Major exponents of Japan's most popular sport, Sumo Wrestling, gave a demonstration of their martial art on Thursday (25 April) to honour the two-and-a-half-million "souls" of Japanese soldiers enshrined at Japan's main War Memorial -- Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine.
GV & CU Sumo wrestlers enter pavilion
CU Spectators watch wrestlers perform ceremony (4 shots)
LV Crowd around pavilion
CU Crowd watch wrestling (2 shots)
CU Wrestler wait for bout
CU Wrestler rests between rounds
CU Crowd watch as wrestler prepare to fight (3 shots)
GV Wrestlers fight (one out of ring)
Initials SC/1826 SC/1848
SPORT: SUMO WRESTLING
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Background: Major exponents of Japan's most popular sport, Sumo Wrestling, gave a demonstration of their martial art on Thursday (25 April) to honour the two-and-a-half-million "souls" of Japanese soldiers enshrined at Japan's main War Memorial -- Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine.
The annual event had a special significance this year. The site of the demonstration, the Yasukuni Shrine, has been the focus of dissention in Japan since a controversial bill to nationalise the shrine was forced through the Diet two weeks ago. Opposition parties and factions within the ruling partyi have accused the government of trying to foster pre-Pacific-War-type nationalism by attempting to take over the Shinto shrine.
Sumo wrestling is especially honoured in Japan for its ancient and traditional origins. It has been the country's most popular sport for nearly a thousand years, and even the immensely popular baseball imported from the United States has not usurped its position. Japan's two top Sumo wrestlers, Wajima and Kotozakuru, took part in the contests.
In Sumo wrestling, each bout may last only a few seconds, the wrestler touching the ground or putting any part of his body outside the small ring immediately losing the bout. However, the ritual build up to each fight may take many minutes.