Friday, 20 March 2015

Sumo Saturday

Sumo is something on most peoples bucket list if they come to Japan. It is a classic image that pops into your head when you think of Japanese culture. However actually finding a tournament, or even a local practice, is harder to come by. So this year I decided to use a ticket buying website to secure some great seats for the March tournament in Osaka. Held at the Osaka prefectural gymnasium many sumo stars from around Japan, and other parts of the world, compete for the grand championship. Sarah and I took the bus down on Friday night and stayed at Toyo Hostel which boasts some of the cheapest rates you’ll find in Osaka, around ¥1600 a night for a private room. The downside is that there is no heating unit at all, so even with four blankets I was cold. It’s also a hostel so it’s crazy loud from around midnight to 2am. Saving money trumps noise for me though, so I was happy.

We had bought tickets for one of the first weekends of the tournament, and for ¥8,000 we secured stadium seats for the battle. The gymnasium has special box seats as well that feature four pillows in a small square, so you have to sit seiza the entire time. We tried to get those tickets but they sell out instantly. Honestly any seat in the arena is OK as it probably only holds 3-4 thousand people, and having a seat was more comfortable in the long run. If you can get a coveted seat near the wring good luck to you, at least three times the sumo stars fell into the laps of fans, crushing their programs and fingers!! The tournament starts early in the morning, but the bigger matches don’t start until around 4pm, so on Saturday we showed up around 2pm. There were fans lined up outside hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite wrestlers and as we made our way inside we saw many women in traditional kimono. Surprisingly sumo is a quiet event, with the crowd only politely cheering. I was anticipating the antics of a Canadian hockey game, but of course the Japanese even do sports politely!! Anyways towards the last few matches of the day the crowd was really hyped up and every seat was full. It was really easy to follow along with and is definitely something I would recommend for anyone in Japan.

Another weekend in Osaka meant shopping at Amemura and of course indulging in the Osaka specialty of okonomiyaki. We stumbled upon a small place right underneath Glico Man. It looked a bit shady but had no line up and when we went inside we were surprised at the upscale atmosphere. If you are in the Glico Man area check out the restaurants along on the river, they tend to be less crowded.

On Saturday night I was lucky enough to run into an old friend who is working in Tokushima now. We met in England at a Bible school and lived in Poland together for a few months. She is a fellow Canadian and it was really awesome to meet up again in a new place! She brought her boyfriend and we headed to DomaDoma for dinner and drinks. I really love Doma Doma as it has a huge menu and their nomihoudai course is only ¥1050 for two hours. It is ridiculous that one beer in a Canadian restaurant costs almost as much. It was a really fun night and great cap to a wonderful sumo filled weekend.

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