Sumo Tournament
Every Picture Tells A Story

Every Picture: Osaka Sumo Tournament

It’s been a while, but here it is: the return of the Every Picture series! This week’s picture was taken during the March Osaka Sumo tournament maaaany years ago. If you ever go to Japan, I would highly recommend you check out a sumo match. Take some friends with you. And maybe a couple of drinks…

“I’m going to say… the one on the right.”

“Me too, he looks beefy.”

Alicia shrugged. “Definitely the one on the left.”

Denise rolled her eyes. “Are you just doing that to be contrary?”

“I don’t think she is,” said Johnny. “She’s been right the last three times. Either she’s psychic or she knows something.”

Alicia didn’t look at her friends. Her eyes were trained on the wrestlers in the ring below. She watched closely as they scooped up handfuls of salt to sprinkle across the ring, as they crouched down glaring at each other. Like a stable master choosing a new horse, she carefully considered their bodies.

“The one on the left,” she nodded with certainty. “In the purple loincloth.”

Denise scoffed. “Alicia, I’m pretty sure it’s called a mawashi.”

“Well, I’m tipsy and Japanese is a challenge right now,” she said, holding up the beer can in her hand. There were two more empties propped on the railing in front of her. “They’re loincloths.”

“Are they still going?” Johnny threw up his hands in exasperation as the wrestlers got up from their starting crouch again. They had done that three or four times already, bringing the audience to the brink of suspense before changing their mind and returning to the salt bucket. There seemed to be some unspoken signal that Alicia had not been able to pick up on – something to tell them that the fight can begin…

Johnny wasn’t the only one getting restless. Unlike the three friends who were betting alcohol shots, many people in their group had money riding on the next bout. Several of them were sure they knew that the right-hand wrestler would win and, while Alicia could understand why they thought that the bigger man would come out on top, she wasn’t so sure. In fact, she was certain, and the odds were in her favour.

“Oh, come on!” Johnny shouted, provoking some disapproving looks from the Japanese family in the row in front of them. The wrestlers were still wandering the ring.

“Have a drink,” said Alicia.

Johnny grumbled and downed the rest of his Guinness.

The arena fell into yet another hush as the wrestlers crouched into their starting positions, their knuckles resting on the floor. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Surely this time –

They lunged at each other.

The right-hand wrestler threw his whole weight at his opponent and for a moment it looked like he would overcome him. But Purple held his ground, digging his heels in. Alicia could see his muscles straining but holding strong. And that was the key – muscles.

Purple turned and his opponent’s weight became his downfall. Literally. He lost his balance and toppled head-first into the undoubtedly very rich business suits sitting on the mats beside the ring.

A synchronous groan rose up from behind them and Alicia saw coins begrudgingly changing hands.

“Four out of four,” Denise said, taking a swig from her can of pink gin.

“Okay, seriously. How are you doing that?” said Johnny.

Alicia smirked. “Not telling you. It’s my top-secret method.” And it’s also incredibly embarrassing, she thought.

As the next wrestlers stepped up to the ring, Alicia snapped open another can.

How to see Sumo in Osaka (or Kyoto) –

See more stories about my travels and adventures. 


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