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Longtime wrestling fan Trump to get a taste of sumo in Japan

Trump to take in some sumo in Japan

Tokyo -- President Trump begins his second official trip to Japan on Saturday, and as CBS News' Lucy Craft reports, one highlight of his visit will be watching the national sumo finals in Tokyo.

The Kokugikan Sumo Arena, with its courtly rituals, is a world away from the tights and melodrama of professional wrestling, the sport with which Mr. Trump has been most closely associated throughout his business career.

Seats are reportedly being installed at the Tokyo arena so the first couple won't have to sit on the floor, as is tradition at Kokugikan.

Next to pro wrestling, the centuries-old sport of sumo is genteel, and infused with Shinto religious customs.

The sumo wrestlers, known as Rikishi, undergo rigorous, grueling training, and are expected to be role models in Japanese society.

A Day At Grand Sumo
Wrestlers face off during the Tokyo Grand Sumo tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, in a September 17, 2015 file photo taken in Tokyo, Japan. Getty

Despite weighing an average of about 360 pounds, wrestlers are surprisingly fast and agile. They're able to push or shove opponents from the ring and win bouts within seconds.

Mr. Trump's sumo outing has already prompted tongue-in-cheek social media speculation about whether the president might don a loincloth himself -- a notion unthinkable to fans in Japan.

"Sumo is not just about being large," one fan told Craft. "These wrestlers have been training since age 15. It would be impossible for Trump to compete."

"What you need to understand is that sumo wrestlers aren't just blobs," another fan told CBS News. "They're actually quite fit. I don't think Trump's in very good shape."

Mr. Trump's visit will take him to the Imperial Palace for an audience with the new emperor, Naruhito.

Japan enters a new era under Emperor Naruhito

The president will also get in a round of golf. It's all part of an unprecedented -- and according to scholar Stephen Nagy, notably successful -- charm offensive by the Japanese.

With Japan's massive neighbor China exerting increasing influence in the region, diplomacy faltering with nuclear-armed North Korea and global trade in tumult, Tokyo may be keen to foster the warmest ties possible with the American leader.  

"These are all opportunities for the Japanese to put Mr. Trump front and center and in the spotlight," said Nagy. "This is the kind of treatment that he is accustomed to, and I think that It disposes him favorably to the Japanese because he's being flattered."

The president is scheduled to present a trophy in his own name to this weekend's sumo champion.

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