Thanks to Lowie and her friend Yumiko, I got to see Sumo this past Sunday. It was the first day of a 15-day tournament. It was so interesting! And I really enjoyed the experience!

Outside the Sumo Hall, it was a combination of sport and celebrity. There were fans waiting to see and root for their favorites. The same was true inside the foyer where the concessions were located. People gathered to greet the wrestlers. Once past the concessions, were the bleachers and at the center, the ring. Want to hear something interesting?

As we passed under the bleachers into the main area my first thought was, “Oh, a sacred space.” Fascinating, no? The place felt like a church. And then as we progressed, more and more of the sport aspects came to the fore and it felt like a sporting event – the cameras, the food and drink. But the whole time I was there, I experienced the event in these two ways: as religion and as sport.

I found out afterwards that Sumo is very closely tied to Shinto, the traditional religion of Japan, and that several Shinto rituals accompany the matches. But there was sport as well with people rooting for their favorites, and gamesmanship between the wrestlers.

The preliminary part of the bout can last as long as four minutes. Stomping the feet to clear the ring of evil spirits and throwing salt to cleanse it. The action itself, while exciting, is often over within a minute. But since I was absorbed by the whole experience, I didn’t have a problem with that. There was so much to see, both in the stands and in the ring.

I have pictures of the outing and video of the final match that I will post over the next couple of days. Keep an eye out!


~ by Samer on November 13, 2007.

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