Sumo tournament in Tokyo in January 2018   大相撲一月場所

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Pre-tournament ceremony

The Ryogoku stadium during a tournament

First sumo tournament of the year

The first championship of this year 2018 began on January 14th in Tokyo and matches will be held for two weeks at the Kokugikan Ryogoku stadium. If you're there, it's not too late to buy your tickets!

Hatsu Basho, the first of many

Hatsu meaning "beginning", and of course this is just the first of many sumo tournaments held throughout the year. Indeed, as well as the frequent exhibition tournaments, every two months there is an official tournament held to classify the wrestlers. They are called honbasho.

The wrestlers of the two highest divisions fight each of the fifteen days of the tournament while those of the lower divisions fight around every other day. They all hope to get more wins than defeats to have a good place in the banzuke, ranking bimonthly sumo wrestlers. Of the six main tournaments, three are held in Tokyo and the others take place in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Kokugikan Ryogoku in Tokyo is holding wrestling matches this month.

To read: Chanko Nabe: sumo food

At the center of attention

From the wharf at Ryogoku Station, you can see the stadium where matches have been held since 1984, sandwiched between the Sumida River and the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The matches intensify in the middle of the afternoon when the most anticipated wrestlers enter the arena, or dohyo. The Kokugikan can accommodate more than 11,000 people, so you can imagine the electric atmosphere that must prevail at the end of the day when the last fight ends.

See also: Ryogoku Kokugikan

This year the stakes are all the higher, as 2017 was full of scandals. Rife with early retirement, wage sanctions, demotion and sexual harassment, the world of professional sumo wants to improve its image among the Japanese people with this first tournament.

To know: Attending a sumo tournament

Ryogoku Kokugikan

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