Japan: Entertainment & Leisure                                   


Sumo is a traditional combat sport. Rikishi (sumo wrestlers) are professional competitors weighing 100 to 200 kilos. The rules are simple: two competitors wearing mawashi (silk belts) fight in a square ring. When any part of a competitor's body, except the sole of the feet, touches the ground or goes out of the ring, he loses the round. Professional sumo tournaments take place 6 times a year for 15 days: January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, in March in Osaka, in July in Nagoya and in December in Fukuoka.


Kendo is Japanese-style fencing which originated as a samurai art form. Players wear protective gear and strike at their opponent's head, chest or hand with a bamboo sword.


Judo is a combat sport. It is a self-defense technique that makes use of the opponent's own strength. The players wear a colored obi (belt), to show their level of ability—white is for beginners and black is for advanced-level practitioners.


Karate is a combat sport that came from China via the Ryukyu Kingdom (present day Okinawa). Competitors do not wear any kind of protection and use only their hands and fists. Compared to other combative sports, karate is the most practical martial art.


The basic principle of Aikido is "Do not fight force with force." It is a sport that focuses on movements and forms and is therefore not so violent as Judo or Karate. Aikido is excellent as mental training or as a fitness sport. It is especially popular with women and senior citizens. 


Professional baseball is well developed in Japan. There are 12 teams that are sponsored by major corporations. In Tokyo, the popular place to see a game is the Tokyo Dome Stadium located on the grounds of the Tokyo Dome City Amusement Park.


Soccer is popular with young fans. In 2002, Japan hosted the FIFA World Cup with Korea.