The University of Tokyo Sumo Club Celebrating their 50th Anniversary in Three Years | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The University of Tokyo Sumo Club Celebrating their 50th Anniversary in Three Years

Even though all members of the club had no experience before entering university, and "cutting corners is the basic rule," the club has won five consecutive national public university tournaments.

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Members of the University of Tokyo Sumo Club performing the yomata (four-leg stances). In the center of the front row, crouching in a crouching position, is the club’s captain, Daiki Koyama. He hopes to become a researcher of Japanese history in the future. He said, “The current hit is really good. Very good!”

The other members of the club throw positive words to the juniors who are bumping into their seniors.


In the ring of the University of Tokyo’s Sumo Club in Komaba (Meguro-ku), Tokyo, on a mid-May evening, about 10 members were sweating it out in practice. The atmosphere was not tense perhaps it was because they were praising each other and everyone seemed to be in a happy mood. The captain of the team, Daiki Koyama, a senior in the Faculty of Letters, speaks up.

We have 12 members, including the women’s manager, and all of us had no experience in sumo before entering the University of Tokyo. First of all, it is important for us to praise each other for our good points and feel the joy of sumo. If they lose their confidence with harsh words, they will lose their originality. This is Suyama-san’s idea as well.

Suyama Hotaka is 24 years old. He is the first sumo wrestler from the University of Tokyo to make his debut at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which was held until May 22. He is a remarkable new apprentice who won three consecutive victories in the previous sumo tournament, which is held by a rikishi whose shikona is not listed on the ranking chart.

The Reason Why There Are No Limits

Suyama is the first wrestler from Tokyo University to join the Kise stable. Suyama is a hard worker who entered Keio University after a year of hard work, but then entered the University of Tokyo as a temporary ronin. Daiki added, 

Suyama, too, had no experience in sumo. He was also an inexperienced sumo wrestler, but he practiced diligently until he became strong. He was able to accomplish giant-killing many times by defeating big wrestlers from other universities. Suyama-san never once spoke of looking backward. I vividly remember that when I was also struggling for results, he helped me by telling me that I was growing and would be fine.

Although all of the members were inexperienced, the University of Tokyo Sumo Club was by no means small. In 1989, the team won its first championship at the National Public University Sumo Tournament, and since then has won five consecutive championships. In 2001, the team won second place in the first-ever seven-university tournament, an intercollegiate competition among the seven former imperial universities.


What is fascinating is that the official website says, “The seven most attractive points of the Sumo Club are that you can cut corners.”

 If you don’t push yourself too hard, you will never reach your limits. If your physical condition is not good or if you are not in the mood, you should cut corners. This does not mean that you should be lazy. The idea is to concentrate on the training as you reduce the amount of training.

The University of Tokyo Sumo Team practices three times a week for about two hours each. However, they are not forced to practice.

 The only quota is to eat three bowls of rice for supper after practice. If I don’t get bigger, I won’t be able to compete with the top-ranked rikishi. Thanks to this, I have gained about 25 kilograms since I first entered the club, and now I weigh 100 kilograms. As for other matters, each member of the club tries to think of things to correct. We take videos of our practice sessions and check our efforts. If you look at it objectively on video, you can see things you wouldn’t notice on your own, Daiki shares.

The University of Tokyo is well known as the most difficult university in Japan to get into. Koyama is also a graduate of Nagano High School, the most prestigious school in Nagano Prefecture. Will these smart and articulate wrestlers follow Suyama, their senior, into the world of sumo?

 I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I want to go to graduate in the future and become a researcher of Japanese history. Suyama is a rare person, isn’t he?, Daiki answers.

Suyama is not an athlete who trains hard, but rather concentrates on the sport and enjoys it. The sumo team’s ability seems to be backed up by the training of the gifted wrestlers.

The women’s manager writes down the winners, losers, and winning moves in a notebook. The club members check the notebook whenever they find the time.
Members of the club competing against each other. The University of Tokyo Sumo Club was founded in 1975 as a club and was promoted to an athletic club in 2004, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in three years.
Unpublished photograph: The undiscovered power of the University of Tokyo Sumo Club, now in the spotlight with the birth of Suyama, the first wrestler to come from the club.
Unpublished photo from the magazine Suyama, the first sumo wrestler from the University of Tokyo, is now attracting attention for his undiscovered ability.
Unpublished cuts from the magazine The birth of Suyama, the first wrestler from the University of Tokyo, is drawing attention for the undiscovered power of the University of Tokyo’s Sumo Club.From the June 10, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
  • Image: Hiroyuki Komatsu Hiroyuki Komatsu, Kyodo News

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