Not Just Two Guys Pushing Each Other

Sumo wrestling – Japan, this is a contact sport where one competitor tries to force out his competitor out of a circular ring. This is Japan’s official national sport, and often simply made out to be “just two men in diapers trying to push each other,” when in reality, this is a serious sport where professional players have to live in communal “sumo training stables,” dedicating their daily lives to strict tradition.

 

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Other than making your opponent step out of the ring, another way to win a match is forcing his opponent to touch the ground with parts of his body other than his feet. The matches are decided over by referees or judges, and sometimes, technicality comes into play. Tradition is also very important. The throwing of salt signifies purification, and dates back to ancient times, when Sumo was part of the Shinto religion. As with the traditional aspect of the sport, any competitor caught using illegal techniques automatically loses.

Nowadays, in the western world, a lighter, less-traditional form of Sumo is possible with sumo suits. This is for those looking for a good time to release some pent-up aggression, and the sumo suits simulate the effect of having the heft for those who don’t have the body for the sport.

Is keeping tradition that hard, that, no other country can adapt to this sport?

I’m Dressed to Thrill Coz’ I’m Travelling to Japan

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Travelers like me know that April is the time to see the cherry blossom in Tokyo, the largest city in Asia. I see Tokyo as the most western face of the east. The buildings are tall and modern western style.

For me Tokyo is so fascinating. Even I have only a few days in this city, I experienced everything, from the mystique of the old eastern world to the techno-crazed life of the 21st century. Tokyo is a must see coz’ I see it as a treasure trove of things to see and do. Here are a few ideas to build on during our visit to Tokyo.

japan-garden.jpgClassical Japan: After the rush of jet travel, with my sister Susie, we spent our first day unwinding in the gardens adjoining Imperial Palace. Since the month is April, the cherry blossoms are at their best and it is a sight that I never tire of. We took the time to admire the floral displays of magnolias, azaleas and irises that we saw as we strolled through the gardens on our way to the Museum of the Imperial Collection. This is the home to the Imperial family’s treasure-trove of art. Our travel was well worth the experience.

 

japan-people.jpgShopping. We started in Tokyo’s Ginza district by standing in front of the Sony building. I’ve found some of the world’s best shopping here. My funds are too limited for a serious retail therapy. Spending a little is a treat on its own. When I reached Takeshita Street, It has the latest fashions from around the world with specialty shops and designer boutiques. At the next intersection is Mitsukoshi department store at Harumi Avenue. Also at Harumi is Sake Center. I sampled the various rice wines and I have no doubt you will come across that too during your stay in Tokyo.

 

japan-sushi.jpgDINING. One of the great things about Japan is that I would have to be very unlucky to find any food stall or restaurant that isn’t spotlessly clean. A taste of sushi, one of renowned dishes, I tried the Restaurant Sushi-ko. Here I discovered that they have been serving sushi for more than 120 years. Huh! The next day, we tried Robata Honten, coz’ we’re looking for the meals that the average Japanese enjoy. We ate mixtures of dishes like stews, fish and vegetables.

 

japan-american.jpgNightlife. Ginza, Shibayu, Akasaka and Shinjuk u are the city’s lively places that I find the most interesting restaurants, bars and clubs. Many establishments are offering a range of entertainments depending on the crowd. Some bars copied the interior of an English pub, a Spanish style salsa bar and even a Wild-West Salon bar. We specially enjoy the Japanese pubs that serve a good range of drinks and bar-snacks. Open from 6 p.m. to around midnight. Modern hotel bars with great views are always popular .

japan-restaurant.jpgThe Intercontinental, New Otani, Park Hyatt, Hilton, Nikko and the Akasaka Prince are just few of the excellent ones I find in Tokyo. It’s good that we brought some stuff that makes it appropriately to mix comfortably with the well-educated, elegant crowds that we found in the hotel.

On our way home we tried our luck at the national obsession — a game of pachinko at one of the many pinball parlors. Just a few minutes or so, we feel like local, a good feeling.