Swimming with Sumo

No pictures. They didn’t look like they wanted any pictures. So I left my camera in my bag. The story goes like this: We were having lunch at an Italian place called Flour. It’s a pretty popular joint in the Nagoya suburb of Nagakute. We go there enough to be recognized, but since I stick out like a sore thumb, I don’t think that’s saying much.

Anyway, it was about 2:30 when 3 guys in bathrobes walked in. Each guy was bigger than my apartment, and had his hair done in a topknot. They shuffled around in rubber zorii. (Zorii are like flip-flops, but more traditional.) They were seated at the table next to us. I couldn’t help but notice how they dwarfed the table — like adults attending a child’s tea party. They could only be two things, Sumo wrestlers or bouncers at a Gwen Stephani concert. Next week the Nagoya Sumo tournament begins. All the big Sumo names are in town. (are there any small sumo names?) So I put two and two together. These big guys must be Sumo wrestlers.

They didn’t say much but everyone in the restaurant seemed nervous in their presence. In fact the waitress came back to their table three times just to confirm their order. They seemed a little put off by this. I was nervous too, but I tried to play it cool.

So what did they eat? Double salad two pasta orders and two rolls each. Probably more than I could eat, but somehow I expected more from a Sumo. My wife said she thought one of them ordered three orders. I hope that’s true.

It must be tough to be a Sumo. You have to wear colorful bathrobes and flip-flops everywhere. You are as big as a house in a country where the average adult has to get their height confirmed to ride the bumper cars. (I can say that ’cause I’m short too.) You have to pay double for all your meals. People stare at you all the time. All for a chance in the ring at Yokozuna. Most of them never get a chance at it though. Just a lot of indigestion, I expect. I guess Sumo is good for the antacid industry. And they probably get bathrobe endorsements too. Or maybe I’m just too cynical.


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