Print of Japanese Sumo Wrestlers

Print of Japanese Sumo Wrestlers

license: public domain
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Gekko Ogata (1859–1920)

A late 19th century print depicts two sumo wrestlers in a match. One has thrown the other, who is shown dramatically falling to the ground headfirst. A box in the top left shows three men sitting together, and Japanese characters sit in the top right and bottom left corners of the page.


Illustration: 1899


This print by Japanese artist Gekko Ogata (1859–1920) depicts two sumo wrestlers in a match. Here, one of the competitors is seen dramatically throwing each other. After a Shinto-influenced transformation of the sport in the 18th century, a movement led by sumo referee Yoshida Zenzaemon, sumo wrestling began to be appropriated into Japanese culture. The cultural influence of this sport, which was once only a lowly form of street fighting, can be seen in works of art such as this one.

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Magdalinski, T., & Chandler, T. (2002). With God on their side: Sport in the service of religion. London: Routledge.

Vlastos, S. (1998). Mirror of modernity: Invented traditions of modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.