Grand Sumo Tournament

In November, the last major sumo tournament of the year takes place at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center. The wrestlers battle it out over 15 full days to decide the eventual champion. We were lucky enough to get tickets (thanks to a teacher in Usa City with an inside contact) and went to Fukuoka early Saturday morning for our first Sumo experience.

With bento box lunches in hand, we take a taxi from the station to the Kokusai Center. Here, brightly coloured banners act as landmarks of our destination. We see sumo wrestlers in black and white yukatas and their iconic hair, walking the grounds. 

To my surprise, spectators and Sumo Wrestlers awaiting their fight all mingled and shared the same aisles as one another. As we walked by, I was hit with astonishment to their physical size. One wrestler towered over us at 7 feet tall, with shoulders the width of a grizzly bear.

The tournament is a 6 hour ordeal, starting with the lower level sumo wrestlers. Judges are also lower ranks, baring their legs and feet. We settle in with our lunches and watch the fights.  

I recognize one of the wrestlers from tv. He’s much smaller than most wrestlers, but technique is outstanding. He (Enzo Akira) is my favourite wrestler by far. I cheer for him. He wins with one of the best fights out of the tournament. 

The highest rank of wrestlers come it!

As we watch the higher ranks of sumo wrestles come in, the judges’ dress gradually changes as well. Here, the judge’s dress reaches down to his ankles and his feet covered with white socks.

The end of the tournament.

6 hours fly by and the tournament finishes. Outside of the stadium, there is drumming in a wooden tower. Such a wonderful time! Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to go again next year. 

2 thoughts on “Grand Sumo Tournament

  1. Dee

    What a cool experience! Was that satsuma age in your bento? And was there a no japanese sumo wrestler? The pictures and video are awesome and just when I was thinking there are a lot of spectators you panned the crowed! Lol


    1. Mika Senda

      No satsuma this time, but a chicken ball. Really good bento. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. And yes, there are quite a few non-Japanese sumo wrestlers. They adopt Japanese names, and some are in the top ranks of sumo and highly respected. One from Georgia, Brazil, several from Mongolia. In the tournament in Tokyo this year, a Mongolian won the tournament. This time, a wrestler from our prefecture (Oita) won.


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