Friday, September 27, 2013

Busy holiday weekend: Sumo

Monday was the Autumnal Equinox, a national holiday in Japan and the third and final day of my busy weekend. Around twenty co-workers and I went to Ryogoku in east Tokyo to watch an afternoon of the clash of the titans that is sumo wrestling.

Although simple in concept (you win by getting the other guy to either step out of the ring, or touch the ground with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet), like so many other things in Japan, sumo's simplicity is negated by aspects which are astonishingly complex. For example, in contrast to the two basic methods of winning I described above, there are technically more than 80 different winning scenarios, called kimarite. And even though a typical bout only lasts a few seconds, it is always preceded by several minutes of ritual leg stomping, salt throwing, hand clapping and mouth rinsing. The ratio of action to waiting approaches that seen in the NFL.

Despite getting cheap tickets and consequently being seated near the back of the balcony, sumo was more easier to enjoy (and to photograph) than I had expected. Using my zoom lens, I was able to capture a good number of decent shots.

Clap your hands ♫
Stamp your feet ♫
Throw the salt ♫
Slap him around ♫
Everybody ring out! ♫

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