When Does Tradition Cross the Line?

April 27, 2018

Did you know that sumo wrestling is the most ancient sport in Japan, dating back almost 1,500 years? The sport is steeped in both tradition and folklore, and is deeply rooted in the Japanese culture. Once a form of entertainment for the imperial family and part of religious ceremonies, sumo wrestling became a profession in the early 1600s.

With such a rich history, sumo and sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, are considered a major part of the Japanese culture. As such, the requirements of a sumo wrestler and the rules of sumo wrestling have largely been unchanged. One of those rules? No woman can enter the dohyo, or the ring, where sumo matches take place. That tradition, however, was called into question earlier this month when a referee asked two female medics to leave the dohyo who were performing first aid on a local official who had collapsed.

The Japan Sumo Association has since apologized to the two women, but the reaction to the incident has been mixed. Some think that sumo traditions are outdated and should not take precedence over someone’s life, while others believe that tradition is what keeps culture and history alive.

What do you think? Should tradition outrank all else?