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Published: November 28th 2005
The first of many sumo wrestlers we saw wandering around the city.
So when you think about Japan there are many things you associate with it....sushi, kimonos, karate, and of course SUMO!!!! I was fortunate enough to get to experience a sumo wrestling tournament this weekend. It succeeded my expectations. I had such a good time and would definitely go to another sumo match in the future if I was given the chance.
Originally we were supposed to go with the AJET group, but things fell through. That did no stop us from going. There were 9 of us in our crew headed to the tournament, me, Lisa, Nikki, Marc, Mercedez, Jen, Ellie, Julie, and Simon. The weekend started out a little chaotic. I was running late and thought I was going to miss the bus to Shimonoseki. As I am running in the direction of the bus, I see two people running toward me- it was Lisa and Brian, RUNNING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION! Lisa had to get her bag from the locker. I honestly thought she was going to miss the bus. Fortunately we made it! We woke up early Saturday morning, actually missed the bus to Fukuoka this time! Fortunately there was one a half an hour later, and
Hard Rock Cafe
I know, I should be trying 'traditional food' but it just tasted so good!
we finally arrived in Fukuoka. We were standing at the bus stop and I look over and see this huge sumo wrestler and start screaming. You would have thought it was Brad Pitt or something. Oh no, just a sumo wrestler :-).
After lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe we picked up a few Chu Hais and headed over to the sumo arena. There were sumo wrestlers all over the place! Of course we took photos with them. They did not look too excited. I am sure they have people asking to take photos with them all the time. After the tournament Lisa and i asked if we could kiss one on the cheek and he said no, then we asked if we could hug him and he said no...I think he lost his match that day!
Sumo is a very interesting sport. Like everything in Japan, it is all about honor and levels. If a rikishi has made it to the top level, he is considered a Yokozuna. Over the past 200 years there have only been 60 Yokozuna. In order to reach this level you have to win two consecutive tournaments and a whole bunch of
Lisa and I found some sumo wrestlers that we wanted to take home with us!
other stuff. Once at this level you can't go back down. If you start to lose your matches, then it is tradition to retire from your position. There was one Yokozuna at our tournament. I forget his name but I think in English the cal him the "Blue Dragon."
We arrived to watch the better sumo wrestlers, called the Juryo division, which leads up to the rikishi just below Yokozuna status. Sumo wreslters are called rikishi. Once they reach this level they have made it as a professional sumo wrestler. These are the "big boys" of sumo (or should I just say bigger boys hehehe). They get to wear special loin cloths and wear their hair in a more formal knot on top of their head. The actual sumo match only lasts for about 30 seconds. It's all about the build-up. First, the rikishi come onto the 'dohyo' and spread salt to purify the ground. Then they wipe themselves off with a towel and wash their mouths out with water to purify themselves. Then they each enter the ring and resume the traditional sumo stance...you know, legs bent, hands down on the ground. So you think they are about
Hiroshima in Fukuoka
Here is the crew that made the trek to sumo.
to go at it. Suddenly, the tension is broken as one of them gets up and goes back to his corner. Basically they are waiting for the 'right' moment to wrestle. There used to be no time limit on it and this build up thing would last forever. Now there is a 4 minute time limit. The rules of sumo are simple. No punching or pulling, and the first guy to put any part of his body (well besides his feet of course) on the ground OR steps outside of the ring loses. While watching it there does not seem to be much technique, but apparently there is a lot of it. Fun fact: the diapers they were are 10 yards of fabric.
So watching was great. We all got into it and started cheering on the various wrestlers, and of course made friends with the j-peeps around us. The last match was the Yokozuna. What was supposed to be the best match turned out to suck. It was over in 5 seconds and the Yokozuna lost! The crowd wa furious! The audience started th throw their purple cushions into the center. That was definitely a fun part of
Here come the 'big boys.' The guy with hair on his chest is actually from Bulgaria.
the evening. Old blue dragon let us down. Looks like he might need to retire soon.
Post sumo tournament we went to this restaurant called the Lock Up. It is designed like a jail. We ate dinner in a jail cell and the waittresses wore black and white prisoner uniforms. Toward the end of our dinner they had a 'lock down' and random monsters came around scaring everyone. it was really fun. After that we went to Fubar where the Fukuoak JETs were putting on a benefit, money going toward hurricane Katrina victims. Entrance was 2000 yen and included all you can drink. Gotta love the Nomihodai! When I first walked in it was a breath of fresh air...all foreigners! Then I started to feel 'weird' and I could not pinpoint it. Then lisa told me she was feeling a little weird too. We figured it out...premature reverse culture shock! Going home is going to be weird! We danced the whole night.
Now this is where the trip turned into a real adventure. We had no hotel, and could not find an internet cafe that was not full. Most of us kept our heads on straight, but some
The Yokozuna gets a special introduction in the beginning and gets to wear that cool diaper.
just went a little crazy and that's all I am going to say. At about 5:30 we decided that sitting in a 24 hours japanese restaurant was good enough. We definitely entertained ourselves until 7:30 in the morning! After a quick trip to the top of a tall hotel to see the entire city, we decided it was time to go home. After a fiasco with a bag left in a locker that we so kindly retrieved, me, Julie, and Simon, the last 3 to remain in Fukuoka headed home. It was a crazy weekend and by far one of my favorites!!!
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