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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Grab Your Sumo Thong, Japan’s Big Sport Hits the MFA

Did you think sumo wrestlers were just fat guys in diapers who pushed each other around a circle? Think again. Sumo wrestlers are figures of respect and admiration in Japan who can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Yes, I said dollars, not yen. From now until Aug. 3, 2008, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is exhibiting artwork depicting sumo and the wrestlers who participate in the sport as part of their “Sumo: Japan’s Big Sport” exhibition.

While the origins of sumo wrestling are unclear, its roots are said to trace as far back as prehistoric times, and it has been a dominating aspect of Japanese culture for centuries. While the sport has evolved over the years, the basic concept of sumo wrestling is simple. Two competitors, or rikishi, grapple within a ring trying to force the other out or to the ground. The first to touch the ground with any part of their body, other than their feet, or step outside the ring loses. Wrestlers pack on massive amounts of weight to turn themselves into nearly immovable objects, and must possess incredible strength to budge their opponents.

“Sumo” is part art exhibit and part history lesson, and that’s just fine. You can appreciate the artwork for its beauty and the exciting depiction of human figures in action while learning about this interesting, unique sport, and the culture that surrounds it.

The majority of the work for the exhibit comes from the first half of the1800s, during the Edo period of Japanese history. It was a time when the country was isolated from the world, and many of the rules and traditions found in sumo first took hold.

The exhibition examines the lifestyles and celebrity status enjoyed by sumo wrestlers, and the immense popularity of the sport during the Edo period. Wood block prints of packed stadiums with wrestlers locked in the heat of battle hang next to portraits of the same men as they are in their everyday lives. Dressed in elegant robes, visitors will see these revered athletes walking the streets among a crowd of onlookers. Other prints seem to be the “Sports Illustrated” covers of their day. The wrestlers are depicted in full-body poses, with nicknames such as “great whirlpool” scrawled out next to them in Japanese. Visitors will also find prints of kabuki productions about sumo wrestling, and will even female sumo wrestling, which was famous for a period during the 19th century.

The exhibition is complemented nicely by other ongoing exhibitions such as “Contemporary Outlook: Japan”; “Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World 1690-1850” and “Arts of Japan: The John C. Weber Collection.” Those with an interest in Japanese art or culture should take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts, all four exhibitions will only be on display together until Dec. 16.

I think to sing it again, She had dumps like a truck truck truck, Thighs like what what whatAll night long, Let me see that thong