Nana Abe, 12, is a real sumo champion: She has been training since she was 8 years previous and has hardly ever misplaced a contest. In Japan, membership sports activities are a big a part of adolescence and what number of college students bond with their classmates. Sumo — a historic Japanese martial artwork and longtime favourite sport within the nation — is open solely to males on the skilled stage, however that doesn’t cease some ladies from training it as a membership sport.

Tokyo-based photographer Yulia Skogoreva has been photographing ladies and younger ladies who apply sumo for years. “The traditions in Japan are sophisticated,” says Skogoreva. “When folks come and go to the nation, that is a part of why they like it a lot, as a result of a lot of that custom remains to be intact. However there’s additionally the query of gender equality, and may we determine a method to have each?”

Abe’s dream is to proceed her profession as knowledgeable, however proper now there is no such thing as a manner for girls to proceed after commencement from college within the present system. Feminine sumo wrestlers on the membership stage are passionate in regards to the sport and provides their sweat and tears to show that they should compete. “I want that these ladies might have the chance to proceed their profession,” says Skogoreva. “For the time being even in Japan only a few folks know that feminine sumo exists. I hope that my mission will assist these ladies to get extra consideration and attain their objective someday.”

Skogoreva, who has lived in Japan for over 10 years, understands the dream {of professional} athleticism, and her objective is to seize motion and house in a nonetheless picture. She grew up in Moscow and incessantly went to see ballet. She ended up in Tokyo to check at Nippon Images Institute and continued to {photograph} dance. “I just like the pure state of individuals transferring,” Skogoreva says. “Dancers overlook in regards to the digital camera, they only do what they do. I began seeing dance strikes after I watched all types of sports activities.”

She was particularly involved in sumo, which has many rituals forward of the fights that may typically appear to be dance — the skilled wrestlers typically method the ring in colourful gown that reveals their rank, and opponents assemble on the dohyō (the raised ring) forward of the match to stomp and exhibit in a choreographed ritual ceremony referred to as the “dohyōiri.” Skogoreva was initially curious in regards to the world of male sumo wrestlers, as a result of she had by no means heard of girls taking on the game. Then a pal despatched her an article a couple of feminine sumo wrestler, and her curiosity was piqued. “It’s an extremely tight-knit and closed-off world. It took greater than a yr to get the permissions to {photograph} there. I reached out to Russian wrestlers, after which after I got here again to Tokyo with images of Russian wrestlers, it turned loads simpler.”

She plans to maintain engaged on the mission, photographing sumo wrestlers in Japan and elsewhere, in addition to persevering with to {photograph} Nana and her older sister, Sakura. “They’re rising and altering yearly. I’d like to maintain photographing her till she graduates college, and perhaps even after.”