Mark Buckton talked to foreign visitors at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on Sunday as yokozuna Hakuho began his quest to win a 33rd basho and become the most successful wrestler ever.
Entrepreneur, 29 (Australian)
I am here to soak up the atmosphere now that sumo is back and popular again. I have been many times in the past, too, and used to like the now-retired former Bulgarian rikishi Kotooshu, because a friend said I look like him.
Student, 14 (Australian)
I always wanted to see sumo. For a long time it has really interested me, and when I found we were coming to Japan for a holiday, the opportunity to watch sumo here at the Kokugikan came up on the back of a skiing trip my family has just had to Hakuba (in Nagano Prefecture).
Tour guide, 25 (French)
Sumo is something that cannot be seen anywhere else. It’s uniquely Japanese and I don’t need to understand the language to know what is going on and who has won. Also, this tournament is of course one that could see the yokozuna Hakuho crowned the best ever.
Ph.D. student, 30 (Taiwanese)
I came to watch the sumo today because I am interested in Japanese culture. But I have only two days in Japan this time, so the timing to see the sumo is perfect, and as I leave for home on Monday, today was my only chance to be here — so I took it.
Japanese company staff, 40 (Kenyan)
I have been here several times. I love sumo and first watched it about 10 years ago. To date, I have been here about six or seven times, but it always feels like the first time. I enjoy it as it is something so traditional. Sumo has an elegance to it, and I love watching Hakuho.
Social services, 28 (American)
I am visiting Japan and I wanted to see something truly Japanese, something that cannot be reproduced elsewhere, and that is one reason I chose to come to sumo. Unlike, for example, kabuki, which is linguistically incomprehensible, sumo is easy enough to understand and doesn’t need any language skills.
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