City Report 6: Tomise Hassaku Sumo
The 25th Tomise Hassaku Sumo Tournament was held in the outstanding Akebonoyama Agricultural Park. I joined the spectacle in the blazing heat. I laughed a lot, took many pictures, and was generally amazed by the performances of the young athletes.
Competing in the tournament were 136 children from three elementary schools (Tomise Elementary School, Tomise East Elementary School, Tomise West Elementary School), eager to test their strength and agility as sumo wrestlers. According to some accounts, this tournament has been held at Fusebenten Temple since the Edo period (1724). The event was cancelled after the second world war in 1961, but it was finally revived in 1995.
The weather was perfect and drew out many people from the area. Some people brought tents, even more people took pictures, but absolutely everybody was cheering on the children.
The actual tournament started at 9:30 in the morning. The children continued to test their sumo skills until noon. The fascinating thing is that these children do not practice sumo regularly. I don’t know the first thing about sumo, but to the untrained eye, the children’s performance looked very professional. I wouldn’t have believed that they only trained during their summer holidays. It is incredible how fast we can make progress if we try.
Our lunch break started at noon. Tomise East Elementary School’s brass band performed and three professional sumo wrestlers went head-to-head with a bunch of children as a featured event. Mysteriously, the children always won.
During the final tournament, all the spectators were on the edges of their seats, including parents and teachers. The children fought relentlessly until the end.
Hassaku Sumo is a fun event. I urge everyone involved to keep that fighting spirit and maintain this wonderful culture for decades to come.