Sunday, September 20, 2009

Japanese Festival: Sumo Edition

One of the things I most wanted to see at the Japanese festival was the sumo. A while back I blogged about the basics of sumo and why it's so awesome, so I won't repeat myself here. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who wanted to see big men wrestling -- the place was packed.

The three rikishi (wrestlers) that were there had wrestled professionally in Japan but were from Hawaii, and they were introduced by a woman who wrote a book about sumo. I don't recall her name, but I do recall the crowd getting visibly and audibly impatient as she sucked up valuable wrestling time with fun facts about sumo, like, sumo wrestlers are big because they eat a lot! Really? We had no idea.

Okay, done being snide now. She did say some interesting things, and I realize she was gearing her talk to people who have no exposure to sumo, but in all honesty, she needs an editor. (Interestingly, though, she never once used the word "fat.")

Eventually she introduced the rikishi, ending with the biggest one, who elicited gasps and comments from several people around me. They went through their stretching exercises as the woman continued talking about how much weight they'd lost and what there did no (one of them is a surfing instructor). Then, finally, hallelujah, the two smaller ones settled in for a bout:

They brought a bunch of kids up to go through the stretching and strengthening exercises:

They asked for a kid volunteer to wrestle with one guy:

Then came an older kid, whom they put in a mawashi, which was funny both because they had to spin him around three or four times, and because I knew everyone there was thinking, "Hey, look at the kid in the diaper."

He got the initial squat just right.

He was very serious about the bout.

But he did not win.

Watching all of this only strengthened my jones to attend a real sumo basho (tournament). And while there are annual "sumo opens" in California (this year's happens to be next Saturday), I have a feeling that wouldn't quite do it, either. Because with sumo, as with ice cream, NASCAR and high-end hair products, there just ain't nothing like the real thing.


  1. This is just like being there, but without the parking hassles!

  2. Thanks; I wish I'd been closer to the action, though. Next time I'll get there earlier.


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