A thousand days to learn, ten thousand days to refine
– Japanese proverb –
Japan and it’s weird, wonderful sports.
On a recent trip to Japan we were lucky enough to attend a sumo tournament. From early morning to late afternoon we watched in awe as dozens of wrestlers slowly moved their way to the dohyo, the traditional sacred ring made from clay.
It was amazing to see their almost ‘elephant seal’-like transformation. A slow bulky masss of blubber for most of the day. But in a split second these men can transform to incredible strong and gracefully mobile creatures.
The respect, the tradition, the rituals, everything that was surround us had a mesmerizing effect on us. The sport is sheer beauty. And just last week, early in 2017, Japan celebrated their first Yokozuna in 19 years. An emotional moment for many in Japan.
But holding true to their reputation for quirkiness Japan has many more wonderful, weird sports.
The game played by cadets at the National Defense Academy of Japan traditionally on its anniversary is famous for its size, where in two teams of 150 individuals each vie for control of a single large pole. Each team is split into two groups of 75 attackers and 75 defenders. The defenders begin in a defensive orientation respective to their own pole, while the attackers assume position some measure away from the other team’s pole. A team is victorious if it is able to lower the pole of the opposing team (which begins perpendicular to the ground) to a thirty-degree angle (respective to the ground), before the other team reaches this goal. Until a rule-change in 1973, the angle of victory was only forty-five degrees.