Hawaii Gears Up for Big Sumo Tournament

Hiroyuki Hayakawa
Hiroyuki Hayakawa

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Sumo fans, take heart, the first Grand Sumo event in Hawaii, in 14 years gets underway this weekend.

And while the wrestlers are no doubt excited about this weekend's festivities, for the workers that get things all prepped, they are the "yokozunas" of road crews.

The Sumo ring or Dohyo is a sacred place and one is being put up in the Blaisdell Arena.

In Sumo, its hard enough to have to tangle with a 400 pound opponent on the dohyo.

But for the guys who set up the battle stage, it's not all peaches and cream either.

Their work might be just as difficult... especially when the big guys hit the road.

"Sumo will be done abroad once or twice a year."

Hiroyuki Hayakawa has been setting up Sumo rings or dohyo, for six years.

And while a Sumo match may take just a few seconds, the dohyo takes hours to put together.

It takes the Sumo road crew, 2 days just to get the ring right.

According to Hayakawa, "The real dohyo in Japan is made with dirt, but for traveling abroad they came up with the idea of having frames around and once the frames are done, they're going to start putting the dirt inside the frame.

It's a tough job, but in Sumo, the dohyo is a lot more than just a ring.

Its a sacred part, of an ancient ritualistic sport.

"So this is not only the ring, but it has something to do with the religious things."

And, when the work is done, the reward can be sweet.

"So he wants to finish the work so he can enjoy the paradise."