Sumo Wrestling

Having only seen sumo on TV, Mimi and I were itching to attend a tournament while in Japan. We jumped at the opportunity to join our friends Jenn and Bobby to watch the February tournament in Tokyo. Being a huge fan of martial arts, I thought it was great to observe this ancient art and its accompanying rituals in person.

Sumo nobori (banners) as you approach the Ryogoku Kokugikan where the Tokyo tournaments are held.

Sumo nobori (banners) as you approach the Ryogoku Kokugikan where the Tokyo tournaments are held.

Inside the stadium. Small dohyō in the middle.

Inside the stadium. Small dohyō in the middle.

About to start the round of matches.

About to start the round of matches.

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Some of these guys were surprisingly flexible

Some of these guys were surprisingly flexible.

Ritualistic throwing of salt.

Ritualistic throwing of salt.

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The way the wrestlers handled their weight was impressive

The way the wrestlers handled their weight was impressive

Probably my favorite referee (gyōji). He had some crazy facial expressions.

Probably my favorite referee (gyōji). He had some crazy facial expressions.

Calm before the storm.

Calm before the storm.

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After too much salt built up, A guy would walk around and water the clay...

After too much salt built up, A guy would walk around and water the clay…

followed up by another attendant that would sweep and mix the salt in.

followed up by another attendant that would sweep and mix the salt in.

This was one of the most exciting matches.

This was one of the most exciting matches.

E. Honda style 100 hand slap

E. Honda style 100 hand slap

I'm pretty sure this was supposed to be intimidating and not remind me of a care bear stare...

I’m pretty sure this was supposed to be intimidating and not remind me of a care bear stare…

This guy looked a bit like Kotooshu.

This guy looked a bit like Kotooshu.

I can't imagine trying to catch the weight of a sumo wrestler.

I can’t imagine trying to catch the weight of a sumo wrestler.

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Intense staring match.

Intense staring match.

The next wrestler waiting to compete would always offer water to the current competitor as the match started.

The next wrestler waiting to compete would always offer water to the current competitor as the match started.

This referee was wearing our favorite silk uniform with what appeared to be white swallows over the blue base.

This referee was wearing our favorite silk uniform with what appeared to be white swallows over the blue base.

Ouch. The straw roll probably didn't help much.

Ouch. The straw roll probably didn’t help much.

Bobby spotted a captain Picard look alike sporting a new age pink communicator.

Bobby spotted a captain Picard look alike sporting a new age pink communicator.

Bow spinning demonstration after the tournament.

Bow spinning demonstration after the tournament.

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And the winner is... (wish I knew the names)

And the winner is… (wish I knew the names)

The trophy was huge. Especially since it isn't for one of the grand tournaments.

The trophy was huge. Especially since it isn’t for one of the grand tournaments.

Runner up.

Runner up.

This cool statue greets you as you exit Ryugoku station.

This cool statue greets you as you exit Ryugoku station.

It appears the rump is the favorite spot to touch.

It appears the rump is the favorite spot to touch.

Mimi and Jenn were lucky enough to get a quick pic with this wrestler. He denied subsequent requests from others.

Mimi and Jenn were lucky enough to get a quick pic with this wrestler. He denied subsequent requests from others.

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