies the ring.
The groupies have been here for hours. Young schoolgirls and elderly matrons alike clutch cameras, eyes darting for celebrities. Suddenly, they shriek and lunge forward.
Japanese men in loincloths are, amazingly, not all that much of a curiosity; after all, sumo wrestlers have been around for centuries. But those who take part in the Hadaka Matsuri take this practice to another level, as seen above. The thousands of men, each wearing nothing more than a diaper-like loincloth despite the winter temperatures, take to the street at midnight to collect one of a few hundred sticks thrown out of a window about two or three stories up.
Sumo wrestling is a traditional martial art that originated the 9th century and is closely associated with Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. The objective of a Sumo bout is simple — the over-sized combatants aim to force their opponents out of the dohyo ring or onto the ground using a mixture of slapping, wrestling and shoving. The dohyo is considered sacred ground and is blessed by a Shinto priest before every bout.
There are six tournaments a year each lasting around 15 days but the fights themselves are much briefer affairs with bouts lasting a matter of seconds. Steeped in Shinto rituals, the early years of sumo saw matches taking place in temples and shrines, during the Nara and Heian period it became a spectator sport for the imperial court, whilst the militaristic Kamakura period saw sumo become part of a warrior's training. The idea of sumo is to force your opponent out of the ring or to throw him to the floor using one or more of the 82 legitimate techniques.
By Ami Miyazaki. President Donald Trump, on a four-day visit to Japan, spent what he said was "an incredible evening" watching the Japanese national sport of sumo on Sunday, although the visit left some wrestling fans grumbling over tight security. Answering a request from Trump, who said last month that he'd always found the sport - where nearly naked wrestlers grapple on a raised sand ring - "fascinating," sumo officials prepared for the unprecedented visit as the climax to a day of bonding between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over hamburgers and golf. About 1, of the 11, seats in the legendary Kokugikan sumo venue, including some of the most expensive, were reserved for Trump, Abe and their security teams.