Thursday, December 2, 2010


In November the only place you can see sumo is in Fuokoka for the last of the year's Grand Sumo Tournaments. If you are looking for a city to visit in Japan, well, let’s just say Fuokoka isn’t even listed in our travel guide. But, I really wanted to see Sumo so we made the trek over there on Friday evening.

The train to get there is about 5 hours so we took our one and only flight this round. I have to say I don’t miss flying. The flight was fine though and just under 2 hours so at least we got to bed at a decent hour that night.

After lunch the next day we made our way to the conference center. The higher class wrestlers fight once each day for the entire 15 days of the tournament. The one with the most wins gets the trophy and the outcomes of the tournament are used to re-rank the wrestlers until the next tournament. You can move up and down in the ranks until you reach the coveted “Yokozuna” level where you remain until you start to stink and then you’re expected to retire.

I’m not a sports junkie by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to see sumo because it’s purely Japanese and this is the only country in the world that the sport is professional. I think the sumo’s way of life is really interesting and anything that holds so tightly to its traditions for over 1500 years has got to be pretty cool… right?

Well, it was. It was actually really awesome and I’m not one for contact sports like wrestling or boxing. The crunching of bones and punching of faces usually makes me really uneasy. I barely made it through that Ali movie, but something about sumo was different.

From the singing before each match to the salt throwing to purify the ring to the almost elegant raising of their tree trunk legs as they slammed down their feet to rid the dohyo of evil- it was all so intriguing. The match itself lasted only seconds, but was incredibly intense…

We had only arrived at 2pm so when the final match was over we were surprised the 4 hours were up. We all went to dinner afterwards and decided with the chilly rain that was falling we’d better pass on trying to find any rikishis (wrestlers) at the bars. With the final matches being held the next day I was doubtful any of the higher ranking guys would have been out anyway.

Jules and I had an early train out to Kyoto on Sunday for a site visit she had there on Monday. We made our way to the Golden Pavilion where some very cute little college kids (GOD- did you hear that?? I now think college age people are kids!?!) who were studying English got in some practice by giving us a tour…
They were very sweet, but they put a cramp in my photo taking (“Do you like to take SO many photos?”) so we avoided the next crew of them at Ryoanji Temple. Even with missing the peak of the fall colors in Kyoto, I had never in my life seen such beautiful trees…

We did a little shopping afterwards at the Kyoto crafts center. I wasn’t too impressed, but I finally found my teacups! Obviously, I haven’t shared my endless searching for the perfect little teacup all over God’s creation or at least 5 continents, but I was very happy to have finally found them and 50% off at that. A very happy retirement to you, very nice teacup seller man.

I spent Monday on my own going to a couple of temples and wandering through a huge Japanese garden where I had a couple of rice balls by a lake and took a crap-ton of photos for tiny little Japanese senior citizens. None offered to return the favor, but it was a really lovely day…

We’ve only got 2 weekends left in Japan. I’m sad just thinking about it.

This weekend we're staying put to enjoy one last fling in Tokyo.

Photos from the weekend (still waiting on getting some from others, hence the delay in the post)...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

okay- This is too funny. I also had the college kids show me around the golden temple. It may have been the same ones- I have to look back at my pictures.

Kristy Bible