Saturday, July 24, 2010

Osu Kannon Temple and Sumo Tournament Nagoya

The Osu Kannon Temple was originally built in Osu-go in 1333. But Ieyasu moved it to Nagoya in 1612. As with many wooden buildings, it burnt down in the 1820s and reconstructed in the 1970s. It houses a great collection of old books which survived the fire.

Here is the bell tower of the temple:

After the short stop at the temple I went to the sumo tournament. I was really excited about it and not the least dissappointed. It was a spectacular show of ritualized archaic male behaviour. 
This is the gymnasium at about noon. It is quite empty because only the sumo youngsters are having matches:


Two rikishi in action. After watching the event I really hesitate to call them wrestlers, sumo is much more than just sports.

Ritualized entry and greeting ceremony of the more experienced rikishi:

Preparing for the match:

One of the 48 possible moves or kimarite:

Sometimes the judges have to decide who won the match:

This is a 'bonus'; McDonalds sponsered some money for the winner. Each flag represents 100,000 Yen; five flags mean 5000 Dollars for the winner.

Another sumo technique:

My champion Kotooshu (the one with the black belt)! Not because he is European, but rather because he behaved really friendly, waved to the people and won two matches out of three in a really sensational way. In one he just grabbed his opponent and carried him outside the ring, and in the other match he just stepped aside and the nearly 200 kg of mass had no other possibility than charge forward, right outside the ring :)
PS. I just read that he won today again against the Estonian rikishi *hehe*

The day ends with a -of course- ceremony. A lot is based on Shinto ritual that's why I wouldn't dare calling it just 'sports'.

It was also amazing to just watch the people. There is a constant running around, people going outside to have a break at the food stalls, buying o-miage (commercialized presents) or just strolling around because they can't sit on the cushions any more (no chairs!).

In my boot were an American from Texas with too long legs to sit comfortably and a very friendly Japanese academic who bought two seats to have it more comfortable. He was really helpful in explaining things to us. Plus he bought us presents :) several times, so I got him a bento cloth with rikishi on it. He also went with me to the famous Samoa-born yokuzuna (now trainer) Musashimaru from Oahu and we managed to get an autograph on a fan. But I gave mine to Andrew, the American guy, who knew everything about this yokuzuna (highest ranking rikishi) and was just to shy to go and ask for an autograph.

It was a wonderful day and time went by so quickly, I wished I had tickets for the final days, too. Well, I hope I will be able to watch a tournament again one day.


  1. D*** it, I wish I could have been there. And to top all of it you met a Hawaiian rikishi. Unbelievable!!!!
    What presents did you get? And do you traditionally have to buy presents for the ppl around you or why was everybody doing that?

  2. I got a rice-paper poster with all participating rikishi 2010, a handprint with signature from the Estonian Baruto, a mobile strap, and well originally the fan, which I gave away. People do buy a lot of stuff at the tournament but I don't know if this is normally done between strangers, or if he just had a good time with us or maybe it was because he studied some time in Cologne.