Women's sumo

Women's sumo, known in Japanese as Onna Sumo (女相撲) is a form of sumo played by women.

Women sumo wrestling

Professional sumo traditionally forbids women from competition and ceremonies. Women are not allowed to enter or touch the sumo wrestling ring (dohyō).[1] Despite this, women sumo wrestlers have existed through history and exist in the present day on an amateur level.


The first recorded instance of women performing sumo according to the Nihon Shoki is when Emperor Yuryaku (418-79) summoned two courtesans and ordered them to wear loincloths and to sumo wrestle.

Women's sumo wouldn't become common until the 18th century in the middle of Edo (1603-1868), when a form of onna sumo was performed in some areas of Japan. Various types of women's sumo existed, including touring professionals. These continued to exist after the Meiji Restoration,[2] until women's sumo was cracked down by the Tokugawa shogunate and Meiji government, as they deemed the organizers of corrupting public morals with these spectacles.[3]

Women's sumo continued to exist despite a government ban in 1926.[2] The practice would only die after the end of World War II, with the last group dissolving in 1963.[4]

Modern timesEdit

Contemporary Women's Sumo Wrestling match

Female sumo is not considered to be authentic by most Japanese and is now prohibited from taking place in professional settings, but exists on an amateur level.[5][6][7]

The International Sumo Federation and its events – such as the Sumo World Championships and European Sumo Championships – allow female competitors. Women's Sumo is an event at the World Games and was also featured at the 2013 World Combat Games.[8]

The first national championship for amateur women's sumo was held in 1997. The rules are identical to professional sumo, with the exception that the wrestlers wear leotards under a mawashi, and the matches last three minutes instead of five minutes like the ones in professional sumo.[9]

Notable female sumo wrestlersEdit

In popular mediaEdit

  • The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine (Kiku to girochin, 菊とギロチン, released in 2018) - a Japanese movie about women's sumo wrestling in 1920s
  • On'nazumou (女相撲) - a TV drama written by Akira Hayasaka [jp], broadcast in 1991 by TBS Television. It won the 1992 Broadcasting Culture Fund Award Main Award and the 1992 Television ATP Award Excellence Award. Nana Kinomi, who plays the role of Hanamidori Master, won the 18th Broadcasting Culture Fund Award Performance Award.[citation needed]
  • Women's Sumo featured as subject of the Season 4 Episode 3 of Time Scoop Hunter [jp], a documentary drama-style historical cultural program broadcast on NHK General TV.
  • Women's Sumo is the subject of Manga Rikijo (りきじょ), written and illustrated by "Utamaro" and published in Gekkan Action between 2013 and 2015.
  • In video games, Hinako Shijou from SNK's The King of Fighters series is a female Sumo Wrestler and one of the limited examples in the medium. She debuted in The King of Fighters 2000 as part of the "Woman Fighters Team".
  • In the film, Sumo Do, Sumo Don't a woman character pretends to be a male sumo wrestler.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Yoshida, Reiji (30 April 2018). "Banning women from the sumo ring: centuries-old tradition, straight-up sexism or something more complex?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity, and Body Culture in Modern Japan (2010, Dennis J. Frost; ISBN 978-0674056107), p. 48.
  3. ^ Miki, Shuji (21 April 2018). "SUMO ABC (75) / Banning women from the dohyo is groundless in this day and age - The Japan News". Japan News/Yomiuri Shimbun. Archived from the original on 2018-06-22. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Director of film on women's sumo hopes to show the sport's diversity". Mainichi Japan. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  5. ^ McCurry, Justin (19 June 2018). "'It's exhilarating': Japan's female sumo wrestlers take on sexism". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Sumo wrestling: fighting to get women in the ring". BBC. 8 November 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  7. ^ Maese, Rick (22 January 2020). "In Japan, sumo is a man's game. Female wrestlers are pushing their way in". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  8. ^ Sumo at the 2013 World Combat Games
  9. ^ Hirabayashi, Junko (14 February 2020). "'What is wrong with being big?': Life as a female sumo wrestler". SBS Japanese. Retrieved 17 May 2021.


  • Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity, and Body Culture in Modern Japan (2010, Dennis J. Frost; ISBN 978-0674056107)
  • Japanese Women and Sport: Beyond Baseball and Sumo (2011, Robin Kietlinski; ISBN 978-1849663403)
  • Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation, Volume 2 (2010, Green & Svinth; ISBN 978-1-59884-243-2)
  • Women's Sumo Folk Magazine-Cross-border Performing Arts (October 2012, Yoshie Kamei; ISBN 978-4874491423)
  • Folk History of Sumo (August 1996, Tomoko Yamada ISBN 978-4487722419)