Brad and I just returned from our trip to Nagoya. We mostly went to see sumo wrestling. You can learn more about sumo here, and see my pictures (a bit far away and fuzzy, but we were there!) here.

Sumo is a vicious sport which requires an immense amount of athleticism and technique. Much of sumo is fanfare and posturing, a little like the weigh-in in professional boxing. At the upper echelons, the competitors spend about four minutes stamping their feet, throwing salt and pretending to get set to go. Then, through some mutually agreed upon and subtle signal (hand touching the starting line) they attack.

Probably the most exciting match was the last one of the day. (Earlier, the Estonian, popular because he’s the only white guy, fell on his face in the first 10 seconds of his bout.) Prior to the match, touts hired by advertising sponsors paraded around the dohyo (stage) with banners hawking various goods and services, like rice, mobile service and Hello! Kitty. The audience oohed and ahhed at how many banners there were for the final match, clearly an affirmation of the importance of the bout and of the wrestlers. Still, as far as advertising goes, it was class.

Asashoryu, undefeated in the tournament so far, fought Ama, a 2-5 record and pretty clearly the smallest guy of the bunch. Ama kept gesticulating and hitting his chest and making a show of getting ready, but Asashoryu was unperturbed. When the time came, the two grappled for about 15 seconds, but then Asashoryu grabbed Ama by the belt and flipped him onto the ground with a powerful and distainful flourish. The crowd went nuts, throwing their seat cushions at the dohyo and hooting. The event finished with a sword twirling display that would put my fellow Glen Ridge High School marching band color guard to shame.