But thanks to my friend Justin and my colleague at NIDS Tomikawa-san, I was able to learn a great deal about this intriguing sport called Sumo, which is perhaps the most Japanese of all sports.The day begins very early with the doors opening up at 830 and the first matches for the lower divisions taking place in the morning. However, most people, including myself, didn't arrive till the afternoon. Even at 1 pm when I arrived, the crowd was very sparse. But by the time the Makuuchi division (the top division) took to the dohyō (土俵) (ring), the arena was filled up with people digging into their bento boxes and washing it down with beer and sake.
The climax was, of course, when the two Yokozuna took the ring to face their opponents. The hope being that one of them will lose their match, and then pandemonium breaks loose and people thrown their seat cushions into the dohyō. Alas, both Yokozuna won their matches, much to the delight of the operators of the arena, who admonished spectators to not throw their seat cushions in advance of the matches.
To complete experience, Justin, Tomikawa-san, and I ended the night by visiting one of the Chanko Nabe restaurants near the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium in Tokyo. This is the traditional meal is a Japanese stew of various types of meat, fish, tofu and vegetables and is used by sumo wrestlers to achieve their fighting weight. Hence my term for it, Chunky Nabe.
|Opening Ceremony for the Makuuchi Division (Top Division)|
|Masu Seki: Spaciously Seating for 2 in 4 Person Booth|
|Post Match Chanko Nabe Restaurant (aka Chunky Nabe)|