Has sumo been the national sport from ancient times?
Sumo in ancient times was a sacred event to foretell an abundant harvest and to predict the will of the gods.
The oldest bout of sumo recorded in history was in 642 A.D., and it was adopted as a court ritual in the early ninth century.
After the 12tｈ century, when warriors began holding real power in politics, sumo acquired the characteristic of a practical martial art to be used in the battlefield.
In the Edo period (1600-1868) sumo bouts began to be performed as part of shows in festivities at shrines.
It was not until the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), or the early 20th century, that sumo was mentioned as the national sport for the first time.
As the emperor was deified under nationalism, sumo, originally a court ritual, was given national sport status.