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London’s Sumo Run has Japanese confused

25 Comments

Last week the annual charity event known as the Sumo Run took place in London’s Battersea Park. To raise money for education in sub-Saharan Africa, participants don inflatable sumo suits and run the 5km course around the park, no doubt delighting passersby in the country that gave us Monty Python.

But when media outlets in Japan reported on the event, the audience here was not universally pleased, with some people calling it racist cultural appropriation.

Although the organizers point out on their webpage that Battersea Park is home to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, there isn’t really a clear connection between the event and Japan that would explain why they chose the sumo theme beyond the obvious humor of seeing people in big inflatable suits running around. But given that sumo is a symbol of Japan and an honored tradition, some Japanese found the event’s angle distressing.

"My feelings are complicated on this, but don’t you think this is prejudice?"

"When Japan had that airline commercial with a guy wearing a big nose and yellow wig, [foreigners] were quick to object, but at this event, they wear body suits and sumo wigs and that’s okay?"

"If this was any other country besides Japan, there would be protests that it was racist or discriminatory against overweight people and they would be forced to cancel the event. Japan is always made fun of like this."

Other readers were not so much offended, but confused as to why anyone would want to do this, much less in the middle of summer.

"If it’s for an African charity, why did they choose sumo? I don’t get it."

"As a Japanese, this made me smile, but what the heck is the point of this?"

"Is England really cool enough in summer for this? If we did this in Japan right now, people would be dropping like flies from heatstroke."

Of course, not everyone was offended. Many commenters found the event hysterical, even suggesting that it should be held in Japan as well.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Epic body slam action at US Sumo Open -- Twitpics show sumo wrestlers getting health checks… in spaaaaaaace! -- Contest in Japan gives you the chance to be held like a princess by a sumo wrestler

I want them to do that in Japan! And then real sumo wrestlers could work at the water stations. Don’t you think that would be cool?

The Sumo Run certainly has its heart in the right place and is raising money for a good cause, but do you think the sumo suits are just lighthearted fun or do they cross a line? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

© RocketNews24

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25 Comments
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Pretty funny although I don't get the connection either. But. SHOE. OTHER FOOT

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The English love dressing up in oversize costumes and playing silly games for charity -- see this from 1981: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEVaI_6yPug -- ff to 4:30 Even the royals join in, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNwtfGnBQTw. And what is more, all the other Europeans love it, see Jeux Sans Frontiers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXT--BbK2v8, often with laughable national stereotypes. When will the Japanese ever realise that having a laugh at some strange national trait means we love their originality.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Does anything we Brits do ever make any sense any more? As the author pointed out, Britain is the home of Monty Python. If anyone thinks Monty Python makes sense, they're either hyper-intelligent, or just a little bit cuckoo. I'm all for dressing up for charity, but this just confuses me. Then again, I guess we should be glad they weren't wearing giant foam penises. It might make sense for an erectile dysfunction charity, but not education in Africa.

On a side-note: the climate in England isn't all that different to Japan's overall, just less extreme. I've noticed that Japan's summers are hotter (and drier), while their winters are much colder, and their rainy seasons much wetter. Typhoons are something Britain doesn't have either, but it's not as different as it sounds. Temperatures have reached up to around 38 Celsius in Britain, only three degrees short of Japan's high last summer. During Winter 2012/2013, we suffered a big freeze as well. Pretty much the whole country froze over. Newspapers were showing satellite images of Britain being completely white. So it must have been pretty uncomfortable for these people running around in sumo suits.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I bet they also found the concept of doing something to raise money for charity confusing too.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

But when media outlets in Japan reported on the event, the audience here was not universally pleased, with some people calling it racist cultural appropriation.

“If this was any other country besides Japan, there would be protests that it was racist or discriminatory against overweight people and they would be forced to cancel the event. Japan is always made fun of like this.”

“When Japan had that airline commercial with a guy wearing a big nose and yellow wig, [foreigners] were quick to object, but at this event, they wear body suits and sumo wigs and that’s okay?”

ONE event and they cry yet everyday I see foreigners mocked on TV here. I personally don't get the connection, think it is rather funny and actually suggest that the Japanese might want to be happy anyone gives a damn about sumo because let's be honest, it's dying and only really surviving at this point because of foreigners.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

They dress up for a laugh, it's very common for charity and fun run events. No one is mocking Japan or sumo. Again many in Japan looking for offence where none was offered. Really, the Japanese need to learn the UK habit of laughing at itself, it's very good for the psyche.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

take off the belts and it would just be people in fat suits, problem solved

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have been a fan of sumo since the Takanohana / Wakanohana craze days, and respect the tradition of the sport also, yet found it kind of funny in a non-insulting way.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A bit ironic considering the brits are usually the first ones to pull out the racism card.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Given that sump wrestlers come from all parts of the world now: Bulgaria, Mongolia, the US etc, what's racist about this?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The Japanese need to learn how to laugh at themselves., as Elizabeth says. They crave world attention.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm sure nobody participating did this with malicious intent. Japan seems to have no problem playing all different sorts of Western sports. Should I feel offended every time I see someone here wearing a baseball uniform?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"But when media outlets in Japan reported on the event, the audience here was not universally pleased, with some people calling it racist cultural appropriation."

In that case most of the mind dumbing "comedy and variety shows " on TV here display " racist cultural appropriation" almost daily.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

should make a formal protest to the embassy in Tokyo.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If people don't see the intrinsic humor of men purposefully stuffing their faces to try to get as fat as possible to wrestle other fat naked men, there isn't really any hope for you. Of course it's comic relief, and of course it isn't racist. If you made fun of someone just for the way they were born (i.e. making fun of fat people in general or stereotypical asian characteristics like squinty eyes) on the other hand, I could see why you would be offended.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No one is stereotyping Japanese here: this is just a caricature of sumo without any racist connotations.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Its just a bit of fun. There is no stereotyping or any "point" to it than to raise money for charity for a good laugh.

Thats why you also have people dressing up as gorillas, in pink and other costumes for other similar events :)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I few months back there was the advert for the Japanese airline making fun of English foreigners?

People need to learn how to laugh at themselves and the things we all do at times.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

“When Japan had that airline commercial with a guy wearing a big nose and yellow wig, [foreigners] were quick to object, but at this event, they wear body suits and sumo wigs and that’s okay?”

Most wrestlers are Mongolian these days anyway. Let the Mongols get upset.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Fox Sora WintersAug. 03, 2014 - 11:28AM JST Does anything we Brits do ever make any sense any more?

It makes a lot of sense if you understand British culture, particularly self-mocking.

As the author pointed out, Britain is the home of Monty Python. If anyone thinks Monty Python makes sense, they're either hyper-intelligent, or just a little bit cuckoo.

Again, Monty Python isn't difficult to understand if you understand British history and culture. The famous spam skit isn't just a bit of nonsense, it a cultural reference to spam as a staple food during a very difficult time of rationing during WW2, and the complex love-hate relationship the British have with the food. One doesn't have to be hyper-intelligent, but one does have to invest the tiniest bit of effort in being less provincial and close-minded in dismissing everything you don't understand immediately as "a bit cuckoo" and senseless.

I'm all for dressing up for charity, but this just confuses me.

Compared to African people who are starving to death the British are fat and wealthy. This is a form of self-mockery, they're exaggerating their fatness in the run in a move to exaggerate how lucky they are, how fortunate they are to have more than enough food, and how it is a small sacrifice to give money to people who have comparatively so much less.

Sumo embodies a very extravagant attitude to food, feeding people massive amounts of food merely so they can participate in sporting competitions. It isn't racist, it is pointing out the excesses of first world countries, and the inequalities of global society.

You don't have to be "hyper-intelligent" to get this, it is a simple conclusion once you contemplate the paradox of fat people running for a charity for starving people.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

But when media outlets in Japan reported on the event, the audience here was not universally pleased, with some people calling it racist cultural appropriation.

If I was hearing about this b4 coming to Japan I would probably offer a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. But since I'm hearing about this after being in Japan for awhile, after seeing the way Japan habitually pokes fun at and trivializes all and sundry not under the land of the rising sun--they can cry me a river!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is this a British homage to numerous Japanese wtfness antics?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The Brits are bonkers

and proud of it. :-)

As for dressing up in sumo suits and running around to make money for charity; what's wrong with that? Shimura Ken wombles around in a sumo suit to make money for Shimura Ken, and no one complains about that.

If anyone thinks Monty Python makes sense, they're either hyper-intelligent, or just a little bit cuckoo.

Cuck - koo! :-) Wot's all this 'bout Monty Python not making sense?? One of the funniest things that ever happened to or on telly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

kickboard: A bit ironic considering the brits are usually the first ones to pull out the racism card.

A bit ironic anyone is complaining at all considering you can buy sumo costumes at Tokyu Hands, or are those only intended for Japanese customers?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Welcome to the British sense of humour.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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