Earlier this month, I was able to attend a Sumo event in Tokyo. This event was different than most since it was a day tournament where they are usually month-long tournaments. Usually during the tournament, the wrestlers will only eat chicken since a chicken walks on it back legs and this is how a wrestler wants to be standing at the end of their match. I learned of this on one of the triva shows featuring the current Yokozuna (grand champion), Asashouryu. On this show is the first time that I saw where the guy eating a particular dish did not like it. Usually they will try a dish and then smile and say, “Oishii!” I always wondered when the food wasn’t good what would happen. Since Asashouryu is not Japanese but Mongolian, he basically told it like it is instead of covering it up. I’ve noticed where foreigners in Japan will react differently to things that I’ve been conditioned to think is OK by being around Japanese people too long.
One other thing that happened around the time of the Sumo day tournament was the “Bean Throwing” to mark the eve of the first day of spring known as Setsubun. This is a old Japanese ritual where people will throw beans at their entrance to cast out the evil spirits. People will say, “Out with the evil and in with the happiness!” Other things like eating only the same number of soy beans as your age is done. In performance, people will come to a store wearing devilish clothes and masks and the store owner will clobber them with a handful of beans. The grand sumo champion was shown on TV throwing beans at a local shrine the day after his victory of the tournament that I attended.
Picture was taken in September 2004 when I was at my heaviest in Japan at 105 kgs (230 lbs.) As you can see, the two wrestlers make me look like a little boy. Since this picture was taken towards the end of the event when the big time wrestlers such as Asashouryu have their matches which are televised by NHK-TV, I imagine that these two apprentices were part of the under card of this event and are the ones who do the unpleasant tasks in the training stables that most underlings (kohais)do for their seniors (sempais).
Daniel J. Stone