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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sumo...it could be everywhere, man

This afternoon I was talking with a couple of guys, and I happened to mention sumo. (How do these things come up? Because I'm obsessed? Probably.) It never ceases to amaze me that pretty much everyone out there has some (albeit distant mostly) connection to sumo. The one guy said his high school teacher just loved The Sport, and he showed his class clips from matches all the time.

Later, I dropped a kid off at Cub Scouts. The leader reminded me about a recent Shakespeare play made into a movie. Okay, not that recent, but in the last 4-5 years. This version of "As You Like It" was set in Japan, and in the background in some of the scenes (it was during the Victorian Age as a setting, if I remember right) there's some sumo wrestling going on.

I think my favorite episode of "The Office" was the work party where Michael makes the whole staff go to the lake for the work party and he rents the inflatable sumo suits, and Andy (fresh from management school, anger management, that is) ends up floating on his back in the suit, like a trapped, sunny-side up cockroach, floating away on the lake, calling for help and no one can hear and no one notices him as the sun goes down.

So it's like most things--it's everywhere once you start noticing it.

And believe me, I'm really starting to focus on this thing.

It's awesome.

Here's a clip of some of the Day 2 matches from the May basho (tournament) in Tokyo. It shows why ringside seats are probably not preferred. Risky spectator sport. Once I was at a rodeo on my hometown and the bull jumped into the crowd during the bullride at the end of the night. This reminds me of that.

Now that the May tournament is over, there won't be another official set of match-ups until July, and those will be held in Nagoya. Tickets are on sale already for that. In the meantime, the rikishi will be going on tour to the northern regions of the country, Aomori prefecture, Niigata, and other spots on the northern end of Honshu, the main island. From what I hear, the Aomori people are big fans, and historically a large number of sumo wrestlers have come from this small prefecture. I had a really good friend while I lived in Japan from Aomori, the town called Hachinohe. She in no way resembled a sumo wrestler. She was even shorter than I--and I'm towering in at five-foot-one. (Yeah, yeah, I fit in really well there. I could reach everything on the grocery store shelves! Yay me!)



The between-basho tour gives the lower ranked rikishi a chance to wrestle in public, and it gives the public who live in outlying areas a chance to see the champs up close and live. The results don't count toward any kind of ranking. It's just for show. It's called hana sumo, or flower sumo. Just for show.

Still, show or not, it would be fun to see.

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