Dogo Island in the Oki Island Archipelago is home to a unique competition in which two bulls go head to head to determine which one is the strongest.
As it is sumo, it’s not about causing an opponent physical harm but rather controlling a particular space and holding your ground. The bulls are under the control of a rope holder during the event, so there is always a human element in this endeavor.The animals are not fought to exhaustion or to the death, with most competitions lasting around five minutes.
Legend has it that an exiled emperor introduced this activity to the islands in the early 13th century as a form of amusement but it has since become part of the cultural identity of the archipelago. Tournaments are held six times a year at four staging areas around the island.
The first competition of the year takes place at Oki Momo Dome in the middle of January. This is followed by the spring and summer events held on May 4th and August 15th the at the same venue. There are three competitions in the fall, namely, the Hassaku Tournament on October 13 at the Sayama Ring, the Ichiyagadake Tournament at the Ichiyagadake Ring and the Kaminishi Shrine Tournament on November 13th at a ring at the same location.
Even if you aren’t on Dogo Island in time for one of the annual bull sumo events, you may have a chance to see a demonstration at the Oki Momo Dome during the summer months.
Access: Take the Super Yakumo Express train from JR Okayama Station to JR Sakaiminato Station. Walk to the Sakaiminato Ferry Terminal. Take the fast ferry or the regular ferry to Saigo Port in Okinoshima Town or Kurii Port in Chibu Village. Beppu Port in Nishinoshima Town and Hishiura Port in Ama Town can be reached from Saigo Port in Okinoshima Town.
About the Oki Islands
The Oki Islands chain is about 65 kilometers at its nearest point and 85 kilometers at its furthest from the Honshu mainland, off the coasts of Tottori and Shimane Prefectures. Officially part of Shimane Prefecture, the archipelago consists of Dogo, Nishinoshima, Nakanoshima and Chiburijima in order of island size and population.
In order to visit the outer Oki Islands, also referred to as Dozen, you have to come through Saigo Port on Dogo Island, where the administrative headquarters of the archipelago are located. There is access by air from the mainland via the local airport, which is also on Dogo.
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