10 January 2017

Tokyo Stroll Report #1// Ryogoku, You Had Me at Hello

December 6th, 2016

If there's an area in Tokyo that I'm currently obsessed, then Ryogoku it is. It is definitely my new stroll route but it just feels so nostalgic as if in the past, I 've ever lived in this area known as "The Heartland of Sumo".

The first time I set my feet in Ryogoku station, it welcomed me in a way that made me swear, "I'll come back and and stroll to every corner you have to please me!". And I'm not lying, I did come back here again few weeks later in the same month. And I'm going to write it on the other post, just because all these Ryogoku strolls are so fun and deserve a share. Also, to some technical notes, I took gazillions of pictures that simply can't fit in just one post, haha.




My main destination this time, is the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena located just a minute on foot from Ryogoku Station (yeas, it is that close, folks!). It also stands back to back with the gigantic Edo-Tokyo Museum, that I opt to visit on my next Ryogoku stroll! ;) *fingers crossed*


If you ever come to Ryogoku Station, you'll see these huge paintings depicting the Yokozuna(s) or the Sumo Wrestlers of the highest rank. 

Starting from the right, here we have Hakuho Sho, who got the Yokozuna title in 2007 (Heisei 19), when he was as young as 22 years old. Hakuho is probably the first Sumo wrestler that I knew! I knew him around 4 years ago, when he appeared in a green tea commercial on TV. And all I thought that time was that, how friendly Hakuho's facial expression was. Well, I'm just too excited whenever the topic is about this very charismatic Yokozuna

Now, move on to the left painting, here we have Musashimaru Koyo, who got the title as Yokozuna in 1999. However, the year written on the painting is 2002 (Heisei 14), the year regarded as his most successful year after being promoted as Yokozuna

Both of the Yokozunas above are not of Japanese. Hakuho is a pure Mongolian, while Musashimaru is of American Samoa. It's not a rare thing in the Sumo world to have foreign wrestlers. Even currently, some of foreign wrestlers are also dominating the highest ranks. Now I started to wonder when will someone of Indonesian descendant become a Sumo wrestler.


As I told you before, that Ryogoku is the heartland of Sumo. Here you can easily see Sumo wrestlers passing by, with their top-knot buns signature hairstyle, clad in yukata.

On the way to the Kokugikan, I was so thrilled when a Sumo wrestler passed by, riding a bicycle so casually. I rushed taking my camera out of my bag to capture the moment. And now you know how in a hurry I was, as I had no time to set the camera settings, lol! Nor even thinking about switching it to auto mode. But at least, I tried. Haha.


Not long after I continued walking, another Sumo wrestler, or whom we also call as Osumo-san appeared leaving Kokugikan. Compared to the first Osumo-san that I encountered, this one is pretty smaller in girth. 

Ryogoku Kokugikan

After a few minutes of walking and wondering the variety of Sumo wrestlers' measurements, I finally arrived at the Kokugikan! with Maru-chan :) 

The building might not look so grandeur from the outside. But according to my online research, this stadium is the largest Sumo arena in Japan with a capacity up to 10,000 spectators. Three out of six annual Grand Sumo Tournaments are held here, in January, May and September.


Since January is the month of Sumo, hence my goal for this month is to watch Sumo live at Kokugikan! Yosh! Now I'm trying to contact someone from uni that usually gives us information related to some events that we can attend free of charge. Hopefully, there's a slot for a Sumo watching this month! :D 

By the way, the January tournament is scheduled to run from 8th-22nd. Whaaat, only 12 days left, buddies!! *panic* or, if I'm too late for this month's tournament, I'll just patiently wait till May. Until then, I need to make sure that I would still be as excited as I am now about Sumo.

 
Maru-chan's attempt in copying one of the Sumo's gesture xD
(Umm, anyway, Xiao Yuan, I missed our half-day strolls every Tuesday, after I finished my class. Now wondering when will days like this be coming again.

It's blowing a gale outside!


Well, we didn't explore much of Ryogoku this time, as we spent quite a long while at the Kokugikan enjoying the murals and went inside the souvenir shop--ended up buying nothing tho. These giant sumo murals were exactly what made me eager to visit Ryogoku at the very first place.

It was one fine summer day when I happened to see Jovana, a Serbian friend of mine posted a picture of her striking a cool pose in front of the mural. At that time, I was instantly mumbling, "I need to go there, I really need to!" several times and just couldn't let myself be calm. Well, the thing is, I'm obsessed to murals ever since I don't know and I can't let them un-visited moreover if they're only several blocks from my place. 

And good thing is, I found Ryogoku. One place that surprisingly meets all sorts of my liking: old town atmosphere, bunch of good museums, and interesting murals!

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And here's a bit about what's gonna be coming up next on the blog!
Still about the Ryogoku stroll :)


So, I'll see you guys on the next post?
Meanwhile, may we all have a pleasant stroll!


xx,

Shabrina.

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