January 8 - Sumo grand champions show off their stomping prowess during New Year rituals at Tokyo's largest shrine. Sharon Reich reports.
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Japan's top sumo wrestlers usher in the New Year with a traditional foot-stomping performance.
Braving the cold and rain, the two highest-ranking "Yokozuna," Hakuho and Harumafuji led the annual ceremony at the Meiji shrine.
Hakuho, who is Mongolian-born, is within grasp of becoming Japan's greatest sumo wrestler of all time.
He weighs 332 pounds and is 6 ft 4 inches tall, slightly larger than Harumafuji, who weighs 293 pounds and is 6 ft 1.
Despite their size, the ritual went ahead without a hitch.
SOUNDBITE: Hakuho, sumo grand champion, saying (Japanese):
"It started to rain a bit but I still felt really good and ready for the year ahead. There was a point I thought I'd slip over though."
Hundreds of fans turned out to see the rivals show off their technique.
But only one woman walked away with a rare autograph from Hakuho.
SOUNDBITE: Sumo fan, Kumiko Sato, saying (Japanese):
"I'm so happy he signed it. It's amazing because everyone else wanted one too, but he gave it to me. I'm so lucky."
Sumo, with its roots deep in Japan's indigenous Shinto religion, originally started in shrines or temples as offerings to gods.
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