JAPAN PHOTOS

By Philbert Ono

Image search results - "tournament"
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Sports Recreation Shiga 2008 was held in Shiga during Oct. 18-21, 2008. Various sports tournaments were held all around Shiga. The aerobics competition was held in Maibara. Maibara Station had this sign.
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Banners guide the way to the Shiga Prefectural Cultural and Industrial Exchange Hall (Shiga Kenritsu Bunka Sangyo Koryu Kaikan) 滋賀県立文化産業交流会館
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Shiga Prefectural Cultural and Industrial Exchange Hall (Shiga Kenritsu Bunka Sangyo Koryu Kaikan) 滋賀県立文化産業交流会館
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A Caffy doll in front of the hall. Aerobics participants from all over Japan gathered in the hall. The Sports Recreation event is held annually in a different prefecture. It is open to adults of all ages.
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Inside the hall with the aerobics competition which started at 9:30 am on Oct. 20, 2008. The hall was filled with energy and cheering. Thirty-nine teams of 3 to 5 people competed, totalling about 190 competitors. Three South Korean teams also competed.
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The highlight and newsmaker was this group called the Tokimeki Silvers consisting of women in their 80s and 90s. They were from Shiga.
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Tokimeki Silvers ときめきシルバーズ
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Tokimeki Silvers
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Each team had to have 3 to 5 people performing 90 sec. to 120 sec. long. The routine was required to include jumping jacks, kicks, and push ups.
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The contestants had to be at least 20 years old, but I think most people looked middle-aged.
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Audience in the seats.
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Local children watch aerobics behind a "Welcome to Maibara" sign.
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Aerobics team from Hiroshima.
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Aerobics team from Shiga.
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Aerobics team from Tokushima.
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Aerobics team from Miyagi.
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After the aerobics performances, there was a one-hour lunch break at noon, and a group picture-taking session of all the aerobics teams and officials.
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Group shot
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Maibara's official mascot, a family of fireflies.
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Posters for aerobics teams made by local school children.
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Posters for aerobics teams made by local school children.
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Poster for the Tokimeki Silvers
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The hall lobby had posters showing Maibara's major sights.
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The hall lobby also had articles and snapshots of the aerobics event the day before.
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Outside the hall were a few food booths and Spo-rec mascot Caffy walking around.
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After lunch, everyone participated in a joint aerobics session at 1 pm with a well-known instructor.
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This one-hour joint aerobics session was called the "Memorial Program."
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At 2 pm, all the teams sat in the front to listen to the announcement of the winners.
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As each winner was announced, the respective team cheered and went backstage. The senior group was of course a winner.
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The MC was an NHK Otsu TV newscaster.
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The winning teams performed their routines again.
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Aerobics team from Hiroshima.
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Awards ceremony with the winning teams on stage.
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ときめきシルバーズ
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The three South Korean aerobics teams were awarded with the International Exchange Award.
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During the closing ceremony, Maibara Mayor Michio Hirao offer congratulations.
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People from Miyazaki Prefecture which will host the next Sports Recreation meet in 2009, do some PR.
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People from Miyazaki Prefecture which will host the next Sports Recreation meet in 2009, do some PR.
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Banners line the way back to Maibara Station.
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JR Maibara Station with a Spo-rec welcome banner.
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Green Park Santo was the site for the Ozumo Maibara Basho or Maibara Exhibition Sumo Tournament on Oct. 17, 2008. It was nice sunny day. Banners with the name of famous sumo wrestlers (rikishi) were up. グリーンパーク山東
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Gate to the sumo arena. The gate opened at 8 am. The last exhibition sumo tournament held in Shiga was in 1999 in Nagahama Dome.
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Tickets please. We all got a sumo booklet with pictures of all the wrestlers.
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Arch to the sumo arena. 大相撲米原場所
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Two sumo wrestlers near the gate greeted spectators. The sumo contingent's stop in Maibara was part of their autumn exhibition tour. The day before, they were in Noto, Ishikawa Pref.
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Taiko drummer added atmosphere.
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The sumo arena was under a large tent. The ground was covered by a blue, vinyl tarp.
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Arena layout and ticket prices. The cheapest ticket was 4,000 yen and the most expensive near ringside was 14,000 yen.
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Sumo souvenir shops and food stalls.
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Sumo souvenirs
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Zabuton cushions with "Maibara Basho" imprinted were also sold for 1100 yen.
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Day's bouts.
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Miyabiyama stands near the entrance gate to sign autographs.
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Outside the tent arena was a grassy area where the rikishi warmed up. About 160 rikishi were in the tournament.
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Push-ups
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Mt. Ibuki in the background.
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Baruto from Estonia and Tochinoshin from Georgia chat with each other (probably in Russian).
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First the lower ranking Makushita wrestlers practiced on the ring.
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Banners above written with "Maibara Basho" and "Full House." It actually wasn't sold out.
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Later, the top division Makunouchi wrestlers started practice. They wear white mawashi belts.
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki practicing.
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One benefit of exhibition tournaments is that the rikishi are able to practice with different wrestlers from different stables.
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Baruto practicing.
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Kotooshu
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Maibara basho zabuton cushions
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai works out and gives a great photo op.
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai works out.
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai 大関千代大海
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki signs autographs.
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki 大関琴光喜
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Baruto signs autographs. This is something we cannot do during official sumo tournaments.
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Kisenosato signs autographs. He's quite popular with the ladies.
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Finally, Yokozuna Hakuho appears. At first, his tsukebito attendants declined autographs. But when a lady following him asked for an autograph, he stopped and said okay.
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A large crowd instantly formed around Hakuho.
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Yokozuna Hakuho signs autographs. Unfortunately, Yokozuna Asashoryu was in Mongolia recovering from an injury.
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A relaxing day at sumo. Notice the seat numbers written on the vinyl sheet. Four seats per "box" called masu-seki.
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At 11 am, it was sumo with the little kids. Here's Takamisakari. 人気力士とちびっ子の稽古
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Takamisakari swings around the helpless young boy.
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高見盛
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In the end, the kid pushed out Takamisakari.
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Baruto and kid.
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Baruto also flies the kid around.
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Up you go...
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Ha-ha, I pushed you out...
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Upsy daisy
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Around 21 kids from Shiga got to push around these rikishi.
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Chiyotaikai and kid
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West side
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Hanamichi to the sumo ring
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From 11:40 am, sumo matches began. Started with the Makushita wrestlers. (Notice their black mawashi belt.)
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Makushita match
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About 1,800 people attended the sumo tournament.
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A comedic sumo called shokkiri. 初切
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Comedic sumo. It actually takes quite a bit of practice to put on comedic sumo, another thing we don't normally see during regular tournaments.
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Boxing
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Singing sumo jinku songs. 相撲甚句
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At around 1 pm, the Ring-entering ceremony by Juryo wrestlers on the east side. 十両土俵入り
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Dohyo-iri Ring-entering ceremony by Juryo wrestlers on the east side.
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Dohyo-iri Ring-entering ceremony by Juryo wrestlers on the west side.
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Dohyo-iri Ring-entering ceremony by Juryo wrestlers on the west side.
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Taiko drumming demonstration. 檜太鼓打分け
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Rikishi waiting his turn to go in.
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Sumo wrestler's hairstyle.
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki
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Ozeki Kaio
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai
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Ozeki Chiyotaikai says, "Sorry, no time for more autographs."
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Yokozuna Hakuho and his yokozuna rope to be put around him by his attendants.
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Yokozuna Hakuho and his yokozuna rope belt.
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Yokozuna Hakuho waits to enter the sumo ring.
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Yokozuna Hakuho's yokozuna rope is held by his attendant wearing white gloves.
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Demonstration of putting on the yokozuna rope belt on Yokozuna Hakuho.
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This is something we don't seeing during regular grand sumo tournaments held every other month in Tokyo (3 times), Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.
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Pulling it tight.
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This is the Shiranui style with two loops in the back. The rope has a wire core to stiffen the rope. 横綱白鵬 不知火型
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He faced all four directions before stepping down from the ring.
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Picture-taking with Maibara mayor.
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Yokozuna Hakuho rests until it's time for his dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony. Behind is Mt. Ibuki.
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At around 1:30 pm, the Makunouchi dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony is held. This is the east side.
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Takamisakari carried a little boy (crying) from Maibara during the ring-entering ceremony.
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
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Baruto
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony on the west side.
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Chiyotaikai and Kotooshu
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Makunouchi dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony on the west side.
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Now the Yokozuna dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
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They set up up to the ring.
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Yokozuna Hakuho performs the yokozuna dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
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Yokozuna Hakuho performs the yokozuna dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony.
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Yokozuna Hakuho performs the yokozuna dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony. 横綱白鵬
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The Shiranui style has both arms extended outward when going up. 横綱白鵬 不知火型の土俵入り
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Maibara Mayor Michio Hirao greets the crowd. If he were a woman, he would not be allowed to stand in the sumo ring.
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Now the top-division Makunouchi wrestlers start to fight. The judges enter. This is former Ozeki Kirishima.
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Tosanoumi
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Kokkai (left)
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Takamisakari
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Takamisakari does his robocop routine.
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Takamisakari wins. He declined to sign any autographs, and just ran back to the dressing room. He must be tired of being mobbed all the time.
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Miyabiyama sits in a spectator seat as he waits his turn.
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Baruto flashes the peace sign to a photographer.
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Baruto is a big guy. He's Ozeki material. (Currently Komusubi.)
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Baruto shares a laugh.
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Homasho had very smooth skin.
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki signs autographs.
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Ozeki Kotomitsuki is interviewed.
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Referee
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Inside the sumo arena. It was pretty full.
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Kisenosato
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Sanyaku (top three ranking wrestlers) wrestlers: Ama, Hakuho, and Kaio.
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Sanyaku wrestlers: Kotomitsuki, Chiyotaikai, and Kotooshu.
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Ama is the winner. In Nov. 2008, he was promoted to Ozeki and was renamed Harumafuji.
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Kaio vs. Kotooshu
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Kaio vs. Kotooshu
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Hakuho vs. Kotomitsuki, the last bout of the day.
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Hakuho vs. Kotomitsuki
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Hakuho vs. Kotomitsuki
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Hakuho won
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Yumitorishiki 弓取式
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After it ended, the wrestlers rode on these buses. The next stop was Kyoto. Their autumn exhibition tour lasting till Oct. 26 would then take them to Tokushima, Kochi, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi Prefectures.
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Maibara Basho sumo booklet.
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This is Hakurozan, who was arrested for drug use in 2008 and booted out of sumo along with his brother Roho.
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On the first day of the tournament, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (shown here is Kitanoumi) and top rikishi go on the ring to convey greetings to the crowd.
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The chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (shown here is Kitanoumi) greets the crowd and thanks everyone for coming.
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Next we have the ring-entering ceremony by the top division wrestlers in the Makunouchi Division. Rikishi from the east side come down the aisle first. They are led by a referee.
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They enter as wooden clappers are clapped by someone.
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The colorful kesho mawashi are expensive to make, and each wrestler has a sponsor who donates an apron. The sponsor's name is usually on the bottom.
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The higher ranking rikishi are at the end of the line. (Hakuho and Kotooshu here).
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They make their way around the ring.
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The sumo tournaments are broadcast live every day on TV by NHK, focusing on the Makunouchi Division matches.
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After the last wrestler is on the ring, they all turn around and raise their arms.
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Getting off the sumo ring.
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Ozeki Kotooshu.
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Ozeki Kotooshu with an apron by Bulgaria Yogurt. (Kotooshu is from Bulgaria.)
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Next are rikishi from the west side.
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Takamisakari is one of the more popular rikishi.
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Unfortunately, there are people ignorant of sumo who think it is just nearly naked, fat men charging at each other. Famous American newspaper columnist Mike Royko once wrote one of the worse and most insulting pieces about sumo in his column.
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During a sumo exhibition tour in the US, first lady Nancy Reagan rejected having the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony performed in the Rose Garden of the White House. It was performed at the State Department instead with Secretary George Schultz attending.
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Fortunately, there are many people who do appreciate sumo, like former French president Jacques Chirac. (THe current French president has no interest in sumo.)
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Wrestlers wait until everyone is on the ring. Notice that Takamisakari (second from the left) and the rikishi on the far right have almost the same aprons. They will serve as the sword bearer and dew sweeper for the yokozuna ring-entering ceremony.
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Some of the designs on the aprons are quite beautiful. Some are also pretty much advertisements for the sponsor who could be a support group, fan club, company, or rich individual.
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Roho's apron actually had little lights which flashed.
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Hakuho, before he became yokozuna.
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Baruto, from Estonia, at the center. He's well on his way to become Ozeki. There are many foreign sumo wrestlers. Unfortunately, there are none from Hawaii. Mostly Europeans and Mongolians.
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Right after the Makunouchi dohyo-iri is the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri. This is Yokozuna Asashoryu. A major highlight during the tournament.
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The yokozuna is flanked by two attendants, a sword bearer on the left and dew sweeper on the right. Their kesho mawashi ceremonial aprons are a matching set.
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He claps his hands to get the attention of the gods. 横綱土俵入り
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He extends his arms to show that he conceals no weapons. I'm not too crazy about the way Asashoryu does the dohyo-iri though. A few little details make it less dignified.
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Then he steps forward and turns to the front.
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He claps his hands and stomps his foot.
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