January 2010 Hatsu Basho Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament

On January 18, I attended Day 9 of the sumo tournament in Tokyo.  Sumo tournaments are 15 days long, and are held every 2 months (3 times a year in Tokyo, once in Osaka, once in Nagoya and once in Fukuoka).  This tournament is special because Chiyotaikai retired after being demoted from the 2nd highest rank of Ozeki to the 3rd highest rank of Sekiwake.  Even bigger is that after this tournament, Mongolian Yokozuna Asashoryu announced his retirement after yet another scandal involving his bad temper.  But I’m not going to talk about that.  Instead, I have some photos and a video to share.  After taking all of these photos, I realised how badly I need a new camera.  I hope to buy one in the next 2 or 3 months.

So, I arrived at Ryogoku station in Tokyo shortly after 2 pm and headed over to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, which is where the tournament is held.  I’d be able to see the top 2 divisions in their entirety, plus some of the 3rd division (Makushita).

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Here I am, outside the main ticket gate of the Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Sumo ticket

And here is my ticket. It's for arena seating, B section. It's decent, but next time, I want section A.

Sumo awards

This is the awards display case just inside the Kokugikan.


After finding my seat, I took this picture. This was my view. It was a very good position!

At this point, the Makushita division was competing.  Not many people were watching, as everyone comes for Makuuchi, the top division.  However, it was interesting seeing some of the up and comers.  I was hungry at this point, so I went to get something to eat.  On my way back, I met Musashimaru!  He’s a former Yokozuna, and currently a coach.  He’s from Hawaii, so speaks perfect English.  I went up to him and asked him how he was.  He said, “Oh, I’m fine.”  Then I went back to my seat after telling him it was nice to meet him.


Here's a Makushita division match. I don't remember who they were.

Sumo - Juryo entrance ceremony

This is the Juryo division entrance ceremony.

sumo - Juryo

These two Juryo division wrestlers are doing their ritual preparations.

Sumo - scoreboard

I guess you could call this the scoreboard. It lists all the matches of the day in Juryo and Makuuchi and who won.

Sumo - Juryo

Here are 2 more preparing for their match.

Sumo - Juryo

And now the match!

Sumo - Juryo match featuring Yamamotoyama

On the right is Yamamotoyama. He is the biggest sumo wrestler at the moment. He is very heavy and not at all graceful.

Sumo - Juryo match featuring Yamamotoyama

Yamamotoyama has lost! Don't worry, the judge below him escaped.

I’ll take a moment here to describe the people who were sitting around me.  On my right were an elderly couple.  On my left was a group of middle aged people.  In front of me was an American with a big camera.  He was tall, and he kept leaning forward, making it difficult for me to see.

Sumo - Big head in front of me

Here was my view. Notice how his head was perfectly placed to obstruct my view.

The Juryo division has finished, and now it’s on to the Makuuchi division.  There are 42 wrestlers in this division.   At the top is Yokozuna.  At the time of this tournament, there were 2, Hakuho and Asashoryu, both from Mongolia.  However, Asashoryu has since retired.  Next is Ozeki, of which there are 4.  They include Kotooshu (the popular Bulgarian), Harumafuji (the very talented Mongolian), Kotomitsuki (a mediocre Japanese Ozeki who had withdrawn earlier) and Kaio (the old guy, a longevity record-breaking Ozeki who is quite popular and has a very strong arm).  Then it’s Sekiwake, of which there are 2, including Baruto (a young, tall Estonian) and Chiyotaikai (the former Ozeki who had retired earlier in the tournament).  And then it’s Komusubi, of which there are 2, including Kotoshogiku (a promising Japanese sumo wrestler) and Kakuryu (a young Mongolian).  The rest are all Maegashira.  The very popular Takamisakari is a Maegashira, and he’s known for his arm pumping at the beginning of his matches.  He’s also on commercials a lot.  Well, back to the pictures.

Sumo - Makuuchi entrance ceremony

At the beginning of the Makuuchi matches, there is an entrance ceremony.

Sumo - Makuuchi entrance ceremony

This is the other half of the entrance ceremony.

Sumo - Hakuho entrance ceremony

Now it's the Yokozuna entrance ceremony. First up is Hakuho.

Sumo - Hakuho entrance ceremony

Hakuho's continuing his ceremony.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

Next is Asashoryu's entrance ceremony. Although many people don't like him, people seem to love watching him. He has a lot more flair than Hakuho.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

Asashoryu is lifting his leg high up in the air.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

And now his leg is down.

Sumo - Kokugikan

Now a look at the overall view of the Kokugikan. A lot more people now. It's not full, and it never is on a weekday. It sells out for weekends, though.

Sumo - Makuuchi

The matches are on!

Here is a video of Takamisakari versus Tochinonada.  Takamisakari is on the left.  Watch and listen around the middle when he pumps his arms.  Sorry for the video quality.

Sumo - Goeido vs Miyabiyama

Here are two very good sumo wrestlers. Goeido is on the left, and he's expected to be the next best Japanese wrestler. On the right is former Ozeki Miyabiyama.

Sumo - Kotooshu vs Baruto

We're nearing the end of the tournament, which is when the top wrestlers compete. Here are two very tall Eastern Europeans, Ozeki Kotooshu (left) and Sekiwake Baruto (right).

Sumo - Kotooshu vs Baruto

Kotooshu and Baruto are locked together. However, Baruto beats his senior.

Sumo - Asashoryu vs Kisenosato

And now the final two matches. First is Yokozuna Asashoryu vs Kisenosato, who is a very talented and strong competitor.

Sumo - Asashoryu vs Kisenosato

When they were down like this, they stared at each other for a long time. Kisenosato is not intimidated by Asashoryu.

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

The final match features Yokozuna Hakuho and the unimpressive Kakizoe.

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

The match has started!

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

And Hakuho is the winner!

Sumo - Bow dance ceremony

Finally, after all the matches have been completed, is the bow dance ceremony.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

One last look at the Kokugikan as I leave to go home.

The Grand Sumo Tournament was fun.  It took me nearly 5 years to finally attend a sumo tournament, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I liked it so much, I’m going to try attend every tournament in Tokyo.  The next one is in May!


Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Sports, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

9 responses to “January 2010 Hatsu Basho Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament

  1. I watched Sumo last year (May) and have similar pictures as yours – though I had a DSLR, I only had a normal zoom lens, needed a telezoom lens to capture the action up close from my cheap seat.

    I think I even have a similar blog banner picture, I have to dig it out and replace my current one so we can match 🙂

    • I noticed your banner. It seems you were sitting not far from where I was sitting, though I was closer to the middle. Which section were you in? I had the 4900 yen seat, which is section B. The section A seats are 8200 yen, which I’ll get next time.

  2. junko

    great. actually i’ve never been to watch sumo.

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