Sunday, September 27, 2009
Silver Week in Tokyo : A Pretty Jazzy Time
I had Monday through Wednesday off work for what is known in Japan as Silver Week last week. I chose to go to Tokyo with 4 friends from Niigata for a hodgepodge of good times. There is far too much to write about everything, so I will be giving some bulleted highlights and focusing on one bit of Japanese culture that I have already had some experience with: SUMO! First, the bullets.
• Pendulum and Prodigy Concert Sunday night. Maybe the best concert I have ever seen and certainly the loudest
• Asakusa Shrine and Meiji Shine (where I saw a beautiful Japanese wedding taking place)
• Ueno Zoo, Akihabara Electrical District, Roppongi Hills, Harajuku and Shibuya for shopping, and Ikebukoro’s Sunshine City
• Lots of other randomness including karaoke, dinner with Furman friends, and Denny’s at 4 am
Ok, the sumo. Prior to last week I have never seen live sumo before, but most of my Japanese friends and co-workers had not either. They only hold 6 sumo tournaments a year, but the wrestling goes on for 15 days at a time. The stadium was huge; something along the lines of a D-1 College Basketball Stadium. The ring is itself is not that large, unlike the wrestlers. There are 6 different skill levels in sumo that determines who fights who, but no weight classes. A sumo wrestler wins by forcing his opponent out of the ring or tossing him to the ground. If any part of his body other than his feet touches the ground, it’s over.
Now, everyone is fixed on how big these guys are, and yes there are some big, BIG boys out there, but if you look at them in relation to American football players, they’re about the same for the most part. These guys stare each other down, stomp around, throw salt (to purify the ring), and really know how to wrestle. One guy was facing a much bigger opponent and basically just let him charge right out of the ring. He barely touched him. I had a good laugh there. The grand champions, yokozuna, were really good. They hold these bouts till the end and everyone gets in to it. Ok, enough here. If you want any specific info on Sumo, Tokyo, or anything else that happened on my trip, feel free to email me. I know my blog readers are endlessly entertained by my digital scribblings, but I try not to test your patience.