The Olympic sport of judo may be the most popular local martial arts in Tokyo for the natives. However, a more widely viewed wrestling sport by Tokyo's foreign tourists is sumo. This competitive full contact sport is unlike anything in the world.
For one thing, it is the only sport that requires an obese physique. While Greco-Roman wrestling and judo emphasizes on submission and putting the enemy on the ground, sumo requires the competitor to push the rival off the ring.
Apart from watching sumo wrestling tournaments, the best way to appreciate the sport is to visit the stables - the sumo wrestlers' residence. One may find that protocols do not only apply to competing disciples but also to the guests viewing the sumo training session. These are the following simple regulations reserved for visitors:
Bow to everyone.
Courtesy is a very big deal in Japanese society, even though it has been inundated with modern Western values since the 1950's. When entering the practice hall, it is important to greet the stable master with a bow. One must also acknowledge the resident wrestlers in kind.
Silence must be observed at all times. Apart from possibly disrupting the practice of sumo wrestlers, conversations between spectators ruin the solemn atmosphere. Anyone who visits a library ought to observe silence in the sumo practice hall for the same exact reason.
Sit on a backroom cushion.
Visitors are offered a seat at the backroom by any of the custodians. It is not required to sit on one's knees like the Japanese do, but it is important not to point the soles of the feet towards the sacred ring where practitioner's spar.
No eating, drinking, or smoking!
Eating and drinking are forbidden in the practice hall. Only instructors are allowed to smoke inside the premises. Double standards? Deal with it, or go find other cultural attractions.
When taking photos...
The rule of silence also applies to gadgets. If one has no silence configuration for the camera, it is better not to take shots at all.
Leave with a tribute.
Upon leaving the stable after the entire sumo training session, one should offer a token of appreciation to the stable master. The Japanese are always big on courtesy.
© 2023 Travelers Today. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.