Monday, 12 January 2015

Sumo.

Haha, here's me and the new man in my life. T is glad he is only made of cardboard.   I have always been rather fascinated by sumo wrestling. I never really went for European style wrestling but there's something so ritualistic about sumo. It seems to be about more than just hurling the other guy out of the ring.   (I have just found out that it has roots in Shinto religious rituals). 


 When our kind friend Eiko took us to the Edo-Tokyo Museum in the Ryogoku area of Tokyo, I was fascinated by some obviously old photographs of sumo champs that were stuck up in the railway station alongside the slot machines and next to the neon lights and hot water pipes.  




I don't know what the dates of these huge photos are but to me they look quite old, perhaps originally taken in black and white and beautifully coloured with those transparent paints people used to tint photos with.  


You can see this one is a little torn at the bottom, which again suggests that it is old. I didn't ask Eiko what the writing on the frames said. 


These are handprints and signatures of more recent sumo greats.  


and Eiko only just managed to reach up to the height of the tallest wrestler measured, who is Yokozuna Akebono.  (The top guys are called Yokozuna - Grand Champions -  and Yokozuna Akebono is actually Hawaiian-born, which might explain why he is so tall.)


There is a sumo stadium nearby but sadly it was the wrong season going to see a match. I was quite fed up about it.  Still, the next best thing to seeing sumo in Japan seemed to be to follow this pair who shot past us on bikes.....


They were heading for the sumo training centre nearby.   There's an interesting little museum there, and it's free, but you are not allowed to take photos inside.




What interested me most in the museum were beautiful old woodcuts of sumo in which everyone seemed really cheerful and to be having a great time.    I think this fellow from about 1850 looks as if he really enjoys his life. I wish I understood what all the things in the picture were. 


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If and when we return to Japan, I'll try to time the visit to coincide with sumo season. 

I'm finishing a revision of my biography of Lewis Carroll. It is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland's publication this year and a lot is going on. My other website went off just before Christmas and we've now got it back - I think.  It's been very frustrating. I'll have to start updating it more seriously, and next thing I'm going to do is update the blog. 

Do you like watching local sports when you go somewhere new?

67 comments:

  1. Sumo wrestling is fascinating...I'm not sure I'd become a fan of it...but I have watched it off and on via TV and found it interesting. They certainly are big lads! I recall reading about Akebono...he's highly revered.

    Perhaps the fellow in the last pic has his sleeping bag under his arm and is off for a cat nap. :)

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    1. Haha! Possibly they need catnaps in what sounds like an awfully energetic training programme!

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  2. As always, you've provided an enjoyable and informative post. I've never seen sumo wrestlers riding bicycles before - - the photo is really amusing. I seldom watch local sports when I travel. I had an opportunity to see a bullfight in Mexico but declined. Too brutal and violent for my tastes.

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    1. It is interesting that they also wear traditional Japanese clothing - not the easiest for bike riding! Yes, I wouldn't watch a bullfight either - see Helen's comment below.

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  3. Yes, and this was a terrific post. Happy New Year and thanks for popping by.

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  4. I love that photo of the two guys on their bikes! It's a fascinating sport, but not one I'd probably rush to see, but then I'm not into sport, so that's not saying very much really. :D

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  5. I do hope T isn’t too jealous! This is the first I have visited your other blog and I must say it looks exciting. What fascinates me is how Lewis Carroll fascinated you enough to where you were able to view his personal bank account. What a great way for a literary detective to learn about someone’s history.

    PS: Is Mabel “and her amazing fleas” the same Mabel who wore the lace collar?

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    1. Based on her! I am still glad you got that collar, I love the idea of it being framed like that. Yes, it was really exciting and interesting finding his bank account. I probably got more into him because I was able to do it.

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  6. Fascinating, Jenny. I find it both appealing in its opulent splendour and repulsive too - all those huge bodies. I've never seen anything quite as obviously local as sumo, but I do enjoy watching 'boules' of any kind in France and Belgium.

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    1. It's partly the traditional element that interests me too.

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  7. So lucky that a few times I have been visiting family when the matches were on TV.
    I really enjoy Sumo all the rituals and I am in awe of the robes the referees wear.
    This sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

    cheers, parsnip

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  8. A very interesting new man in your life! Ha! Ha! It is an interesting sport, indeed. I can't say I've ever been a major fan of it, but I do appreciate their determination in it! I'm not a big sports fan anyway, but I do enjoy checking out new things when I go to places that offer something new and especially when it's interesting!

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    1. I think when it is part of the culture. I'm not generally much of a sports fan otherwise.

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  9. I've been loving these Japanese posts. I hope you continue with them.

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  10. Most sports don't interest me much, beyond interest in our own home teams. Sumo is a different matter, and i remember the controversy that surrounded foreigners taking the highest honors in the sport. They do not just want great wrestlers, they want them to be good men, as well. Our own professional sports teams could stand more of that attitude.

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    1. I like the way that the culture is interwoven with the sport, it's a more holistic approach.

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  11. No, I don’t watch any sports, period. But Sumo I most certainly would want to experience. (Or cheese rolling and such in England)
    These chaps looks jolly to me, fat men so often do. I wouldn’t like to have one lift me, like you did, their embrace could so easily turn into a crushing of delicate bones. Did you have to ask him nicely to put you down?

    Why do you have a hole round your head?

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  12. You and your new friend look good together.
    Its fascinating the wrestler posters at a railway station. I haven't seen sports honored like that here in America unless its for advertising. Maybe I need to get out more or travel to Japan. :)

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    1. Oh we are a real couple :) I don't think I've ever seen such interesting sports pictures anywhere - they had a quaint look to them, too.

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  13. I wonder if the wrestlers ever get chafed in their outfits.

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    1. Funnily enough that idea has occurred to me too! They probably ask for a large tub of Sudocreme each Christmas...

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  14. I do indeed like to see what people enjoy...but draw the line at both bull fighting and bull baiting

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    1. I agree. Anything cruel gives me the creeps.

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  15. I might have made a good sumo wrestler. I have the right shape for it.

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    1. Haha! def time to post this on your blog then! :)

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  16. Oh poo, my Malaysian internet connection is so slow I'll miss my supper if I wait for these to download. Will have to check them out when I get back.

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  17. I love Japanese woodcuts - whatever they depict! It's odd though. I really never have wanted to go to Japan. I think the crowds put me off. I'm enjoying visiting 'second hand' though, and seeing your photos.

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  18. Hello Jenny,

    What fun the image is of you and Sumo Man.

    We are very ignorant about all sports and know next to nothing about Sumo wrestling. But, it is all fascinating and the rituals which surround it are so intriguing.

    The old photographs were amazing. Clearly these champion wrestlers are much revered and their giant sized reputations are matched in some cases by their own giant size. Fascinating!

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  19. What a wonderful holiday you are having. I'm a big fan of sumo myself

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  20. The link to your other website doesn't appear to be working

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  21. This is fascinating, Jenny. We did see a pair of sumo wrestlers in Japan walking down the street one day when we were in that district but didn't find the museum, though Rick may have been there. I love your photo!

    Most of the time, I'm very willing to give sports a break and do other things. But one of my bucket list things is to see a stage of the Tour de France and I suspect that if we returned to Japan we'd go to the bicycle races if we were near where they were going on!

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    1. Although I am a cycling fan I never wanted to see the Tour de France. In fact on our bike trip in England last summer we were hoping to avoid it - it made life very difficult for workaday cyclists because all the roads were railed off on the route.

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  22. Sumo is fascinating, as is the life-style and especially the diet that goes with it. You look very happy with your new man! Just a thought...do women ever do sumo wrestling?

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  23. I loved watching the National Hurling Championships in Ireland...that is a REAL sport.

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  24. I've always found sumo wrestling rather bizarre looking. Our daughter and friends from work went to see the championship bouts last fall and said it was VERY ritualistic.

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  25. I read once about the enormously high esteem with which sumo wrestlers were held in Japan and their correspondingly short lives. It is certainly fascinating.

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    1. I wonder why they have short lives.. I suppose being hurled out of a small ring like a sack of coal can't do much for them! I am sorry for the delay in moderation. Comments bunched up and it combined with me not being able to moderate them. I hope it'll be OK now.

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    2. I believe their short lives was largely due to their diet and forced obesity and the strain it put on their vital organs.

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  26. I'm not a sports person at all. But I love the way they draw these big men with bulging muscles all over their bodies! The history of various sports would interest me more than watching the sports themselves--LOL! :)

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    1. I am not much of a sport fan but i think there is a lot of culture attached to Sumo. And I wish I could have photographed the images in the sumo museum, it's nice to see people having fun!

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  27. I have to say that sumo wrestling, like sport in general, leaves me completely cold. Art is what I head for when I'm on holiday. But it's a shame you missed the sumo season. Why is there a season anyway? Why doesn't sumo wrestling go on all year round?

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  28. I'm not into sports (any kind) and probably wouldn't enjoy sumo wrestling, but I'd be intrigued by how much (and what) they might get to eat! ;-)

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  29. Hello Jenny, and nice to meet you in the arms of your wrestling man! Yes, those old photos are really beautiful, aren't they! and I love the woodcuts. Great post on an unusual subject.

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  30. Never thought of watching sports when I visit places. Great idea.

    Sumo used to be on UK TV a lot, back in the 20th century. Compulsive viewing.

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    1. I haven't seen it lately, thats true. But I would watch. It's oddly fascinating. And yes - as you suggested, I have deleted a couple of duplicate comments - there was a gap with no comments and then several came at once!

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  31. You took the trip that Den has always wanted! He loves sumo wrestlers and their history.
    And you look adorable with your "new man."

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  32. While I can't say I fully appreciate the art of Sumo wrestling, I do find it interesting. Loved your post. Happy New Year, Bonnie

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    1. Nice to hear from you Bonnie ! thank you.

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  33. It seems like you have had a great time in Japan! I actually like Japan a lot but I seldom watch their local sports.

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  34. I'm not a sports fan in general but I certainly enjoyed visiting the Sumo wrestlers through your pictures. Hope you get to see a match someday.

    Darla

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  35. So must 'visiting-Japan' envy! I am dying to go, and every blogpost and set of photos just makes me more interested. There's a lot to learn on your trips it seems...!

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  36. I can't say it appeals to me at all, but an interesting post. I would like to go to Japan, though.

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  37. On seeing the first photo, I thought you must look so nice with kimono, Jenny. Haven’t you tried wearing kimono in Japan? Mayby I should've taken you to the shop where you can have yourself dressed in kimono for 3000 yen but you needed one more day. Sumo has been not only combative sports but also ritual dedicated to Shinto God since the ancient times. The New Year Grand Tournament is being held now, and it will be a matter of time when Yokozuna Hakuho from Mongolia wins his 33rd tournament, breaking the record made by Taiho. When I have a chance to visit England, I’d like to root for Nishikori at Wimbledon Championships and eat Strawberries and cream.

    Yoko

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    1. I don't think a kimono would suit me in real life :) but actually I went to a kimono shop in Kanazawa and saw how the fabrics were painted, it was so beautiful and interesting. I loved the fabrics. I think the ritual elements of sumo are very interesting!
      Well then you will need to come to England during June but be sure to book the tickets several months in advance! Watching Wimbledon is part of summer for us, the sound of the balls on the tennis racquets.... so evocative

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  38. I didn't know the roots of Sumo wrestling until today. Thanks for sharing this.
    I see that you had a good time exploring the place. I miss traveling! :(

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    1. Thank you for the visit - I hope you get to do some more travelling soon.

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  39. Once I saw a TV show that monitored what sumo wrestlers eat to keep their weight up. It is considerable, to say the least.

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    1. And yet they do not really look flabby. I suppose they have to be solid in order to stop the other guy chucking them out of the ring!

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  40. I have seen these wrestlers on television and often wondered about their health. Makes you wonder why people go on diets when they've really got nothing to lose.

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    1. Often the slim people who watch what they eat. Hmmm I am sure there is a lesson there somewhere for fatties ;)

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  41. I’m enjoying learning more about Japanese culture, and thanks for the link to your other blog - fascinating. As it was the anniversary of his death last week I posted some links about his photography to our Sepia Saturday facebook group.

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    1. Oh, I would like to see them but it is a closed group! I hope the other members enjoyed them.

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  42. In Sakurai City in Nara, there is a shrine called Sumo Shrine. According to the ancient chronicle, it was the place where there held sumo bout between two strong men for the first time in the presence of the Emperor around 2000 years ago. It is supposed to be the beginning of sumo. Now there exists only small torii to show that,though. Sumo is Japan's national sport but many of the current sumo wrestlers are from Mongolia or some other Europian countries. I am amazed how quickly they have come to adapt themselves to traditional circumstances and learn to speak Japanese.
    The wrestler who holds you in his arms easily ? is a very popular hopeful, however , in the current tournament, as of today he got only 4 wins and 8 losses. Three day are left but he already had a losing record so next tournament, he will be demoted from the current rank.
    When I have time, I'd like to visit your other blog too.

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  43. Oh, I love those prints! It's so interesting to notice all the little details like the different patterns on the clothing.

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