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Arts & Entertainment

Few people in the Bay Area have ever seen a live sumo match. This is your chance

Hosted by retired wrestler Konishiki, Sumo + Sushi’s West Coast tour will at the Palace of Fine Arts Nov. 17-19, 2022. | Photo by Keegan Attlee

Ahead of the Golden State Warriors’ game in Japan several weeks ago, the Dubs VIP Steph Curry (weight: 185 pounds) attempted to take on legendary sumo wrestler Hakuhō Shō (weight: 330 pounds) in a good-natured media stunt. 

Needless to say, the world’s greatest three-point shooter couldn’t get his opponent to budge.

Sumo, the full-contact Japanese sport in which competitors try to push their opponents out of a circle or make any part of their bodies (besides the soles of their feet) touch the ground, is arguably one of the most famous elements of Japanese culture. The large, topknot-wearing competitors and their wooden sandals are instantly recognizable—yet many Americans have never witnessed a match. 

That will change over three nights this month when the Sushi + Sumo tour comes to San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts (Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 17-19). With 12 live matches, Q&A sessions and an optional sushi add-on—a bento box, essentially—attendees will learn about the sport’s history and its elaborate hierarchy up close.

Sumo has been practiced in Japan for 1,500 years. | Photo by Keegan Attlee
The sport has a rigid hierarchy, with six divisions each with a fixed number of wrestlers. | Photo by Suzi Pratt

Events of this nature could easily fall prey to mindless exoticism, but Sushi + Sumo is hosted by Konishiki, a retired sumo wrestler and the first non-Japanese-born competitor to attain the sport’s second-highest rank. At one point weighing in at more than 600 pounds, the Honolulu native was also the heaviest recorded wrestler in sumo history.

The sport’s venerable image has been tarnished by scandal in recent years. Women continue to be excluded from competing or even touching the ring, it’s been linked to organized crime and its brutal hazing rituals led to the death of at least one novice. However, sumo—which translates to “striking one another”—remains the national sport of Japan, having been practiced for a millennium and a half. 

Sumo + Sushi

Nov. 17-19 | $75-$275
Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon St.

Astrid Kane can be reached at