Let me start off with some honesty. I hate sports. In fact, regardless of who you are and where you are from – you will be hard pressed to find someone who cares less than I do. I have been to two football games in my life (I brought a book both times). I have been to half of a minor league baseball game. I have never watched Soccer. I didn’t watch any of the Olympics (ever). I can’t catch or throw ANYTHING. And if somehow, someone convinces me to play something, I am always the one running in the wrong direction!
But, less than a week after I moved to Japan I was invited to a Sumo Wrestling match. Much to my surprise, I went and I enjoyed it!
There are six annual sumo tournaments in Japan. Each tournament lasts several days. Three are in Tokyo and the other three are in Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. While the schedules are produced years in advance, tickets do not go on sale until the month prior. However, if you are not able to make it to a tournament, you can also watch Sumo demonstrations.
You have the option to sit on the floor or in the bleachers above the arena. When I found out we were in the bleachers, I was disappointed. That disappointment lasted about 30 minutes. A sumo tournament is an all-day affair and there is no way I could have sat comfortably on the floor for an hour, let alone seven hours! I had a great view from my seat and didn’t have to worry about disrupting the view of others by shifting positions.
The event will start late morning with the first tournament. While most Japanese will arrive later in the day for the second tournament to watch the match of the higher players, I was glad I arrived earlier to get the feel for the sport. I enjoyed the second match much more after I understood more.
It is an easy sport to understand. The wrestler that touches the ground or leaves the ring first, loses the match. Each match is only a few seconds and the preamble set up is usually longer than the match itself. The sport is easy to follow and it is fun to keep track of the matches and the winners.
On your next visit to Japan, check out the official website for tickets and more information.