On Saturday I went to watch Sumo. This wasn’t on my list of things to do in Japan. When I saw it on T.V. I found it really hard to watch the huge half-naked men slapping themselves and each other. But Marty managed to get tickets and he wanted me to go with him.
Since moving to Japan I have started to pay attention to the flexibility of clothing. When going out for dinner to a new restaurant I think of things like “how comfortable is it to kneel in this outfit”, or “are these socks O.K. if I have to take my shoes off”. For watching Sumo the web was telling me that people wore “smart casual”. In Japan this usually means some sort of skirt for woman. Our tickets placed us in a “mass” seat. This is quite a small area of the floor with four cushions to seat four people. I also knew that we would be there for at least four hours. Looking through my wardrobe I managed to find a skirt that had lots of material that would make it easy to move around in. I also decided to wear leggings underneath which made it very easy for me to sit either cross-legged or on my knees.
When we got there the seating area was a bit smaller than we were expecting but we managed to fit in and got fairly comfortable. There was some sort of ceremony going on in the ring but I realised that not many people were paying attention. There was a stadium wide party going on with people chatting, eating, and drinking. It reminded me of the parties that take place around cherry watching season or the large fireworks displays. Thousands of people crammed together sitting on the ground enjoying themselves.
The top division goes on last with elaborate ceremonies. By the time this started the arena was completely full and the audience was paying a lot more attention to the ring, yelling and chanting for their favourite Sumo stars.
Yokozuna Performing the Ring-Entering Ceremony
I enjoyed the whole thing much more than I was expecting. We were with people who were really into Sumo that explained the rules, traditions, and personalities. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I found myself wanting the Rikishi they supported to win their bout.
I don’t see Sumo becoming my favourite sport but I do think I would go back and watch another tournament.