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At the May Sumo tournament

On the opening day of the May Sumo tournament earlier this month, and I was at Kokugikan in Ryogoku to enjoy the action.  I had some friends of a friend visiting Japan, with a brief to take them somewhere good.  I worked out how to buy tickets online, got some seats a few days in advance, and then got my visitors to start looking forward to the opening day action.

There are six tournaments each year, each 15 days long.  The winner at the end is the rikishi with the best win-loss ratio.

The Makuuchi Division rikishi

This is the ceremony at the beginning of the Makuuchi Division – the top sumo division, which is staged between 4pm and 6pm each day of the tournament.  (NHK TV broadcasts between these times, so it’s got to finish before the 6pm news!)

This is Kokugikan stadium from up the back.  The further back the seats, the less expensive.  But the stadium is tiered, so there are still good views from all parts of the stadium.

Kokugikan

Back to the the Makuuchi Division, before the action commences.

The Makuuchi Division rikishi

There are currently two yokozuna (grand champion ranked rikishi), and they each perform a separate ceremony after all their colleagues have left the dohyo.  This is Asashoryu, the bad-boy Mongolian yokozuna.  Bad because he’s been in some media controversies over the last little while.

Asashoryu (yokozuna) at the start of the Makuuchi Division on the opening day of the Spring Tournament

This is all 258kg of Yamamotoyama, the current largest rikishi in the Makuuchi Division.  Great manboobs.

The action was exciting, even if some of the bouts were very short.  The one in this photo is during the Juryo Division, which is held before the Makuuchi Division (the rikishi get more and more senior throughout the day).

Juryo Division

Finally, the last bouts for the day are those of each of the two yokozuna.  This is Hakuo, also Mongolian.  I’ve heard him described as a white crust yokozuna – he’s straight laced but never lets you down.  Among his other sponsors, he is sponsored by Macdonalds – not sure what sort of message that sends about fast food and child obesity!

Advertising break.  Hakuho (yokozuna) is apparently sponsored by McDonalds.  What's the message?  If your kids eat enough Big Macs, they will become fat enough to become a sumo rikishi?  Who needs chanko nabe when a few Quarter Pounders will do?

After all bouts are finished, one of the yokozuna (here, Hakuo) closes the day with another ceremony.

(Hakuo was the favourite for he tournament, but was beaten on the last day in a tournament decider with Haruma Fuji, a first time tournament winner.)

Hakuho closes the day's proceedings

What a great day!

One Comment

  1. […] the tour companies, or even turn up in person at the venue box office. I was at Kokugikan for the May basho, so it was only six months ago that I was last here.  That doesn’t lessen the excitement of […]

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