Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 3 - Sumo Stadium (Ryogoku)

Sumo at Ryogoku 2nd February, 2003 - A gift from T-chan's mother... a day at the Sumo. After the day at Kamakura, this was quite a change of pace. We caught the train to Ryogoku where the main Sumo stadium is, and settled in for a very interesting day of very, very Japanese entertainment. We were quite a long way from the action (as you can see), but a good set of binoculars help. This was the first day of the tournament. Tickets cost about 7,000 yen at the time - but depend on how close to the ring you want.

Down at ground zero, everyone sits on cushions...You'd be surprised to know how many spectators cushions go flying up in the air during the competition (not sure if in happiness or anger!)

Retiring Takatiuriki Sumo at RyogokuToday was very special, as one of the Sumo (Takatiuriki) was retiring, and they had a very unique ceremony to accompany such an occassion. The ceremony involved having a who's who of Japanese celebrities come up and slowly, but surely cut away the Sumo's top-knot (chonmage). Hair by hair... between 200-300 guests would walk up (after being appropriately announced) and with a pair of veyr sharp looking scissors, snip away at his hair. It takes over an hour to remove the entire top-knot... his manager makes the last decisive cut. Then it's retirement (and weight loss) here we come!

The Sumo Champion Takahanada demonstrates how a Sumo gets dressed in the morning (ok - dressed for competition). Clearly, it's not the sort of thing you would want to leave to the last minute (unless you had a bus-load of fellow Sumo's just waiting around to help out). Here they are putting the belt (mawashi) on. This took a long time, and was quite complicated.

This may explain why a lot of Sumo are quite surly... outside you meet a lot of Sumo near the stadium, and they tend to be quite aloof. Needing six big lads to put your clothes on most probably tends to do that to you however!

You can get your photo taken with them - but don't be surprised if they tell you to go jump (politely, or not so politely). And lets face it - you most probably don't want to upset these guys!
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