Monday, July 25, 2005

Sumo They Do and Sumo They Dont and Sumo its just as well

Friday 22July 2005
For 2 weeks each July Nagoya hosts one of the six big annual sumo tournaments.As usual, in the interests of cultural enlightment,a genuine Japanese experience and a memorable day out I dutifully attended.As I have each year.Its a celebration of color and calories.

This year I got along to the gym round 11am.The basho(tournament) runs for 15 days and daily from 9 am to 6pm.The cheaper seats had already sold out so I opted for a slightly more expensive seat in the nose-bleed section high above the ring and the closer more expensive seating..a single cushion near the ring can set you back about 32,000 yen.The good thing about arriving early is once you have secured your seat its possible to occupy one of the closer seats until you get evicted by its rightful tenant.I got thrown out about 5 times throughout the afternoon.I progressively worked my way back to my seat round 5pm as the stadium filled up.
The leading wrestlers in the higher ranks begin their bouts from 3.45pm each day.
Early on theres just a smattering of spectators the majority elderly Japanese with the odd loud obnoxious foreigner who gets worse as the effects of alcohol take hold.
In the last hours the place resembles a beehive with its murmuring drone and the fluttering paper fans beating rhythmically like so many wings.
As to the wrestling itself.The bouts themselves are very entertaining if somewhat brief.In fact the pre-fight rituals of stretching,bowing and glaring at ones opponent usually last longer than the actual confrontation.
After the intial face-off which resembles nothing more than a side of beef propelling itself towards another side of beef both wrestlers grapple and paw each other attempting to throw,shove,trip,bodily lift (or a combination of all these moves) out of the ring.
Before the start of the last 2 top ranks daily competition theres a kind of fashion parade as the wrestlers dressed in their finely embroidered silk uniforms circle the ring.Cameras flash and combat soon continues.
While watching these behemoths engage in these rituals the adoring hordes consume copious amounts of alcohol,sake and boxed lunches.I indulged my inner sumo by slurping down a bowl of chanko..a hearty chunky mixture of beef,fish,chicken and vegetables swimming in a thick greasy broth which forms the staple of a sumo wrestlers diet.
Theres been an increase in the number of foreign wrestlers participating and graduating to the higher ranks, notably from Mongolia and Bulgaria.Conversely theres been a decrease in the number of Japanese wrestlers prepared to commit to such an arduous lifestyle.
As a whole the sports losing popularity.Most spectators are elderly.Younger Japanese being more content to watch the more popular soccer and baseball leagues.
SuperSize Me
Speaking of grossly overweight obese humans I watched Morgan Spurlocks documentary SuperSize Me recently.I thought it was a well-rounded examination of American eating habits and the food industry as a whole.Because all of the publicity centered on his 30 day McDonalds binge I was unaware it also examined school lunches and other weighty issues.
I enjoyed watching the incredulous looks of disbelief of his 3 doctors as his health deteriorated and the glee with with his vegan girlfriend related his hampered performance.An informative amusing dvd.
I also caught Sideways about 2 friends odyessy through California's vineyards.A roadtrip.Before one of the friends gets married.One last chance for both of them.I cant say more otherwise I`d spoil it..but I do recommend it.A slightly maudlin ending it stars Paul Giamatti who's becoming one of my favorite actors with his weary hang dog look.
Last but certainly not least I watched the finale to season 2 of The Sopranos.Now Im eagerly waiting for my video store to get the remaining series.The last episode involved the execution of a principal character and several things were left in the air.Each dvd usually has some extra features.The most interesting are the commentaries by the various directors and producers involved in producing the series.They often provide a slant or insights which i wouldnt have noticed or thought important.Rivetting stuff...

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