Sumo is one of Japan’s most popular and long-running spectator sports with a 2,000 year legacy. Performed in the past to entertain the Shinto gods, sumo still holds much weight (literally) in the modern era. In sumo, two rikishi or wrestlers enter the ring wearing a silk sash. After throwing salt and performing rituals and rites of Shinto purification, the rikishi take opposite places in the ring. The sumo ring called the dohyo is packed with clay and dusted with sand.
They slap, stomp and glare to build anticipation for the showdown. Then when the moment is right, the sumo wrestlers dart with sheer force to get the upper hand and push the other out of the ring. The first one to step outside the ring or touch the ground loses, and the sumo match is over within seconds.
The demanding life of a sumo career can start as early as age fifteen. On average, a sumo wrestler stands about six foot tall and weighs somewhere around 325 pounds. The ultimate victory of a sumo wrestler is to secure the title of yokuzuna or grand champion. There are no limits that separate weight classes. Sumo is practiced with traditional authenticity, and the ritual of this highly ceremonial sport only increases the spectacle.
The honbasho or sumo tournament is held for 15 days in Tokyo in January, May and September, and you can watch a match at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. Honbasho can also be observed in Osaka in March, Nagoya in July and Fukouka in November. During the tournament season, you can also observe training session in the beya or sumo stable. Each morning the sumo wrestlers train from 6am to around 9am. It is best to call ahead before sitting in on training. When at the stable, always be respectful and quiet while watching the action.
The best seats can cost a fortune, but many general seating areas can go for as little as $35 dollars a match. Tickets for sumo matches are easier to snag for morning or afternoon matches, since early matches see fewer crowds. Sumo is one of the best ways to explore one of the most beloved traditions of Japan. It is difficult to secure tickets by phone without knowledge of the Japanese language. Fortunately, great websites like buysumotickets.com do all the work for you! Sometimes Sumo Tournament tickets can also be purchased online at the official Sumo homepage.
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Author: Josh Shulman