The spirit of SumoI have been living in Japan for over 3 years now and have always wanted to check out a sumo tournament.
This year I finally did and it was quite an amazing experience.
Of course I knew a little about Japan’s national sport,
but there was still a lot to learn like; the fact that once you have been given the title of ‘Yokozuna’ you retain
that title until you retire, or that wrestlers receive about 50, 000 yen per sponsor each time they win.
I had purchased a rather cheap ticket which gave me one of the farthest seats from the ring.
I decided that if I wanted to get a good view and some nice pictures
I should go early when the lower ranked wrestlers had their matches, so I could get closer.
This turned out to be a great idea because nearly all of the front row seats were empty.
Although when I say seats I don’t mean seats like in western countries,
but an area to sit on a small cushion in the Japanese style which can be a little difficult,
although not impossible, for foreigners.
I was a little surprised at how many foreigners were actually at this event.
The audience was probably made up of at least 25% foreigners.
Some of them even seemed to know a bit about sumo and even had
their favorite wrestlers, although the Japanese were much more vocal about whom they liked.
You would hear loud cheers of ‘gambate’ followed by the wrestlers name whenever someone’s favorite entered the ring and
some women were even heard yelling ‘ai shiteru’ to wrestlers who they found attractive.
I had also chosen someone to back, not because he was a top wrestler,
but because of his intensity and fiery spirit. His wrestling name is ‘Takamisakari Seiken’,
which is quite a mouthful to say for most foreigners.
He is a mid-level wrestler, but he approaches every match with great enthusiasm.
Many of the other wrestlers will simply toss their handful of salt into the ring
and then wipe the extra off on their legs.
This is not the case for ‘Takamisakari Seiken’.
He will throw his fistful of salt high in the air and then pound his sides to shake off the rest,
often followed by a loud grunt. This always gets the crowd excited and me as well.
On the day I went he was up against ‘Aran’, another mid-level wrestler,
and I’m happy to say he won his match easily.
In the end it was a wonderful day of culture, sport and excitement,
which I will never forget. It was a big change from Canada’s national sport, hockey,
but that’s a story for another day.