Posts Tagged With: Japan

TBT: Tokyo Sumo

Joining the “Throwback Thursday” bandwagon, I decided it’s finally time for me to make good on my promised Sumo blog post.

This takes us back to our winter vacation in January 2013, when Olivia and I spent several days in Tokyo, Japan.  On our last day there, we got up early at 5 am (isn’t vacation for sleeping in?!) and waited in line in freezing weather (our Texas blood isn’t used to Japan’s winters) for 2 hours, and got tickets to see Sumo wrestling!
If you follow the professional Sumo circuit, you’ll know that these tournaments take place twice a year in seven different areas in Japan, each one lasting two weeks before moving to the next place.  It just so happened that the last day of our trip coincided with the last day of the tournament in Tokyo, and we were lucky enough to get tickets!  (Nosebleed seats only sell the day of the tournament, while the better seats sell our early and have high prices).
It was a day of fun and learning, experiencing the history and culture that has created modern-day Sumo.  The rules seem simple:  the object is to either knock your opponent down or push them out of the ring (only your feet can touch the floor or you are considered “down”).  However, there is much more to this sport.
The Opening
There’s more to the opening than just fat men parading around in cloth diapers (not every wrestler is fat!).  Each wrestler has a fancy half-dress thing that I’ll just call an “apron.”  These aprons have different colors and a “coat-of-arms,” which is different for each man.  Want one of your own?  Be ready to throw down at least $20,000 USD!  The men all enter the ring, circle it, and each throws salt into the ring.  This is to ward off bad spirits who might cause injuries.  (There’s a lot of salt throwing in Sumo.)  Some words are said, things happen, and then the dohyo (think: wrestling ring) is cleared.
Fun Fact: The wrestling ring is made of a certain kind of clay and weighs several tons!
Another Fun Fact: Olivia says I should let other people decide whether my facts are fun or not.
The Fight
In a single day of the tournament, each wrestler will face a total of one opponent in one match.  One might think that this would make the tournament go fairly quickly.  If you think that, you’re wrong.  First the opponents enter the ring and throw some salt.  This is not only to ward off bad spirits but is also a form of intimidation!  (“Eat my salt!”) It can be quite interesting to see the many and varied styles with which one can throw salt into the air and on the ground.  The salt throwing also includes the famous  stomping of the feet.  Then the opponents enter the ring and squat facing each other, staring into each other’s eyes.  The referee signals the start of the match, and the wrestlers…stay still.  You see, each wrestler waits until he is fully ready, mentally and physically one, before going at his opponent.  However, if one starts before the other, the match is restarted.  Apparently, these waiting periods and false starts could combine to make a single match last several hours.  Thankfully, they now have a time limit of three minutes before they must start the match.
Finally, the wrestlers clash together, and the tussle begins.  Some use strategies of pulling their opponents down to the ground or throwing them off balance, while others rely on their girth to push their opponents out of the ring.  Strategically, the wrestler with more girth has a forceful advantage, but what they gain in girth, they lose in stamina and agility!
The Closing Ceremony
Finally, after an afternoon of fun watching the best Sumo wrestlers in Japan, we see the closing ceremony.  Like the rest of the sport, this comes from a line of tradition and involves spinning and twirling a long rope in a specific series of moves.  This rope dance is performed by the tournament champion, and then the wrestlers file out of the stadium.
On our way out, Olivia wanted to see how she would look as a sumo wrestler.  A few hundred Big Mac’s later, here’s the result:
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Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Year one in Review: Our Adventures

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back!!  Sorry for the loong break, but we’ve been kinda busy this last month with being back in the USA and visiting family and friends.  We’re back in Taiwan now, and we’ll continue posting about the adventures and fun that we have.  And without further ado, here’s what you came for! 🙂

While just being in Taiwan was an adventure in itself, we have had many other opportunities for adventure throughout the year. Some of our adventures still need to be recorded on here, but here are just a few (stay tuned for more adventures including the rest of our trip to Hualien as well as our most recent trip to China).

1. Going to Taipei for New Year’s Eve. Taipei is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. The government shoots fireworks of off Taipei 101 which is currently the 3rd tallest building in the world. The show is quite spectacular and ends with the message Happy New Year in English and Chinese flashing on the side of the building.
2. Discovering how to use the squatty potty at school. As an American the idea of a squatty potty is intimidating and scary, but this year I have conquered my fear and faced the unknown adventure that is the squatty potty.
3. Our winter trip to Tokyo, Japan. Sumos, rickshaws, temples, and zoos. Read about some of our Japan travels here.
4. Dog sitting for our friend Sharon. While our friend went away for three months we dog sat one of her dogs named Bai. This being our first time taking care of a dog, we were a little nervous but we really fell in love with him and go to visit him and Sharon on a regular basis.

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5. Taking scuba lessons. Scuba diving is something we’ve wanted to do since we moved to Taiwan, and it was such a great experience. I know I’ve said this before, but the world under the water is AMAZING! Scuba diving is something we will enjoy for years to come.

6. Going to Hualien and seeing Taroko Gorge. Taiwan is a country that is rich in natural beauty and culture. We have enjoyed exploring everything Taiwan has to offer and look forward to experiencing more next year!

7. Taking on the traditional markets in Penghu.  Being from America we were used to a one stop shop for all our cooking needs, but we have really fallen in love with the concept of going to the market on Saturday mornings and doing all our shopping for the week.

This year has been a testament to God’s love and faithfulness He has blessed us in so many ways. We have really had to trust God to take care of us this year while we were on this adventure. It has been a great lesson to remind us to trust in Him and remember that He is in control of our lives and that we must always stay close to Him.

Categories: Fun Stuff, New Year's, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan here we come!

Our school gets a four week winter vacation from January 18 to February 18, and Nick and I decided to spend some of that time in Tokyo, Japan.  We are so pumped!  We bought our plane tickets about a month ago and reserved a room at a hostel, and now we’re just planning our trip.  Normally we’re just fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people, but for this trip, we are planning everything (for the most part).  We’ve gone to Taipei a couple of times and have very successfully and fairly easily navigated their metro rail system,  but the system in Tokyo is about 10 times as big, and Nick, our dedicated navigator, is feeling overwhelmed just looking at the map.  So, in order to not get lost in one of the busiest cities in the world, we are doing our research and planning carefully (including back up plans and back up plans for our back up plans).

Isn't it HUGE?!

Isn’t it HUGE?!

Some things on our to-see list are:
-Sumo Wrestling- we were lucky enough to plan our trip at the very end of a month-long tournament!  The tournaments only happen about 2-3 times a year.
-The Imperial Palace- while it’s difficult to get tickets into the palace, the east gardens are open to the public!
-Akibara AKA Electric Town- this place is full of every kind of electronic you could ever want.
-Shibuya- this is home to the biggest/busiest crossing in the world, so naturally, it’s a must see.
-Disney Land- need I say more?
-Ueno Zoo- the oldest zoo in Japan, and home to Giant (or maybe just great?) Pandas!!!

Those are the major attractions.  We’ll let you know what our favorite things were once we get back!  Wish us luck, and if you don’t hear from us soon after our trip, send a search party!

Do you have any suggestions for our trip?

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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