04-12-2007 13:18

It would certainly be strange watching two almost-naked strong men push and shove each other in a small ring in some parts of the world, but not in Japan. Sumo wrestling is a national sport and very popular among Japanese people. We begin Today's "Rediscovering Japan" on Sumo wrestling and the life of a Sumo wrestler.

This is Osaka, Japan's second largest city after Tokyo. Every March, Sumo wrestlers across the country head here for their Spring tournament.

Sumo wrestling is a traditional and national sport in Japan. There are six Grand Sumo tournaments held during the year. Three are held in the capital Tokyo, and one each is held in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

When watching a Sumo wrestling match, some may wonder how the wrestlers react so quickly and what type of training they get.

Sumo wrestlers get their training at stables, or Heya. We were lucky enough to be allowed to go into this staff-only stable to watch them train.

"They get up at 5:30 in the morning, and warm up at 6 o'clock. They will be trained till 10:30 in the morning," said a stable staff.

Sumo wrestling is seen as a reflection of the Japanese spirit, and the wrestlers are highly respected by Japanese people. That's one of the reasons why there are so many newcomers who are dedicated to the sport. What's more, the ancient traditions of Sumo wrestling are gaining popularity outside Japan. And it also attracts foreign enthusiasts.