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At Ryogoku – Tokyo it’s the first day of the Grand Sumo Tournament. There are 3 of them in Tokyo, for 6 in total in Japan, every year. This is the first time I attended such an event.
Today I went to the Ryogoku stadium in Tokyo to attend the Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan. There are 6 of them, on an annual basis, in Japan. There is 1 in Osaka, 1 in Kyushu, 1 in Nagoya and 3 in Tokyo (in January, May and September).
Grand Sumo Tournament: a first time postponed
I arrived in Japan on May 6, 2011. Before that I was in Vancouver– Canadafor one year. Before arriving in Tokyo, I wanted to buy a ticket to attend the Grand Sumo Tournament in May. I wanted to go on May 11th for my birthday. Unfortunately, the tournament was cancelled (for reasons that I have not really understood). Instead I went to celebrate my birthday in a Maid Cafe in Akihabara.
In September 2011, I had forgotten that the great Sumo Tournament would take place, and so I did not buy tickets in advance. I found myself unable to go.
In November 2011, the day of the opening of sales for the tickets, I bought mine. I paid 9000 Yen (120 USD) for an individual place at mid-height. After few days waiting, my purchase was confirmed to me by e-mail. So I could go to the first day of the Sumo tournament at Ryogoku –Tokyo in January 2012.
Sumo Tournament: A full day at Ryogoku
I live in Kuramae, which is very close to the Ryogoku stadium. On the e-mail I received it was said that the stadium gates would open at 08:30. I decided to go over there at 09:00. After arriving and having got my ticket and a brochure in English, I could finally access the stadium.
When I arrived, the fighting had already started. These were fights between lowest ranked Sumo. As you can read in my article The Sumo in Japan, the day is progressing. At first, the low ranked Sumo fight and then, at about 18:00 the Top ranked Sumo fight.
Only a few spectators were present on site. Some seemed really passionate supporter and so noisy to support their favourites Sumo. So I took the opportunity the Sumo fights, ceremonies and try to learn more about this traditional sport. For that I could read the English brochure that I received on my arrival on site.
Subsequently, given the limited interest that the fighting could bring me, I took the opportunity to take a tour of the Ryogoku stadium and try to find out a bit more about it. A few souvenirs and food stands had been installed for the occasion.
Then, around 15:00, “serious” things began. The ceremonies had input places and the top-ranked Sumo were introduced. The ceremonies started to take greater importance in the course of fights.
Preparations for the Sumo fights were much longer. The Sumo were allowed to throw salt to purify the ground and wash their mouth with water before starting the fight.
Finally, before the arrival of the best Sumo on the ring, for their fights, another ceremony took place. It was time to present the Trophy at stake and have a speech by the President of the Japan Sumo Association.
Then the highest ranked Sumo could fight. It was impressive to see the stadium of Ryogoku full with a crowd which was roaring in support of their favourite Sumo. The atmosphere was not at all the same as the one in the morning. There was a lot of joys, cries, and the viewer Sumo were more colourful. Even television was much more present. It was as if I had attended two different events in one day.
After the last fight, the crowd was gone pretty quickly. It was 18:00, and the first day of the Gardn Sumo Tournament was over. I had just spent nine hours on site, to learn and observe Sumo fights. I can tell you that it was interesting, especially to see how over the day the mood could change, to reach its peak around 18:00.
I suggest you to go to one of the Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan. It worth the visit.
Find out the Ryogoku Stadium on Google Maps: