Even today, Sumo plays a part in various religious festivals and rituals. These have been practiced for many hundreds of years and remain important still today. Following is an outline of some rituals still in practice in modern Japan.

Konaki-zumo (Child-crying Sumo)

Practiced in the Heian Court, child sumo has been quite popular throughout history, and remains widely practiced throughout Japan.It is held at local shrines, usually during winter after the thanksgiving rituals for the harvest are over, and involves children born in the previous year. How the ceremony is performed varies from area to area, but the basic idea reflects the old common proverb, "A child crying will thrive.", where the first child to cry becomes the winner and receiver of good fortune.

At the Ujigami Kitare Shrine in Oita Prefecture, the child is dressed in a loincloth for the ceremony, just as an adult would be.At the Kunitsu Shrine in Kyoto, infants are held by the Toya ( the person in charge of the shrine), and made to simulate a sumo match, with the first child to cry being the loser.

The Momiya Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture is known as the "Ikiko Shrine"(Living Child Shrine), after the tale of how a child was brought back to life after his father spent days praying there after his death. Festivities involving sumo are held on the ninth day of the ninth month, during which boys of less than one year old are made to watch a puppet sumo match, with the first to cry being the winner.

The Kamo Shrine in Kyoto holds a famous festival, the Crow Festival, at which sumo is also performed. The festival, beginning September 8th involves child sumo, where young boys perform sumo after the the ceremony of the cawing of the crows. These child matches are immensely popular.

Shinji-Zumo (God Service Rituals)

Many festivals in Japan are held in accordance with harvest and thanksgiving times of the year.

A famous example is the festival of the Mikami Somoku Shrine in Shiga Prefecture, which involves rituals of sumo matches held as part of such thanksgiving festivals. Another extremely well known one is the festival held at Hakui Shrine in Ishikawa Prefecture. It is held annually in late September, and involves wrestlers from surrounding districts vying for the favour of the Gods, in order to be assured of a good harvest. Both rituals date back to ages past "as divination rituals, when representatives of different villages or clan groups competed for the blessings of the dieties"

Hitori-Zumo (One Man Sumo)

This is an interesting ritual performed at various shrines throughout Japan. It is regarded as "not so much a contest of strenght as it is an appeasement of some kind, a ritual act of contact between man and spirit."(P.L.Cuyler, pg 31)

One of the most famous of the Hitori-zumo rituals is held at Oyamazumi Shrine on the island of Omishima, near Shikoku. It is closely tied with rice-planting festivals, taking place on the fifth day of the fifth month, and on the ninth day of the ninth month. The ceremony is divided into two parts, the first part being the rice-planting ritual, and the second being one-man sumo.

Records dating back as far as 1364 mention these rituals, but due to the popularity and wide patronage of the shrine by warriors and aristocrats, it is thought that these rituals may even date back much further.

Another famous one man sumo site is at the Sumida Hachiman Shrine in Hashimoto city, in Wakayama prefecture.