avoiding the wildflowers
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sumo champion

Professional sumo has 6 championships each year that are known as Honbasho.

Honbasho are major sporting events that span 15 days. Each day feels like a marathon that runs from about 9:00 to 18:00. Lowly ranked wrestlers go in the morning progressing to the 42 wrestlers in the top division by about 4 in the afternoon. These are the wrestlers who are the stars of the sport including the Yokozuna Grand Champions of sumo.

Professional sumo has a complex ranking hierarchy that sorts wrestlers into 6 divisions with numerous ranks within each division. A championship victory is awarded to one wrestler in each of the 6 divisions at the end of each Honbasho.

Winning a championship is key to moving into a higher division. The winner of the championship in the top division has a chance of improving their rank. The top rank of Yokozuna has been awarded to less than 100 wrestlers since the 17th century. Wrestlers that have any chance of achieving this rank are watched closely by sumo fans.

For history of sumo:

Check NHK for information about present Honbasho and techniques of sumo: 

Sumo Spring Basho in Osaka

The Sumo Spring Basho is one of the six annual Grand Tournaments of Sumo. It’s the only chance each year to see a professional sumo match in Osaka. Each day of the tournament usually starts just before 9 AM and runs all day, until about 6 PM. The last few days of the tournament start about an hour later.

Each day is long with low ranked wrestlers going in the morning building up to the top ranked division by about 4 PM. Fans who arrive early read papers and snack. It’s a lot of Sumo to watch in one day. At the end of the day, there are usually some dramatic moments as local favorites, stars of the sport and recently undefeated wrestlers go head to head. Sumo matches can be over in seconds but the tension surrounding them is often palpable.

Tickets generally go on sale about 6 weeks before each event and cost approximately 3,500 to 40,000 yen.

Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium

The Sumo Spring Basho is held at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, also known as the Bodymaker Colosseum. It’s is a short walk from Namba Station.