A handful of salt tossed ceremoniously into the ring, a referee garbed in ancient splendor, huge contestants tensely poised—these are the 2,000-year-old elements of sumo wrestling, Japan's classic sport, shown here from ringside in the Kyushu Sumo Tournament at Fukuoka

After a round of formalized face-making designed to frighten the opponent, the wrestlers prepare for the initial grip that often determines the victor

The final winner at Fukuoka gets a cup as big as his belly

THREE PHOTOSJERRY COOKE