I was invited to see some sumo three weeks ago. It was time for Osaka's annual Grand Sumo tournament. Seeing this live as a first timer I was surrounded by colorful details and hundreds of years of established partly religious practices and forms. Not knowing much about the backgrounds I could still see the deep cultural meaning of this national sport. Also I didn't know that many of the sumo wrestlers are from foreign countries and later learned that they formed the majority of the top ranks some years ago so the amount of them per a sumo stable has been limited. For example the yokozuna (highest rank) Hakuhō is of mongolian origin (seen in the last photos).
It was like a constant human anatomy study by photography for me. Velocity of muscles and fat. Old shinto rituals as throwing salt to purify the ring and drinking "power water" made this more of a cultural event than sports tournament. Especially when the actual act of wrestling lasted usually just few seconds while all the subtle but dramatic rituals and mental preparations took the main portion of our five hours in seiza (sitting on knees).
But the best part for me was, as usual in Japanese events, the atmosphere of a large crowd of strangers of all ages from toddlers to the elderly joining and enjoying together with a positive mind. Especially during the last matches of the day, the full sumo hall had a sparking energy cheering on both the wrestlers and itself as a circle of electricity to see the half religious half athletic act through. I only wish that kind of energy and connection among strangers broke through the invisible barriers of the high tech/ low presence network system outside the hall, into the public space where we return after these events to hide and to be anything but present and connected to each other.
Thank you Mochiko-san for arranging this great opportunity!
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