Eight year old Hiroya and his two brothers practice sumowrestling twice a week in Sagawa sumo club, Tachigawa outside Tokyo.
The boys in Hiragaya sumo club wrestle a stronger opponent. Gho, 9 years old.
SUMO AS A SCHOOL OF LIFE
Like ballet, sumo wrestling is a niche among children's sports and it is predominantly a middle class phenomenon.
Around 50.000 boys ranging from four to fourteen years take lessons after regular school and although obesity is not structured as part of the training programme at this point, being heavy comes an advantage in a competition without weight class.
The boys in Hiragaya and Sagawa sumo club train because they love the game, the idea of belonging to a club. Acceptance, helping the weak and gaining confidence inside as well as outside the club walls. Pushing hard until the tears burst and the skin goes crack is all part of the spirit. Many Japanese parents see sumo as a school of life.
The students play games before and after practice, however once the Oykata - master - enters the room everyone focuses in an instant. Yoshihiro, 12 years old. Hiragaya Sumo Club in Hakusan, Tokyo.
At 183 cm/132 kg 14 year old Daiki's strength and weight is unusual for a boy his age. His mother provides home gardening vegetables among the boy's four daily meals: 1-2 kg meat, 5 eggs and 4 large rice bowls.
Kenta, 11 years old with his grandmother.
The sumo students live at home with their parents and often it is young boys who are following their parents dreams they never carried out themselves. Cardio training in residential block.
Daiki (14) is announced as a future Yokozuna by former champion wrestler Takahanohana and with these words follows much expectation and strong pressure. 10 high schools have offered him a scholarship.
"The best thing about sumo is that I get to throw people to the ground. Now I'm big and strong, before I was just big."
Kenta, 11 years old.
14-year-old Satoshi is on the verge of a whole new life. His mother is supportive and video tapes his opponents before a match. In restaurants the sumo boy is approached by talent scouts who want to get their fingers on him. Hoya, Japan.
Being limber helps a sumo wrestler keep his center of gravity close to the ground. Kindergarten students help each other with stretching exercises. Sagawa sumo club – Tachigawa, Japan.
Senior sumo boys are preparing Shunsuke (6) for his fight in the Tokyo prefecture competition.
As a spectator sport sumo has seen a fall in popularity the last decades. The 54 professional sumo stables in Japan are desperate to recruite overweight teens in schools and restaurants, to secure the future of the sport.
A match among professional wrestlers lasts up to a minute but the winner is usually determined within a few seconds. A professional wrestler lives 10 years less than the average Japanese man.
The short fights keep the audience at their feet. A crowd of 13,000 fans in Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium, Tokyo
1400-year history. Male officials sweep the ring after the last fight of the day in Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium, Tokyo.
Prone to injuries, diabetes or heart attack as a result of a lifestyle with deliberate body growth to obese proportions. The health risks are over shined by the emperor-like status these young men and their families aspire to reach.
Hitoshi, 11 years old.
Daiki, 14 years old.
Spring ceremony in Yasakumi Temple, Tokyo, where the shinto gods are given thanks and sumo wrestlers promote the fading national sport.
Crowd favorite Kitazakura-zeki is a wrestler known for his generosity and singing performances and married to a former window dresser. He retired in 2010.
Professional wrestler Katayama Shinji is photographed in front of Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo with an entourage of club wrestlers and a fan dropping a pen. He retired in 2009.