Wednesday, June 16, 2010


One recent rainy day, hundreds of sumo fans pulled on their clear plastic, convenience store, rain ponchos and bussed up to Kanazawa's Mt Utatsuyama to observe a centuries old tradition.

Me? I came to gawk at the diaper thongs and man boobies.

Correction: teenage boy boobies. This was a national high school sumo tournament that takes place in Kanazawa every year.

It was just like a classic American high school football game: the stands were packed with hoards of cheering classmates, singing chants, stomping feet and clapping, and a school marching band was playing Eye of the Tiger. Yes, that Eye of the Tiger. At a sumo match. The only difference was the star athletes were wearing nothing but loin-cloths-meet-g-strings and the cheerleaders donned kimonos and danced to traditional Japanese music during half time.

Having become completely accustomed to Japan's delicate man waifs, with their Pocky-like legs and Mary Kate Olson sized waists, I was taken aback by the size of these burgeoning athletes.

How do the pro-wrestlers manage to get so plump and pudgy in the land of the slim and skinny?

The regimen of no breakfast and a large lunch followed by beer and sleep helps rikishi put on weight so as to compete more effectively.

Epiphany alert! It seems I was on a sumo wrestler's diet nearly every weekend of my Chico life. Only Wikipedia made no mention of Super Burritos with extra sour cream or the come-hither green label of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Instead, the big boys feast on chankonabe, a tasty Japanese style stew packed with chicken, fish, tofu and vegetables. Oh, and plenty of rice, of course.  

Speaking of food, the muddy pathway leading to the sumo ring was lined with colorful tents pumping out yummy smells and selling greasy foods-on-sticks. After several soggy hours of sumo watching, consuming a freakishly long and crooked hot dog seemed like the absolute right thing to do. As did following it up with beer and a nap.

(If you actually want to learn more about sumo, check out this link. It's actually really interesting and much better than me paraphrasing Wikipedia and pretending I am some kind of expert.)