Pokémon will appear on kensho hata and keshomawashi at sumo grand tournaments in Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Sumo is generally considered to be the quintessential Japanese sport, combining athletic prowess with several of the country’s cultural and religious traditions. However, if we expand the scope of the discussion to include contests depicted in anime and Japanese video games, then you could definitely make an argument that the most Japanese sport of all is Pokémon battling.

And in that case, why not a team-up between the Pokémon Company and the Nihon Sumo Kyokai/Japan Sumo Association?

The two organizations, the highest powers, respectively, for all things Pocket Monster and sumo wrestling-related, announced their partnership on Wednesday, the first time for the Pokémon franchise to cross-promote with the sport. As part of the project, this year’s November Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka and next year’s January tournament in Tokyo will feature Pokémon-themed kensho hata, banners which are paraded around the sumo ring on commission from sponsors of high-ranking matches.

▼ The November tournament will feature kensho hata with box artwork from the Pokémon video game series, while the January tournament will have a total of over 200 different individual Pocket Monster species banners, such as the Pikachu and Makuhita examples seen here.

At the January Tokyo tournament a number of sumo wrestlers will also wear Pokémon-themed keshomawashi, the elaborate apron-like garments worn by top wrestlers before the start of a bout. The referee’s garb, called gyoji shozoku, will also have a Pokémon-style version.

▼ The kensho hata procession (left) and wrestlers dressed in keshomawashi (right)

▼ A sumo referee dressed in gyoji shozoku

Pikachu and Makuhita (whose appearance is based on that of a sumo wrestler) will also be making appearances at the youth Wanpaku Sumo National Tournament in October and November, though the exact details are yet to be announced.

“I am extremely happy and honored that we are able to work with the Japan Sumo Association in a number of ways. This year, Pokémon is celebrating its 25th anniversary, but in comparison to the long history and deep traditions of sumo, our story has barely begun,” said Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara, adding that he hopes the collaboration will be an opportunity for both children and adults all over the world to learn about sumo’s culture and traditions while simultaneously giving them a look at the fun of the sport and Pokémon.

Source: Press release
Top image: Press release
Insert images: Press release, Wikipedia/Kükator~commonswiki
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