Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Sumo Day

We decided to eat in the bowels of our hotel where there are numerous nice restaurants  connected to the subway.  Julia opted for an Italian place. We noticed numerous curry and Italian restaurants in Tokyo. I did not want to be eating Italian food while in Tokyo however the food was perfectly prepared and I'm glad we tried the place. Our waiter was French, surprisingly. I think they needed at least one caucasian at the front of the house for authenticity. He had been working in Tokyo for 15 years and went home about once every 5 years. 

The subways in Japan are timely, colour coded and English friendly but I have visited the Calgary Zoo on my way to the Saddledome more than once. We had one transfer to get to the Ryougoku Sumo Hall. I was distracted by a series of rectangular ponds and a lone man fishing. Tranquility.

Are they biting?

Are they biting?

The outside of the stadium was nicely marked but we almost went to the adjacent museum. Fortunately it had little in the way of garish coloured signage and we were able to turn around.


The inside of  the Ryougoku Sumo Hall seats 13,000 (see Google Maps Street View of the interior). We had box seats which consisted of a metal rail enclosed area with 4 red floor cushions. A box seat will sit 4 people but sitting cross legged for several hours is not common in North America for a reason. We didn't fill our box and were able to stretch our legs out nicely. In most sports it is preferable to be close to the action but in Sumo, I don't think the front row is very safe. The loser is often pushed out of the ring with great force into the crowd.

There was ample pageantry.  As the better wrestlers squared off later in the afternoon, parades of sponsor banners preceded each match. There were some unique pre-match salt throwing moves that showed just how much more confident the better wrestlers were. The concession stands sold beer and bento boxes. Most of the real food was sold out so we had chips, nuts and crackers with a few real fish sprinkled in (hard, salty, silver and green, about the size of a guppy). At the end of the day a flurry of seat cushions filled the air as fans threw them towards the ring. Apparently this happens when there is an upset. I love watching sumo but not to the point of handicapping the matches. 

While we were preparing for dinner, we felt a pretty serious earthquake. Being on the 33rd floor has many advantages but I couldn't think of any while the building was swaying. Fortunately it was a new building and the best course of action was to do nothing.

Before we went out to eat, we had a drink in the amazing Levita Sky Gallery Lounge. We had to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the bar. One of the bartenders stood at the exact centre of the long bar and made a welcoming gesture while the other two bowed. I had a Japanese whisky on "the rocks". My ice cube was a perfectly clear large rectangle the just fit into the glass. We watched a bartender take a large square block of clear ice and methodically sculpt and wash it down to the size where it fit perfectly into a glass. Then he started on a second one. I'm not sure what drinks got the big perfect round ice cube but I might have to order one before I leave. I have some spherical ice cube molds that I previously loved. Now I feel shame for having served cloudy ice to my friends.