Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Sumo Series

I posted this on Flickr too and well I gotta tell you sumo was something else!!

Colourful flags outside the arena

We got there pretty early around 11.30ish in the morning and got bored. Without knowing the significance of the rituals that precedes each bout, you tend to be completely lost. This gave me an opportunity to read up on Wikipedia and also on the tournament website too.

And in between I kept yelling for all the underdogs in the bouts which was fun. Then began the actual shebang roughly around 2.30 pm with the higher rung rishikis (wrestlers) entering the ring.

Followed by about 14 bouts of which I only managed to get a clean shot of this one! Trust me this was difficult to achieve given the distance b/w where we were seated and the ring, my camera zoom lens and people walking around!

And then the Makuuchi rikishi entered. These guys are the higher ups in the division and the crowd started shouting out their names and cheering them on.

And then came the heavy duty Yokozuna whose numero uno and right on top of the ladder. This is a gentleman called Hakuho. Given his size, he sat on his haunches and moved himself with extreme agility I might add about 5 feet forward and the crowd went ballistic!

And then their matches started too. Bouts typically last less than 30 seconds. There were interesting bouts - with the crowd cheering on the underdog on occasion and on occasion very clearly previous winners. Ah yes, this is where I got my pronounciation corrected - I was yelling out a wrestler's name incorrectly so the very nice ladies in the box ahead of us corrected me, waited for me to say it correctly and had such pleased smiles on their faces when I said it the right way! :D

Another story about the same wrestler comes to mind - Kotooshu is his name. If you see his photo on the Wikipedia page, notice the hair on his chest. Believe it or not, all souvenir shops sell a small sized doll of Kotooshu with hair on the chest area!! :):) Attention to detail man!!

Oh yes I was coming to the last bout which was the Yokozuna with a lower ranked opponent. The opponent didn't last 3 seconds which was a bit of an anti-climax to be honest! Like he literally ran for his life (in sumo terms) :)

I should add that I did OD on sumo. This won't be a repeat experience having seen so much of it!! But extremely recommended if you are ever in Japan and in time for a tournament too! As a cultural experience, this one is going to stay with you forever!

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