My friend J. and I went to the Sumo yesterday. It was the thirteenth day of the New Year tournament and we had fantastic seats, about five rows back from the front and facing the referee. We got there early and watched a whole day's wrestling. It starts off with the really junior wrestlers, like the rather portly gentleman above. The stands are almost empty. Gradually, the atmosphere builds and the fans begin to throng into the stadium until, between 5pm and 6pm, the big stars match up. We were really lucky because at about 4pm the Emperor made one of his rare surprise appearances. There was a real sense of occasion.
The crowd went bananas after the final bout, raining their cushions down onto the ring, because the Mongolian champion Asashoryu lost to my favourite wrestler, the small and nippy Ama [1, 2], leaving the tournament wide open for the Japanese Ozeki Tochiazuma to win. Tochiazuma beat the Bulgarian Ozeki Kotooshu yesterday.
There is a slideshow of our pictures here. Click on the photos at any time to get explanations.
Update: Today's bouts brought victory for Asashoryu over Kotooshu, another win for Tochiazuma and a great performance from the little Ama. We go into the final day with Tochiazuma on his own in the lead (13 victories - 1 loss), with only the Mongolian Hakuho within reach (12-2). Tochiazuma has the small matter of defeating Asashoryu between him and the Emperor's Cup, the first to be won by a Japanese wrestler for eight tournaments. Hakuho, who won impressively today, is up against Kotooshu (10-4).