Ryogoku Festival & Golden Week


Shikoroyama-beya chanko
“Team Shikoroyama” serves chanko at the street fair in Ryogoku

We have a busy week ahead of us in sumo, as the banzuke is revealed on Monday here in Tokyo, and the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee will host their upcoming soken on Thursday at Kokugikan. Coinciding with all of this is the holiday period here in Japan known as the Golden Week. This weekend in Ryogoku, a street fair was conducted, and our friends at Inside Sport Japan alerted us that rikishi would be serving chankonabe at food stalls in the area:

I went to drop in on the action today, and met up with Tachiai instagram contributor Nicola. As part of the festivities, the Kokugikan was open to the public, meaning that members of the community could check out the incredible sumo museum as well as buy sumo merchandise normally only available at a honbasho. The Sumo Association mascots were also on hand to take pictures with children (and Tachiai contributors).

Sumo Merch at Kokugikan
Sumo merchandise in the Kokugikan (photo credit: @nicolaah)

Members of Tatsunami-beya were on hand selling chanko for ¥500 on the grounds of Kokugikan, so we had a seat there and indulged in a tasty dish which was not too different from the variety typically served during a Tokyo basho. Down the street in the main part of the street fair, Shikoroyama-beya (some members of whom were dressed in very cool “Team Shikoroyama” t-shirts) were also selling their brand of chanko. Unfortunately, I was sated from the first bowl and did not indulge. I hope Tachiai-favorite Abi does not hold this against us!

Chanko at Kokugikan
Chanko served up by members of Tatsunami-beya at Kokugikan (photo credit: @nicolaah)

Plenty of rikishi were out in the street. Nicola spotted a few members of Michinoku-beya, and that unique smell of binzuke was almost impossible to escape.

Much like the jungyo event I experienced earlier in the week, the street fair events were very family friendly, with plenty of activities for children (and Tachiai contributors) including balloon animals, games, and dance and drum performances. Much credit should go to both the local community and the sumo community for putting together a great event!

Golden Week street fair Ryogoku
The festival was very well attended and featured numerous food and activity vendors.

Banzuke Weekend!

Macacon Of Victory

The Tachiai crew is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the Natsu banzuke, in a little less than 24 hours. Our master prognosticator, lksumo, has already rendered his forecast, and we eagerly await to see if the banzuke committee took the easy road and just copy / pasted his predictions.

We will deviate form the normal format this time, as we will conduct our Banzuke Podcast next weekend, rather than tomorrow night. But we will be posting to the blog with reckless abandon as soon as we can. If you are in Tokyo, keep an eye out for our roving reporter Josh. If you find him and buy him at least 1 beer, you could win a pre-release Tachiai sumo-fan t-shirt!

Stay tuned to Tachiai! It’s time to shift sumo fandom into high gear!

Enjoy Hawaiian BBQ with Konishiki

Konishiki's Hawaiian BBQ Stand

Earlier this month, Andy tipped off readers via the Tachiai twitter account that sumo legend Konishiki would be hosting a stall at the BB (“Beer & BBQ”) Fest, which takes place from now until May 6 in Odaiba:

The festival is taking place out on Symbol Promenade Park in Odaiba, and I decided to head out there today to check it out. Getting there took about 15 minutes from Shimbashi station in central Tokyo on the unique Yurikamome line (a must-ride for transit enthusiasts, owing to its looping track that goes out over the Rainbow Bridge).

There are three festival areas running concurrently during Golden Week on Odaiba: an Oktoberfest, a large section of the BB Fest that is dedicated to Japanese-style BBQ vendors, and then a section of the BB Fest on the eastern part of the island featuring international BBQ food and craft beer. Konishiki’s Hawaiian BBQ is located in the latter area.

Konishiki's Hawaiian BBQ Menu
Konishiki’s Hawaiian BBQ menu board

As for the menu, Konishiki offered a couple selections: a meat plate (featuring BBQ pork, spare ribs and chicken) and then a combo platter which contained all of the meat items plus rice, slaw and the classic Hawaiian macaroni and egg salad. Obviously, I opted for the latter choice:

Konishiki's Hawaiian BBQ Plate
Konishiki serves up a meat lover’s Hawaiian BBQ paradise, replete with Mac Salad

Konishiki has long been one of the most flavorful names in sumo, and puts out a dish to match. All of the meat selections were very succulent, very moist and well coated in the right amount of marinade and sauce. The macaroni salad was delicious as well. I opted to wash it all down with a bottle of water from Konishiki’s stand owing to the hot weather, but there were a number of craft beer vendors also in the park and Konishiki’s BBQ would surely make a great pairing for many of them. When he says he knows how to have a good time cooking up Hawaiian BBQ, he’s not joking.

Konishiki has also provided a video that takes you behind the grill, in promotion of the event (in Japanese):

The event also has plenty of other food vendors offering BBQ from a variety of regions and countries. I was too full from Konishiki’s Ozeki-sized platter to take in any of the others, however a man at the Texas BBQ stand was offering free samples which were also delicious. Hopefully, up and coming Texan sumotori Wakaichiro can make it out to the festival to get a taste of home!

BB Fest International Vendors
Other vendors in the international portion of the festival included Spanish, Jamaican and Texan BBQ.

As for the man himself, Konishiki, he was off to the side of the stand, relaxing under a tent near the festival stage with family and friends. A number of his fans ambled up from time-to-time throughout the afternoon to request photos, which he graciously provided. I was able to get a few moments to chat with the man to let him know just how good the BBQ was, and ask if he had any words for Tachiai readers.

Konishiki says he wants everyone to come on down to Odaiba, and adds: “Bring your hungry on, and bring your thirsty on!”

Konishiki’s Hawaiian BBQ is located at the BB Fest on Odaiba in Symbol Promenade Park, located just off the Odaiba-Kaihin-Koen station on the Yurikamome line, and the Tokyo Teleport station on the Rinkai line. The festival runs through May 6 during the Golden Week. For more info, check out bbfest.jp

Additionally, for those readers who will be in Tokyo during the upcoming Natsu basho, Konishiki will be appearing at the Island Music Festival in Symbol Promenade Park on May 18 and 19. For more information, check out islandmusicfestival.jp