So far, nobody has guessed what we did on Wednesday. This hint will give it away-- our destination, Ryogoku station! Yay!
The minute we got off the train we saw this guy walking around, topknot and all.
There are two tournaments a year in Tokyo. They each last about two weeks. The paintings on the wall are almost to scale.
These trophies must be quite motivating, I'm sure. Who wouldn't wrestle for a huge Coke bottle. And what is in that jar? Mushrooms? Walnuts? Brains of defeated wrestlers?
The view inside the stadium. So magestic. I have to admit, it still feels weird to see the Japanese flag and not the American one. (I am a slow learner)
It was empty. The morning slots are for the junior wrestlers (maegashira), and they don't seem to attract many fans (but we definitely saw some parents!). The champions start around 3pm. We paid for nosebleed seats, but we got to sit in the empty seats down lower. Kids were only 200 yen; adults 2100 yen. The close seats were something like 15000 yen.
Oh, did you want to see some wrestlers? Sorry! Here:
The NFL can be a religious experience, of course, but these refs are Shinto.... This priest/referee is addressing the winner (the guy squatting) while the loser is walking off the platform in the far left corner. Better luck next time, dude.
Another match. They're using the 'grab the belt' strategy. We also saw the "slap slap slap" strategy and the "hop out of the way at the last minute" strategy. And of course, the "I'm just gonna push you right out of the ring" strategy.
This is the stomping ritual they do before each match...some guys get their legs waaaay up there. This guy? not so much.
Okay. It's decided. West won (the guy on the right).
Portrait of a past champion. Not only are these guys rather, well, wide; they are also VERY tall.
This sport requires lots of sweeping. But it's all guys--no women allowed to defile the platform. Oh, well: I didn't mind watching men clean obsessively.
See if you can watch our YouTube video of one of the matches.
Here's another video: Big guy vs. small guy.
Time for lunch in town. New food: "pepper steak." It comes raw on a super hot iron plate and cooks as you eat it. Very popular with the boys. This was one of those places where you pay for your food first at a big vending machine. It's like a menu, with buttons.
At 3:00 the slightly-higher-ranked wrestlers (mukoshita) started. Before their matches, they appear in their stables' ceremonial aprons. (Is that some trash talk from the dude in red?)
One of the higher-level matches here. See the salt in the ring? Only the higher level guys get to throw salt. And only higher level ref/priests get to wear socks and sandals. Fashion = power. Power = fashion.
Later that day, we got to visit a toy store in Ginza for a few minutes. Ultra Man is shorter than expected but Darrin was still impressed to meet his partner in crime fighting from elementary school days.
Finally, on Wednesday night, Darrin and I returned to American soil for a few hours. We went to a fancy party at the ambassador's house. They served American beer and wine, and also chips and guacamole! We took more pictures, but I'm not sure I'm allowed to post them.
One final shot from the Shinkansen platform on the way home. Do you notice something surprising in this photo? First one to comment on it gets a postcard.