Sumo Wrestling, Tokyo
Watch rikishi try to toss each other out of the dohyō while wearing nothing but a tiny mawashi, all in an effort to be awarded the prestigious title of yokozuna! Japan has just six Grand Sumo tournaments per year, three of which are held in the Sumo Hall in Ryōgoku, Tokyo (January, May, and September).
We attended the May 2013 Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. Though the sumo wrestling began at about 8am, we decided to get there closer to 3pm so we could watch the top tier wrestlers. BEfore entering the sumo arena, we got some beer at the local 7-Eleven, then we stopped at the small food vendors at the gate of the area to get sake and some bento boxes of Japanese food.
We had some great seats in the first row of the second level. These were Western-style box seats with backs and arm rests, not the Japanese style floor seating found in the lower level. The tournament was a lot of fun, though it was more show than sport. The introductions of the upper class wrestlers took about 5 minutes, which was longer than the total wrestling time of the entire day. We watched about 20 different matches.
I was unprepared to be so disappointed when the first sumo tournament of 2010 concluded. It was the first time i had paid attention to the sport, and I got hooked! The art, the balance, the athleticism, and the--dare I say--grace involved in this sport is stunning. Here I thought they were just a bunch of fat guys pushing each other around.
....We were fortunate to have some very knowledgeable Sumo fans with us when we attended the Grand Sumo January Tournament, held at the Kougikan Arena in Tokyo. It was these fine fans, plus an English version of an informational brochure, who taught me everything, and made watching the match enlightening. Still, the sport is as simple as it gets -- just beat the guy in front of you!
....We were at the New Year's tournament. In each of six grand tournaments that are held throughout the year, each day begins with early morning matches between trainees and lowest ranking rikishi, as the wrestlers are called. Competitions between progressively higher ranked divisions continue on throughout the day, finishing with the top ranks of the Maku-uchi division. We timed our afternoon arrival to catch the 15:50 dohyo-iri, the ceremonial entrance of the the top five ranks, decked out in silken and gold-fringed kesho mawashi, or ceremonial aprons valued at many hundred thousand Yen each. In reverse order of rank they approach the stage: Megashira, Komusube, Sakewake, Ozeki, and finally, the Yokozuna, or Grand Masters. We had the fortune of seeing two Yokozuna wrestle in our tournament: Hakuho and Asashoryo. The latter was in his final tournament, as he retired soon after it due to a fight with a bar worker, which left him feeling that he did not meet the high standards of probity required of Yokozuna.
Equipment: The only piece of equipment used by the wresters is their belts, and after the violent initial clash, it is the chief tool for winning the match. Rarely does one restler toplle the other without grabbing his belt. Push the other wrestler out of the ring or force him to the ground and you are the winner. Pure and simple.
If you are in Tokyo in Jan, Mar, May or Jul, you can take in the live sumo action.
If not, you can visit the arena and museum. You will see some sumo walking around, and if you ask around, you can possibly visit the training stables, though we didn't manage to do this.
Go to Ryogoku station and the arena and museum are just next to it.
Sumo is difficult for most Westerners to understand. But once you get the hang of it, and learn the right terms, it can be addictive. Even as I am trapped here in Ohio, I still find time to look up what's going on at the various Bashos in the Sumo World.
Sumo is fast! But it is also slow, formal and all about tradition. There are traditions of throwing salt into the ring, traditional costumes, and like they do in Detroit you can throw things in the ring when the ref makes a bad call. (Normally red seat cushions).
The rules are simple. Two men enter one man leaves. If a wrestler touches the ring with anything other than the soles of his feet, or steps out of the ring, they are out. Most matches are over in seconds. Good matches with tough competitors can go for minutes, but those are very rare.
There are six major tournaments (Bashos) each year. And they are held all over Japan. Be sure to check the Kokugikan (Budokahn) schedule to see when the Basho is in Tokyo. It is typically in May, and tickets go quick!
You will want to check out Asashoryu. He is Mongolian and currently the only yokozuna. A yokozuna is as high as you can go in the Sumo world, and once you win this title, it can never be taken away. They also don't last long as it takes a while to get there, and when they start losing they are expected to retire.
For more sumo fun and something completely different, but related to sumo, check out my sumo-village page.
Equipment: A red seat cusion to throw at the ref when he makes a bad call!
Everything you need is already there, just show up and enjoy!
Famous Chubby Angels in Tokyo, Sumo Wrestler Tochinonada, myself and Kasuka Nishiki at a Sumo Sensyu Party at Tokyo.
Equipment: To watch Sumo Wrestling, it depend on the seasons and locations, basically Sumo Wrestling Hall in Ryogoku is the best place. Please make sure that the tournament is on going then you can watch, otherwise the wrestling hall will be closed
I wa slucky to be invited to the Sumo Party in Tokyo.
My responsblity here is mainly help up some idea to take some photos for a TV show magazine.