Tag Archive for sumo

5 Things to do this Spring in Japan

Are you thinking of what to do in Japan these Spring holidays? Look no further. Of course I talk mainly of Nagoya in central Japan. In case you don’t know. Nagoya is the major city in between Tokyo and Osaka. It is the home of the Toyota Motor Corporation, and the famous blue Central JR bullet trains. Land prices here rival that of Tokyo and London, and it’s one of the richest cities in the world. It’s also a convenient base for travellers. So, if you’re going to be in Japan and looking for travel ideas, start with these. Oh, and here’s one little trivial point to mention. The Spring holidays start mid-Winter (end of January), and finish in early Spring (early April). Don’t ask me why, just go with it.

For each below, there are links that include How to Get There information.


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1. Plum blossoms

Plum flowers typically bloom in about the last week of February and last until about mid-March (depending on the species and the weather). These flowers have more petals than cherry blossoms, last longer, and have more vibrant colours. These flowers used to be the most revered until a Kyoto poet captured Japanese hearts for the cherry blossoms. Plum flowers can be enjoyed at many major parks, including private botanic gardens like Nabana no Sato, the Nagoya Agricultural Centre, and Higashiyama Park (at Higashiyama Koen Station, Higashiyama Line).

Plum flowers
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2. Osaka Sumo Tournament

The Osaka Sumo Tournament is a little unique. It’s the only sumo tournament where the wrestlers need to walk through the public areas between the fighting mound in the centre of the stadium, to the changing rooms out back. So you can get close enough to get clear photos of the wrestlers just before and after their bouts. The tournament runs from the second Sunday of March for fifteen days until the fourth Sunday. Tickets are available online and can be picked up at the venue from special machines; don’t forget your purchase code and info. Learn more about the sumo here at the Going to a Sumo Tournament post.

Osaka Sumo
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3. The Naked Man Festival

Don’t worry, they’re not all men; they’re not completely naked; and it’s not so much a festival that you have to take part in… unless you really want. It’s held annually on the 15th of January in the lunar calendar (usually between mid February to early March). In 2015 it was held on the 3rd March (Gregorian Calendar). The festival attracts about 13,000 participants (males from about 6 or 7yo, to those about 70 or 80. You’ll even see tattooed gangsters playing their part as members of the community, too. You’ll have to bump your way through a crowd of perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 spectators of mainly excited women and girls. The festival is also known as the Hadaka Matsuri (“hadaka” is ‘naked’, and “matsuri” is ‘festival’).


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4. The Fertility Festival

Like the Naked Man Festival, this festival traces it’s roots to ancient Japan and is held with strong religious connections. It basically is a large wooden phallus being joyously carried through the Tagata township. On the internet it’s also known as the penis festival. It’s held on the 15th March each year (Gregorian Calendar). See here for specific info on the Tagata Fertility Festival.


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5. Cherry blossoms / Sakura

Of course, no mention of Spring and Japan is complete without mentioning the delicate and fleeting petals of a tree that bears no fruit, yet covers almost every temple and shrine and park in the country for about one week. The image below was taken at Nagoya Castle. You can get there via the subway Meijo Line, at the Shyakusho-mae Station in downtown or central Nagoya. The castle is also a museum and has the Nagoya gymnasium which hosts the July summer sumo tournament. There are some specific things you can do in this fleeting time, typically one week, and it involves friends, alcohol, bad decisions, and can be day or night. Learn five things about hanami here (hanami literally means “flowers-see”).


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Bonus: Tado Horse Festival

The Tado Horse Festival is held in the Golden Week holidays, the end of April and early May. It’s held in Tado, a small township just outside of Kuwana city, which itself is outside of Nagoya. The festival typically attracts about 120,000 spectators. It’s major.


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#BREAKING Kakuryu wins the Emperor’s Cup

Twenty-eight year old Mongolian Kakuryu (born Mangaljalav Anand; Wikipedia) becomes the fourth Mongolian to win the Emperor’s Cup, after Asashoryu, Hakuho, and Harumafuji. It was also announced that he is to be promoted to be one of three top-ranked wrestlers called “Yokuzuna”. This photo is currently available for immediate purchase or licensing from my Sumo Gallery. It has been an exciting tournament, the two current top-ranked wrestlers, Hakuho and Harumafuji have struggled a little of late, Kotooshu crashed out and retired, and then this upset. It’s been great.

Kakuryu (left) faces Takayasu (unseen) in the Osaka Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Kakuryu (left) faces Takayasu (unseen) in the Osaka Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Photo taken on Monday 17th March.

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#BREAKING: Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu may be retiring

First tweets from a Japanese sports journalist, @kaznagatsuka, says Kotooshu may be quiting this tournament.

UPDATE (7.30pm 20thMar): Kotooshu’s last bout was on Tuesday against Hakuho.

Below, Kotooshu ahead of his bout where he was defeated by Harumafuji just this Monday.

Bulgarian Kotooshu in his final tournament in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

Bulgarian Kotooshu in his final tournament in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

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Out of form Kotooshu in his last tournament?

I don’t like to focus on the negative. I usually post stuff on the sumo because it’s just so fascinating. The Bulgarian Kotooshu (born Kaloyan Stefanov Mahlyanov, Wikipedia) was still the new kid on the block and a rising star when I first arrived in Japan. He was great to watch, though he made mistakes, he still had energy and enthusiasm so that he could win, and it seemed he was growing into the role of the top ranked wrestler, a yokozuna. However, he never got past Ozeki, the second highest rank and was demoted to Sekiwaki at the end of 2013. He won one tournament and the Emperor’s Cup in 2008 (Wikipedia), and he was the darling of the media, and was on all the Bulgarian Yoghurt advertisements. Throughout his sumo career he’s been plagued by various injuries to his knees and arms. This tournament is the worst I’ve seen of him perform. In fact, every time I’ve seen him live, he’s lost, and Monday was no different. However, one win for nine losses is a record that would mean he’d have to be further demoted or retire.

Below, is an in-form and on-fire Harumafuji (right) displaying his strength, whilst a very out-of-form (and possibly very deflated and demotivated) Kotooshu watches on.

In form Mongolian Harumafuji wins easily against a struggling Bulgarian Kotooshu in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

In form Mongolian Harumafuji wins easily against a struggling Bulgarian Kotooshu in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

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#TGIF Sumo starts on Sunday

That’s right, the Tokyo Winter Tournament starts it’s fifteen day run from Sunday. Tickets are available from web vendors like this one (no affiliation), and you can view it online on your very own computer from morning to 6pm Tokyo time, Watch Sumo Online. The cheapest tickets are about ¥1,000 (USD$10; far back, up in the rafters), and the most expensive are the tiny box seats from about about ¥40,000 (USD$400). This year, it may be the year Hakuho loses his dominance, and a whole new generation may displace my long-time favourites. It should be an exciting year. See my sports gallery for sumo photos, and my agent’s website. Also, I do have a sumo photo video.

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POTW, 1st July: Sumo Summer

In the middle two weeks of this month is the Nagoya Grand Sumo Summer Tournament (or something of that approximation of words). Anyway, it’s in Nagoya, it’s sumo, it’s summer, it’s a tournament, and it’s grand. This Photo of the Week is from a past Nagoya sumo tournament. Currently, all the sumo stables are here in Nagoya and surrounds staying at temples, shrines, and other places, and doing their practice sessions early in the morning at training rings that are also at shrines, temples, and even public schools.

For more sumo photos, including training sessions and real bouts, see my PhotoShelter portfolio.

Also, today marks the official start of the Mt Fuji climbing season. The climb up the mountain is usually crammed with about 10,000 people scrambling, usually at night for the sunrise view, but in bumper to bumper conditions. Now Mt Fuji is to be World Heritage listed, it’s bound to be insane.

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POTW 12 May 2013 The Sumo Tokyo Summer Tournament

Sunday was the first day of sumo’s Tokyo Summer Tournament. There are thirteen more days of the tournament, which runs from Sunday to the third Sunday. The top wrestlers to watch out are the top ranked Hakuho and Harumafuji, both are Mongolians and are portrayed as rivals. But then, Japan has a fascination of describing pairs of people who are not obviously friends as ‘rivals’. If you didn’t know, you can watch the sumo live on the internet, see that link for info. In any case, here is one of my favourite sumo photos for this Photo of the Week (POTW). You can find this, and other sumo photos in the sumo gallery.

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Sumo Day 8

Another summary of the top bouts of the Nagoya summer tournament.

Kitataiki* attempts to throw 194 centimetre Makikai out of the ring, but Makikai switches precarious situation into an arm bar throwing ‘Taiki out of the ring.

Toshinowaka is pushed from the rear (again) out of the ring by Wakayama

Masanoyama belly-wobbles Takanofuji out of the ring.

Tamawashi flails against Miyabiyama, who slappled Tamawashi about, until Tamawashi is slapped out of the ring.

Yoshikaze dodges Sarumafuji on lift off, and the bout was over within 0.9secconds of start. The crowd was not moved.

Chiyotai is given a wedgie and lifted out of the ring by Kaisei (despite his sore back).

Toyobiki* is near defeat as Homasho struggles to wrestle him near the edge of the ring, but Toyobiki leans a little and twists Homasho out.

Tokitenku and Aran take the opportunity to hug in the middle for some time in the ring (42 secs), but Tokitenku lifts and nudges Aran out.

Huge heavy weight Georgian Gagamaru drives his head into fellow Georgian Tochinoshin’s chest and drives him backwards into the crowd.

Takekaze does the dishonerable by dodging and slapping down his opponent at the start of the bout. Another case where the crowd is not pleased.

Winless Takayasu is driven to the edge and out by Shohozan.

Takitenho flails hard but falls on his face in front of his opponent.

After some mind games ahead of the bout, stare-downs, and false start, Kisenosato and Wakakoryu struggle against each other, but Kisenosato cooly pushes out Wakakoryu.

Ozeki and Bulgarian Koto-oshu with broken foot loses to much lower ranked wrestler who scored his first win this tournament.

Harumafuji is airborne as Toyonoshima is pushed out of the ring. The ring is a little slippery with salt and drying clay.

Baruto, who was doing well, is pushed out by an eager lower-ranked opponent Ryogyuryu*

Tochiozan comes so close to winning against top-ranked Hakuho, as both wrestlers pull the same move almost simultaneously, and fall at nearly the same time.

Hakuho, Harumafuji remain undefeated, with four wrestlers with one loss.

*Spelling uncertain

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Sumo day 1

Summary of the main bouts of Day 1 of the Nagoya Summer Sumo Tournament, in chronological order with the final and top ranked wrestler last.

Harumafuji weak start, but convincing, if not, gentle win.

Tokutenho is forced out by Baruto after a brief hugging match. Baruto uses his right knee to keep Tokutenho from escaping, forcing him to go wheels up in the crowd.

Kotoshogiku pushes out Tochiozan in a slap, run, get behind and push. Kotoshogiku uses good hip movement to keep balance and be well placed.

Kisenosato (aka Blinky, for his blinking habit ahead of a bout) had to chase his opponent (Myogiryu?)  around the ring before he was able to belly-out (frontal-force out) his opponent.

Toyonoshima and Hakuho both fall out of the ring and Hakuho touches the ground milliseconds before Toyonoshima. Judges declare a rematch. Hakuho struggles to get a two-hand grip, but almost immediately doing so pushes out Toyonoshima. Great sumo.

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