Sayaka and I were invited to watch sumo practice and eat breakfast with the wrestlers this weekend. We brought a gift of expensive chocolates from a department store, and they let us take pictures with the wrestlers and even some TV talents who were with them.
We had to wake up really early to meet at a small train station in Osaka at 7:30 in the morning. From there we walked down the street to a temple where the wrestlers from this heya(stable) train when they compete in Osaka. Sayaka and I came with a horse jockey, a newspaper editor, and some woman who owns a bar in Tennoji. We arrived to the training session last, where about 20 people were already sitting down watching the wrestlers practice in the ring on a dirt floor.
It was great and cozy. We just had to sit down and be quiet and let them do their thing. People were taking pictures as the guys warmed up (“ICH,NI,SAN…”), ran drills(PUSH, SLAP, STOMP), and played practice matches (WHAM, PUSH, BAM). I drew a bunch of pictures.
The most famous wrestler in this heya is Takamisakari! He’s famous for being really expressive before and after the match, but this morning he was pretty calm, waiting for his turn to practice. Nobody else could beat him. All of the wrestlers are really friendly and in fact sweet to one another when they adjust each other’s hair and mawashi (belt). There were a few really big guys as well as smaller guys, but they are muscular and broad-shouldered in addition to being so fat.
When practice ended, the wrestlers washed up and we met them in a larger tatami room next door with a long table with a lot of food laid out. There were hardboiled and scrambled eggs, delicious hunks of pork, some plates of scrambled sea-food, oranges, beer, and a big pot of chanko, the traditional sumo food. The atmosphere was so relaxed and casual. All of the guests, as well as Takamisakari, got to eat first, while the rest of the sumos very cheerfully and politely served us. We were told to eat as much as we wanted, because they make SO much for the wrestlers.
After breakfast we took pictures and I made some drawings of the temple grounds. Our group talked with some comedians and I was surprised that someone told them to “take a picture with the foreigner!” Okay, great, thanks!
We said good bye and went back to Umeda at 9:30 AM.