All the European wrestlers, including my favorite, Kotooshu, have the same basic body shape as the Mongolian, Japanese wrestlers. This European wrestler looksstrong, but his body type seems wrong for the ring. How would you recognize him in public as a sumo champion?
Seeing the sumo wrestlers parading into the ring is a happy sight, capable of erasing many uglee images of American politicians and their poetic fans. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than seeing all these men lined up belly to back wearing fancy aprons and little else. I cannot recommend highly enough the opportunity to see the tournament in person.
Here’s Anpan man ringing the bell above the giant rope cord, before donating money and praying. Quite the action shot.
I’m using a new film camera now, in addition to the digital one. Do you notice any difference?
The sumo match itself rarely lasts more than a minute, and the rules seem simple. You win by pushing the other guy out of the circle. But there’s so much ritual before the shoving and grunting even begin. I like how they all come out together in special fancy aprons and raise their arms together. I am unclear whether it’s a spiritual or sexual act, but it’s hard not to stare.
The champion Hakuho also does some extra balancing and arm-raising, while wearing a special rope decoration. I like how the sumo champion is dressed up almost like a Shinto sacred tree. Even without knowing the specifics, it’s clear that he is invoking vast forces and unseen spirits.
The opponents face off several times and then go to their corners before starting the match. I like when they toss salt up into the air, which seems to purify and make the fighting space more exalted.
And finally, I love the intensity of their faces and bodies before the match begins. These big boys sure can squat low, and it’s exciting to anticipate the fearsome power they create out of their own body weight.
Attending in person has changed my impression about sumo. It’s a parallel universe of enormous men who wear lovely colored kimono in public and ass-baring costumes in the ring. The sumo performers conduct strange rituals under Shinto banners that last far longer than the fights themselves, and their extended careers create fascinating rivalries. Oh, and it’s a sport that’s open to large men from many countries, including Mongolia and East Europe.
I love watching the sumo players moving through Tokyo and, of course, arriving at the sumo hall by taxi. I also like how the station near the hall memorializes decades of personalities, outfits, and flesh.
Gleaming wedding ring notwithstanding, are all Republican senators gay unless proven otherwise. Phillip Hinkle, an Indian Republican state senator, met a 20 year old guy on Craigslist, and committed some form of sexual assault. Bravo to the victim’s older sister who defended him. (Thanks Christophe in Paris for keeping us up to date).
Could this outfit get any better? Maybe a chain to match his huge ring? To top it off, the woman next to him has an expression that is priceless. Perhaps my best metro photo ever?
This image is priceless: it’s a “konkatsu bra” in which inserting a ring stops the marriage deadline countdown and plays a congratulatory wedding march. I love how Japan always introduces new sociological terms, and this one is a winner. “Konkatsu” is a combination of the words “wedding” and “activity,” and means “marriage hunting.”
In addition to negative reproduction rates, Japan also has remarkably low marraige rates: from 1975 to 2005, the numbers of unmarried people have risen 14% to 47% for men aged 30 to 34 and from 8% to 32% for women.
Sociologist Yamada Masahiro and journalist Shirakawa Tohko invented the term and sold over 170,000 copies of their book Konkatsu Jidai (The Era of Marriage Hunting). The authors believe that marriage must be actively sought. There are now konkatsu magazines, a television show, bars, shrines, and even a special section of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball stadium catering to this new goal.
Supposedly women are too busy focused on careers, while men are less aggressive because of money concerns and job insecurity. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, despite her failed efforts at marriage hunting, somehow imagines that “marriage is like permanent employment.” Apparently, women far outnumber men in “marriage hunting” events.
I find this term and newly defined phenomenon incredibly funny. Maybe Japan would have better luck with its marriage rates if it allowed and actively promoted gay, lesbian and trans marriage. Or maybe marriage is just not that desirable. My guess is that the government will next promote out of wedlock procreation. Gambate, Nihon!