Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I like the Japanese word chikara. It means power. I remember getting up early one morning in Japan and thinking, "Chikara nai." I have no power. I fell back onto my futon and went back to sleep. It happened quite a few times as I tried to bike up a steep hill in Nagano toward the Zenkoji temple. Chikara nai! The muscles in my thighs quivered. I had to just stop and let them rest.
Zenkoji Temple is on a hilltop overlooking Nagano
Chikara is a word used well in regards to sumo. Those rikishi are huge, and they are full of power! Seeing them slam into one another like Mack trucks going 100 miles per hour, it's just ... powerful!

At the beginning of each sumo match there's a lot of ceremony. One of the things they do is drink from a little bowl of chikara mizu, power water. Then they have a piece of chikara kami placed in front of their mouths. Power paper.

The water idea, I get. Drinking in the power of the Shinto gods. Great idea!

But the paper, that was a mystery. It took me a while to find an explanation, but what I gather is that the power paper is used to hide the mouth of the rikishi while he spits out the power water.

Yet another reason I love sumo.

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