Took the boys to the big Ryogoku arena today -- day 10 of the 15-day 2009 May Grand Sumo Tournament -- to catch the early round of bouts.
The place was deserted when we arrived around 10 a.m., and people were still only trickling in when we left shortly before noon, though a crowd of fans was starting to gather along the sidewalk out front to see some of the better-known competitors walk from car to entrance gate in their yukata robes and wooden thong sandals, the sumo equivalent of a red carpet moment.
The competition doesn't really heat up until these more experienced, higher-ranked wrestlers take their turns in the ring later on in the afternoon and evening, but the morning round was entertaining all the same, a fine spectacle, and the kids could muck about a bit more because nobody was nearby enough to be bothered.
With the stadium so empty, we could've planted ourselves right down in front, on seat cushions just outside the ring, but my friend Rena's sweet children had already gotten themselves banned from the area for being too distracting. (Serious points for trying though; she's a gutsier mom than I.)
Even keeping back a bit, we still had a great view. Take a look:
(Before the wrestlers lock horns, so to speak, there's a lot of ceremonial posturing and repositioning and, perhaps, mental preparation....)
In this next clip there's actual bodily contact, but unfortunately my digicam's memory card maxed out before it was all over, with one guy stepping out of the ring.