Nestled in the mountains of Fukushima, several foreign English teachers were invited to an annual amateur sumo tournament. Although participation was only open to men, women were welcome to spectate and enjoy the food and game stalls. It was located on top of a quaint little mountain overlooking rice fields.
Before the tournament began, the participants were taken to a temple further up the mountain and consumed a lot of sake that was provided. Over the course of the day, sake was flowing freely, as was the laughter and good spirit. The participants were dressed in a traditional Japanese Mawashi - the loincloth worn by professional sumo wrestlers - and the tournament began.
Children started with a short sumo demonstration before it moved on into the tournament. The winners were decided beforehand, but it was still a fun event to participate in and watch. There were food stalls on the mountain next to the sumo arena, so it was easy to take short breaks for food and drinks.
Once the tournament ended, the evening was brought to a close with a bon dance (a set dance where anyone is welcome to join in, usually in a circle around a platform with professional dancers demonstrating the simple dance) and an after party. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.
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