In October 2000, we sent questionnaires to about 4000 people who were registered in the category of Japan of our pen pal service, and who indicated that they are willing to participate in surveys. We received 363 valid responses from Japanese people who live in Japan. 71 percent of them were female and 69% were below the age of thirty. In addition to the unbalance in age, we must consider the fact that all survey participants are registered in an online international pen pal service, which may or may not mean that they are overall more internationally and less traditionally oriented than the average Japanese.

Two basic insights that we could gain by looking at the survey results are that sumo enjoys a higher popularity among men than women and that popularity of sumo increases with age.

Men are clearly more interested in sumo than women: 28.3 percent of the male survey participants answered that they are interested in sumo, while only 7.0 percent of the women gave the same answer. The interest is lowest among female teenagers with only 4.6 percent.

Not interested are 34.0 percent of the men and 51.0 percent of the women. The remaining respondents indicated to be just a little bit interested.

Accordingly, many more men follow the tournaments on television: 6.6 percent of men compared to only 0.8% women watch live broadcast of sumo tournaments everyday. About two thirds of men and women responded that they sometimes watch the live broadcast of sumo tournaments, while the remaining respondents (24.5% among men and 35.8% among women) indicated to never watch sumo live on television.

Most survey participants have never been to a sumo tournament. According to our survey, 81.1 percent of men and 90.3 percent of women never went to the stadium to see sumo live. The rest has been to between one and five tournaments, but almost nobody among the survey participants is visiting sumo games once per year or more often.

Finally, we were trying to find out who the most popular wrestler currently fighting in makuuchi or juryo is. The question allowed the participants to select zero or more wrestlers that they like especially well.

The results show Terao to be the most popular wrestler among both, men (29.3%) and women (24.5%). The veteran wrestler Terao who was recently demoted to Juryo ranks is also most popular among the people interested in sumo with 45.8 percent selecting him. Second most popular wrestler among men (25.2%) and women (23.4%) is Hawaii born Yokozuna Musashimaru. Among sumo fans, however, Ozeki Kaio who many believe to have the highest chances to become the next yokozuna ranks second with 39.6%.

Interesting are the differences between the genders. Yokozuna Takanohana, for example, is much more popular among women (21.0%) than men (15.1%) while the opposite is true for Yokozuna Akebono. Ozeki Chiyotaikai is another wrestler who is particularly popular among women compared to men with 11.3 percent of women selecting him versus only 8.5 percent of men. On the other hand, Ozeki Kaio and Musoyama are much more popular among men than women.

Among men:
  1. Terao 29.3%
  2. Musashimaru 25.5%
  3. Akebono 20.8%
  4. Musoyama 20.8%
  5. Kaio 19.8%
  6. Takanohana 15.1%
  7. Akinoshima 9.4%
  8. Chiyotaikai 8.5%
  9. Dejima 8.5%
  10. Kyokushuzan 7.6%
Among women:
  1. Terao 24.5%
  2. Musashimaru 23.4%
  3. Takanohana 21.0%
  4. Akebono 19.8%
  5. Chiyotaikai 11.3%
  6. Musoyama 9.3%
  7. Kaio 8.2%
  8. Dejima 5.8%
  9. Akinoshima 5.8%
  10. Takatoriki 5.5%

Among sumo fans:
  1. Terao 45.8%
  2. Kaio 39.6%
  3. Musashimaru 35.4%
  4. Musyoama 29.2%
  5. Takanohana 25.0%
  6. Akebono 20.8%
  7. Chiyotaikai 14.6%
  8. Akinoshima 14.6%
  9. Takatoriki 10.4%
  10. Miyabiyama 8.3%