View RSS Feed

Fill Ya Boots

Sumo!

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
An enduring aspect of Japanese culture is Sumo, a competitive full-contact sport where a wrestler (rikishi) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyo) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally.

My only experience was the rare glimpse we get on Australian TV, enough to create considerable interest when the prospect of attending a Grand Sumo tournament presented itself. My "aide" was Karla, a Brazilian lady (friend of a friend) who lives just outside Nagoya, the location for this event, one of just six of the annual "Grand" tournaments.

We met at the Nagoya castle, yes all these cities seem to have castles, (almost all reproductions), Karla had arranged the tickets, all I had to do was get there. This I had managed after taking a bus ride from Osaka to Nagoya and "checking in" to my airbnb hosts apartment. Cozi was his name, around 30 I guessed, who lived with his girlfriend Maya in a 2 bedroom apartment in a quiet, nondescript part of town, he explained to me that he was not part of the majority (of Japanese), this proved absolutely correct according to my brief experience.

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1338.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	28.5 KB 
ID:	1907

So at 9am after a reasonable nights sleep, aided by a fan in the oppressive heat, it was off to the corner bus stop for the ride to the castle. I had been given written instructions by Maya and showed them to the driver who nodded, after a short trip he gestured that this was my stop, I had arrived, Karla hadn`t so it gave me a chance to wander around the precinct and visit a theatre which had a sign written (surprisingly) in English offering the opportunity to visit, on that day, for free! I couldn`t refuse! At that point Karla rang asking where I was, oops, "on my way" I cried..

We decided to give the castle a miss and head straight for the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, venue for the event, Karla had never been to a tournament either so we were both quite excited, standing outside, seemingly with no purpose, was a competitor. I asked Karla if she thought he might agree to have a picture taken with me? She asked him in her flawless Japanese and he readily agreed, it was quite a moment for me..

We headed inside to be met by a gaggle of volunteers..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1341.jpg 
Views:	163 
Size:	50.9 KB 
ID:	1908

one of whom excitedly ushered us to our seats, she explained, in English, the days program and was very excited to learn that Karla spoke Japanese, she confided to us that it was OK to head for the unoccupied (at that stage) seats closer to the ring and take some pictures..Apologies for the quality of the pics but that`s what you get from a $60 point and shoot..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1348.jpg 
Views:	162 
Size:	63.9 KB 
ID:	1909

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1342.jpg 
Views:	161 
Size:	61.3 KB 
ID:	1910

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1343.jpg 
Views:	156 
Size:	57.6 KB 
ID:	1911

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1344.jpg 
Views:	164 
Size:	55.8 KB 
ID:	1912

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1345.jpg 
Views:	158 
Size:	60.3 KB 
ID:	1913

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1346.jpg 
Views:	153 
Size:	53.8 KB 
ID:	1914

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1347.jpg 
Views:	166 
Size:	57.4 KB 
ID:	1915

It was terrific, I loved the posturing and theatrics, and the bouts were a wonderful mixture of speed, strength and guile. During one bout the seemingly bigger and stronger man was left grasping at air as his ill timed lunge saw him eating the dust outside the ring, the pain on his face all emotional, this was to be a recurring theme.

During one bout as both men crashed out of the ring the 4 judges who were seated on each side entered the ring to confer..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1356.jpg 
Views:	153 
Size:	50.3 KB 
ID:	1916

A decision was made, the winner announced and on to the next bout..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1358.jpg 
Views:	155 
Size:	48.2 KB 
ID:	1917

The fighting continued, all day, Grand tournaments last 15 days with each competitor, from each "grade" fighting every day, terrific value for money I thought. And they came in all sizes, this fellow probably the "fattest", if that`s an appropriate term to describe athletes who`s training includes regular intake of beer..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1361.jpg 
Views:	161 
Size:	50.4 KB 
ID:	1918

Then came the "big" boys, the Makuuchi, restricted to just 42 wrestlers this is the top ranking, all these boys are considered champions having made this division, from here you cannot be removed, but are expected to retire if they have a continual string of failures..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1365.jpg 
Views:	165 
Size:	59.8 KB 
ID:	1920

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1367.jpg 
Views:	157 
Size:	61.4 KB 
ID:	1921

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1368.jpg 
Views:	157 
Size:	62.2 KB 
ID:	1922

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1369.jpg 
Views:	164 
Size:	63.1 KB 
ID:	1923

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1370.jpg 
Views:	171 
Size:	66.6 KB 
ID:	1924

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1371.jpg 
Views:	170 
Size:	63.3 KB 
ID:	1925

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1372.jpg 
Views:	169 
Size:	59.4 KB 
ID:	1926

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1373.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	55.5 KB 
ID:	1927

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1374.jpg 
Views:	161 
Size:	57.5 KB 
ID:	1928

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1376.jpg 
Views:	172 
Size:	64.0 KB 
ID:	1929

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1378.jpg 
Views:	162 
Size:	68.7 KB 
ID:	1919

I loved the ceremony and "pomp" of the occasion, it really did feel like I was witnessing a spiritual gathering..

Then came the Yokozuna Hakuho to perform the dohyo-iri..

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1380.jpg 
Views:	163 
Size:	53.4 KB 
ID:	1930

Wonderfully traditional and almost elegant!

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PICT1382.jpg 
Views:	164 
Size:	68.1 KB 
ID:	1931

The "big" boys were really a sight to behold, coloured mawashi (belt) and the ritual throwing of salt into the ring for purification. The posturing also increased, wrestlers assuming the position then withdrawing, waiting for that moment when they perceived an advantage, all within the allowable 4 minutes per bout of course..

It was a truly memorable experience, made all the more pleasant by the company of Karla, it was really pleasant whiling away the afternoon while the fighting continued, unabated.

After the tournament we toured around Nagoya, an unremarkable city. We were "cleansed" at a local temple and we attended the local Oktoberfest which was horrendously expensive, even by Japanese standards (think $16 for a schooner sized beer) but it was almost worth it for the comic sight of Japanese being encouraged into singing German drinking songs, hilarious even if excruciating on the ears..

We finished up at an Izakaya, a Japanese drinking establishment where food is served, ours was very modern with touch pads for ordering and attentive service, we ate some "interesting" foods that Karla ordered, I don`t even bother asking what they are called now as even if i remember I cannot pronounce them..

It had been a truly wonderful day!

Submit "Sumo!" to Digg Submit "Sumo!" to del.icio.us Submit "Sumo!" to StumbleUpon Submit "Sumo!" to Google Submit "Sumo!" to Facebook

Updated 1st August 2012 at 01:49 AM by Mick Pacholli

Categories
Uncategorized

Comments

  1. Mick Pacholli's Avatar
    Sumo do, Sumo don't...

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!