The Wanpaku 

Wanpaku Sumo Reportage Series


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As quoted from Vice Magazine “Kids Issue”, 2007….

I just went to the grand Sumo championships in Tokyo. It was heavy.

In the annual Wanpaku Sumo Tournament, which is the youngsters’ division, kids from ages 7 to 12 took part to determine who’s the toughest fat boy in the land. They come from all over Japan, plumped and pumped mentally and physically, to slam their rivals to the dirt.

Just like in the rest of Japan, appearances here are crucial. “I feel that my weak point today was not having trimmed my fingernails a bit nicer,” says the 180-pound, 12-year-old Wanpaku Sumo second place champion. “I’ve been in this since I was five years old and I will be back again next year to leave with the title.”

Until then, it’s bowl after bowl of chanko, the traditional sumo food that consists of everything you have lying around the kitchen chucked into a pot along with some hot water. The sumo kids eat chanko until they can’t breathe, then they nap. “We practice for an hour and a half every day, then we study, eat, and sleep,” says today’s champion. Sleeping after eating is very important for the little sumo body to gain maximum mass and is strictly enforced by their coaches. “For now, it’s chanko and sleep,” the champ says. “When we are older, we must drink beer when we eat. Beer will help with sleep as well.” – Rikki Kasso

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