I’ve had my fair share of amazing, warrior-like experiences in Japan. Making my own knife like a real blacksmith, learning how to shoot arrows from horseback, and training to become a ninja. But, this summer I did something I never thought I’d be able to do. I had the chance to become a sumo – although sadly, this didn’t involve eating enough to match their size!
Find a sumo
In all my time in Japan, I never actually saw a sumo match. The closest I ever got was seeing the wrestlers buying snacks from the convenience store by my apartment. So, when I heard I was going to have the chance to not only watch them wrestle, but actually battle a sumo too – I was ecstatic.
Our sumo experience took place in an unassuming building in Asakusa, Tokyo. When we entered, it was typical Japanese style, with tatami floors and sliding doors. So, we slipped off our shoes and settled on the floor chairs with the others. There were 8 of us in total. A family of three from Scotland, a couple from LA, and my brother and me.
See a sumo
The first part of our experience was a sumo demonstration. This would give us a great base for when we would later become a sumo ourselves. With the help of an English speaking guide, the demonstration began.
The two jovial wrestlers showed us how they train, how not to fight, and how to win a match. The whole event was filled with laughter, as the sumo’s constantly pretended to fall onto us, or scream in pain at nothing at all. I was expecting this to be a very serious, and methodical demonstration of skill. I’m so glad I was wrong. They had us all laughing our heads off! I’d love to tell you more, but I really don’t want to ruin the surprise – this is one event you really do need to see in person!
Become a sumo
Then, it was time for the main attraction! This was our chance to become a sumo wrestler, and battle against the masters. Of course, there was no way we could hope to best these beats of sumo at our diminutive size – so we suited up!
Then, we went through all the rituals needed at the start of a match – and got stuck in! Once again, the matches were filled with hilarity. Obviously, none of us were any kind of match for the real sumo’s, but they all let us win in the end. Although, not before picking up us, twirling us round, and generally messing with us (and ripping a nice big hole in my pants in the process…)!
Eat like a sumo
After all that exertion, it was time to dig in to a traditional sumo meal. If you want to become a sumo, you must eat like one! This traditional dish is called Chanko Nabe. It’s a big, steaming hot pot, filled with pork and countless veggies! It’s incredible filling, and undeniably tasty. The sumo wrestlers always eat this after practice, and it is prepared by the junior wrestlers.
We were also given some free gifts after the event was over; a magazine about sumo, a list of the sumo champions, and an outline of some sumo moves we had seen previously. All in all, it was a fantastic day, and an experience I will never forget!
Want more ideas for things to do in Tokyo? Check out 24 Hours in Tokyo by Erika’s Travels!
Do you want to become a sumo like me? Have you ever seen a sumo match? What experience would you love to do in Japan? Let’s Discuss!
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