Canada has hockey; America has baseball; Korea has soccer. Of all these places that I have lived, I have never thought of the national sport as being of interest or wanting to integrate it into my life…not until I moved here to Japan and attended a sumo wrestling tournament.
Even after spending 5 hours at the “Bodymaker Colosseum”, marveling at 34 matches, and shooting over 300 photos, I am not sure my words will have the heft to do justice to this happening.
Initially, I thought that watching what I called, “fat guys in thongs” swing around a ring hugging each other would be equivalent to watching teams of western men wearing skin-tight uniforms do the “macho Macarena” of headlocks, fist pumps, spits and spats and butt slaps. However, it turns out that sumo wrestling is not a super-sized skin flick, nor a turbulent tussle of testosterone. For me, it was more like a theatrical production – a performance of prodigious people moving their mass in precise steps and sways, bows and balance, all with the poses, props and pageantry of royalty.
From the dohyo (ring) entrance ceremony where the various troupes (or stables, as they are called) parade around the raised ring in their ornately decorated aprons to the final bout ending in the audience tossing their zabutons (seat cushions) in the air (much like graduates after a commencement speech), I found this event enormously entertaining!
Even after spending 5 hours at the “Bodymaker Colosseum”, taking in 34 matches, snacking on yakitori and edamame, and shooting over 300 photos, I am not sure my words have the heft to do justice to this happening. All I can really say, is that this hugely popular sport in Japan is now a big hit with me! In fact, it has become a part of my daily life, as I have dubbed the toilet room in our apartment, “dohyo”, which is the sacred ring where the bouts of bodily movements take place, AND have decked out the small room largely in Sumo style, so that you feel you have a ring-side seat every time you ‘go’.
However, since the dohyo is considered sacred, and spectators are requested not to go too near, even after the last bout is over, if you have the urge to go, you can take relief in the video below, and make it a part of your own daily ritual.