12-year-old Nana Abe is a real sumo champion. He trained from the age of 8 and rarely lost the competition. In Japan, club sports are a major part of adolescence, with students interacting with their classmates. Sumo – the historical Japanese martial art – a long-popular sport in the country, is open only to men on a professional level, but this does not prevent some girls from practicing it as a club sport.
Tokyo-based photographer Yulia Skogoreva has been photographing girls and young women sumo wrestling for years. “Traditions are complex in Japan,” says Skogoreva. “When people come and visit a country, this is why they love it so much, because most of that tradition still remains intact. But there is the question of gender equality, can we find a way to do both? ”
Abe’s dream is to continue her career as a professional, but now there is no other way for women to graduate from university. Club-level sumo wrestlers are passionate about sports, shedding their sweat and tears to prove they deserve to compete. “I would like these girls to have the opportunity to continue their careers,” says Skogoreva. “Right now, even in Japan, few people know that women’s sumo exists. I hope that my project will help these girls one day pay more attention to achieve their goal. ”
Skogoreva, who has lived in Japan for more than 10 years, realizes her dream of professional athletics, և her goal is to move և to photograph space with a still image. She grew up in Moscow and often attended ballet. He arrived in Tokyo to study at the Nipo Institute of Photography and continued to photograph dance. “I like the natural state of people who move,” says Skogoreva. “Dancers forget about the camera, they just do what they do. I started seeing dance moves while watching all kinds of sports. ”
He was especially interested in sumo, which has many rituals ahead of battles, which can often look like a dance. Professional wrestlers sometimes approach the ring in a colorful dress that shows their calling, և competitors gather to stand on a doyha (raised ring) և to show the competition during a choreographic ritual called “dohyō iri”. Skogoreva was initially interested in the world of male sumo wrestlers because she had never heard of women’s sports. Then a friend sent her an article about a female sumo wrestler, and she became interested. “It’s an incredibly strong, closed world. It took more than a year to get permission to take photos there. I reached out to the Russian wrestlers, and then when I returned to Tokyo with photos of the Russian wrestlers, it became much easier. ”
He plans to continue working on the project, photographing sumo wrestlers in Japan in Aponia, elsewhere, as he continues to photograph Nana, his older sister Sakura. “They grow and change every year. I would like to continue photographing him until he graduates from university, նույնիսկ maybe even after that. ”