The Grand Sumo Tournament

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All of us Kitazono girls purchased tickets to see a grand sumo tournament held in Ryogoku. TUJ OSS Student Activities had an entire section of the stadium reserved for TUJ students that purchased tickets and it turned out to be a really fun time. Ryogoku is known as Tokyo’s sumo town, and afterwards we wandered for quite a bit in an attempt to find a restaurant that could fit all of us and that was within our budgets – always a challenge in Tokyo! We ate eventually but the highlight of the day was of course all the crazy sumo action! By the way, sumo gets pretty intense. And entertaining. It gained some more fans after that day for sure.

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This is one of several murals that adorned the walls on the entrance side of the National Sports Arena. They made me think of Philly and miss its beautiful and not-so-beautiful-more-offbeat murals.

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These shrines were also located outside of the National Sports Arena.

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The National Sports Arena is a pretty large and interesting stadium. Located on the second level, we had chairs for seats while the first level seating was on zabutons.

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Banners of sumo wrestlers from yesteryear in all their glory. They look thinner in these images than the ones do in real life, but maybe the fact that these are paintings and that their bellies are covered helps with that…

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Sumo wrestlers are called “rishiki” and they spend more time during each match on traditional ceremony than they do in action. These practices have their roots in Shinto traditions. Westerners tend to know that stomping occurs in sumo, and this stomping occurs before the match begins. It is meant to frighten away demons.

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Another ceremonial practice that the rishiki take part in before each match is the tossing of salt into the ring, which is meant to purify the ring.

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They take this position when they’re just about ready to start shoving each other around.

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The shoving might look something like this.

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The ceremony is part of the fun, really, as it contributes to a good bit of buildup and to each match. There were many matches, and the matches themselves go by quickly. As the day went on, they became more intense and exciting as the better rishiki moved forward in the tournament.

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A yumi-tori ceremony (bow twirling) is performed after the final match.

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Big trophy for a big man.

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About Christine Boegemann

A recent graduate with a BA from Temple University's Film and Media Arts Program, Christine Boegemann has spent her undergrad years working to foster creative growth everywhere she could find it – in herself and others. Her list of college activities include working in working at Temple's film lab, acting as VP for a student organization that produces its own short films and film festivals, and serving as head of art department for a sketch show called Temple Smash. She has interned at two VFX houses - one in Manhattan, New York and the other in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also studied abroad in India in the summer of 2012 as a member of the 2012 cohort of the Vira I. Heinz (VIH) Program for Women in Global Leadership. She spent spring 2013, her final semester, studying art and animation in Tokyo, Japan. During her time there, she worked as a photo blogger for Temple Study Abroad. She also worked as a conversation host at an English café in Shibuya. Now back in the US, Christine is currently working as a producer for the feature film, The Youth Washed Up. She is also continuing work on her own independent project rooted in sharing the work and experiences of women she met during her time in India.

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