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Published: December 17th 2010
I’ve got a new home town! Nagoya, the 4th largest city in Japan in terms of population, is quite different from Marugame. There are skyscrapers, a library with English books, subway, buses, trains and even its own international airport. So many things to see and do: museums, a castle, shrines, festivals and events!
I moved here before heading to China in June, but was sick and couldn’t do much for the one week I was in residence. I just arrived back in the city from Hong Kong on July 17th. What better way to enjoy the new city than attending a Sumo Grand Tournament all day on the 18th? ^_^
There is more to sumo than obese men in diapers hugging each other. First off the wrestlers are pretty flexible and strong. They exercise constantly. Secondly, it’s really a martial art form that is 100s of years old. Also there are a lot of rituals (such as salt purification of the ring) and technique involved. Ceremony is important too. There’s a starting ceremony, ring entering ceremony, a closing ceremony, a special ceremony before the highest division. I find it to be a sport that can really pull you in once you
grasp the basics. The goal of the wrestlers is to get the other wrestler out of the circle or to touch the ground with another part of their body besides their feet. Sometimes it’s just grappling and pushing, but a lot of time it can involve tricking your opponent or tossing and/or flipping your opponent.
We arrived at the grand tournament at the start of the event. We opted to eat there before watching the show. We ate official sumo wrestler cuisine. It was delicious and not as carbo heavy as you’d think. (Although I think the portions they sold are probably not as large as the real ones the wrestlers eat.) We made it to our seats towards the end of the third string matches. It gave us enough time to figure some things out before the second rank had their ring entering ceremony and their matches began. It was an exciting sport to watch even though I didn’t have a certain side I was routing for. Our seats were pretty high up, but we could still see everything. Plus ringside seats seemed a bit hazardous. One poor guy in the first row was taken out twice by flying
sumo wrestlers and spent the rest of the tournament understandably skittish. When the top tier wrestlers entered I was surprised to see quite a few were obviously Western. I had heard that recently a problem for Sumo is that more and more of the higher level participants are foreigners from places such as Mongolia, The Philippines, Eastern Europe and even one or two from Hawaii. The general public in Japan doesn’t really approve of the outside invasion of what they consider the national sport and that has hurt the popularity of sumo. Some people even think Sumo may eventually die out due to this, but I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, after the entry ceremony for the top tier each yokozuna (highest ranking person) from the two divisions does a ceremony that involves a lot of stomping and clapping. Then the serious matches begin. At this point the stadium is pretty full. During the first bout it was fairy empty, more came in for the middle ranks, but everyone made sure to arrive for these matches. Before I came to this event I did not think people the size of sumo wrestlers could have so much speed and flexibility.
When the highest division fight there are alot ore spectators.
Watching the yokozuna fight was pretty cool. They pretty much just tossed the lower ranked person they each fought aside in a matter of second. One head honcho even managed to flip his opponent over midair. The last match of every grand tournament is yokozuna vs. yokozuna. The last match was over so fast; I’m not really sure what happened. After that there is an ending ceremony to close the ring and it’s all over. Overall it was a fantastic day! I like sumo and I’d watch it live again, however there are only 6 Grand Tournaments a year and only one is in Nagoya.
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