Skip to main content

SUMO

Today my host dad and I went to Komatsu, a nearby town, where there was a day of sumo. Komatsu is what I would describe as Japanese inaka--countryside. It's a lot of nothing but rice paddies stretching on and on, but it is home to the nearest domestic airport and the Komatsu Dome, a concrete monstrosity where the event was being held.

The inside, which was this weird sand-covered astro turf (it gets used for soccer, tennis, baseball...pretty much everything) was packed.


Most people had ground seats on these horrendous cushions (which we got/had to take home with us):


For those of you who don't know much about sumo, Wikipedia is a great reference. I'll give what I know about it in brief here. Sumo is based in Shinto tradition, which is why it's full of ritual and hierarchy (for example, the wrestlers each throw salt into the ring for purification before each bout). The hierarchy of the wrestlers themselves is the most prominent. I won't go into the minutiae of the different levels, but know that the highest ranked wrestlers are called yokozuna. There's currently...3 of them in all of Japan and funnily enough I believe 2 of them are actually of Mongolian origin. They're the only ones that get to wear these weird long belts and carry symbolic katana. The rules for them are so strict that sometimes if they lose shamefully they just up and retire.

Sumo is also a lot like baseball: there's a lot of waiting around for very little action. Before wrestling there's lots of stamping of feet, squatting, getting up, smacking bellies, shouts, squatting some more, throwing more salt into the ring...you get the picture.


(Here's a leg stamping example. They're surprisingly flexible.)


Here's a bunch of sumo wrestlers getting their names called out before their matches. Those long-in-the-front belt things are just for show.

There is a fairly popular and strong wrestler called Endo, who is from Ishikawa, and when his bout came around the cheers were thunderous. Fortunately he won!



Endo is the one on the left. You win a sumo match by making your opponent step out of the ring or by having them hit the ground (hands, legs, anything other than their feet).

All in all today was a really cool day of culture and though I know there will be sumo on TV later this summer, once the major tournaments start, it was really cool to see live sumo.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.


A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.



The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Feeling a Bit Blue

It astounds me that it's already the end of August. Time has seemed to pass in a bit of a blur: one hot, sticky mess of 100-degree days and only mildly more bearable evenings. I was also fortunate to visit the U.S. for a week (not Chicago I'm afraid, but Wheeling, West Virginia and then San Francisco) for a family reunion. It was lovely to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who I hadn't seen in person for several months, if not years. But given the short visit I essentially spent two weeks with my body clock completely confused about what time zone it was supposed to be in.  However, I'm now I'm back in Japan for the near future and have essentially settled back in to my usual rhythm of life. 
This past weekend I decided to engage with my arts-and-crafts side. The summer of 2009, when I first visited Japan, I was lucky enough to try my hand at aizome (indigo dying) in Kyoto. Recently I had a hankering to try it again, and e-stumbled upon a shop in Asakusa call…