Friday, January 19, 2007


My goodness what an event! Most foreigners are prepared to find the event baffling and boring. I’m eager to share that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them crash around the ring; the stomping; the pschyological “stare down” and of course, the thrilling throw or tumble of one or both wrestlers into the crowd. Who would dare sit in the front seats? Linden and I saw a photographer get crushed by one wrestler easily over 160 kilos.

We attended one of the three grand tournaments of sumo, which last for 15 days each, and we saw day 12. We got two of the last seats - everything for the final weekend has been sold out for months. This sport dates back 1500 years. It was initially a devotional ritual praying for good harvest, usually down outside a shrine. Now they occur indoors in a pretend shrine.

The decorate ceremonial aprons, kesho-mawashi, are given to the wrestlers by their supporters: starting price 200,000$ CAN and they can become astronomical as pearls, diamonds, or other precious gems are sewn into the silk.

We even got to watch the famous Bulgarian, Kotooshu (his Japanese name) born in 1983 (at 143 kg he is by far the smallest of the big boys) he was scouted for sumo while in college.

Did you know sumo wrestlers live in “stables”? They have stable masters too. Their traditional meal is Chanko which consists of a boiled potpourri of vegetables, meat and noodles.

Walking around the sumo area was the first time I've felt small in Japan. I'm sure all know, but if you exist in this world larger than an American size 3, as a woman, you are large to most Japanese. Ha, my German friend, Simone, from the hike has been mistaken for a man in part because she is so tall (6"1) and wears size 10 shoes.

The picture to the left is the "face off" or the psych out session. Every so often the crowd would go wild and one or the other wrestler would leave and toss some salt. Salt in the ring is said to purify the wrestler, well that and drinking water.

This is the leg stomping. Some sumo's liked to show off and do the splits like figure skaters and ballerinas by arching their leg into high above the 90 degree angle this picture shows. As of 2001 there were 83 official winning moves of sumo (up from 41 in 1920s). I have to say I really could only see "da grab" pictured to the left.

The most perfect “wish I had a camera” moment, was watching a massive sumo wrestler in purple housecoat and hair in the greased topknot steadying himself on his bike (there was quite a number of tentative starts) and gently beginning to peddle. His giant frame, cautiously moving down the street, swerved out to avoid the old, the young, and the gaping tourist. I could hardly stop myself from laughing, which Lind and I did once safely around the corner.

Ah, sumo. What a fun day.


Linden said...

How exactly did you get on my blog this morning? I didnt let you on...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, experience to behold! Is this a "must do" when we are in Tokyo? Mom

mom said...

Thanks, experience to behold! Is this a "must do" when we are in Tokyo?