The Thai King is celebrated at a sumo event, which was held as part of a cultural exchange between Thailand and Japan.

The first ever official sumo wrestling competition was held in Thailand over the weekend to commemorate His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday.

Sumo was brought to Thailand as part of an ongoing cultural exchange between the country and Japan, one that looks set to continue.

The sport, while described as a modern martial art, is a centuries old tradition in Japan.

HRH Princess Soamsawali watched the tournament’s opening ceremony and the event was broadcast on live television.

Many big-name wrestlers were flown over to compete, including Tochiozan, Tochinoshin, Tochinowaka, Kimurayama, Toshinonada and Kasugano Oyakata.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Kobchai Chirathivat, president and chief executive officer of Central Pattana, which organised the tournament, said: “Sumo has been part of Japan’s highly prestigious cultural heritage for eight centuries and it is rarely seen outside the country.”

The opening ceremony was attended by 500 high-profile guests and tickets were sold to help raise funds for the flood victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Written by Anthony Nicholson

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