Kyushu Basho - Day 2

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November 12th 2007
Published: November 14th 2007
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g o o   S U M O ! ! !g o o   S U M O ! ! !g o o S U M O ! ! !

Highashi rikishi of the makuuchi division perform the ring entering ceremony
I've been wondering how to approach this segment of the blog. How can I possibly succeed in keeping the interest up among the hapless population making up all those blog readers indifferent to the grand tradition of sumo? I considered step by step introductions, a combined entry with highlights of the five days or presentations of the various rules and the most famous wrestlers right now. In the end I came to the conclusion that nobody bothers to read the blog entries anyway, so I might as well just type what I want and you'll just have to deal with it! Therefore, I'll simply present the most interesting shots from each day with some random commentary or ranting in general. Let the good times roll!

First of all, finding the Kokusai Center was not very difficult. If you are not up to the task of trying to find the proper bus, just take the subway to Gofuku-machi and walk due north for some ten-fifteen minutes. The venue is also easily within walking distance from Tenjin, just follow the big Showa road east from where the Tenjin underground terminates and then turn west once you come to the large junction just
Close to the Kokusai CenterClose to the Kokusai CenterClose to the Kokusai Center

Although not evident in this picture, the weather continued to be sunny and comfortable, the air feeling quite fresh.
south of the Kokusai Center. Inside I didn't have to bother trying to figure out the maze-like structure as I was quickly escorted to my seat by a woman wearing a red "Do you have a Honda?"-jacket. I arrived at 14:30, just in time for the Juryo division ring entering ceremony. The actual Juryo matches began some fifteen minutes later. The travel agent had done a good job in securing me a C-level seat on the southern side, according to my wishes. The rikishi (wrestlers) enter the arena through doorways in the northwest and northeast corner, and together with the gyoji (referee) they will always face to the south when stepping into the dohyo and throwing the salt. Similarily, the yokozuna and the makushita division rikishi will also face the south when performing the dohyo-iri and bow ceremonies respectively. However, if you want to have a good look at the rikishi when they rub their heads in their towels or drink the water you will probably want to be seated on the northern side. Please note that for some strange reason, east and west are flipped, so that the higashi (east) rikishi will actually enter the arena from the west,
Flags flying outside the Kokusai CenterFlags flying outside the Kokusai CenterFlags flying outside the Kokusai Center

The flags represent the competing rikishi
and the nishi (west) rikishi from the east.

It was a strange and exciting feeling sitting inside the arena with all these elite rikishi performing just a short distance away, and even though the building was far from fully seated there was a lot of excitement in the air. Random spectators would cheer out to their favourite rikishi, and this would be picked up and amplified twentyfold by the groups of young school children seated at the nosebleed section. Of course, once favourites Takamisakari and Kaio enter the dohyo the crowds go completely crazy. I had some initial difficulties coming up with a suitable setting for my camera, as the center stage is illuminated by bright spotlights, whereas if you point the camera just outside of their reach (e.g. pointing it towards a referee or rikishi seated on the first row next to the dohyo) the image would become quite dark. I also had some technical malfunctioning going on with my telezoom (oh no...) but I eventually learnt how to overcome its trifling. Fortunately, with five days to go, there is plenty of room for making mistakes and still going back to correct them the next day. I shot roughly 600 images on this first afternoon. It would be a good idea to arrive a bit early in the afternoon to get comfortable with the arena lights, as once everything starts things happen really fast.

As the last bout of the day ended in Hakuho's favour I headed back out on town to find something for dinner. At first I wandered around the area just north of my hotel, where I happened upon a bar and restaurant area as well as a magnificent and large shinto temple. In the end though, I settled for the thing that peaked my interest the most; tachi-gui soba. These soba stands are a form of mobile restaurants that are deployed on the wide pavements in the early evening, near busstops or busy junctions. Each little shed has a few seats or benches around a central table with a heater and other cooking supplies. You are shielded from the elements by colourful drapes that probably also explain just what kind of food you can expect to find inside. As I had no clue, I picked one at random. The place I found seemed to specialize in something like tsukimi soba, noodles and egg in a boiling broth. There were various pieces of meat and vegetables floating around in a big pot, and I picked some at random. Eggs, noodles, fish buns, Chinese raddish, and even more types of fish topped with some wasabi. After three bowls I was good for the night, and down 720 yen in the pocket.

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 25


Toyozakura (JW1) decides to inspect the dohyo a little bit closer...Toyozakura (JW1) decides to inspect the dohyo a little bit closer...
Toyozakura (JW1) decides to inspect the dohyo a little bit closer...

...and Hochiyama (JE2) gracefully allows him to pass
Mongol Invasion!Mongol Invasion!
Mongol Invasion!

The Japanese sumo community is heaving under a Mongol invasion, pictured here are Kyokutenho (MW4), Tokitenku (MW3) and Kakuryu (ME3).
The crowd goes crazy...The crowd goes crazy...
The crowd goes crazy...

...when Fukuoka profile Kaio (OzW) enters the ring
Higashi Yokozuna Hakuho performs the dohyo-iriHigashi Yokozuna Hakuho performs the dohyo-iri
Higashi Yokozuna Hakuho performs the dohyo-iri

Flanked by Aminishiki (SekE) as tachimochi (sword-bearer) and Kasugao (MW5) as his tsuyuharai (attendant)
Who won?Who won?
Who won?

The gyoji is assited by the five shimpan to determine the actual winner in the case of Kakizoe (ME14) vs. Tochiozan (ME15).
Nerves of steel?Nerves of steel?
Nerves of steel?

Wakanoho (MW13) is so impressed by Roho's (ME12) grim outlook that he forgets himself and tries to get a good headstart... This match seems to be determined even before it starts. In the sport of sumo, faith indeed does move mountains. Unless Roho gets too comfortable he should have this bout rife for the picking.

One Russian bear hug later Roho secures the win...

14th November 2007

Finally !!!
Ahhhh ! Finally we can see these cute "little" fattoos with diapers. Though I really miss the big, big ones. Over to you again
14th November 2007

Finally ....................... !

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