The build up, the build up, the build up. Crowds cheering. People yelling the names of their favourite wrestlers and taunts or encouragement (I have no idea which – but there was a lot of yelling) and the wrestlers place their fists on the ground …..

The bout doesn’t start by any special signal given by the referee, but when both wrestlers feel that they are mentally “ready”, and that their preparations have synchronized. It is only when both of them have placed their fists on the ground that the bout truly begins. But if the gyoji decides that one of the wrestlers has not placed both of his fists on the ground before the start (or if the opposing rikishi decides that he wasn’t completely ready) the bout is stopped cold (matta). The two opponents must now turn back to the starting position.

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The tachi-ai, that moment when two rikishi throw themselves against their opponent, is one of the most important phases. In fact, a good start most often allows the rikishi in question to fight the bout in the style that fits him the best.


You can “feel” the impact.


From that point on, the matches had a great variation. Some were over in the blink of an eye while a few were epic matches with the titans wrestling, pushing and trying to get the advantage.

Shot by shot, this looks like an epic battle (shot with my Canon 5D Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8).

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The final shot that decided the outcome.

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But this wasn’t my favourite match of the day. I happened to catch that one on video.



A friend mentioned that when the family arrives in Tokyo the best thing to do is get out and see the Tsukiji fish market, which seems to make every “things you must do in Tokyo” list. The reasoning; your body clock is going to be a mess and you will be up very early. To get the most out of the market, you should be there for 4:30am to get in line for the great tuna auction.

Sure enough, I was up around 1AM (after an amazing 4 hours sleep) with the whole family was wide awake by 4:30am. We decided that we were not going to rush out for the tuna auction but would still get down there to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market, leaving the apartment at 6AM (everything is pretty much done by 9am).

When we arrived, it was an absolute hive of activity. The motorized carts, delivery motor and pedal bikes that feed fish to a city of tens of millions, were everywhere. Step the wrong way and you could get run over (although they are immensely careful).

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The shuttle carts are an amazing little device. The circle in the middle is a huge wheel that you do not turn but press left and right to steer, with a throttle on the right foot. They accelerate quickly and turn on a dime. They were either loaded with raw fish (note the big tuna head on the right)

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or with styrofoam boxes packed with ice and fish for delivery. We happened upon a fishmonger filling the boxes with ice.

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The pace is so frantic that they need a police officer to keep it all flowing.

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You would think that a large fish market would give off some sort of nasty smell and that it would be messy. Neither was the case, it smelled “fresh” and was very clean. We happened on a indoor alley behind the stalls and were amazed at how clean it was. As we walked past this vendor, the wonderful smell of shrimp wafted down the laneway. Amazing.

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Now if we just knew how to read Japanese and figure out what everything was beyond the extremely obvious … This is clearly one spectacular cut of tuna (upper right).

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This looks interesting …. and I am game. As we tell the boys, you must try something at least 2 times before you decide that you do not like it.

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