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jamesbowers

Sumo or not Sumo?

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Has anyone been to watch Sumo while in Japan? Is it worth going to? It's expensive so I don't want to pay if its not worth it.

 

 

 

Thanks in advance.

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If you are a real sumo fan, nothing beats being there in person to experience everything, expensive or not.

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2 hours ago, jamesbowers said:

Has anyone been to watch Sumo while in Japan? Is it worth going to? It's expensive so I don't want to pay if its not worth it.

 

 

 

Thanks in advance.

Yes, Natsu basho 2016 (Day 8 and 9).

100% worth it.

As a true sumo fan, I would advice people to show up quite early, because lower division matches are very interesting to watch (especially Makushita!!). You will have the chance to see upcoming talent that usually won't be shown on NHK. Plus, the hall is onyl filled with a few people, so it has some kind of "intimate atmosphere".*

When you walk around the arena, there are many shops you can visit, items will be on display and sometimes a special feature will be provided. On Day 8, we had the chance to taste Kasugano-beya chanko nabe, which they served for 250 yen downstairs in the arena's basement. Further, you can get quite close to oyakata and rikishi, because many - except for Ozeki and Yokozuna - will enter and exit the arena through the doors at the side of the Kokugikan. I was able to take great shots from sekitori and their tsukebito chatting with spectators, holding babies, doing selfies with teenage fans and other stuff. Ex-Kyokutenho did some promotion for his danpatsu-shiki and patiently took a picture with me and others while handing out flyers.

Watching the different doyho-iri (Juryo, Makuuchi, Yokozuna) was impressive, too. I guess, there is no need to mention that Juryo and Makuuchi bouts were great to watch (high quality sumo, catching atmosphere once the arena was packed with people).

My personal recommendation: it makes sense to wander around near the Kokugikan and in the Ryogoku area genreally. Sumo has such a presence in that neighborhood - you can see and feel it everywhere.

* If you only caught a cheaper B-seat (up on the balcony) you would still be able to watch lower division bouts from near the ringside until the original owner of the seat had shown up (I dunno if this is still possible). I made use of this on Day 9, when I didn't have an A-seat ticket. Arena staff started checking tickets inside the Kokugikan (access to A-seat area) at the end of the Makushita schedule or so.

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I was just there this last basho, days 1, 3, and 5. I was in the general admission seats at the top the first two times, and then part of a tour that got seats a few rows down from there. It is completely worth doing, even if you have to get up early to get in line for the general admission tickets. The Kokugikan is an amazing place, and the experience was something every sumo fan should do at some point. It is such a different experience sitting in the seats, surrounded by fans, eating the bento, standing in the crowd outside watching the sekitori and their entourages arrive, smelling the binzuke, etc. Even just the buzz in Ryogoku is worth going to see. It’s all right there, and so accessible, that to a foreigner that is used to much more security presence and separation from the talent it was amazing. I got to speak to ex-Satoyama, who was trying to sell souvenirs at a stand in the Kokugikan. Big-shot oyakata within arm’s reach. And the food around the Kokugikan was great, too.

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I believe the rule of sitting in someone's box until they showed up had a change a few years ago. Starting at 2:00PM you will have your ticket checked if you try to get in. If you don't have one for the lower level, you don't get in to get close. Get there before 2:00PM and you can go right into the close-up seats until the owner shows up.

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Yeah, it seemed like there were people at the doors to the lower level for all makushita last basho.

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You’re on a sumo fan forum, so I can’t imagine anyone answering “No, it’s boring. Sumo sucks.”

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If you haven't watched sumo before why not watch a bit on the Internet first to see if you like it. Certainly if you don't like it there is no point in spending the money, but if you do then watching live is at a completely different level of excitement. Compare watching your favourite sport on TV to seeing it live.

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5 hours ago, Naganoyama said:

If you haven't watched sumo before why not watch a bit on the Internet first to see if you like it. Certainly if you don't like it there is no point in spending the money, but if you do then watching live is at a completely different level of excitement. Compare watching your favourite sport on TV to seeing it live.

Interestingly, I get bored rather quickly watching the uncut Sumo videos -- the rituals are interesting in and of themselves, but watching two guys spend 3 minutes going back and forth for salt, etc., is hard for me to watch for 30 or 40 matches in a row.  However, if immersed in the whole milieu it would probably be fascinating.  Kind of like baseball for me -- can't stand to watch on TV (and radio? puh-leez!)

Now the Kinta highlights videos -- great!

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Posted (edited)

And never underestimate the scent of bintsuke!

Edited by Washuyama

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I was at the Natsu basho in 2017 and had upstairs A-chair tickets for the first 8 days. It was a great experience to be there in person, and well worth the price and the hassle to get everything organized. I arrived a week before the basho and was able to watch some keiko at Oitekaze-beya too.

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