Origins of Ancient Sumo
Read the passage below and carefully answer the questions on your own paper.

The earliest written mention of sumo is found in the Kojiki, a book from the year 712, which is the oldest extant example of Japanese writing. The Kojiki relates a legend about how possession of the Japanese islands was determined by a sumo match. According to the book, about 2,500 years ago, the gods Takemikazuchi and Takeminakata grappled on the shores of Izumo along the Japan Sea coast in what is now Shimane-ken, until the latter finally lost. Thus control of the archipelago was ceded to the Japanese people led by Takemikazuchi, who is said to have established the imperial family from which the present emperor traces his ancestry.

Since the Japanese didn't keep any written records until the 8th century, it is impossible to know, aside from legend, exactly when sumo first developed in Japan. However, ancient wall paintings indicate that its origins are very old indeed. In prehistoric times, sumo appears to have been performed mainly as an agricultural ritual to pray for a good harvest.

It is also impossible to determine whether sumo is a completely indigenous sport or whether it was influenced by similar forms of grappling from other parts of Asia and Eurasia. Grappling seems to be a rather basic, instinctive sport played mostly by men.

Copy the questions and write the correct answer.

1. Which statement best summarizes the passage?
a. It is impossible to know when sumo began in Japan.
b. Sumo has been important in Japan for hundreds of years.
c. Sumo wrestling can be very dangerous.
d. Two gods sumo wrestled for control of the Japanese people.

2. What does the word “indigenous” mean in the 3rd paragraph?
a. Dangerous
b. Unique
c. Native
d. Entertaining

3. Which of these can we assume from the passage?
a. Everyone in Japan likes to sumo wrestle.
b. Sumo wrestling is only performed by men.
c. Sumo wrestling has a religious element.
d. Takeminakata was the god of the sea.

4. How do we know sumo has a very old history in Japan?
a. It appears in the Kojiki.
b. Everyone loves it.
c. It was a ritual performed to help agriculture.
d. It appears in ancient wall paintings.

5. Why do you think sumo wrestlers are so fat?

Adapted from Mr. Roughton