The Sumo is an event very unique to Japan, one that demonstrates a very rich cultural history. The Sumo takes place every other month, drawing thousands of spectators to Tokyo. You can’t buy tickets in advance so you have to go to the ticket box in the morning if you to guarantee yourself a seat. If you are planning on attending a weekend match it is best to get there well before they start selling tickets at 8 am since it is not uncommon for the arena to quickly sell out. I chose to go on a weekday though to avoid some of the crowds and also purchase the cheaper tickets with hopes of being able to move down closer to the action without having to shell out any more yen. This proved to be a wise choice since my friend Ayaka and I were able to move down a couple sections without any difficulty. I also had a telephoto lens for my camera so I really felt like I was a part of the action.
Everything about a sumo match is ritualistic and made me feel like I was reliving something from the past. The matches begin early in the morning, but these are the little guys who are trying to improve their ranking to make it into the Grand Sumo, where they can make the big bucks. My friend and I started watching the matches around 3 pm, just when things start to get interesting. Before each round of fights, the wrestlers form a circle around the ring facing one another. They do a little arm raising and some clapping before filing back out. Then the matches begin. Each match starts with the fighters facing one another, they squat, raise their arms in the air, then go to the corner of the ring for a ceremonial sip of water. They then return the center of the ring for some more squatting before going back to the to get some salt to throw on the ground. This process continues for a while before they actually fight, which only lasts about 30 seconds. The main objective is to either push the opponent out of the ring or onto the ground.
Surrounding the ring on all four sides are officials who coyly watch each match in case there are any discrepancies as to who the victor is. For instance, during one match it was impossible to immediately determine which wrester hit the ground first. The officials then gathered in the middle of the ring to deliberate, ultimately determining the wrestler in black the winner.