Sunday morning....the long awaited Sumo! I met Keith, Thomas, Rosa, & Rosa's cousin & cousin's friend at Namba station and we walked to Osaka Gymnasium. We were ushered to our seats - the gym was pretty empty but gradually filled up.
It was very interesting and exciting to watch the tournament. The bouts are very short - most were only 30 seconds or so! Before every bout, the sumo wrestlers prepared for the match.
They stepped into the ring and bowed to each other. Each moving to a corner, they squatted and clapped, arms outstretched. Then they stood up, opened their palms to the ceiling, and stomped their right leg, then their left let, then squatted again. Moving back to the sides of the ring, they repeated the squat (palms up and open) and clap, then moved into the center of the ring. The entire corner process was repeated - squat, clap, right stomp, left stomp, squat. If they both felt ready, the match began. If one or both of them didn't feel ready, they went back to the corner and repeated the squat-and-clap, grabbing a handful of salt. The salt is thrown into the center of the ring, then the center process is repeated. This can go on for up to 4 minutes, or until they both feel psychologically ready to begin the match. The events leading up to the match are often longer than the match itself, but it was very interesting to watch. Traditionally, each action holds purpose. The clapping is to attract the attention of the gods; the stomping is to stomp the evil out of the dohyo (ring), and the open palms is to show they carry no weapons.
To win the match, a wrestler has to either cause the other man to touch the ground outside of the ring, or any other part of his body but his feet to touch the inside of the ring. It was pretty crazy to see such large men go at it....there was a lot of slapping (hitting with a closed fist is prohibited), and sometimes they were locked in an intimate hug for a bit, before one of them lifted (yes, lifted!) the other one out of the ring. It was quite the experience, and something I'm glad I got to see in Japan! I would definitely go again!
PS - I will post picture links soon...