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Sumo Training Experience
An essential part of Japanese culture, Sumo wrestling is an ancient tradition steeped in ceremony. This morning tour will enable you to enter the inner sanctum of a Sumo stable and view the wrestlers in training in a very authentic environment.
Early this morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you to Ryogoku using the excellent public transport network. Ryogoku is the hub of all things Sumo in Japan and it is not uncommon to spot the wrestlers catching the train or sharing the sidewalk with you as you make your way to a traditional Sumo stable (or heya). The stables are very ritualised and in no way contrived, so expect a great deal of ceremony and a competitive atmosphere.
You will be invited to sit on the floor next to the ring where you will be able to watch the training regime of the wrestlers. Usually the lower ranked Sumo will practise very early before leaving for their assigned duties such as cleaning and cooking, so you may be lucky to arrive as the higher-ranking ‘sekitori’ wrestlers arrive.
Practice involves warm up routines and technique which may end with an exciting ‘winner stays on’ bout with a Sekitori taking on multiple opponents before he is defeated. Visiting guests are reminded that this is a real practice ahead of tournament season and nothing is put on for show, but this just adds to the experience and your guide will interpret what is happening before and after the training is completed, usually to ritual chanting.
After the training, your guide will take you to one of the many local restaurants specialising in Chanko Nabe, the staple diet of the sumo consisting of chicken, fish, tofu and vegetables. These restaurants are often run by ex Sumo who can add to the experience. After lunch, your guide will escort you back to your hotel.
Do note that as the training is practise for one of the six national tournaments, confirmation for this experience can only be confirmed a month prior and can be cancelled at the wrestlers’ discretion.
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