The first visit by the new Japanese ambassador Hajime Kitaoka was to Lääne-Viru County for a meeting with local residents connected with sumo wrestling in the village of Vinni on Friday evening, regional newspaper Virumaa Teataja reported.
The reception brought together MP Kaido Höövelson (Centre), a retired professional sumo wrestler known in the world of sumo by his ring name Baruto Kaito, as well as MP Anti Poolamets (EKRE), secretary-general of the Estonian Sumo Association Riho Rannikmaa, representatives of the Vinni municipality government and members and coaches of the Estonian sumo youth team who returned from the recent European Youth Sumo Championships in Hungary with several medals.
Höövelson will soon become the president of the Estonian Sumo Association and he also heads the group for interparliamentary relations with Japan in the parliament of Estonia. Poolamets is a member of the same group.
The newspaper observed that the reception took place in a symbolic place, as it was in the same sports hall at Vinni where Hoovelson's path to the top ranks of the world of sumo started.
The ambassador expressed hope that there are young people in Vinni who will pick up the baton from Höövelson.
"Sumo is a lot more than just a Japanese sport - it has a sporting spirit of its own. Those who have a serious interest in sumo will learn to know Japan better through it and will understand that country better," the ambassador said according to Virumaa Teataja
Höövelson called the visit by the Japanese ambassador "symbolic" and described it as the first small, yet very important, step in further cooperation between the two countries.
Poolamets, whose home and the Barto leisure farm belonging to Höövelson are separated by a distance of about half a kilometer, described their village of 38 residents as special.
"Special in that it definitely is the village most frequented by Japanese in Estonia. When my wife goes to the forest, she comes across people from Japan every now and then," Poolamets said.
The Japanese embassy and the Estonian Sumo Association arranged a meeting for pupils at the VinniPajusti school last week where a lecture on sumo wrestling was delivered by an expert, Japanese TV presenter Hiro Morita.
Editor: Helen Wright