Yokozuna Kisenosato performs the ring-entering rite at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Sumo champions perform annual ritual in Tokyo

Three of Japan's highest-ranked sumo wrestlers performed an annual ritual at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on Tuesday (January 9).

Three of Japan's highest-ranked sumo wrestlers performed an annual ritual at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on Tuesday (January 9).

Hundreds of fans and onlookers gathered to watch the ritual, carried out at the Meiji Shrine in the capital Tokyo ahead of the first sumo tournament of the year.

Wrestlers Kisenosato, Hakuho and Kakuryu performed what is known as the 'ring purification' ceremony or 'dohyo-iri'. It is traditionally performed by the highest ranking wrestlers, called the 'Yokozuna,' to pray for good luck in their bouts.

Among the three Yokozunas, Hakuho was first to perform, having regained the rank of the 'East Yokozuna,' the most prestigious rank among the grand champions.

A native of Mongolia, Hakuho is 1.92 metres tall and weighs 156 kilograms.

The year's first sumo tournament will kick off on Sunday (January 14) in Tokyo.

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