This morning I rose at 5:50am and walked the 5 minutes to the Sumo Arena and queued in the rain for two hours to get a ticket for todays Grand Sumo Tournament event.
I could have watched the bouts from 10:30am until 6pm, but felt that would be too much. So I planned, after talking to others who had been before, to arrive at 3pm when the Makuuchi Bouts ( Top Division ) started. So this is what I did.
Around 10am, after a rest, I went to Electric City in Akihabara which is the main area for gadgets, technology, manga and animei (Japanaese Animation). I don’t know much about animei or manga but I love gadgets and technology so I was really looking forward to this place. It turned out to be a bit of let down. There were quite a few animei and mange shops and lots of discount, and slightly tacky, technology shops selling cameras, headphones and computers etc but no gadgets or the plastic fantastic kitsch that I was hoping for. So I headed back to the hostel to prepare myself for the sumo by learning a little more about it.
A person wins the bout if their opponent is out of the ring or any part of their body other than their foot touches the ground.
During the actual bout, a rikishi may use any technique or maneuver except pulling his opponent’s hair, hitting his opponent with a closed fist, boxing his opponent’s ears, choking his opponent (although he may push at the throat), or grabbing his opponent’s mawashi in the crotch area.
Source – http://www.sumotalk.com/rules.htm
There were 20 fights to watch in the Makuuchi division and the ritual before each bout was quite memorable. For some reason if one fighter was not ready they would stand up and the ritual would have to be repeated. It was like a psych out and to put their opponent on the back foot.
Something that added to the experience was that visitors could hire a radio and listen to commentary in English which I found really helpful so I knew who was who in the ring and learned a little bit about their history.
What surprised me was how many different nationalities took part. There was Bulgarian and Mongolian and some others too. In fact all three current Yokozunas, the highest ranked Sumo wrestler you can be, are Mongolians.
Below is the fight of Yokozuna Kakuryū:
I was truly lucky to see this because the Grand Sumo Tournament only lasts 15 days and happens in Tokyo only twice a year and Tickets are not that easy to get. Getting them on the day rather than ordering them at in advance www.sumo.pia.jp/en/ means that you get a seat on the back row of the second floor. This though was still really great.