8 min read

Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler?

The power stones of Kushida Shrine. Plus news and updates from the stonelifting world.

I've been waiting a long time to write this month's article! I could've written a version of it when I first found out about these stones a few years ago. And I could've written it earlier this year right after making the pilgrimage to see them myself.

In the end, I decided to wait until November. And it's all because I'm taking you to Fukuoka on the west coast of Japan. As I write this email, Japan's professional sumo wrestlers are in Fukuoka, fighting at the final Grand Sumo tournament of the year. Why does that matter? In the city's ancient shrine, sumo wrestlers and power stones have a deep connection spanning centuries.

Here's your list of this month's topics. Feel free to jump around to the ones that interest you most:

  • Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler?
  • Replica Dinnie Stones hold at RRB
  • Strength Unknown: Japan
  • David Keohan on the Art of Manliness Podcast
  • Reddit discovers liftingstones.org
  • Dinnie Stones enamel pin

Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler?

If you haven't already guessed, this month's article is about sumo wrestlers lifting stones!

Something you may not know is that I'm a huge fan of sumo wrestling. And it's partly because of the subject of this month's article: Kushida Shrine's power stones.

Kushida Shrine's testing stone was the first Japanese stone I learned about that I knew was accessible and liftable to everyone. I knew of other Japanese stones before it, but I wasn't confident they were liftable. I'm overly cautious with Japanese stones, so I had to be 100% sure before adding it to the map.

Kushida Shrine's test stone

While the test stone is liftable and fun, the real stars are the stones on display: nearly 20 stones dedicated by some of sumo's strongest and most accomplished fighters.

Yokozuna Hakuho dedicates his power stone in 2012

To put it in a context you may be more familiar with, imagine if a dozen of the greatest strongmen of all time – the likes of Bill Kazmaier, Jón Páll Sigmarsson, Magnús Ver Magnússon, Brian Shaw, and Žydrūnas Savickas – each had their own stone on display at an ancient site in the centre of a big city. And then add some historic greats too – like Louis Cyr and Eugen Sandow.

Of the greats of sumo, there are only a small number that don't have a stone at Kushida. One has power stones elsewhere, but that's a story for another time.

The format of this article is a little different than my past articles. Beyond the usual information, I'm highlighting a number of wrestlers with stones at Kushida Shrine as well as their achievements in the sport. I suspect most readers won't know much about sumo, so I'm hoping it provides some context about the significance of the people who've dedicated these stones. I've also linked to some videos of their bouts!

This is my longest article yet. It took me a long time to put together with plenty of research that went nowhere, so I hope you enjoy it!

Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler? — liftingstones.org
Fukuoka’s Kushida Shrine displays stones dedicated by some of the strongest sumo wrestlers in history.

Replica Dinnie Stones hold at Rogue Record Breakers

Thanks to a weekend full of disruption due to bad weather, Rogue sadly didn't stream the Record Breakers event at the Rogue Invitational. At one point, people weren't even sure whether the record breakers would happen at all. Thankfully, the Replica Dinnie Stones hold went ahead in the end.

Unfortunately, that means there's no stream I can point you to like past years. Luckily, Big Loz and Liz uploaded a video showing their point of view from the record breakers. Loz even stepped up to try and break the record himself!

Kevin Faires broke the Replica Dinnie Stones hold record with 41.31 seconds, narrowly beating the record set last year by Mitchell Hooper.

You can see Loz and Liz's video of the event on YouTube.

Kevin Faires' record starts here.

Strength Unknown: Japan

In perhaps my favourite episode yet, Martins and Romark head to Japan to lift some power stones!

Martins shoulders a power stone at Usuki Hachiman Shrine in front of the Sannomiya Unosuke statue.

The pair visit a few different shrines across the country with various guests to take on different power stone challenges.

I don't want to give too much away. But Martins travels to a few locations I've talked about in this newsletter (and visited) before, so some scenes may look familiar!

Among the guests are David "Tamotsu" Dunlap, Sobatsubu (a Japanese stonelifter), and Takashima Shinsuke – the world's leading power stone researcher. So you'll definitely learn something new!

Martins' passion really shined in this episode. After filming, he spent a few weeks in Japan on vacation. During his vacation time, he took trips to lift more stones with David, which says a lot.

You can watch Strength Unknown: Japan on YouTube.

The next episode of Strength Unknown will be at Tatsunami stable, where Martins will explore sumo! Has Martins been reading my mind?

David Keohan on the Art of Manliness Podcast

I don't have much time to listen to podcasts these days, but I set aside some time to listen to David Keohan on the Art of Manliness Podcast. If you've never heard of it, it's a huge show that hits 2.5m downloads every month!

In his episode, David continues spreading the word of Irish stonelifting. And it sounds like his publicity keeps snowballing as more and more people learn about Ireland's stonelifting revival.

This episode was a great overview of David's work and his quest for finding and documenting Irish stones as well as the culture surrounding them. The part that stood out to me was David highlighting how the Irish stonelifting culture likely died: Colonialism amplified by The Great Famine:

"If people are dying of starvation, the last thing you want to do is lift something heavy off the ground."

You can listen to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts or on artofmanliness.com

Eidis Hansen's legend on Reddit

Earlier this month, I noticed a traffic spike to liftingstones.org coming from Reddit. Someone had posted to the TIL (Today I Learned) subreddit with a link to the legend of Eidis Hansen:

TIL: In the early 1800s, a Norwegian Fisherman when denied alcohol carried a 371kg stone to block the shop's doorway.

The post eventually hit the front page of Reddit, peaking at about 12th with 9,000 upvotes. So it was a big spike in traffic! In the span of 12 hours, over 30,000 people clicked through to the Eidis Hansen article. To put that number into some context, more people visited liftingstones.org in those 12 hours than the whole of 2020.

I'm fortunate that the site is set up in such a way that handling a massive spike in traffic isn't a problem. If it were running on a typical low-performance server, the volume of traffic may have been enough to topple the server and cause some downtime.

Discussion was about what you'd expect from one of Reddit's top subreddits. But there were some nice comments:

"What a wonderful website. Reminds me of early oughts internet before reddit and Facebook."
"Websites like liftingstones.org really channel early 'net joy...what a fascinating tale!"

The post was eventually removed from TIL because of "Tenuous evidence". TIL isn't really the appropriate subreddit for this story anyway. But it was a fun experience to ride along.

Dinnie Stones enamel pin

Firstly, thanks to everyone that ordered a pin after I sent out the October newsletter! Your support genuinely means a lot and it helps keep the site alive during huge traffic spikes like we experienced from Reddit earlier in the month.

I'll keep this brief, because if your inbox is anything like mine, it has been bombarded over the last couple of weeks with companies trying to sell you stuff.

There's still time to order a Dinnie Stones pin before I close shop until the New Year.

Unfortunately, I can't guarantee delivery before Christmas for any international orders (i.e., outside of the UK) now. However, international shipping typically takes 6-7 business days. Factoring in a little extra time for holiday delays, if you order before I close orders, you should receive your pin in time.

I'll close the shop for international orders on December 6th. Then I'll close the shop to UK orders a week later on December 13th.

You can order a pin on the shop page.

Next month, there won't be a new article. But I'll be bringing you my (now annual) liftingstones.org year in review, so look forward to that!

As always, thanks for reading!

In strength,

Latest articles

Are you stronger than a sumo wrestler? — liftingstones.org
Fukuoka’s Kushida Shrine displays stones dedicated by some of the strongest sumo wrestlers in history.
Jeju’s stonelifting legends — liftingstones.org
Three stonelifting legends from South Korea’s Jeju Island.

The liftingstones.org shop

Dinnie Stones enamel pin

Inspired by the world’s most famous lifting stones, this liftingstones.org original pin is perfect for showing off your love of stonelifting by pinning it to your gym bag, clothes, or anywhere else.