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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 many who don’t wish to see an excessive amount of flesh, the images inside this text do showcase lots of pores and skin. I’ve tried to {photograph} the occasion tastefully and used artistic methods to make the pictures slightly extra arty…hopefully you’ll take pleasure in 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 enviornment of Japan. I reserved the seat on-line, picked up the tickets at an area 7-Eleven retailer and had no concept as to the place we’d be sitting, however assumed it could be very removed from the motion as a result of they had been roughly $20AUD.

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

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

Probably the most distinguished sumo tournaments is held yearly in September in Tokyo, just some blocks down from the Tokyo Skytree at Ryogoku Kokugikan Nationwide Sumo Area. This occasion not solely showcases the bodily prowess and talent of sumo wrestlers but in addition pays homage to the wealthy custom and historical past of this revered sport. The world, the ambiance and the evident tradition present a captivating perception into each the opponents and the followers.

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

The September Sumo Event in Tokyo

The September sumo match in Tokyo is without doubt one of the most prestigious occasions on the sumo wrestling calendar. The match, referred to as the “Aki Basho,” attracts followers from all over the world who collect on the Ryogoku Kokugikan to witness the extreme battles between sumo wrestlers, or “rikishi.” These wrestlers, sporting nothing greater than loincloths and a logo of their secure’s crest, preserving the simplicity and sacredness of the game.

I have to admit to being slightly shocked after 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, referred to as “jonokuchi,” to the highest-ranked, referred to as “makuuchi.” The competitors progresses in a round-robin format, the place every wrestler fights towards each different wrestler inside their division. The aim is to win as many matches as doable to safe a better rank within the following tournaments.

The primary matches with the makuuchi begin round 4:30pm and final roughly an hour and a half. Nevertheless, the day begins at 9am and you may enter the stadium to observe the decrease ranked opponents too. We arrived at 11am, as a result of I wished time to get adjusted to the circumstances, attempt to work out what was happening and the way every 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 artistic methods with lots of matches.

Within the morning, the ambiance 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 group chanting the names of their favorite wrestlers and waving indicators.

Picture Ideas for Sumo Wrestling

Firstly, no flash pictures is allowed (until 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. Basically, you are taking your seat and {photograph} from it.

As a result of format of the sector, it’s very easy to {photograph} from nearly any seat, as I mentioned, I used to be within the very again row and nonetheless cherished the expertise and got here away with lots of pictures I used to be actually pleased with.

  • Pack a zoom lens, in case you’re like me and find yourself within the again row, you’ll want all of the zoom you may get in case you’re searching for nearer pictures of the opponents. 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 number of first to see what elements you wish to {photograph} and begin to generate some artistic concepts for the way.
  • Go searching to see what different components you may embrace inside your pictures, I cherished bending barely in my seat to include the golden glow of the banister. At first it felt prefer it was in my manner, however then I discovered a technique to compose the pictures and produce some artistic pictures that includes the opponents and a little bit of golden bokeh.

  • Don’t be so consumed by taking images that you simply miss the expertise and collaborating within the ambiance.
  • A number 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 obtained actually spectacular!
  • The press pit is situated proper beside the dohyō, in case you’re sitting reverse, it may be enjoyable to time your pictures 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 sector, nonetheless 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. This can be 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 simply’ll finally wish to experiment and get slightly artistic together 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 brush the floor, for every degree of competitors, there’s a parade of opponents 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 extra money on the match, the extra vibrant banners are paraded round. It’s truly fairly enjoyable to see as a result of it could start with three banners, then an additional six will come from a unique course and the group goes wild with cheers. Throughout this time the sumo wrestlers are getting ready so you may seize the motion of the banners whereas they’re within the body.

Get Sumo Tickets

The schedule for the 12 months’s tournaments could be discovered on the official web site right here, the positioning additionally states when tickets are launched and learn how to buy them.

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

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

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 Places

Visiting Shibuya Sky – Ideas for Photographers

Step Contained in the Hoshinoya Tokyo – Luxurious Lodge Evaluation





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