Sumo at Yaskuni-jinja

Yesterday, Gaku took a day off from daycare and I took him and Hana to see sumo at Yasukuni-jinja. It’s an outdoor sumo ring and they hold this tournament once a year as part of a special spring celebration. It started around 10:40 with the lower-level wrestlers. They let in a maximum of 6,000 people. We went by taxi, because I couldn’t figure out how we could go by train at that time of the day with 2 kids and a big stroller. It would still have been the tail end of the morning rush, which on the Mita Line is quite packed and not so friendly.

When we got there, we bought a couple of bento and were able to find a place to sit without too much trouble. Basically, it’s packed dirt with large stones at the front edges of each level. The good thing is there are lots of little stones throughout the dirt, so Gaku kept busy with another boy collecting rocks for a long time. Gaku’s pants were so filthy, and the pockets were full of stones. The wall at the end was also nice because it kept him from escaping, so I didn’t have to chase him too much. Although I did have one slightly scary moment where I lost sight of him. He was also having fun running up and down the row talking to people. A guy at the other end gave him a pencil and a piece of candy, which he’s running back with in the picture.

The bad thing about this ring is that it’s a bit dangerous. Near us, a few elderly people fell trying to get down from the higher rows. One woman fell and hit her head on the rocks on the opposite side from us; another man landed on Gaku when he was playing down in the aisle.

From about 2:00 in the afternoon the more famous higher-level wrestlers start. Unfortunately, we had to leave just as they were about to start – Gaku had gotten a bit too bored and was about to meltdown/go crazy. It was a bit difficult to get out with the big buggy because of the way people were sitting and the fact that everyone else was trying to come in, not go out. At this time, there were people lined up for quite a while waiting to get in. We stayed a bit too long, though. By the time we got out of the sumo ring and towards the shrine entrance, Gaku was starting to meltdown. He basically cried the whole time we were walking from the shrine to the station, about 10-15 minutes. Because he was crying so hard, I couldn’t quite figure out what he was saying. I know he wanted ice cream, which I had said we would get. By the time we got to the station, he was fine again.

We took the train to Shinjuku to buy him a new pair of pants first. His pants were so dirty I couldn’t imagine taking him into a restaurant and wouldn’t let him sit on the train. At Shinjuku, we made a quick stop into Baby Gap and bought some pants which he wore out of the store. Then we went and had a big sundae! Towards the end of eating the sundae, his eyes were starting to close. I nursed Hana and changed her diaper so I could put her in the carrier on the way home and let Gaku sit in the buggy. He was asleep before we got on the train.

I think we’ll just stay home today as I’m a bit tired and tomorrow we’re going on a “sakura walk”. It’s a walk set up by city hall to view the cherry blossoms along the river. It starts from 9am and is about 6.5 kilometers.

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