Sumo in Tokyo

We booked a tour of a sumo "stable" through Viator.  We met our guide at a subway stop in a neighborhood of Tokyo long associated with sumo training.  We learned about the stable system.  The stable pays for the meals, lodging and training of promising young athletes.  In turn, the stable has the right to a portion of the athletes' earnings when they join the professional ranks.

Sumo is fascinating because it seems so at odds with the Japanese aesthetic of refinement and restraint.  Sumo is essentially a shoving match!  Most Japanese people have a slender build, but these men would fit in on the D-line of any American football team.

The training area has a dirt floor and is kept very warm and humid.  We watched the training for about 90 minutes.  The athletes seemed like they are pushed to their limits by the coach.  The practice is mainly sparring, so it is lively and exciting.  The most shocking thing was how flexible these big men are.

After sparring, they cooled down with stretches and many could do full splits.  Afterwards, we were allowed to meet some of the young wrestlers and pose for pictures.  A memorable experience!          


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