Bull Sumo in the Oki Islands 【You, Me, And A Tanuki】

Starting this week, RocketNews24 will feature blogs written by people living in Asia who we hope can offer a unique glimpse at the country they call home. The first of these is You, Me, And a Tanuki by one of our own writers, Michelle. Originally from California, Michille is currently one of only two foreigners living in a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan.  We’re still looking for more unique and interesting stories from Asia to share with the world, so drop us a line if you’d like to have your own blog featured on RocketNews24.

The Oki Islands, nestled in the Sea of Japan, have a tumultuous history.  Once used as a place of exile for fallen emperors, the islands have been shaped by its unique past and transformed into an area rich in traditional culture and events.  One such event is ushi-tsuki, or bull sumo.  Used as a form of entertainment for the exiled Emperor Gotoba and dating back to 1221, the tradition of bull sumo is still proudly preserved by the local people of Oki.       

Unlike the famous “man vs. beast” bull fighting of Spain, Oki’s bull fighting pits bull against bull in a fair battle of brute bovine strength.  The match is over when one bull gives up and runs away and neither bull is injured in the ring.  There are even weight classes and bulls of comparable weight fight against each other.  Humans are present in the ring, but only play a supporting role facilitating the fight. 

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