Last Friday I got the opportunity to watch Sumo wrestling at Ryogoku stadium, Tokyo.
I managed to get a ticket for 2000 yen ( a ticket purchase mishap – someone within the dorm was selling them for half the price) so I popped off to see some matches after my last class ended on Friday.
I had never even seen sumo wrestling on tv, nor online, before going to see one live in a stadium, so I was pretty excited!
From what I gathered online from the official sumo wrestling website, there are tournaments every other month throughout the year, and they are held across the country in other cities like Osaka, and Fukuoka, as well as Tokyo.
Apparently, three out of the six tournaments held each year take place at Ryogoku Kokugikan (Ryogoku Stadium) in Tokyo.
Similar to when you go to a football match, it’s a huge stadium with seats going all the way round. The lower down and closer you are to the stage (dohyo) the more expensive the ticket.
When I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect and if there were any house-keeping rules that had to be followed. But I was actually surprised by how relaxed yet energetic the atmosphere was. I thought we had to be quiet, like when you go to a theatre show, but people were cheering and getting up from their seats to go to the bathroom/buy snacks etc.
My seat was literally up in the heavens. The second highest row from the top. I heard that you can move down to the more expensive seats to get a better view, but I was a bit nervous as there were “ticket-inspectors” that go around and make sure everything is in order.
But since I thought that this might be my last opportunity to see sumo wrestling before I return back to London, I decided to be really cheeky, and I moved seats further down so I was closer to the action. Luckily, nobody had bought a ticket for the seat I ended up sitting in for the rest of the matches!!
The tournament runs daily from 10am to 6pm, but I was told that the main matches take place after 4pm. Since I had class that day, I arrived just after 4pm so I had under 2hrs worth of matches to watch. I have to say that 2hrs was more than enough time.
The actual wrestling time only lasts a few seconds – there’s a lot of salt throwing, and rituals that are performed before the sumo wrestlers lock heads with each other. Sometimes you think the wrestlers are going to start, but they are just staring each other out, or it’s a false start.
But when they are actually wrestling, it is so intense. You think one wrestler is going to be pushed out, but at the last moment he swivels round and his opponent that was pushing him falls flat on his face. The atmosphere is incredible as people are literally screaming and cheering when someone wins. There were two groups of school children that went the same day I did, and they were yelling out the names of the sumo wrestlers that they wanted to win.
I do apologize for my photos – since I was so far away from the action (despite moving to a different seat!) my photos were a bit blurry and I did try to walk down to the balcony area to take better photos but the staff told me (and many others) to go back to our seats.
It was a really great experience and I’d definitely like to go back again. If I had the money, I would love to sit on the first floor on the cushions and be right up close with the wrestlers. If you sit in the first row, right by the stage, apparently you get sprayed by the sand on the stage when they tidy it up before each match starts. You might even get a sumo wrestler falling on you! (Definitely saw that happen a few times when I was there).
That’s it for now!
On a different topic, I apologise that I haven’t blogged in over a week. After going to see sumo matches last Friday, that was followed by a night out in Shibuya, then the Tokyo Night Walk (see last blog post), I’ve been catching up on sleep and work this week. I feel a lot better now and should be doing some fun stuff this coming week so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!!