> _ < When anyone thinks about sports in Japan, he thinks about Sumo. For those who are interested, you can only watch it here, what I think is a funny and recommended experience if going for a while… because otherwise, it becomes the most soporific and slow show I’ve watched in my life.
Sumo is a Japanese contact sport, it is intended that the opponent steps out of the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body but his feet. Associated to Buddhist rituals like a representation about fighting demons, the truth is that for centuries it maintains its popularity in Japan. Top fighters are as famous or more than any top level sportsman, and Japanese often joke they are the only thick men in the country with overwhelming success among women. Not without regrets, most are required to live intern under the supervision of the Japan Sumo Association, where they are subjected to strict control of training, diet, dress and behavior.
The exact day changes every season, but the appointments are as it follows:
- January: Tokyo
- March: Osaka
- May: Tokyo
- July: Nagoya
- September: Tokyo
- November: Fukuoka
Prices depend on two factors:
- The chosen seat.
- The most expensive are those around the ring. You have to be sitting on a cushion, and viewers assume the possible risk that one or both of the fighters fall on them and ends up under 300 kg Japanese fat of the highest quality.
- The intermediate are the Box ones. The problem is that mandatory you have to buy 4.
- The cheapest are the last top rows, called balcony.
- There is one last type of ticket, the “Same Day Ticket” that can only be purchased at the stadium the same day. It is the cheapest one. You are allowed to sit on one of the last 3 rows. It is the one I bought, it’s quite far away but just for once is more than acceptable.
- The city where you attend: Fukuoka has the biggest stadium, so there are cheaper tickets because in the last row you’ll be even farther.
A ringside ticket costs in 2016 ¥ 13.400. In the farthest row, depending on the stadium, between ¥ 5,300 and ¥ 3,700 in Tokyo and Fukuoka. In addition, there is a category in Fukuoka even closer to the ring (¥ 17,000).
The tournaments last two weeks. Prices are the same for any day and because of this, the early days often are tickets to spare, but for the latter, or during weekends, several days earlier all tickets will be sold out.
They can be bought in stores 24/7, online in buysumotickets.com or at the stadium itself. Once you buy the entrance you can enter the stadium at the time you want. I remember you can leave and re-enter, but only once.
Fighters will face one versus one league system, and there are three divisions. Those in first (Makuuchi) and second (Juryo) divisions compete once a day; Lower, several times a day. According to their results, they get a ranking for the next tournament. The best fighter of the season is named Yokozuna, or grand champion. When a fighter is named Yokozuna never loses the title and cannot be demoted, but they resign themselves if their physical condition declines. This is why it may be more than one Yokozuna at a time.