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Sumo – Part 1

sumo rikishi throws salt into ring september tokyo japan ryogoku 将司 昂親 masatsukasa koshin

After a break of “just” 21 years I finally had the chance to see sumo in person again earlier this month. I was extremely excited, especially after watching it on NHK the prior evenings. I went on the sixth day of the fifteen-day tournament, arriving at 8 a.m. to be sure I could get a ticket. As it turned out, I probably didn’t need to arrive so early as there were many empty seats. Should you ever attend, do get there at 8 (or earlier) to purchase the cheap (2,100 yen) tickets on a weekend or you may not get in. I went on a Friday, early in the tournament, so those may be the main reasons it wasn’t crowded.

The above sumo wrestler (力士 or rikishi) is 将司昂親 (Masatsukasa Koshin). He was 5-0 going into day six. His spectacular salt toss (most 力士 don’t throw nearly as much) was supposed to purify the ring. On this evening it did not work well for him, and he fell to 5-1.

flags in front of ryogoku tokyo japan Asashoryu's flag

The day started out as a beautiful, mostly blue-sky day. The banners/flags of the sumo stars out front looked wonderful, and until about 8:30 a.m. a drummer (who was more than a bit off beat) worked the drum up in this tower. I was enchanted and ready for action. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to continue this high for 10 straight hours until the top wrestlers performed.

The flag on the far left is that of 白鵬翔 (Hakuho Sho), the most recent tournament winner. He is Mongolian and one of only two current 横綱 (Yokozuna, the top rank in sumo). On this night Hakuho lost his first bout of the current tournament to a guy who had zero wins and five losses in the first five days. It was shocking to say the least. Spectators picked up their seat cushions and hurled them in Hakuho’s direction, an incredible sight.

ryogoku early in the day tokyo japan sumo ring

I was alone, or I could have had pictures taken with many of the sumo dudes, but I did take this one, self portrait four hours into the day.

3 Responses to “Sumo – Part 1”

  1. 1
    leif hagen:

    Great SUMO photos! I only got to go to a SUMO match once back in 1991! I was great fun!

  2. 2
    Gunn White:

    I have only seen it on TV.
    Well I have been to Japan for 2,5 weeks and that was great.
    Very nice photos/blog.
    I look forward to see more.

  3. 3
    White Oleander:

    Sumo was my grandfather’s favorite sport.