Sumo: Pokémon tops the list of sponsors at the January 2022 basho

KitKat. Ito En green tea. Kokugikan pork curry (by way of the Japan Sumo Association). And…Pikachu?

Yes, for one – make that two very brief shining moments, Pokémon stood head above every other sponsor at the Fukuoka November 2021 and Tokyo January 2022 Grand Sumo Tournaments. The sponsorship in Tokyo went well beyond the occasional mascot appearances, as various characters and symbols appeared on keshomawashi (the aprons worn by wrestlers in the top makuuchi division during their introductions), select gyoji shozoku (referee robes) and sponsor banners both outside and in the dohyō (each banner displayed in the ring prior to a bout is equivalent to one cash envelope for the winner). Alas, this fun partnership between Pokémon and sumo was short-lived, but it would be great to see a comeback at future basho.