National Championships, Sumo Wrestling, Tokyo

Japan sumo wrestling Tokyo
The initial procession is quite an impressive display of the sumo physique.

For some reason the first day of the national Sumo Wrestling tournament in Tokyo reminded me a bit of bullfighting in Spain. There's a lot of traditional pomp, a lot of macho posturing, and some colorful costuming. And the sumo wrestlers are about as big as a bull, as well. But, in the end, it's more of a spectacle than a true sporting event. The local aficionados go in for it, but there are many, many tourists in the audience. In some ways, too, sumo reminded me of American football. Four minutes of fooling around, and about six seconds of action.

Nevertheless, here are a few action shots, too.

Japan sumo wrestling leg lift
I love the ceremonial leg lifts, and the loud bump when they put them down.

Believe it or not, the posturing, including the leg lifting, goes on for about four minutes before the bout starts. The bout then lasts, I'm not kidding, an average of about five seconds.

Japan sumo wrestling the initial push
There's a huge slapping sound when these guys slam together.

The initial push is important because sumo is really all about balance. The guy who can get it, and get a little leverage, will win.

Japan sumo wrestling the fall
When they both fall, who wins? Not the guy in the front row, I can tell you.

I'm not sure what the ruling is exactly when both guys fall out of the ring, but I wouldn't want to be under them when they land.

This was a tough shoot because the lighting wasn't too bright and I couldn't get as close as I would have liked. I used the Nikon D800E, but instead of shooting raw files, I shot jpgs, with the resultant loss of image quality. Also, because of the low light, I had to shoot at ISO 3200, and even at that, my shutter speeds were about 1/125. I was shooting high speed continuous with my 70-300 lens zoomed all the way to 300 on a monopod, but I wasn't really satisfied with many of the action shots I got. Just not sharp. But, I do like the precession shot. In a way, it's more indicative of the spectacle and tradition which I think is the essence of sumo.

If you're interested in what equipment I use, check out this page.

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2 thoughts on “National Championships, Sumo Wrestling, Tokyo”

    • Corinne, we did like it very much, but like I said, I almost found the spectacle to be more interesting than the actual wrestling. Our new Japanese friend, Keiko, says it’s possible to go watch them train, which I think would be more interesting than watching the actual tournament. Kris told me she found the referees more fun to watch than the wrestlers.

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