Sumo, Osaka, 2000

It was my birthday, a dreary cold and rainy March day, as only Japan can render. It looked like the highlight would be a soak in the ofuro that evening, until my neighbor Steve suggested that we go into Osaka for the annual sumo tournament. We took the train from Nishinomiya to Nanba, stood in line to get tickets, then bought snacks in the 7/11 and Lawson’s, where the young sumo apprentices were stocking up on junk food. The bouts began after lunch, but few Japanese attend until late afternoon, when the makuuchi division competes. Four hours I was able to crouch close to the dohyō (土俵) with my new Nikon digital camera, shooting with gusto. Early digital cameras were not good in low light, and you can’t use flash at a sumo match. It was a splendid accident that this picture captured the speed and force of an ippon, a match-ending throw.

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