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Coexistences: Interview with Jyuri Beniya

Talk Event

May 30, 2019

Hear firsthand the experiences of female sumo wrestler, Jyuri Beniya, one of the photo subjects of The Japan Foundation Gallery’s current exhibition, Coexistences: Portraits of Today’s Japan, by documentary photographer Laura Liverani. Beniya is one of the nine female members of the Asahi University Sumo Club in Mizuho, a city located in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture. Beniya will share her stories on day-to-day encounters as a female sumo wrestler competing in a male-dominated sport and her experiences within her small community of fellow female athletes. She will be interviewed by Sally McLaren, a journalist and academic specialising in Japanese society and culture. The event will also include a brief demonstration of techniques and rituals as an introduction to the art of sumo wrestling.

This event is part of the event program for Coexistences: Portraits of Today’s Japan, a free exhibition on display at The Japan Foundation Gallery from April 12 to June 21, 2019.

About the Women Sumo Series in Coexistences

Traditionally, the practice of sumo is exclusive to men. Women are not allowed to step on the dohyo, the sacred ring where sumotori wrestle. However, female sumo wrestlers do exist. Even if not yet acknowledged by the ranks of professional sumo, there are women sumo teams in Japan as well as in the rest of the world, challenging not only dominant ideas of sports, but also of femininity and gender roles. Over the past decade, there have been campaigns to have sumo recognised as an olympic sport. But before that happens, official sumo will have to end its centuries old women ban. As a woman in Japan today, it is possible to practice sumo only in amateur clubs within schools and universities. On the dohyo, the girls train together with their fellow male team members, who outnumber them. With its nine female members, The Asahi University Sumo Club is currently the largest women sumo team in Japan.

Written by Laura Liverani


May 30, 2019 (Thursday)
6:30pm-7:45pm (Doors open 6pm)


The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway
Chippendale NSW 2008


Free, no bookings required.


(02) 8239 0055

Top image: Laura Liverani, Jyuri Beniya, 20 (left) and Kotone Hori, 18 (right), demonstrate a sumo technique, 2018.


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