Nana Abe, 12, a true sampo champion: She has been practicing since she was 8 years old and has rarely lost a competition. In Japan, club sports are a big part of adolescence and how many classmates make friends with their classmates. Sumo – a historical Japanese martial art and longtime favorite sport in the country – is perfectly open to men on a professional level, but it does not deter some girls from practicing as a club sport.
Tokyo-based photographer Yulia Skogoreva has been photographing girls and young women who have been practicing sumo for many years. “Japan’s traditions are complex,” Skogoreva said. “People love it so much when they come to the country and travel, part of it, because so much of the tradition is still intact. But there are also questions about gender equality and can we both find a way to stay? “
Aber’s dream is to continue her career as a professional, but in the current system there is no other way for women to continue after graduating from university. Club level female sumo wrestlers are fans of the sport and give them sweat and tears to prove that they are competitive. “I hope these girls have the opportunity to continue their careers,” Skogoreva said. “Right now, even in Japan, very few people know that female sumo exists. I hope my project will help these girls get more attention and one day reach their goals. “
Skogoreva, who has lived in Japan for more than 10 years, realized the dreams of professional athletes and her goal was to capture the space and still image. He grew up in Moscow and often went to see ballet. She ended up coming to Tokyo to study at the Nippon Photography Institute and took pictures of the dance. Skogoreva says, “I like to walk normally.” Dancers forget about the camera, they do what they do. When I watch all kinds of games, I start to see the dance moves. “
He was particularly interested in sumo, which has many pre-fight rituals that are often seen as dancing – professional wrestlers sometimes go to the ring in colorful attire that shows their rank and competitors gather in front of the dohiye (raised ring) to stump the match and choreograph. Performed as “Dohir Iri” at the ceremony. Skogoreva was primarily curious about the world of male sumo wrestlers, as she had never heard of women playing. A friend then sent him an article about a female sumo wrestler and his interest was tied. “It’s an incredibly tough-knit and closed-off world. It took more than a year to get permission to take pictures there. I reached out to Russian wrestlers and then when I came back to Tokyo with pictures of Russian wrestlers, it became a lot easier.
She plans to continue working on the project, taking pictures of sumo wrestlers in Japan and elsewhere, as well as Nana and her older sister Sakura. “These are growing and changing every year. I would love to take pictures of him until I graduate from university and probably even after that. “