At his coming summer Sumo tournament, three of all Yokuzunas, the wrestlers in the highest rank, will all bel Mongolian. Some refer to this phenomena as “Kurofune”, Black steamship with Admiral Perry who demanded Tokugawa Japan to open the country.
The history of foreign-born Sumo wrestler goes back to 1960’s. And the acceptance of them reflects the change in Japanese society and international relationship.
1960’s : Foreigner=American——Hawaii over the rainbow
During WWII and after the war, Japanese government strongly regulated the ordinary Japanese people’s traveling abroad. In 1963, the business trip was deregulated, on condition that you do not take out money more than $500.
In1966, the travel in foreign countries were deregulated for everyone.
After being occupied by US Army, “Foreigner” usually meant “American”. And the travel destination “over the rainbow” was Hawaii, the nearest state of USA .
And from there came this lovable guy, Jesse, or Takamiyama in 1964. The .first Sumo wrestler from the world outside. He was nominated to top ranking group of Sumo wrestlers
In 1985, an agreement between the governments of G5 countries to depreciated the U.S. dollar relation to the Japanese yen and German Mark by intervening in currency markets. This “Plaza Accord” accelerated a higher exchange rate of the yen. It allowed affordable travel abroad for Japanese. It also meant for the foreigner, the money you earned in Japan valued more if you go home.
Three more guys from Hawaii followed Jesse. Two of them made the highest rank, Yokozuna.
The end of Cold War
Towards the end of 1980’s, the Cold War ended. The Soviet Union had broken away.It strongly influenced Mongolian politics, leading to the peaceful Democratic Revolution and the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy.
Mr Kaifu visted Mongolia officially in 1992, which was the first official visit by Japanese prime minister. Mongolian TV started to broadcast Sumo Tournament.
And there came the descendants of Genghis Khan.
More and more young boys came from Mongolia to Japan to be Sumo Wrestler.
On Japanese side, Mongolia became a romantic destination to travel.
Staying at one of their movable home ger, gazing stars above the wild steppe, watching Mongolian Sumo…It was a new experience for those who got tired of Paris and New York. From 2009 to 2010, the number of Japanese traveler to Mongolia increased 24%.
Catch the Inbound travelers!
After the end of bubble, the structure change of Japanese economy was inevitable. In 2002, the government proposed the “Visit Japan Campaign”. The number of the inbound travelers kept growing, although there was some decline in 2011, because of the earthquake.
Chinese travelers are the largest group. But when the relationship between China and Japan deteriorates, they cancel the travel seeing the communist government ‘s behavior, which causes problem to travel industry in Japan.
Halal Certification—Welcome, Muslim People!
Around 2012, some of the hotels in Japan started to serve Halal food. At most of the National Universities, such as Tokyo Uni. or Kyoto Uni., they serve Halal menu at cafeteria.
In 2013, tourists to Japan reached more than 10 million. There is a sift from Chinese to Muslim from South East Asia. The movement to get Halal certification started among service industry. And just in time for this movement, Oosunaarashi joined Sumo in Japan, the first Muslim wrestler, and the first Rikishi from Africa.