Saturday, 25 August 2012

how to find a sumo (even if you can't make a tournament)

One of my top must sees in Tokyo was to watch a sumo tournament. Grand Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo are held in January, March, May and September  and you can buy tickets here. Sadly I was in Tokyo in August and finding a sumo outside of competition season is harder than you think ...

Group shoot!
My hotel's Concierge were surprisingly unhelpful, they said that it was not possible and that they could not help.I later found out that tourists had been thrown out of a sumo beya and this is why they were hesitant to assist.

Cool down sumo style

The wonderful Google provided some inspiration here and it seemed pretty straight forward to manage ourselves.

I decided on Asahiyama stable, about 45 minutes from our Tokyo hotel. It took three trains and 45 minutes but I think it was worth it. The nearest subway is Nishi-kasai (Edogawa), and it's a few blocks walk from there. We wandered around for a while trying to find the place, if it wasn't for the sumos in the street we never would have found it!

Tips (courtesy of JapanTimes)

Call ahead - Practice can be cancelled, so best to check the day before. We asked our hotel Concierge to assist with this.

Bowing - Bowing is a sign of respect in Japanese culture. It is customary to bow to seniors upon arrival.

Silence - Silence from spectators is expected. I admit, we broke this and cheered once (it was very exciting stuff), but being two young Western females they just laughed ... at us.

Sumo are surprisingly flexible!

Refrain from smoking and drinking - Trust me once you are inside there this is the last thing you will want to do. It's hot, sweaty, a little smelly and very dirty. If this does not deter you, then do it out of respect.

Arrive early - It is recommended to stay for the entire duration and training normally starts by 7am (sometimes earlier). I am not going to lie, I tried, tried to get there on time but was late. This didn't seem like a big issue, but it may be at other beyas. We were fortunate enough to see practice, cool down and socialise with the sumos after so in hindsight I guess it worked out!

Stay in your allocated area - This was not in the TokyoTimes guidelines, but I read elsewhere that the ring is sacred (that is why they through salt at the start). Even worse, apparently women are considered a violation of their purity. They were very lenient to us (I think they thought we were a novelty) but it is important to be culturally sensitive and not offend. We sat on a small bench away from the coaches and stayed here. At the end of practice, we went out to the street to talk and take pictures with the sumos, but during practice it is important to stay put.

Go easy on the camera - I won't lie, I didn't listen to them. As you can see, I was like paparazzi and I think they thought I was a photographer as I had a fancy camera. I took a ton of pictures, and they even asked me to email them some. As long as you are respectful, I think they are fine.

Enjoy! Pease share your sumo experiences and visit us on Facebook

2-13-24 Oshima, Koto-ku
Tokyo 136-0072
Nearest station is Nishi-kasai