Ask people what images come to mind when they think of Japanese sports, and they may say martial arts such as karate or judo. Ask them if they’ve ever been to a championship, and many will say they haven’t. There are two great chances to change that this weekend in Tokyo.
First, split between two famous martial arts halls and over two days, is the All Japan Karate Championships — with teams competing for medals on the first day, and individuals competing on the second. An impressive 14,000 seats surround the mats at Nippon Budokan, which was built for judo bouts in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
And to see how far judo has come in the four decades since those Games, head to Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium and check out the Judo Grand Slam. As well as trying to win their weight categories, there is extra incentive for the athletes as they grapple and fight for ranking and points, aiming to qualify them for the 2012 Games.
The All Japan Karate Championships takes place at Budokan Hall in Adachi-ku on Dec. 10 (9:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m.) and at Nippon Budokan Hall in Chiyoda-ku on Dec. 11 (8:30 a.m. till 6 p.m.). Admission is ¥2,000 and tickets are valid for both days. The Judo Grand Slam takes place from Dec. 9 till Dec. 11 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Shibuya-ku (from 9:30 a.m.). Admission is ¥2,700 for unreserved seating.