The Osaka Sumo Basho
Osaka is one of the stops of the annual sumo championship. In typical Osaka style the leading sumo fighters usually take a knock or two and lose a match, which is great fun to watch and upsets the rankings a little bit.
One of the best things about sumo is the contrasts of size. In boxing for example you’re grouped according to weight but sumo has no such rules so its amusing to watch a hulking beast of a man up against a relative beanpole. This makes for an exciting match as the agility of the opponents are tested to the full and its a game of brawn versus speed.
Although it dosen’t really seem much to look at, parades of wrestlers file in and out in a constant stream to fight each other in a bout which usually lasts only a few seconds, the warm up and psyching out techniques are great to watch and in some of the bouts you’re really on the edge of your seat as the advantage swings one way then the other.
Like many sports one of the reasons people watch is to see who can get the most injured and sumo is no exception especially with the mounds of highly tuned flesh wobbling about.
A throw or shove of the opponent out of the ring can be followed up with a bone breaking flop on top of the victim by the winner which is made especially more flinch inducing by the hard angles and clay flooring of the ring.
Of course ringside seats really are ringside which also means that a couple of spectators or judges can also be taken out by the avalanche of blubber rolling around.
The fighters themselves deport themselves with great dignity, well as much as can be mustered considering their size, and some of the higher ups have a fierce intensity about them which gets the crowd going wild (well as much as can be mustered in Japan anyways).
Anyways, a trip to sumo, if your visit or schedule allows, shouldn’t be missed – although you’ll find that you’ll be one of the few people who have actually been to a sumo match as modern Japanese don’t really seem to be into it anymore.
The sumo championships last for 15 days in each city and the schedule starts at 8.30 until about 6.30pm when the big guns come out and, by which time, enough sake has passed the lips of the audience for it to be really atmospheric and rowdy.
More information and schedule in English here. Tickets are available from the venue from the day before the match starts and it’s possible to get advanced tickets.