Sumo in Nagoya

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Sumo! The Boys are Back in Town
The 2012 Nagoya tournament runs from July 8 to July 22 at the 7000+ seater Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium located next to Nagoya Castle. Go and cheer on the little guy! Daily bouts start with the lower ranking wrestlers at around 08:30 and climax with the top division at around 18:00. Your time in Japan isn’t complete without a trip to the Sumo. Get down to the venue on weekday and cheer on the little guy!

Photo: Courtesy of Huminiak

Nagoya Sumo FAQ

Q:What time can I enter the venue? A: You can enter the venue as early as 08:30

Q: What time do the matches start? A: Bouts start at 08:30 from the morning of the first day, and at around 10:00 on the last 3 days.

Q: Where can I get tickets?A: See the official site for details

Q: When can I get day tickets?A: Day tickets are available from 08:00 at the day ticket counter on the left side of the front entrance (shomen iriguchi) of the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. Seating is limited so in some cases you may have to stand and watch. In this case, your ticket will be stamped “standing room”. On weekends and holidays tickets tend to be sold out quickly. Tickets for adults are 2,800 Yen and under 16’s are 200 Yen. You do not have to buy a ticket if a child aged 3 or younger sits on the lap of an adult to watch the bouts.

Q: Can I take pictures or use a video camera in the venue? A: Yes, there are no restrictions in general, but please be sure not to bother other spectators or the wrestlers.

Q: Where is it held? Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium just outside of the Nagoya Castle grounds. Access: 5-minute walk from exit 7 of Shiyakusho Subway Station. There is no parking lot exclusively for the Nagoya Tournament and parking is extremely limited.

Sumo 101

There are six divisions in sumo, containing 700 wrestlers. Wrestlers enter Sumo in the lowest Jonokuchi division and, ability permitting, work their way up to the top Makuuchi division. Only wrestlers in the top two divisions are salaried. Wrestlers in the lower divisions are regarded as being in training and receive a subsistence allowance, in return for which they must perform various chores in their training stable. The top-most division of wrestlers has a number of ranks within it. The majority of the 42 wrestlers are Maegashira and are numbered from one down to about sixteen or seventeen. Each rank is further subdivided into East and West, with East being slightly more prestigious; “Maegashira two east” is ranked below “Maegashira one west” but above Maegashira two west. Above the Maegashira are the champion or titleholder ranks, containing the Komusubi, Sekiwake, Ozeki and Yokozuna, or grand champion, at the top.

Salaries at the top are lucrative, with a Yokozuna taking home a basic wage of around $US 340,000 a year. Along with bout sponsorship, performance bonuses, win bonuses, and prize money the amount of money changing hands has lead to many accusations of bout-fixing in sumo. A Japanese economic study on sumo corruption found that 7 out of ten of wrestlers with 7-7 records on the final day of the tournament won; leaving the victorious wrestler with a winning record and a chance to gain promotion or avoid relegation. The percentage was found to rise the more times the two wrestlers had met, and decrease during times when bout-fixing had a large media focus. Lucrative life at the top of sumo doesn’t come with its downside. With a lower life expectancy, chronic diabetes, high blood pressure, liver problems, heart disease, and arthritis – many wrestlers end their short careers only to succumb to a life of chronic health problems.

This years Nagoya tournament runs from July 11 to July 25. Each day is structured so the highest-ranked contestants compete at the end of the day. To start each day,the bottom four un-salaried divisions compete. On any given day, approximately half of the men in these four “trainee” divisions compete, beginning with the very lowest division. From the third day, new recruits step up into the ring for the first time in a test competition. Trainees who complete this process earn the right to have their names appear on the official listings of rank from the next tournament.

From mid-afternoon the top two divisions compete. At around 15:30 the top division of wrestlers enters the ring. Live TV coverage starts at this point. Wrestlers ranked on the east side perform first on odd numbered tournament days while those ranked on the west side perform first on even numbered days. After the grand entry of the Yokozuna, the elite bouts start. Following the last match of every day a wrestler performs the colorful archer’s bow ceremony. Several centuries old, this ceremony serves to symbolize the gratitude felt by the day’s victors.

On the last day of the tournament the top three wrestlers from both east and west enter the ring and perform the traditional sumo foot stamping ceremony together before their bouts. The wrestler who wins the most matches over the fifteen days wins the tournament championship. If two rikishi are tied for the top, they wrestle each other and the winner takes the title. Following the last match on the last day the top division’s champion receives a variety of awards and trophies in honor of his victory. Three special awards are presented to the top division wrestlers ranked below ozeki who have had an outstanding tournament.

To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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