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Japan 2023: Day 6

The day has finally arrived. The entire reason why we planned a trip to Fukuoka in November. There are only six sumo tournaments held every year. Three in Tokyo, one in Osaka, one in Nagoya, and the last tournament of the year is held in Fukuoka. We have been watching sumo through YouTube for six years now and it is finally time to see it live.

But before that could happen we needed to do our laundry because we've almost reached the halfway point of our trip and what we packed was not going to last. I found a 24 hour laundromat (ARATTE RUMBA) with machines that could both wash and dry your clothes. You interacted with it via a touchscreen and could even change the language to English. In 90 minutes we had both Elsie and I's clothes washed, dried, and folded. Highly recommended for anyone who needs to do their laundry in Fukuoka.

For lunch we stopped by a small curry cafe that was run by a lone woman. She couldn't speak any English but we were able to pantomime what we wanted and got ourselves some delicious tonkatsu curry and iced coffee.

We arrived at the Kokusai Center just short of 2pm. Before heading to our seats we grabbed some merch, including towels for some of our favourite wrestlers. We also happened to spot Kaisei manning one of the registers. By 2pm we were in our seats and we did not leave them until the final match finished at 6pm.

I have no doubt that seeing sumo live will be the highlight of this trip. It was truly amazing. There are no screens inside the arena for a sumo tournament which means there are no replays. You need to be paying rapt attention to ensure you don't miss anything. The energy of the crowd was also unlike anything I have ever encountered. In the lead-up to the match such a hush falls over the crowd but then immediately explodes as the two wrestlers rush towards one another. It was an incredibly unique experience that I will never forget. It has already made Elsie and I start thinking about a trip to Tokyo in either January, May, or September, so we can see a honbasho in the Ryƍgoku Kokugikan.

Unfortunately, on the way back to our hotel we tried and failed to find somewhere to eat. I don't know if it was the pandemic or if I have somehow become more introverted since I last visited, but it is really hard to feel comfortable entering a place to eat when they don't have an English menu visible or there are no foreigners inside. We stood outside four different restaurants for at least 30 minutes debating if we just wanted to barge in and ask to be served but in the end we just went back to our hotel without eating anything.

I was really hoping that this trip would be a tour of Japanese cuisine but it has ended up mostly being a tour of their convenience stores and fast food chains. Maybe tomorrow I'll check out a Japanese McDonald's!