Home Japanese warriors Few people in the Bay Area have ever seen a live sumo match. This is your chance.

Few people in the Bay Area have ever seen a live sumo match. This is your chance.

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Ahead of the Golden State Warriors match in Japan several weeks ago, Dubs VIP Steph Curry (weight: 185 lbs) attempted to take on legendary sumo wrestler Hakuhō Shō (weight: 330 lbs) in a media stunt of good mood.

Needless to say, the best three-point shooter in the world failed to move his opponent.

Sumo, the Japanese full-contact sport in which competitors try to push their opponents out of a circle or have any part of their body touch the ground (apart from the soles of their feet), is without arguably one of the most famous elements of Japanese culture. . The tall competitors wearing buns and their wooden sandals are instantly recognizable, but many Americans have never attended a game.

That will change to three nights this month when the Sushi + Sumo Tour takes place at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco (Thursday-Saturday, November 17-19). With 12 live games, Q&A sessions and an optional sushi extra – a bento box, essentially – attendees will get an up-close look at the sport’s history and elaborate hierarchy.

Sumo has been practiced in Japan for 1,500 years. | Photo by Keegan Attlee
The sport has a rigid hierarchy, with six divisions each with a fixed number of wrestlers. | Photo by Suzi Pratt

Events of this nature could easily fall prey to insane exoticism, but Sushi + Sumo is hosted by Konishiki, a retired sumo wrestler and the first competitor of non-Japanese descent to reach the sport’s second tier. At one point weighing over 600 pounds, the Honolulu native was also the heaviest recorded wrestler in sumo history.

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The sport’s venerable image has been tarnished by scandals in recent years. Women continue to be barred from competing or even touching the ring, it has been linked to organized crime and its brutal hazing rituals have resulted in the death of at least one novice. However, sumo – which translates to “hitting each other” – remains Japan’s national sport, which has been practiced for a millennium and a half.

November 17-19 | $75-$275
Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon Street.

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