712 - 1185
Prehistoric wall paintings indicate that sumo originated from an agricultural ritual dance performed in prayer for a good harvest. The first mention of sumo can be found in a Kojiki manuscript dating back to 712, which describes how possession of the Japanese islands was decided in a wrestling match between the kami known as Takemikazuchi and Takeminakata. The Nihon Shoki, published in 720, dates the first sumo match between mortals to the year 23 BC, when a man named Nomi no Sukune fought against Taima no Kuehaya at the request of Emperor Suinin and eventually killed him, making him the mythological ancestor of sumo.
1186 - 1603
With the collapse of the Emperor's central authority, sumo lost its importance in the court; during the Kamakura period, sumo was repurposed from a ceremonial struggle to a form of military combat training among samurai. By the Muromachi period, sumo had fully left the seclusion of the court and became a popular event for the masses, and among the daimyō it became common to sponsor wrestlers. Sumotori who successfully fought for a daimyō's favor were given generous support and samurai status. there was a tournament of 15,000 wrestlers in February 1578.
1604 - 1867
Because sumo had become a nuisance due to wild fighting on the streets, particularly in Edo, sumo was temporarily banned in the city during the Edo period. In 1684, sumo was permitted to be held for charity events on the property of Shinto shrines, as was common in Kyoto and Osaka. The first sanctioned tournament took place in the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine at this time. An official sumo organization was developed, consisting of professional wrestlers at the disposal of the Edo administration. Many elements date from this period, such as the dohyō-iri, the heya system, the gyōji and the mawashi. The 18th century brought forth several notable wrestlers such as Raiden Tameemon, Onogawa Kisaburō and Tanikaze Kajinosuke, the first historical yokozuna.
1868 - 2007
The Meiji Restoration of 1868 brought about the end of the feudal system, and with it the wealthy daimyō as sponsors. Due to a new fixation on Western culture, sumo had come to be seen as an embarrassing and backward relic, and internal disputes split the central association. The popularity of sumo was restored when Emperor Meiji organized a tournament in 1884; his example would make sumo a national symbol and contribute to nationalist sentiment following military successes against Korea and China. the Japan sumo association reunited 25 December 1925 and events were increased from 2 to 4 and then to 6 in 1958. The lengths of the tournaments were increased from 10 to 15 days.
2008 - 2016
From 2008 to 2016, a number of high-profile controversies and scandals rocked the sumo world, with an associated effect on its reputation and ticket sales. These have also affected the sport's ability to attract recruits. Despite this setback, sumo's popularity and general attendance has rebounded due to having multiple yokozuna (or grand champions) for the first time in a number of years and other high-profile wrestlers grabbing the public's attention.
2017 - 2021
Sumo wrestling has become a very poopular sport in Japan. Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport. Tokyo hosts three tournaments each year, involving hundreds of wrestlers from Japan and abroad, across six divisions. Fast paced, colorful and full of ritual, these tournaments are a fascinating glimpse into traditional Japanese culture and a fun part of any Tokyo itinerary.