Live sumo match in Tokyo

4 June 2014

Despite being Japan for so long, I’ve never been to any sumo wrestling matches before. As with baseball, it’s one of the things I want to experience in Japan but it’s not at the top of my to-do list, you know? (but I cleared the baseball game this year too!)

I was invited to the Grand Sumo Tournament by a friend and I jumped on the chance!

There are 6 tournaments every year, held on the odd-numbered months. 1, 5, and 9 are held in Tokyo, whereas the rest are held in Osaka (3), Nagoya (7) and Fukuoka (11).

The awesome thing is that the tickets she received were for the best areas!

The stage is in the centre and the tickets are for the green seats!

I had no idea the tickets were that expensive until I saw the signboard on the day itself. I thought, “WTF SGD140 per person?!!”

I felt a bit paiseh, but at least she (and the person who gave the tickets to her) received the tickets for free, so it was a tad bit comforting. Although I made a mental note to bake something for her the next time I see her.

But the thing is… She only had 2 spare tickets. As Zhen was over, I had to choose between husband and sister.


In the end they had a Bomberman match to the death on the Playstation lol. But Fu very nice la, he secretly told me before the match that even if he wins, he’ll let Zhen go. He said that he can go anytime he wants, and besides, “Who wants to see two obese men fighting with their fats wobbling?”

:O :O

If a sumo hears that and sits on you, I’m so not helping you! You deserve it lor. Tsk tsk, so rude! Most of those are not fats! Not only that, they have a lower fat percentage than you! Sumos have a significantly greater FFM (fat free mass) than even bodybuilders, who in turn have greater FFM than untrained men. Such insolence!

Outside the Sumo Hall in Ryogoku

We saw a crowd gathering around a head that was protruding above the rest and we realized it was a sumo wrestler doing fan service! He was taking photos and signing for people, so we went over and Zhen shyly asked for a photo.

Zhen is like… 1.65m(?) which makes him bloody damn tall! He’s not as big (horizontally) as I thought he would be though!

Time to proceed inside and because our seats came with special privileges…

This is the area where gifts can be picked up, and meals ordered for consumption within the hall!

We each got a big box of sandwiches, orange juice, super creamy ice-cream and a pot of green tea (which no one touched lol). The best thing is that the meals are all free! Unless my friend’s husband paid super secretly without me realizing… but I don’t think so. Or at least I hope not!

The service is really premium. We were shown to our seats, and our food was delivered to us after we were seated. Dunno go there to watch sumo match or to eat lol.

This is to show you the type of seats we had. Basically you buy a boxed area, with seats for up to 4 people. Space was a little tight but luckily we were 3 slim women and 1 man. If 4 sumos confirm GG. In fact, I think the space is probably just right for 1 sumo.

And this is the stage! Notice the banner at the top that says 満員? It’s displayed when the seats are fully sold-out!

Click for the panorama view!

Us :)

The wrestlers throw salt before every match as a prayer that they will not sustain any injuries

Prepping… (this move reminds me of the old, ooold Dulux paint ad for some reason. Anyone remembers that ad?)

Then the sumo wrestlers will crouch down and get into position.

Ready, set…

We watched with bated breath as we waited, highly strung with anticipation, wide-eyed and afraid to miss a single moment.

At the height of (our) suspense, the two wrestlers suddenly stood up and walked back to their respective corners.

HUH. :?

What just happened???

Apparently they do that twice. Some kind of warm up or sumzzat. God knows.

Only on the 3rd time do they fight for real.

Sheesh, made me so kancheong for nothing!

Oh, and sorry, no photos of them fighting. I only took videos :D You can watch one I uploaded on instagram!

There is this fight I DID manage to capture though, and I must show it here.

Blue is facing off Black (who is currently blocked)

On GO, sumo wrestlers usually jump up and lunge towards the other, and that’s what Blue did.

Guess what Black did?


Black stepped aside so Blue fell, touched the ground, and lost the match. (There’s only one round per match.)


I mean, yeees, it may be a type of strategy, but it’s super つるい。Err, in English that will be underhanded. English escapes me when I have extreme emotions.

It feels like a dirty trick just to win. Where’s the pride to fight fair and square? Where’s the basic respect for your opponent? Is there really any honor from winning like that? Is it even winning? I don’t like wrestlers who do this. *crosses arms with a super judgemental frown*

You can tell the audience doesn’t like it either, and for one of the bigger matches (meaning famous wrestlers), there was an outrage and the hall resonated with boos!

Japanese are generally very polite and courteous and rarely show their true feelings, so when they break the silence and boo, you know they’re seriously pissed!

For bigger matches, there’s a bigger stake involved.

In they march…

… and they keep coming…

“Woo hoo!!! Look at how many we have!”

I even uploaded a video!

What are they?

You might have guessed…

Yes, they are advertisements!

Sponsors can pay a price (I was told about 50,000 yen ~SGD 600 per banner) to sponsor the match, and the winner walks away with the cash! LITERALLY.

The referee immediately hands the winner a wad of cash after declaring him the winner LOL.

The most number of sponsors appeared in the final match of the day, because the matches progress through the day from novice, unknown wrestlers to famous wrestlers. In the final match, there were 32 sponsors.

That makes for a whopping 1.6 million yen!!! $o$

We went home with two large paper bags of goodies EACH, and these are the contents each person received:

Snacks, desserts, a two-tiered bento, box of yakitori, a porcelain plate (?!!)

This was a really interesting and exciting experience! Contrary to what Fu thinks, it’s not just two men bumbling around the ring.

The action is densely packed and distilled down into mere seconds, and you can feel the heat of the tension between the two wrestlers radiating outwards from the ring as the pure force of the face-off hooks you right into the very ring.

Fu is still not convinced though, so I’ll need to bring him to watch a live match someday!



Some sumo wrestlers have it tough…

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