Want to experience Japan without leaving the state? No problem! Hot Springs will host a sumo wrestling exhibition, cherry blossom festival and craft saké festival all in one weekend!


Arkansas’s first-ever sumo wrestling exhibition, “Sumo! Sumo! Sumo!,” will take place on Sunday, March 3, at Hot Springs’ Bank OZK Arena. Beginning at 6 p.m., the event will feature some of the most famous names in the sport.


Topping the bill in the sumo event will be Hiroki, the heaviest Sumo in the world who was also featured in “John Wick 4,” starring Keanu Reaves. Hiroki, who will be flying in from Japan, tops the scales at a svelte 570 pounds and stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall. Hiroki competed on an elite level in Japanese Pro Sumo and won two divisional Champion titles. He’s also competed in sumo events worldwide and even made an appearance in a WWE event. In addition to “John Wick,” he’s been in numerous movies and TV shows, including a starring role in the globally acclaimed Netflix series “Sanctuary.”


Photo Hiroki by Visit Hot Springs

“This is going to be a great fun event for the entire family,” Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said. “It’s the first time this type of entertainment has been featured in Arkansas, and is sure to be enjoyed by everyone.”


Tickets for the event are $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. Floor seating will be $50 per ticket. To purchase a ticket, click here.


The 7th Annual Arkansas Cherry Blossom Festival will take place the same day from 12:30 p.m. to 5: 30 p.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The family-friendly event offers a chance for those of all ages to celebrate Japanese culture. General admission will be free. The festival will once again feature cultural demonstrations, exhibits and musical performances including taiko drums. Japanese lectures and workshops for those wanting a more hands-on experience will also be available. There are fees for some of the workshops and events.


While all of this is going on, the 4th Annual American Craft Saké Festival, being held Feb. 29 through March 3 in the Bridge Street Entertainment District, will be wrapping up on its last day. This will be the first time the festival is held in Hot Springs – home to Origami Saké Brewery, which uses Arkansas rice in its brewing.

Back to the sumo event, Hiroki will go belly to belly against Ramy, who weighs a svelte 500 pounds and stands 6 feet, 4 inches. Ramy is a 10-time National Sumo Champion and former United States Sumo Open Champion. He has won titles and competed in sumo worldwide, including at the World Championships. He was the No. 1 Egyptian competitor for 10 years in a row. He also appears regularly at sumo exhibitions nationwide and on many TV shows, including a principal role for five years on the Spanish TV show “Tengo Talento.”


Going against Hiroki and Ramy in a round-robin competition will be a much smaller wrestler, Mendee, who weighs a mere 330 pounds and stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Mendee is a two-time U.S. Sumo Open Champion and a former World Sumo Champion. Mendee has been dominant internationally, winning medals all over the world. In his two years at the U.S. Sumo Open, he is 27-0 – a perfect record en route to gold medals. He also represents Mongolia on the world stage, in the Sumo World Championships, World Games and World Combat Games. He’s one of the most dynamic sumo competitors globally. Despite his “smaller” stature, he has spectacular speed and technique.


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