There are a number of iconic images that surface when people think of Japan, and the unique sport of sumo wrestling is undoubtedly one of them. The tradition is over 1,000 years old, and though some of the rituals have been adapted in modern days, much of the ritual and technique remains the same. In the beginning, sumo matches were held before the emperor and the outcome was said to be an indicator of how the year might turn out. These days, professional sumo wrestlers might not carry the power of predicting the year’s fortune, but fans and spectators still fill the arenas to cheer on their favorite athlete!
Although each match doesn’t last too long, the anticipation building beforehand, and the exiting rituals performed throughout make the experience one of a kind. The point of the sport is for the wrestlers to use their body weight to push their opponent out of the circle. The first move, called the ‘Tachiai’ is the most important because it offers the athletes the chance to take advantage of their opponent’s imbalance. With each calculated motion, these wrestlers must be ready to act on any moment of weakness from their partner otherwise they might end in a standstill. After the Tachiai ritual, if both wrestlers are still standing, the wrestling match begins. The artistic combination of technique and power make this sport quite the spectacle to behold!
If you’ve never been to a match in Japan before, you’re long overdue! Watching on television just doesn’t capture the true energy of these historical events. Luckily, the spring tournament is almost upon us, but you have to act fast if you’re interested in grabbing seats because they have a tendency to sell out!
The Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (EDION Arena Osaka), a five-minute walk from Namba station, is hosting the spring tournament this year. It is highly recommended for spectators to purchase their reserved tickets in advance because tickets for the day of the event are usually sold out. There are various levels of seating with different prices to match, so there are bound to be some in your price range. Cheaper level reserved seating starts around 3,100 yen and goes up to 14,800 yen for ringside seats with dinner included. You can make your seat reservations online, but there will be a 1,000 yen service charge added to the cost of your ticket. If you’d prefer to take your chances in general admission seating then no reservations are necessary and you can purchase your tickets for 2,100 yen for adults and 200 yen for children.
2017 March Grand Sumo Tournament Osaka
Where: Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, 3 Chome-4-36 Nanbanaka, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0011
When: Sunday, March 12 to Sunday, March 26, 2017
Website (for ticket purchase and general information): http://sumo.pia.jp/en/sumo03.jsp