Aikido Trip to Japan Fall 2003.

Kanazawa and Sumo!

First night at the kitschy Renais Hotel. Gotta love the polyester jammies. They should have stayed with the Yukata...

The Origin of Sumo - from http://www.sumo.or.jp

According to Japanese legend the very origin of the Japanese race depended on the outcome of a sumo match. The supremacy of the Japanese people on the islands of Japan was supposedly established when the god, Take-mikazuchi, won a sumo bout with the leader of a rival tribe. Apart from legend, however, sumo is an ancient sport dating back some 1500 years.

Its origins were religious. The first sumo matches were a form of ritual dedicated to the gods with prayers for a bountiful harvest and were performed together with sacred dancing and dramas within the precincts of the shrines. The Nara PeriodiThe 8th centuryjsumo was introduced into the ceremonies of the Imperial Court. A wrestling festival was held annually which included music and dancing in which the victorious wrestlers participated. Early sumo was a rough-and-tumble affair combining elements of boxing and wrestling with few or no holds barred. But under the continued patronage of the Imperial Court rules were formulated and techniques developed so that it came more nearly to resemble the sumo of today.

A military dictatorship was established in Kamakura in 1192 and a long period of intense warfare ensued. Sumo, quite naturally, was regarded chiefly for its military usefulness and as a means of increasing the efficiency of the fighting men. Later in the hands of the samurai, jujitsu was developed as an offshoot of sumo. Peace was finally restored when the different warring factions were united under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603. A period of prosperity followed, marked by the rise to power of the new mercantile classes.
Professional sumo groups were organized to entertain the rapidly expanding plebian class and sumo came into its own as the national sport of Japan. The present Japan Sumo Association has its origins in these groups first formed in the Edo Period.

Warm up at the Basho!





The kids get a chance with some of the big boys.

"The Gyoji
Not the least colorful of the figures attendant on sumo are the gyoji or referees. They are attired in Kimono patterned after the style worn by the samurai of the Kamakura Period, some 600 years ago. Their black court hats of gauze resemble the traditional Shinto priest's hat. Like the rikishi the referees are graded and only a tate-gyoji or top ranking referee can officiate at a bout involving a yokozuna. The rank of a gyoji can be determined by the color of the tassel on his fan, purple or purple and white for the tate-gyoji, red for those corresponding to san-yaku, red and white for maku-uchi, blue and white for juryo and blue or black for the rank below. The higher ranking referees wear tabi, Japanese split-toe socks and zori, straw sandals, in contrast to the lower ranks who are barefooted. " from - http://www.sumo.or.jp

A select group sing the Sumo Song


Sumo has managed to survive with its formalized ritual and traditional etiquette intact making it unique among sports. On each day of the tournament immediately before the maku-uchi matches are scheduled, the colorful doyo-iri or "entering the ring " ceremony take place. Down one aisle in reverse order of their rank comes one team of maku-uchi rikishi wearingkesho-mawashi or ceremonial aprons. These aprons, beautifully made of silk, richly embroidered with different designs and hemmed with gold fringe cost anywhere from 400,000 to 500,000 yen. The rikishi climb into the dohyo and go through a short ritual ancient in sumo tradition after which they depart to be followed by the other team entering from the opposite aisle to repeat the ritual. Earlier in the day the juryo perform a similar ceremony before their matches. - from - http://www.sumo.or.jp

The leading roles in the dohyo-iri are reserved for the yokozuna who have not taken any part in the ceremony up to now. A yokozuna comes down the aisle attended by a senior gyoji and two maku-uchi rikishi in kesho-mawashi one bearing a sword. Over his kesho-mawashi the yokozuna wears a massive braided hemp rope weighing from 25 to 35 pounds tied in a bow at the back and ornamented in the front with strips of paper hanging in zigzag patterns. This is a familiar religious symbol in Japan. It can be found hanging in Shinto shrines and in the home over the "shelf" of the gods where offering are made at New Year.

W hile the gyoji and two attendants crouch in the dohyo,the yokozuna performs the dohyo-iri ceremony with the greatest dignity. After first clapping his hands together to attract the attention of the gods, he extends his arms to the sides and turns palms upward to show he is concealing no weapons. Then at the climax he lifts first one leg to the side high in the air, then the other, bringing each down with a resounding stamp on the ground symbolically driving evil from the dohyo. After he has attendants the other yokozuna enter, in turn, and repeat the ceremony. - from - http://www.sumo.or.jp

Asashoryu 23 years old (born in Sept. 27 1980), 138kg from Mongolia.

Musashimaru, 32 years old, (born in May 2, 1971), 235kg from Hawaii


Guess who wins...

After Sumo we drove to Hakusan area, where Nagano Ski area is to stay at an Onsen. Many small ski areas dotted these slopes with a lower elevation of about 500m, climbing to 1000m I think mountain biking might be a better option...

We left the hills of Japan to enter the concrete jungle and lights of Tokyo. The pictures I took of the streets didn't come out so you just have to imagine 100X more people then you have EVER seen in your life crossing an interesection in 6 different directions... and department stores that make you really wonder if there is a recession in Japan, or maybe this is why... We practiced for two days in Hombu dojo, got caught in the rain and failed miserably at navigating through and between the department stores.




Beppu - Hell