President Donald Trump’s weekend trip to Japan — where he contradicted his national security advisor, backed the murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and misspelled former vice president Joe Biden’s name while calling him “low IQ”— also included a trip to a sumo wrestling stadium.
On Sunday, he presented the “United States President’s Cup” — a 60-pound trophy more than four feet tall that Japan made up for the occasion — to Asanoyama, the 25-year-old sumo champion.
“In honor of your outstanding achievement as sumo grand champion, I hereby award you the United States President’s Cup,” he announced from the wrestling ring.
Trump said he hoped the cup would continue to be awarded for “many hundreds of years.”
It was part of a visit to the country’s Ryōgoku Kokugikan Stadium, where an estimated 11,500 fans gathered to watch a series of five-minute sumo matches.
Trump’s visit to the wrestling match broke several traditions. Foreign leaders do not usually give presentations between matches. And while viewers generally sit on cushions on the ground, called zabutons, Trump and his wife, Melania, were given chairs. The Japan Sumo Association also banned the practice of throwing zabutons into the air as a security precaution, according to the Associated Press.
People who enter the elevated dirt wrestling ring — called a dohyo — are supposed to be barefoot, but Trump wore slippers as he handed out the award. Some members of the Japanese media suggested that the ring would now have to be reconsecrated after Trump’s presentation, according to the Washington Post.
According to viewers, Trump didn’t appear to pay much attention to the matches. He didn’t react to some of the most dramatic moments.
“He didn’t smile at all, he didn’t do any gestures,” Jaime Tiktin told the Post. “It was kind of strange to see him not moving his lips at all.”
Trump’s visit to the sumo arena was part of a larger four-day trip meant to strengthen ties with Japan’s leaders. He already has a close personal relationship with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, even as they’re at odds in a trade dispute. Trump has threatened to impose high tariffs on Japan unless the country and the United States shrink the gap between their trade surplus.