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Sumo – visiting Kokugikan on day 7 of the September basho

A day at the sumo is one of the most exciting experiences in Japan.  My Swedish friends, who were sumo newbies, asked me to help them get tickets and go along with them.  It’s not hard to accept an invite like that one.

The makuuchi rikishi

Getting tickets to the sumo is easy – if you can read Japanese.  I used an Internet ticket booking service called Pia, and pick up the tickets from a convenience store once I’ve paid for them online.  Although there are many foreigners watching the sumo at Kokugikan, I’m not sure how they acquire tickets easily. Maybe they have to go via one of 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 seeing the rikishi in person, and experiencing the thrill when the crowd cheers their favourites.  The lady in the next seat to me was a big fan, especially of Kotoshu (from Bulgaria), veteran Kaio, and the two yokozuna.  We had a great afternoon.

Since my recent visit to Mongolia, it struck me just how many of the rikishi in the top makuuchi division are from Ulaan Baator.  I was told in Mongolia that everyone follows the exploits of Asashoryu and Hakuo (the two current yokozuna), and that each basho is shown on Mongolian television.

For the record, I saw Kotoshu lose, but most of the other crowd favourites win.

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