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60 women take part in sumo tournament in Hokkaido

Women grapple during a women's sumo tournament at a municipal gymnasium in the town of Fukushima, Hokkaido, on May 13, 2018. (Mainichi)

FUKUSHIMA, Hokkaido -- Despite a ban on women entering the ring at professional sumo events, some 60 females from Japan and abroad participated in a women's sumo tournament in this seaside municipality on May 13, hometown to famous former yokozuna Chiyonoyama and Chiyonofuji.

The annual tournament started in 1991 originally for women who work in the marine product processing industry, the main business of the area.

Mako Nishiyama, 23, an assistant nurse living in the Tokyo suburban city of Fussa, won the competition for the second straight year.

Commenting on the controversy about women being prohibited from entering the sumo ring at professional events, Nishiyama said, "That could be classified as discrimination. I hope that people come to know about this event, where all participants are serious about winning."

Takenori Tokiwai, 44, chief priest of the local Fukushima Daijingu shrine, where a deity protecting women is enshrined, said, "Although only men can enter the ring in professional sumo tournaments, we have established the fine culture of women's sumo. But the two shouldn't be easily compared."

(Japanese original by Yasuo Yamada, Hokkaido News Department)

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