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RIDDLE: Where Does a 300-Pound Sumo Wrestler Sit on Japan Airlines?

(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

If this were just a take on the old joke about a gorilla, the answer to “Where does a 264-pound sumo wrestler sit?” would be, “Anywhere he wants.” But when the riddle involves a pair of Japan Airlines flights to transport a large number of very large sumo wrestlers to a sports festival, the answer is, “On the hastily arranged third flight.”

Only this isn’t a riddle. That’s exactly what happened last week when Japan Airlines found that two Boeing 737 flights, from Tokyo and Osaka to the tiny island of Amami Oshima in the island nation’s far south, weren’t going to be enough.

According to a report in The Guardian, Japan Airlines took the “very unusual” precaution of booking a third flight over fuel and weight concerns. According to the story, the typical passenger weighs about 70 kg or 154 pounds. The airline estimated the sumo wrestlers averaged almost double that — 120 kg or 264 pounds.

The logistics must have been fun to figure out at the last minute, since JAL had to find an extra plane “for 27 wrestlers, including 14 who had to fly from Itami to Haneda to board the special flight.”

But my concern isn’t just about the size or weight of the wrestlers, whom sumo fans will tell you are in excellent health despite their impressive size. I want you to think about the extra stores Japan Airlines had to find at the last minute.

This is where your favorite PJ Media writers really step up to the plate and do the hard analytical work that those commies at The Guardian can’t be bothered to do.

I looked it up — you’re welcome — and the typical sumo wrestler (or rikishi) eats a massive 20,000 calories per day. That’s ten times what one healthy-ish internet columnist was told by his doctor to eat and would he also please cut out the bedtime brandy, to give just one random example.

Assuming a 16-hour day, that averages out to 1,250 calories each and every waking hour. Rikishi are supposed to consume all their calories in two yuge 10,000-calorie meals but, c’mon, everybody snacks between meals.

The flight time from Tokyo to Oshima is only about 45 minutes or, as I like to think of it now, 938 Sumo Intake Calories. Again, digging deep for the facts our VIP readers deserve to know, a single snack-size bag of American Airlines Mini Pretzels contains 80 calories.

That’s 12 bags of pretzels to meet the Sumo Intake Calorie requirement of a 45-minute flight per rikishi. That means the snack needs of 27 wrestlers on just the extra flight came out to 324 bags of mini pretzels. Honestly, I don’t know what the flight attendants might have done on that flight other than toss one bag after another over the heads of the regular passengers and into the laps of hungry sumo.

While the tournament ended on Sunday, there has still been no word whether Amami Oshima was at risk of capsizing at any time during the event.


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