Feel The Sumo
Text and Photo by Eduardo de Paz
can witness is the tremendous competitiveness in all the categories.
You can go to see the bouts with the idea that in the lower divisions,
the wrestlers are small, thin and with little technique, but the
reality is that practically all those who go up to the dohyo to fight,
do it convinced of their force and demonstrate a repertory of
techniques and power that astonishes everybody. And, seeing the bouts
of makushita, you can understand how difficult is to reach to the upper
categories, because the level is very similar to juryo and sometimes
even to the lower part of makuuchi.
One of the most incredible moments of all the trip is when finally you begin to put faces to all those names with whom, over the years, you have shared your passion about sumo: Mark, John, Barbara, Katrina, Rob, Harumi, Martina, Doreen, David, Verena... and, I even was able to spread this passion to new fellows - two friends from Barcelona whom I met in the hotel, and who decided to get up very early on senshuraku to be able to get two tickets to enter the Kokugikan, so they could enjoy one of the most
to today’s modern communications and transportation, Tokyo is no longer
so far away. It’s not so expensive either, or at least very similar to
many of the main European cities. None of the reasons that until now
have stopped you from travelling to Japan can be an excuse not to
decide to get your plane tickets and run to see a live sumo match. And
there is no one better place to do it than Tokyo, the world-wide center
of this sport.
It’s difficult to explain the sensations that one has upon arriving in Narita airport. Nerves at the time of beginning the dream trip, some fear about confronting the complicated and strange Japanese kanji, uncertainty because of the cultural difference between east and west... all of these things are an explosive mixture that causes everything that is exciting from the first day.
If you are a baseball fan, without
doubt you must visit Yankee Stadium in New York; if your favorite sport
is football (soccer) you would like to travel to Madrid to visit the
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium; if you like basketball you’ll enjoy it at
the Boston Garden. BUT, if you want to see sumo, there is no place in
the world like the Ryogoku Kokugikan. And yes, there it was - inviting
me to enter from the first day, even before the matches had begun -
with the arrogance of the owner of all the secrets and the most
appreciated treasures for all the sumo fans.
A sumo tournament inside the Kokugikan is not a casual one. The atmosphere you breathe from the first day is really special. The smell of the bintsuke on the rikishi’s hair catches you from the first moment, and the magic of the fight - live! - makes it like no other sport that can compare when speaking about flexibility and elegance.
Perhaps a greater surprise that