(This is the 8th entry in my blog on my trip to Tokyo. “Part 0” can be found here.)
Professional Japanese sumo wrestling travels between five different arenas in Japan. Luckily for us, it just so happened to be in Tokyo for a two week tournament. We bought tickets for the sixth day of our trip.
While waiting for the tournament to begin, we stopped by one of the many zen gardens in Tokyo. The contrast between the fast paced, work driven city, and slow paced gardens, was really interesting to me.
After a stroll through the garden, it was time for the sumo tournament. We got really lucky, because we were there for the 11th night of the 14 day tournament, and it just so happened to be the biggest match-up. The top three sumo wrestlers, referred to as the yokozuna, are all Mongolian born, and a Japanese wrestler has not won a tournament for over a decade. However, through day 10, a Japanese born wrestler was undefeated, and on this night he was matched up against one of the yokozuna.
When we entered the arena, we took some time to explore the space.
Then we headed to our seats, as the undercard matches ended. Our seats were in the nosebleeds, but we had no problem seeing the fights. We ordered a beer from one of the beer girls, and began making picks on the winners of each fight. Frank destroyed me at handicapping the matches, I think he ended the night 12–4.
The next thing we knew, it was time for the main event, Kotoshogiku the Japanese born wrestler vs Harumafuji the yokozuna. Kotoshogiku quickly pushed the yokozuna back towards the edge of the ring, and swung him down to the ground. He had defeated the yokozuna! The crowd absolutely erupted! People were taking the cushions off of their seats, and hurling them towards the middle of the ring. It was an amazing experience. We later found out that Kotoshogiku went on to win the whole tournament, making him the first Japanese born wrestler to win in over a decade.
After sumo, it was time for dinner. We found an awesome carousel sushi spot back in Shinjuku. They had color coded dishes that corresponded to the price. At the end of the meal, they simply add up all of your dishes and that’s your bill. Frank and I both ended with about 11 dishes each, and the bill was about 3,000 yen (~$25). Fantastic.
At the end of the night, I went to try some Pachinko. Pachinko is a popular Japanese game that’s like a mix of pinball and slots. You fire small metallic balls which then bounce downwards through the machine. The goal is to get the balls to land in a small hole at the bottom of the machine. It’s total madness. Here’s a quick video I shot when no one was looking:
The final stop of the night was back at our favorite tiny bar in Golden Gai for a night cap. Here we are with the bartender, Misai.