Wednesday, September 20, 2006


More "science" coming soon, I promise...but first...

Monday was a holiday - "Respect for the Aged Day", to be precise - and the weather was grotty, so we set off for Tokyo to see the sumo which is currently in town. There are 6 major competitions each year, three of which are in Tokyo, but we've not been to one before. Each meeting runs for 15 days, 9am-6pm each day (and you thought cricket was boring?) with several divisions of fighters starting with the lower grades and culminating with the top dogs. It's neither a knockout nor a round-robin, instead everyone fights 15 times in a division of about 40 fighters (I don't know if they have set methods for each day's draw or whether it is all decided in smoke-filled rooms, it is clearly not a Swiss tournament, as the current joint leaders seem to be being kept apart in anticipation of a last day decider).

We had checked on the web site that tickets seemed to be available on the door, but thought we'd better turn up early to make sure we got in. So by 9:30am we were sitting in a nearly-deserted hall watching what looked for the world like two fat men in nappies slapping each other around the head.

It was surprisingly good fun, actually. We watched some of the lower ranks for a bit to get a feel for how it was arranged, and then went out to do some shopping, returning for a bowl of chanko-nabe (a traditional food for sumo wrestlers, quite a tasty soup with meat and vegetables in but nothing special) and to see the better fighters - the ticket allows a single exit and re-entry.

The top division have a skirt-lifting parade before they start (watch it if you don't believe me!):

and then the current champion does a moonwalk across the dohyou (ditto!):

Before the start of each bout, the caller sings their names in a high-pitched voice (this is from an earlier bout, as later on the crowd noise drowned it out:

Then after some posturing and stamping, the bout begins. Some of them were over in seconds, some took rather longer (can you see Baruto's foot slip out while he's trying to throw Ama?):

After the final bout, one of the wrestlers comes in to show off his bow-wielding skills:

And then we all went home. All in all, an interesting day out, but not one I will be desperate to repeat too often!


Anonymous said...

>(I don't know if they have set methods for each day's draw or whether it is all decided in smoke-filled rooms, it is clearly not a Swiss tournament.

I believe it is anything but a random draw with lots of discussions of the merits of each competitor before deciding who will fight who. So smoke filled rooms seems to sum it up nicely :)


EliRabett said...

Along with weightlifting, sumo is my wife's favorite short attention span sport.