Aside from vistas of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms and sushi, nothing says Japan as much as sumo. Yet this quintessential Japanese sport, often called the national pastime, hasn’t had a home-grown champion in seven years.
This year looks to be no different, as the Mongolian-born Harumafui captured the Emperors’s Cup at the traditional New Year tournament that kicks off the sumo year. He won the trophy by defeating yet another Mongolian champion, not to mention some Bulgarians and Estonians.
Paradoxically, sumo is an international sport that steadfastly refuses to go international. It is international in that many foreigners participate in Japan. Of the approximately 700 professional wrestlers, about 50 are...