Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo

Sumo wrestlers in their ceremonial aprons

Workers would come out and sweep the ring.

Stamping to squash the bad spirits

Little sumo wrestlers and one big one---so funny!

Another ceremonial part of the tournament

The wrestler in the darker cloth is from Bulgaria, and he is very popular here.

Winner of this year's tournament

Finally! I know I've been kind of slow with posting these days, and I do apologize. I wasn't feeling well last week, and it put me out of commission for a while. I'm much better now---yay!---and back to normal---as normal as Ellen gets, right? Right. By the way, thank you so much for the sweet anniversary wishes! Yes, one whole year of married life! Whoohoo! I really can't believe it. It seems like it went by so fast. Zach took a few days off from work, and we had a wonderful weekend together.

Our latest military-related news is that we've decided to extend our stay here for a year, so we'll be here through February 2010. So, a whole extra year of Hello Kitty and Yuzawaya! Yes! However, I do miss being back in the U.S. with my friends and family, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to come back for a visit sometime soon.

Our last big excursion was to a sumo tournament in Tokyo, and I've posted a bunch of pictures. It was a day-long tournament, about 5 hours of wrestling, and by the end we were kind of "sumoed" out. However, I'm glad we went because it was interesting to see it in person and learn some of the rules of the game. There are many ceremonial aspects of the sport that I didn't know about. Here are some sumo facts:
  • The ring they wrestle in is called a "dohyo." It is formed using 20 straw rice bags.
  • At the beginning of each bout, the wrestlers throw salt to purify the ring as a sacred place. They also stamp the ring to squash the bad spirits and sip water to purify their bodies.
  • The fancy ceremonial aprons that they wear cost around 2 million yen, which is around $20,000.
I think the highlight of the tournament was during a break when they brought out these little kids who were taking a class in sumo and had them wrestle against the professionals. It was hilarious, and the kids were so determined to knock the big guys out of the ring.

I think we're entering the rainy season here now. The rice fields along my walk are now planted and flooded with water. It's interesting to see how rice is grown because I've never seen it done from beginning to end. I will try to remember to bring my camera along the next time I go on my walk so you can see it for yourself.

Okay, that's it for today. I hope everyone is well.


Regina said...

Hey Ellen, Thanks for keeping us up to date and for the great photos! We loved the ones with the little kids, too funny.
I am glad that you are able to stay put for another year and Congrats on the big anniversary!
Adrienne and I were talking, we should organize a swap with you - fabric in exchange for peanut butter! : )

jennifer blackburn said...

Wow, insane photos. That's really cool to see something like that in person! Those are some pricey aprons. How did the 2 kids fare against the 1 big guy? Any surprise victories there?

That's great that you're extending your stay for an extra year, this experience is so cool!

I loved the rice paddies when I was there, they were so pretty. I remain totally confused about how they get, like, a rice plant from a grain of rice, if that's even the case... like, when we eat rice are we eating the seed? It doesn't really SEEM like a seed. Wheat seems like a seed, even brown rice kind of seems like a seed, but white rice totally does not seem like a seed to me. Please clarify.

I am in the middle of my combustion turbine overhaul job in the Bellingham area, so I have been spending a lot of time up there and away from home for the last couple of weeks. It's fun though and I'm learning a ton. I just finished a little challenge among some of my mountain biking friends to ride 20 rides in 30 days, so that was cool, go me. Zeke (our greyhound) is sick and we don't know what the prob is after 3 visits to the vet... they better figure it out soon, this is getting expensive. Also, I broke our lawn mower and our garage door on the same day. And that is absolutely everything I can think of to report at this time! Glad you're feeling better LN.