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  • "Sumo East and West" is a feature documentary about Americans in the ancient Japanese sport of sumo wrestling. Sumo is not only the national sport of Japan but a centuries-old cultural treasure that is literally part of the Shinto religion. Yet this highly traditional world is facing profound changes due to the postwar influx of foreign images and ideas in Japanese culture. At the same time other changes in sumo are being prompted by its growing popularity in the West, where its adherents are lobbying for sumo's inclusion in the Olympic Games even as other promoters are arranging amateur sumo tournaments in venues like Las Vegas casinos - tournaments that not surprisingly bear little resemblance to the sport's Japanese forebear. "Sumo East and West" takes us into this world through the story of Wayne Vierra of Hawaii, aka Kamakiiwa, a former professional sumo wrestler in Japan whose pro career was cut short by injury, but who rebounded to become a champion in the growing world of amateur sumo. The film also features the Hawaii-born superstars of professional sumo: Konishiki, Jesse "Takamiyama" Kuhaulua, and Akebono (the first non-Japanese to reach the exalted rank of yokozuna, or grand champion) .


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