November is always Sumo season in Fukuoka as the Grand Sumo Tournament goes to town for the Kyushu Basho. Sumo tickets are expensive and hard to come by, but to get a front seat and intimate view of the wrestlers, you don’t really have to pay a single yen. As the the tournament begins, many shrines around Fukuoka play hosts to Sumo Beya’s (Sumo Stables) and provide lodging and practice arenas for them within the compound. The public are allowed to view the training sessions. We were lucky enough to have the shrine that hosts the current grand champion Mongolian Asashoryu right in the neighborhood. Asawa and I woke up early, had a light breakfast but everything else we would see that day would be heavy.
Sumo Wrestlers prepare to spar during a training session as young kids look on.
Sumo Wrestlers collide.
Due to their size, it is easy to forget that these wrestlers are actually very quick and agile.
There are two grand chapions in Sumo, and right now both happen to be Mongolian. In this photo, one of them, Asashoryu provides tips to the other sumo as he waits for his turn to practice.
Sumos fix the soil right before Asashoryu begins his training.
Yokozuna Asashoryu practices some techniques with another sumo.
Asashoryu reminds everyone why he is the best of the best.
Sumos do push-ups at the end of their training. One push-up for them is probably equal to a hundred regular ones!
I have probably never seen anything as surprising as this my whole life. I had no idea Sumos were this flexible.
Sumos do some warm down excercises after their sparring session.
Put yourself in their shoes. Sumo footwear left outside the training area.
Asashoryu answers questions from the media after training. He didn’t allow them to enter the training area, and when he saw a few of them peaking, he threw a small roll of tape towards them. I must say, his aim is very good, as it avoided spectators and headed right for the peeping reporter.
Asashoryu is the bad boy of Sumo wrestling so he gets more share of the media than the sport already has in Japan.
But he was kind enough to sign autographs.
This Sumo is literally cooking the breakfast of champions.
A Tokoyama styles thee hair of a Sumo wrestler in Fukuoka. Tokoyamas, just like the Somo wrestlers they service are also ranked according to their experience and ability and are high respected by the wrestlers themselves.
A young Sumo has his hair styled.
For their sheer size we forget that these men are athletes as well, who train as hard as other professional athletes. Because their sport is also tied with Shintoism, much more is involved in the sport than personal physical prowess. These men take their sport seriously, and give up a lifetime just to be able to play the sport. It is hard not to respect then. We left the shrine only with an admiration of their dedication, and number of eggs consumed in one breakfast session.
Find out where the nearest Sumo Beya is to your place and pay them a visit! This link provides all the information, but unfortunately it is in Japanese. However, it is quite easy to navigate. Just click on your neighborhood in the map and it will show the Sumo Beya’s location in that area via google maps.