Friday, May 04, 2007

Sum-or go home...

Mary and I arrived at 10PM. We were third in line. This was going to be an exciting night. While we desperatly fought the sleeping battle, Mark... uh, serenaded us... on the guitar.
Mary was horrified that this picture looked ridiculous. I couldn't stop laughing. Stinkin' giggles.
Masashi is bundled up...
All their names are on the flags, the people are nervously folding their paper pamphlets. Who's going to show great strength? Who is going to steal the title from Asashoryo? Who's going to disappoint? Who is going to show great talent and move up in the ranks?
Who's going to flash their "West Tokyo" gang sign? Oh, wait! That's me.
Mary and I bonded with this little guy here. He was super short but he was a HUGE fanatic.
The guards were dressed sharp, nervously wondering, "Is today the day a mob will break out from the first guy in line who's been drinking since 10PM the night before?" (he did not)
The crowd edges forward, seats are decided... and before we know it.
It's SUMO TIME, Baby! (click on link)
We stayed out all night for free sumo tickets. We got the fourth row which normally sells for $100 a seat. This was just a practice but it was amazing to see the wrestlers so close.
In my "box" were Mark, Kong, Masa, and I
The rooftop keeps the sand court or dohyo below clean and fresh.
After the guy wins, other wrestlers vy for his attention, "Pick me!" They all shout. They all want a chance to practice as much as possible, against tough competition.
The famous "sumo pose". This is actually their stretching/warm-up pose but these fellas are HUGE. I'd hate to be that one leg they stand on.
This is the practice between #1 Asashoryu "the Boss" and #2
Asashoryu was amazing. He won 8-9 in a row and basically patty caked the other sumos around. I liked him because he had some fun character but Masashi didn't like him because he said he had a bad attitude. touche!
Whoa, imagine all that weight crashing into your body. Crazy business this sumo sport.
We waited after the practice and shook hands with our new friends. "Good Job!" We shouted. "You're the best." I said. "Your body is amazing." Mark told one of them.... he just laughed and said, "Oh yeah?" Oh Mark!
They were amazing. Some of them were just fat, some of them were muscular, some were friendly, some were not.
One was a skinny white kid... he had muscles so he wasn't messing around... but he kind of looked silly being up there with chubby guys.
Me and my Sumo.
Cute huh?
This is one of the not friendly ones. He was trying to plow through everyone and he almost plowed into me. Luckily I've been practicing my spiderman reflexes so I jumped out of the way. But this is what it would look like to meet a Sumo head on.
Whoa baby!
The brave woman who stayed out all night to watch sumo.
Cheryl and Caroline are from Washington D.C. They came to help with BEST activities for a week. Bravo to them and hooray for Sumo.
I was SUPER impressed with one of the world's oldest sports. Bravo Sumo! I learned many things today;
1. it's rare their diaper thingys ever fall off, but once on national television it happened. If it happens, it's an automatic loss... the diaper is also called the "mawashi".
2. it takes a lot of talent and dedication to be a sumo
3. the biggest controversy with sumo is their exclusion to women participants. In fact, women are not even allowed in the dohyo because it is believed it would violate the purity of the dohyo. Whoa. This was brought up by a Governor who was a woman and wanted to do her governoral duties by presenting the prize at the end, she has thus been denied. (
4. they live a strict regulated life, are restricted from driving, they must wear traditional Japanese wear (yukata/kimono/wooden shoes, etc.) when in public,
5. they live in a house called heya together to be trained together. Currently there are 54 houses for 700 wrestlers. The members of the association, called oyakata, are all former wrestlers, and are the only people entitled to train new wrestlers. (
6. they are not allowed to eat breakfast but eat a large lunch washed down with beer followed by a nap. This ensures that they will put on weight more effectively. (
7. matches often last only seconds as the opponent is usually thrown out of the ring or touches down within seconds.
8. it is SO WORTH the overnight haul to watch the sumo competition
9. I will probably use these photos when wondering if I should eat my weight in mint chocolate chip ice cream this summer... the answer is now blaringly, "no"
10. and finally, a Sumo was first mentioned in a text written in the 8th Century, it is considered one of the oldest sports.
I had so much fun learning these new facts. For more information go to


Kelli B said...

joanna that is so much fun! i am glad you stayed up all night for the tickets, and that you would graciously share with the rest of us. sounds like a real cultural experience!

and dude - that sumo guy is HUGE!

totally intimidating.

glad you had so much fun and thanks for sharing the facts. i like learning new things.

Jomama said...

Oh my gosh, this is going to be one of my favorite posts! I am still laughing from your story! I was only missing the ughs and thuds! Thanks for a night out with you. You are a true beauty! XOXOX

jamie said...

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-- squishy buns!

the jake said...

Ahh, the good old mawashi. Takes me back.