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our day of sumo wrestling

If you haven't been to one before, an all-day sumo tournament in japan is quite an impressive thing. as part of the 15-day 2006 September Sumo Tournament, there was sumo wrestling all day on Thursday at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

dave had purchased tickets to a 2-person "box seat" in the stadium. what this gets you is two pillows on a slightly raised carpeted floor surrounded by a low metal rail. our box was actually quite roomy, since it was normally a 4-person box that was presumably made a 2-person box so it would sell more quickly (since it was near the back of the first level). normally the 4-person boxes have just enough room for 4 people to sit crosslegged on the pillows).

we arrived at around 11am, and the stadium had only around 20-30 spectators in it. the early matches were much faster than the usual sumo matches, featuring back-to-back wrestling matches with none of the usual salt throwing and false starts that mark televised sumo matches (unranked sumo wrestlers haven't yet earned the right to perform these ceremonies). this meant it was a great way to get familiar with the different holds and moves in sumo.

after a leisurely lunch that was delivered to us in our box (along with a souvenir set of ceramic cups with wrestler's names printed on them), we hung out, watched wrestling, and i surfed the web a bit with their free wi-fi on my palmtop computer. wandering around the stadium, i even ran into a few sumo wrestlers.

the main event began at 4pm, where the highest-ranked wrestlers began matchups against each other, and the crowd really began to fill up in the stadium. the wrestlers indulged in elaborate salt-throwing moves and played up to the audience, along with the drunken shouts of hardcore sumo fans in the seats, this was a lot livelier than i would have believed possible (having only watched sumo on cable tv before, which doesn't even compare to seeing it in person). if i had to recommend going to an all-day sumo wrestling event or attending a japanese baseball game (which i did on a previous visit to japan), i would definitely go to the sumo wrestling game first as the quintessential japanese sports experience. (but go to the baseball game afterwards, those are great fun).

celebrity gossip sidenote for allyson and jess: while we didn't notice any celebrity fuss at the sumo event, it turns out sharon stone was also watching the sumo wrestling with us!

Comments (1)

Wow, this is a cool story on so many levels. First of all, the picture of you with the two wrestlers is divine (I am jealous). Second, I can't believe Sharon Stone was in attendance and you didn't see her or any media fuss. (I do also like the lunch with wi-fi aspect.) I would like to believe if I was there, I would have achieved both a photo of me and wrestlers AND me and Sharon -- perferably at the same time. A girl can dream, right?

One of my favorite things so far has been finding authentic experiences like this that are totally unique and cultural... In Europe for more than a month now, I'm a little church-and-museum-ed out.

Do they have sumo wrestling in Slovenia, you think?

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