On Friday, Don and I attended a Sumo exhibition tournament with our friends, Si and Kenji, and their children. An anthropologist, Kenji is an expert in Sumo wrestling – he not only focuses his research on Sumo, but he even lived in a Sumo stable as part of his research. It was wonderful to learn so much about the history and the culture of Sumo as we watched the tournament.
Sumo is a centuries-old “sport,” though technically it is not considered a sport, which is more mundane – Sumo is a way of life, essentially. It is closely associated with Shinto, and symbols and rituals of Shinto play important roles – the ring is considered sacred and is kept clean and purified, the top Sumo wrestler wears gohei – papers folded like lightning bolts, tied to a shimenawa, or sacred rope, which designates sacred space in Shintoism – in the pre-match ritual to designate that he, as the top wrestler, is considered sacred (or at least, a kind of conduit of the sacred), the tournament was held in a major Tokyo Shrine, and….I could go on and on, but really, you just want to see some photos of Sumo dudes wrestling, don’t you?
I will tell you the most surprising thing I learned: as Si pointed out, Sumo wrestlers’ hair smells really, really good! (It’s the pretty-smelling wax they use to keep it in place).
A few of these photos are mine, but any you might think actually look good, Don took. (He also came up with the title of this post, but generously offered to let me take credit for it.)