Sunday, September 27, 2009
This weekend was one of the most amazing weekends while living in Japan. Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch the next to last day of the Sumo Grand Tournament. We had great seats and great friends to sit with and enjoy good Sumo. Today, however was the Grand Sumo Final and it came down to Asashoryu (Asa) who is a Yokozuna and Hakuho also a Yokozuna. Yokozuna is the highest level of wrestler and to have two at the same time is extremely rare. Asa has been champion 23 times and his record is 14-0 until today. Hakuho's record was 13-1 and they had to go head to head today. If Hakuho wins they go into a playoff round. Hakuho beat Asa today making their records equal. Both Hakuho and Asa leave the arena and get their hair fixed. Yes, get their hair fixed. I believe it is the only sport where you get your hair done before fighting again. So Asa came out ready to become one a legend of the sport. He was defeated in the first round by Haku quite easily but the second round, the playoff, was to be Asa's round. Hakuho didn't have a chance and Asa walked away the Sumo Grand Champion for the 24th Time. Things legends are made of. He raised his hands in victory in the Dohyo (ring), which is very disrespectful, and expressed his joy. He most likely will retire because to be so disrespectful to the traditions and ways of sumo by pumping his fists after winner could cause some problems for him. But who knows. He is a Mongolian fighter and he has left the dohyo the best of his time.
To make this night even better was to be invited to a party to celebrate and contribute to another Sumo stable called Shikoroyama stable. Homasho is the most famous and best wrestler in the stable and his coach Terao "iron man" as he as knows as for 23 years of wrestling. I was lucky enough to meet them both tonight and talk them him briefly. They are huge. We drank, excepted gift and donated money to help the stable continue to function and grow. Especially to feed the big boys.
After leaving the party we happened to be in the same hotel as the Grand Champion. Yes, Asa was there. We saw him and I was only two feet from him. Being this close to Asa in Japan is like being next to Michael Jordan after winning the Final. Asa is a legend and the best and turned 29 today. How about that? Winning Grand Sumo Champion for the 24th time on your birthday and I was right next to him. Here is the video of him and me. It is a short one but a good one. A Yokozuna only 5 feet away. Pretty amazing.
Great day. Happy to be in Japan and experience these things. Please come visit when you can.