I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before– thanks largely to my former boss, I’ve become slightly hooked on Sumo. For a sport that sounds silly from the outside, it’s actually quite fun and they structure the matches well enough that there are short bouts of action divided by entertaining ceremonies.
The tournaments run for 15 consecutive days every odd-numbered month. And every other tournament is in Tokyo– so January, May, and September. We took advantage of Respect for the Aged Day (a local holiday) to pop down for the 9th day of the September tournament. Like all good sporting events, this one comes with chatty crowds, delicious snacks, and cold beer. What better way to spend an afternoon off?
The tournaments run from the morning thru to 6pm, moving gradually up the ranks so we followed good advice and showed up around 2:30. Since each wrestler performs each day of the tournament, they’ve all got plenty of opportunity to build up fan clubs who wait in eager anticipation for their trademark salt toss, leg stomp, or shoulder flexing. (Generally we didn’t know in advance when one of these was coming up, so we only happened to catch a few on tape, but you’ll hear the crowd really get behind their favorites.)
I pulled together a short collection of clips, with the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony first. I put in a few subtitles etc for commentary, so hopefully it’s entertaining (to more than just me!) The basic rules are simple– the first one to leave the ring or touch the ground with anything but his feet loses. You’ll see for all their bulk, the strategies are remarkably easy to follow– it’s a game of balance, momentum, grips, and of course good cold stare-downs. Enjoy!