by Kevin R Burns
Sumo wrestling, if you come here you really must see Japan`s national sport. It is a lot more than just fat, sweaty guys falling on each other!Jonah and the Wrestler
When my son Jonah was just a baby, we took him to Odawara Arena.On that day they had a one day sumo tournament. To my disappointment the only foreign wrestler was Yamato. However it was fun nonetheless.
To have your baby held by a real sumo wrestler is an honor, and is supposed to bestow upon the little one, good luck and good health. It being more than just a sport this makes sense, as it is a kind of Shinto religious ritual. My son was held very carefully by a very large Japanese wrestler.He didn`t cry (my son) not the wrestler.
When I arrived in Japan this sport seemed to me (as to a lot of newcomers to this country),to be the sport of sweaty fat men, wrestling in the dirt until one of them fell to show a tiny white cloth covering their privates. Frankly I thought I could see all that at a stag party in Vancouver.
Japan veterans intoned though, that there was a lot more to it if you studied the sport.If you watch for a bit they said, you will be able to see some of the art, and some of the subtleties.I started to get into it and became a fan of many of the wrestlers: Konishiki, Akebono,Musashimaru, Tomonohana, Terau, Mainoumi, Kaio, Wakanohana and to a lesser extent Takanohana.
I enjoyed some of the rivalries that developed between different wrestlers. I watched Konishiki`srise and hoped he would become a "yokozuna," or Grand Champion, and felt anguish along with him when he did not. I felt vindicated when Akebono did become a Grand Champion--the first non-Japanese to do so.
As I got older, so did my favorite wrestlers. They like me, moved on to different pursuits.
I still enjoy watching bouts, but I have become busier, yet recommend watching sumo when you get the chance!
Where to watch it in Tokyo?
Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Stadium in Tokyo)
You can buy tickets in advance for most tournaments and each days bouts are usually not sold out, except on weekends. The most expensive seats are the box seats, and these tickets are difficult to come by.
There is a small museum located in the building as well.
Address1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Transport Ryogoku station (Oedo line), exits A3, A4; (Sobu line), west exit
Telephone 03 3623 5111
Telephone 03 5237 9310 balcony seats booking
Admission Prices start from 2,100 yen