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Behind the Lens – Photographing a Sumo Event in Tokyo –

Photographing a Sumo Event in Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan

Sumo wrestling has been an integral a part of Japanese tradition for hundreds of years, and its tournaments have captivated audiences everywhere in the world, some intensely , others puzzled however amused by what they’re witnessing.

*Somewhat warning for individuals who don’t need to see an excessive amount of flesh, the pictures inside this text do showcase quite a lot of pores and skin. I’ve tried to {photograph} the occasion tastefully and used inventive methods to make the pictures slightly extra arty…hopefully you’ll get pleasure from seeing a peek inside this fascinating Japanese sport.

On my latest journey to Tokyo, I used to be fortunate sufficient to order a ticket to the September match at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the nationwide sumo area of Japan. I reserved the seat on-line, picked up the tickets at a neighborhood 7-Eleven retailer and had no thought as to the place we’d be sitting, however assumed it might be very removed from the motion as a result of they have been roughly $20AUD.

Spoiler, we have been within the very again row, however this truly ended up being best for somebody who had no thought what was occurring and wished to {photograph} as a lot as attainable with out getting in anybody’s means.

So, let’s chat about sumo wrestling, a phrase I by no means thought I’d be typing. I need to supply an perception into what it’s prefer to {photograph} at a sumo match, some images suggestions to assist plan what lenses to pack and what digital camera settings work greatest, plus slightly perception into what the heck is definitely occurring once they step into the ring, or extra particularly, dohyō.

One of the distinguished sumo tournaments is held yearly in September in Tokyo, only a few blocks down from the Tokyo Skytree at Ryogoku Kokugikan Nationwide Sumo Enviornment. This occasion not solely showcases the bodily prowess and ability of sumo wrestlers but in addition pays homage to the wealthy custom and historical past of this revered sport. The sector, the environment and the evident tradition present an interesting perception into each the rivals and the followers.

Sumo wrestling dates to historical Japan, with its origins deeply rooted in Shinto rituals. Thought-about a sacred occasion, it was believed to be a strategy to entertain the gods and produce luck to the neighborhood. Over time, it developed right into a extremely expert sport that calls for immense energy, agility, and psychological self-discipline. As we speak, sumo tournaments are held in grand arenas known as “kokugikan,” which interprets to “nationwide sport corridor,” symbolising the importance of this historical custom.

The September Sumo Event in Tokyo

The September sumo match in Tokyo is likely one of the most prestigious occasions on the sumo wrestling calendar. The match, often known as the “Aki Basho,” attracts followers from all over the world who collect on the Ryogoku Kokugikan to witness the extraordinary battles between sumo wrestlers, or “rikishi.” These wrestlers, sporting nothing greater than loincloths and an emblem of their secure’s crest, preserving the simplicity and sacredness of the game.

I need to admit to being slightly stunned once I first placed on the 40-150mm F2.8 professional lens and paired it with my MC-20 2 x teleconverter to get nearer to the motion…hiya pores and skin!

The match spans over fifteen days, with every day’s matches divided into numerous divisions, ranging from the lowest-ranked wrestlers, often known as “jonokuchi,” to the highest-ranked, known as “makuuchi.” The competitors progresses in a round-robin format, the place every wrestler fights towards each different wrestler inside their division. The purpose is to win as many matches as attainable to safe the next rank within the following tournaments.

The principle matches with the makuuchi begin round 4:30pm and final roughly an hour and a half. Nonetheless, the day begins at 9am and you may enter the stadium to look at the decrease ranked rivals too. We arrived at 11am, as a result of I wished time to get adjusted to the situations, attempt to work out what was occurring and the way every little thing flowed. By arriving early, we had loads of area round us as a lot of the crowd didn’t arrive till 3-4pm, it meant I may transfer round in my seat with out bothering anyway and gave me an opportunity to check out come inventive methods with quite a lot of matches.

Within the morning, the environment contained in the Ryogoku Kokugikan was actually fairly relaxed, as soon as the larger matches began occurring round 5pm although, it’s electrifying, with the gang chanting the names of their favorite wrestlers and waving indicators.

Photograph Suggestions for Sumo Wrestling

Firstly, no flash images is allowed (except you’re a registered member of the press), and also you’re not permitted to stroll the aisles attempting to get a greater vantage level. Primarily, you’re taking your seat and {photograph} from it.

As a result of format of the world, it’s very easy to {photograph} from nearly any seat, as I mentioned, I used to be within the very again row and nonetheless liked the expertise and got here away with quite a lot of photographs I used to be actually proud of.

  • Pack a zoom lens, if you happen to’re like me and find yourself within the again row, you’ll want all of the zoom you may get if you happen to’re searching for nearer photographs of the rivals. I had the OM SYSTEM OM-1 digital camera paired with the 40-150mm f2.8 professional lens and the MC-20 2x teleconverter on for a lot of the day.
  • There are many matches all through the day, so watch a couple of first to see what facets you need to {photograph} and begin to generate some inventive concepts for a way.
  • Go searching to see what different parts you’ll be able to embrace inside your photographs, I liked bending barely in my seat to include the golden glow of the banister. At first it felt prefer it was in my means, however then I discovered a strategy to compose the photographs and produce some inventive photographs that includes the rivals and a little bit of golden bokeh.

  • Don’t be so consumed by taking pictures that you just miss the expertise and participating within the environment.
  • Plenty of the matches are over inside mere seconds, so it may be useful to set your digital camera to seize a number of frames. I used to be utilizing the OM SYSTEM Professional Seize as soon as the matches received actually spectacular!
  • The press pit is situated proper beside the dohyō, if you happen to’re sitting reverse, it may be enjoyable to time your photographs with their flashes to assist create a picture that highlights the spectacle and provides an extra pop of sunshine to set the scene.

  • You could want to extend your ISO to round 1600 and shoot with a quick shutter velocity to comfortably seize the motion with out blur. It’s comparatively well-lit inside the world, nevertheless relying on the place you’re seated, the decrease gentle could make issues slightly trickier.
  • Earlier than every match, the sumo wrestlers will stretch and do the identical routine. It is a nice likelihood to seize portraits and experiment with numerous angles, compositions and topics.

Inventive Problem – Photographing Motion

There are a bunch of matches all through the day, so many that you just’ll finally need to experiment and get slightly inventive along with your pictures.

Give lengthy exposures a go to seize the motion and movement of the athletes, but in addition the custom. Between matches somebody will come out to make use of a brush to comb the floor, for every stage of competitors, there’s a parade of rivals and the motion right here is extremely enjoyable to seize as they stroll across the dohyō with the colorful crests.

As soon as the higher-ranked sumo wrestlers take the stage, you’ll discover a parade of banners earlier than every match begins. These are sponsors, and the more cash on the match, the extra vibrant banners are paraded round. It’s truly fairly enjoyable to see as a result of it might start with three banners, then an extra six will come from a distinct course and the gang goes wild with cheers. Throughout this time the sumo wrestlers are getting ready so you’ll be able to seize the motion of the banners whereas they’re within the body.

Easy methods to Get Sumo Tickets

The schedule for the yr’s tournaments may be discovered on the official web site right here, the positioning additionally states when tickets are launched and the best way to buy them.

For the September match, I truly bought mine about three weeks prematurely, nevertheless there was solely the one date left, and the seats have been within the again row. Should you’re hoping to have slightly extra selection when it comes to date and seat allocation, make sure you reserve your tickets the second they’re launched, usually about 6-8 weeks earlier than a match.

Reserve your tickets right herehttps://www.sumo.or.jp/EnTicket/ (The English model must be seen, if not, there’s a language tab on the prime of the display)

Eager to maintain studying about photographing Japan? Browse the next free guides under

In depth Location Information – A Photographer’s Information to Photographing Tokyo

A Full Information to Kyoto Pictures Areas

Visiting Shibuya Sky – Suggestions for Photographers

Step Contained in the Hoshinoya Tokyo – Luxurious Resort Evaluation





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