“Sumo”: The Japanese sport that is more than just a sport
Source : tourist-note.com
When considering Japanese sports that are unique and globally recognized, one that immediately comes to mind is “Sumo”.
Sumo is not only a sport, it also combines the beliefs and rituals of Shintoism. It is considered a beautiful sport with a hidden culture, which has been passed down from generation to generation. In Japanese society, being a sumo wrestler is an honorable and respectable career. Do you know what sumo wrestlers must go through before they become famous? Not everyone can become a sumo wrestler. It is practiced since a young age, together with an eating plan, exercise schedule, and training. Sumo wrestlers must enter the battle arena innumerable times and be dedicated to the practice before becoming a well-known athlete. The road to becoming a sumo wrestler is not easy.
It is believed that sumo originated in one of the God-worshipping ceremonies after the harvest season. The fight between two big, strong men is like the battle between legendary Gods and farmers hoped that this display of fighting would satisfy the Gods. It is believed that if the Gods are satisfied, they will bless the people with a wealth of agricultural productivity that year. In this way, sumo became a community activity and a way for people to unite after a season of hard work.
The rules and etiquette of sumo are not difficult to understand. There are two main rules in Sumo. First is that whoever gets pushed out of the circle first is the loser. Secondly, if you can make any part of your opponent’s body (except the soles of their feet) touch the ground, then you win. Yes, that is it! Surprisingly easy, right? So you don’t need to worry that you won’t understand this sport.
I was lucky enough to watch sumo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo last year and was impressed the moment I stepped off the train. Before exiting the station, there was a picture of a sumo wrestler, including an image of a famous wrestler’s palm and his height so I could compare the enormity of his body with my own. Just the station at Ryogoku Kokugikan was thrilling for me!
From the station, the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall is only 2-3 minutes walk and it’s here that three out of the six programs of the annual Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament are held. It’s a great place to experience the magical power of a sumo hall, with food and drinks for sale and a lively atmosphere that is like a festival. There are also souvenirs of the famous sumo wrestlers on sale for admirers to purchase. While walking around, you will see some of these famous sumo wrestlers coming out to greet the fans and can take pictures as a memento. This opportunity cannot be found anywhere in Tokyo.
When the competition was ready to start, the host came out to make an announcement. When a big sumo wrestler walked onto the stage, everyone stayed still and kept quiet to be respectful. The ceremony before the sumo competition was graceful, like we had watched a religious ritual and sporting event at the same time. It was at this moment I felt that sumo was not just a sport but also an integrated Japanese tradition and religious belief. One of the reasons why sumo is such a widely popular sport in Japan might be because it involves fighting, which is like the soul of the Japanese people who have inseparable Bushido fighting blood. The fight for dignity in the sumo arena is mysteriously interesting and magical.
There are many places that sumo competitions are held across Japan, with the annual tournament moving between Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyushu. The competition takes up to 15 days and is held during odd-numbered months (Japanese people count the month with numbers, i.e., January is called Month 1 and Month 12 is December).
If you would like to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching sumo, you can do so in Tokyo. You can check the dates, times, as well as book tickets online at > > http://www.sumo.or.jp/En/ (English version is available on the website)
During competition periods, the Sumo Hall normally opens from 8.00 a.m. until 6.00 p.m, with the highlight of the day starting at 5.00 p.m.
There are both cheap and expensive tickets available. Prices for a standard seat start at 3,800 yen, with the ticket price varying according to the distance to the ringside and venues. Other seats are set in a block of four people, with prices starting from 38,000 yen per block. Before the competition starts, you can buy food and drinks to eat together with those in your block and have a picnic that could be lots of fun by the looks of it.
Watching a sumo competition once in your lifetime is a worthwhile experience that is guaranteed to impress. At the very least, you will gain a better understanding of Japanese culture.
Written by JapanKookKook
Tourist Note JAPAN