There is no mistaking where you are when met with this picture at the train station. Ryogoku, Tokyo’s sumo district! There are many sumo stables (training centers) and the famed Kokugikan, sumo arena in the area.
There are many rules that govern the life of a sumo wrestler, including only being able to wear traditional clothing, to include geta (flip-flops), even in the winter. Needless to say, they are pretty easy to spot when you are out and about.
Chanko nabe is known as “sumo stew”, and is a hearty meat and vegetable soup. Sounds pretty healthy right? Now add in copious amounts of rice and beer (up to 10,000 calories per day) and you have a typical sumo meal! I was just so excited that I read the sign, and knew what it was, that I included the pic.
This was an awesome, and very hands on museum, that led you through ancient Edo (old Tokyo), to current Tokyo. We even had our own English speaking tour guide. This is a replica of Nihonbashi Bridge. The original, in downtown Tokyo, is still the spot from which all distance’s are measured in Japan.
Inside was a scene of a kabuki play. Kabuki is always a very ornate production, and even today, only men are allowed to play all parts, even the ladies parts. I guess way back when, it was considered improper for ladies to act, and today remains so to keep the cultural significance in tact.
This is what a shoguns wife would ride in, and it took four men or six women to carry. Women? The guide explained that there were areas in the home where men were not allowed, so the women would carry her in those places. What a life!
Fires have been a HUGE problem throughout Japanese history. This pole was carried by firemen (and it was heavy!) in a district to alert those in nearby districts of fire. Thereby, hopefully containing the fire more quickly.
With growing western influence, brick buildings were built, rather than all wood, as a way to help combat the spread of fire. This was the trendy district of Ginza, in the 1800’s, it looks so European! Now cue, the great earthquake of 1923, which reduced it to ruble anyway. They just can’t catch a break!