published by: briahwhoughton
on: Jun.27.2011 @ 2:03 am
Soon after 16 visits to Tokyo I decided to observed all there was to determine for the reason that vast metropolis. That was until a buddy created four tickets, with a flourish worthy of Willy Wonka's golden prizes. "Hey," he grinned, "are you curious about sumo?"
To be honest I hadn't trained with considerably thought however the opportunity to tick off a different Tokyo initial, and see this kind of iconic Japanese sport firsthand, was too great to overlook. So a few days later I discovered myself outside the sprawling 102-year-old National Fighting techinques Centre next to the notorious Asakusa "downtown" area of yesteryear, in the heart of old-town Tokyo. It's a 30-minute train trip from Shibuya and a planet away from the other preferred tourist landscapes of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Ginza. The speed of the location - historically the border of the sacred town of Edo, contemporary Tokyo's predecessor - seems just a little slower and much more serene.
Within the gigantic arena, even so, that serenity provides method to an electrical environment. The large dohyo fighting ring sits in the middle of the arena, underneath a conventional ornate awning, and surrounded by a sell-out crowd of thirteen,000 split over two amounts of seating. The inner circumference from the ceiling is adorned with traditional paintings of well-known grand champions (yokozuna) and enormous Tv cameras line the walls, broadcasting reside to an incredible number of viewers.
We wind our way with the curious mix of aged and a new comer to our conventional Japanese box seats (futons on a elevated platform) a mere eight rows in the front from the ring. Grand tournaments similar to this are held three times annually, in January, May and September. Every spans 15 days, with bouts all day every day.
Our check out falls about the penultimate day in time for the Makuuchi division fights, perhaps the same as the top-tier "heavyweights division".
My buddies eagerly point out the heavens among the wrestling line-up. All of them weigh between 160kg and 180kg, although the heaviest fighter, a Georgian, suggestions the scales at 200kg.
Immediately after a more sophisticated coming into ceremony, each and every bout starts with both adversaries at opposite sides of the ring, normally from two diverse heyas (Sumo training stables), and try to along with a monstrous roar in the crowd.
After introductions and more pomp and ceremony through the brightly attired referee, the fighters begin the rather drawn-out Shinto rituals. There is the clapping from the fingers followed by the well-known stamping of feet they are driving away evil spirits, the slapping of stomachs and buttocks and the ceremonial throwing of salt to purify the ring, all just before crouching down on their haunches and staring directly into each other's eyes.
Everything builds anticipation to fever pitch they walk away and repeat the procedure. And thus it goes on.
By the third repetition everyone is roaring the their favorite fighter. Then the wrestlers use their corners for that final Shinto ritual of rinsing their fingers and mouths with "power-water" and confront each other going back time. The arena drops into an eerie silence for any moment before the fighters launch at one another and the roar explodes once again. The fight is fast and furious, normally in a couple of seconds of slapping, pushing or lifting. It ends when one fighter is either pushed out of the ring or thrown down.
It's impossible not to be swept away in the madness. Pretty soon you are furiously fistpumping the environment with the best of them, following a roars and laughter from the crowd as a fighter is pushed out or, in a single situation, sent flying into the front row, crashing right into a couple of bad ringside-seated individuals like a boulder.
Sumo wrestlers are celebrity superstars, typically observed in tabloids dating Japanese popstars and versions. It is had a rough couple of years, with 1 yokozuna forced to forfeit his title following a drunken brawl and another match-fixing scandal, however the sport's popularity with would-be fighters and also the public is at its peak.
Ticket sales start a thirty day period prior to a tournament, and change from Y5000 ($80) for arena seating on the 2nd stage to Y40,000 ($600) for box seats close to the ring. But go if you're able to - it'll bring a grin to even the most jaded globe traveler.
Steak a claim
In case your taste in wrestling is a touch more Western and modern than sumo, you are in for a handle at Ribera Steakhouse, a little-known restaurant tucked off Tokyo's beaten tourist path in a corner of Meguro.
In contrast to a number of Ginza's 40-storey restaurants, in which a sliver of sushi can cost you a day's wages, this humble New York-style steakhouse, having a huge open grill along with a continuous fug of steak-infused smoke in which groups of guys sit huddled over their beer and meals, continues to be right here some 3 decades.
However it isn't meals that makes this location stick out. Important exceptional is the owner's fanatical devotion to WWF-style pro wrestling, recognized here as pro-resu. Just about every sq . inch of wall and ceiling space in Ribera is stuffed with memorabilia, such as belts, trophies photos of professional wrestling's superstars of past and existing - Hulk Hogan, Owen Hart, Andre the Large, they're all here, and frequently they've been here in person, too.
In each and every corner from the area are aged and new photographs of each and every WWF-era and Japanese professional wrestling star you can name, plus much more than the usual few you can't, all taken inside the restaurant as well as in all their muscle-flexing glory. And many are regular diners at Ribera. It isn't unidentified for a number of pro wrestlers from around the world display in the restaurant on a night.
Recption menus is unashamedly basic; you get to choose 1 sirloin steak in three distinct sizes - ? pound, 1 pound, or one? pound, as well as sides for example rice, corn, salad, and soup; every thing a growing fighter needs.
And when everything wrestling memorabilia has you sensation competitive you can undergo the Ribera Akebono consuming challenge. Named following the Hawaiian-born 233kg Sumo grand champion and subsequent WWF wrestling superstar, the challenge entails downing 1.35kg of sirloin steak, three servings of rice, and assorted facet dishes in 30 minutes - all for a 10,000 yen ($155) reward.
You'll probably require some of those nice, stretchy lycra wrestling outfits.
* Ticketing and tournament schedules are located right here. The next tournament starts September 11.
* Taking a Japanese-speaking individual along with you may be beneficial so you know what's going on.
Getting there: By train from Shibuya station, take the Yamanote line to Yoyogi. Transfer at Yoyogi to the JR Sobu line. Consider JR Sobu line to Ryogoku station. It is a two-minute walk in the station towards the arena, which you can see in the station.
Where you can consume: Ribera Steakhouse. Obtaining there by vehicle or taxi is the simplest way, about five minutes from Meguro station (JR Yamanote Line). Ribera is on the primary trunk line Meguro Dori, but it's a pretty massive road. You will probably need to provide the address to the taxi driver, and ask him to use his navigation system
Frank Liew paid their own way to Tokyo and visits the town regularly because the who owns Qubic fashion and item retailer in Newmarket.