Salt and tears

Yulia Sko

2018 - Ongoing

Japan; Russia

You will probably never guess that the girl crossing street next to you is a sumo champion.

- Sumo? - A girl!? - Is it even a thing?

These and many other questions I get when I tell people that I'm photographing female sumo. Even in Japan, where sumo was born most of the people don't know that women can also fight on dohyo. A couple of years ago I was among those who are asking questions. When I discovered about female sumo I was attracted by the visual aspect of it.

Since I was photographing dancers for many years this sport reminded me about some kind of contemporary dance. There is certain beauty and gracefulness in the rituals. However soon I found out how complex this topic is.

Covered by a thick layer of stereotypes and traditional patriarchal believes this sport for women in Japan is only accepted as amateur. In traditional 大相撲 (oozumo = big sumo) women are not allowed to come up on the ring.

Oozumo is a very popular among elderly Japanese people. That's why many Japanese girls who are fighting on dohyo themselves have to hide this fact from their grandparents. Most of the girls will have to give up their sport ambitions anyway: sumo for girls exists only as a school or university club activity. After the graduation there is no way to continue.

At the same time I discovered that Russia has one of the strongest teams in female sumo. As a Russian in Japan myself I decided to compare the situation in these two countries.

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