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The Big Boys Are Back in Town! It's Nagoya's Sumo Wrestling Tournament

Nagoya Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 13 › view all entries
Nagoya: Sakae Area

Slightly sore but well-rested after the past few days of activities, we planned an easy day in Nagoya.

It's Nagoya Castle & Sumo Tournament time!

We opted for a late breakfast-early lunch meal since it was already 11am by the time we emerged out of our hotel. Walking along the Sakae area, the streets were clean, and the people were dressed for work. A very business-y area with a small mixed of students, in their uniforms.

We found an Italian restaurant a couple of blocks up. Pasta and pizza were in their menu - they look delicious. The server we got, however was just a tad bit cold. He was Italian - speaks Japanese and English, and if I wasn't mistaken, Italian, as well.

Nagoya: Yummy macha & vanilla ice cream
But Or maybe it was just my perception? A miscommunication?

We ordered. Received our food in a timely manner, and took our time enjoying our meal. My pasta was just right - in portion, taste, and the sauce. Salad and sides were served beforehand so I was satisfied. For dessert, green tea with vanilla ice cream hit the spot.

We continued to walk north. To the sumo wrestling venue - Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium and also where the Nagoya Castle is located. We took our time, took pictures, past the Nagoya Tower, a silver, small version of Tokyo Tower (based on Paris' Eiffel Tower). There were small resturants and shops at the base. 

It was a hot, humid day in Nagoya. 

Following the map but not quite, we took slightly longer route. Entering the park area, we already saw some sumo wrestlers walking out.

Nagoya: Central Park
They stand out quite easily with their hairstyle, wooden sandals called geta, and yukata (summer kimono). That and they were relatively rounder than the average Japanese men. However, it was obvious they were the younger sumo wrestlers. They weren't quite that big, looks younger, and from the schedule I have looked after researching about the tournament, the lower level divisions have their fights scheduled ealrier that day. We plan to catch the higher division - the Juryo Division.

There were a few people already at the stadium. We went around to find the ticketing booth and decided to buy the more expensive of the cheapest of the seats Section C (about 5200yen, I think it was?) The Juryo Division was slated to begin at 330pm. It was only 130pm so we had plenty of time to visit Nagoya Castle first.

Nagoya: Nagoya TV Tower

Nagoya Castle was located only a stone's throw away. We ventured to the highest floor to see Nagoya's cityscape, a nice view of the city, and read through some of the works and pieces with English translations before walking back for the sumo tournament.

At 3pm, there were more crowd with the working day close to ending, and the higher division - Juryo - attracts more audience. We were escorted to our seats by one of the staff that speaks English and gave us an English pamphlet about sumo, its history and what each rituals mean. It was really helpful in undertanding what we were seeing. We even got free sumo wrestling keychains, too! The arena looked only to be a little more than half full but since it's only the 2nd day of the 2-week tournament and it being a Monday, it's not quite surprising.

Nagoya: bridge over highway

The bouts were surprisingly quick. No more than 1 minute at most. The ritual itself, however, took at least 10 minutes.

It starts with the introduction by the yobidashi (announcer). They mount the dohyo, the ring made of clay and layered with sand. The wrestlers then perform a series of rituals derived from Shinto practices.

They first face the audience, claps their hands and then performs the leg-stomping shiko exercise to drive evil spirits from the dohyo (ring) . The  referee, called the gyoji, announces the wrestlers' names again. He will also coordinate the match. Each of the wrestler return to their corner where they are given a ladleful of water, the chikara-mizu ("power water"), with which he rinses out his mouth; and a paper tissue, the chikara-gami ("power paper"), to dry his lips, both mean to cleanse themselves before the bout.

Nagoya: it was a quiet Monday midday in Nagoya
They returned to the ring, squat facing each ther, clap their hands, then spread them wide to show they have no weapons. They again return to their corners where they pick up a handful of salt which they toss onto the ring to purify it. The wrestlers crouch at the shikiri-sen, or starting lines, as they stare each other - a form of intimidation before they take the initial charge. Because Juryo Division is an upper division, we saw the bouts with an additional break to the corners, often pumping up the crowd with another handful throw of salt into the ring before re-entering the ring, crouching down and charging.

In between bouts, Matt and I ventured on the vendors, looking for beer and snacks. We purchased 3 tall cans of Asahi and a bag of mixed snacks (one with small, dried fish that were uber yummy).

Nagoya:
The bouts ended slightly before 6pm. We only saw one bout where an opponent was slammed - that was cool. The rest of the bouts were very short, quick, and honestly quite boring. There a couple bouts where it lasted a little more than a minute - that was exciting. The yumitori-shiki ("bow dance"), a brilliant routine with a twirling bow, was performed by a makushita-rikishi (wrestler from the fourth division) as a concluding rite to end the tournament of the day.

A little lazy, we caught train back to our hotel to freshen up before meeting Eiko and her friend, Yuri, for dinner. We went to Yama-chan, an izakaya popular for Nagoya's famous chicken wings. Matt chatted with a couple of Japanese girls who were drunk and started making snail and duck from wash cloths. 

After Yama-chan, we went to a pub for a few drinks before calling it a night for Eiko and Yuri to catch their last train.

Off to Osaka the next day! 

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Nagoya: Sakae Area
Nagoya: Sakae Area
Nagoya: Yummy macha & vanilla ice …
Nagoya: Yummy macha & vanilla ice…
Nagoya: Central Park
Nagoya: Central Park
Nagoya: Nagoya TV Tower
Nagoya: Nagoya TV Tower
Nagoya: bridge over highway
Nagoya: bridge over highway
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Nagoya: it was a quiet Monday mid…
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Nagoya: Sumo Wrestling Tournament
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Nagoya: Yama-chan
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Nagoya Hotels & Accommodations review
Affordable and great location
Clean and centrally located, the B Nagoya Hotel is a business hotel, but still caters to the usual tourist crowd. It is located in Sakae, Nagoya's bus… read entire review
Nagoya
photo by: ys484