Sumo Tournament in Ryogoku, Tokyo

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to head to Tokyo to witness one of the days of the 2011 Grand Sumo Tournament. This famous event occurs three times a year in Japan, two of which take place in an area called Ryogoku in Tokyo.

This is Sumo town.

Colourful banners advertised the Sumo tournament outside of the venue.

I, along with the other Gunma JETs, found myself at Kokugikan, the wrestling stadium at Ryogoku. It was absolutely packed and so we squeezed our way into the main hall and located our seats which all the way at the very very back. Although the view was not terrible from way up there, after 5 minutes of restlessness, I decided that it was still unacceptably far from the action and so began to concoct a plan to make myself seem like an “official photographer” as to gain entrance to the “official photographer area”.

The sumo ring.

Frankly, this endeavor turned out to be easier than I expected. I casually walked down the aisles, waltzed right in, and took a seat beside the other photographers. A couple of them turned to me with quizzical looks and so I furrowed my brow and nodded intently. As long as you do things with an air of purpose and confidence, you can get away with anything.

All the real photographers had much fancier cameras than I did.

To be honest, I don`t know too much about sumo. What little I have gathered, I picked up on the wikipedia article on sumo. However I was very excited to be at this event so I could film and document it. Sumo tournaments only take place in Japan so it was a thrill to be able to view a match in real life.

As I perched my camera over the railing, I alternated between taking videos and pictures of this fascinating sport. Here`s the video I made of the event, interspersed with little facts and tidbits I gleamed from the interwebs (make sure to change the resolution to 720p):

Here are a few pictures:

All the sumo wrestlers gather before the main matches.

Far from being big ol lumbering piles of fat, sumo wrestlers are actually worldclass atheletes with astonishing strength, flexibility and speed.


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