Sumo are pretty awesome, but usually kept at arms’ length by their handlers. When Ryann and I visited Asa Geiko (morning training) two years ago, we were lucky they allowed us to film an empty training ring. Minato beya, a stable from Tokyo, are a little more welcoming, and host post-training breakfasts where visitors can meet, and talk to some of their sumo.
After breakfast, and some interviews with the nervous athletes, we were invited in to watch as some get their cho-mage hair styles re-set. The life of a sumo means very little privacy, especially when travelling. Unsurprisingly, I was told few sumo have girlfriends until they are considering retirement, which is generally around 35 years old.
Sumo is such an interesting sport on so many levels. It is old, yet maintains its popularity. It is a strict, regimented lifestyle, yet continues to attract athletes. Like many Westerners who come to Japan, I love sumo. The chance to see behind the closed screens usually imposed on outsiders was amazing. Thank you Minato Beya!