More than a month has elapsed since my last post, but I have a really good excuse—I’ve been working on revisions to my Bath Novel Award shortlisted novel, You’re Beautiful, for my agent. And last week the revisions were finally completed and the novel was sent out to publishers. All I have to do now, says my agent, is “sit tight.”
So, while sitting tight, more numb than nervous to have finally got to this stage in my writing career, here is a nice Japan image—although not related to You’re Beautiful. I chose it for its topicality: the new sumo grand champion is the first native Japanese champ for almost twenty years. Also, we’re still in January and this is actually a New Year scene: sumo wrestlers always get involved in New Year celebrations. I took this photo one New Year many years ago, at Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku where they’d set up a sumo ring and these guys were inviting little kids, shopping with their parents, to step into the ring and wrestle with them.
In recent years, sumo has plunged in popularity in Japan due to various scandals and perhaps also to the aforementioned domination by foreign wrestlers. But when I first moved to Tokyo in 1996, sumo was big, and dominated by the Japanese brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana, and I loved watching it. So exotic. So Japanese! I actually lived for a few years just down the road from Taka and Waka’s stable. In the morning on the way to work, I’d cycle past sand-covered wrestlers standing in the street in their fundoshi loincloths after morning practice. One hot summer night, coming home late, I popped into the 7Eleven round the corner from the stable. It was full of sumo guys in vest t-shirts and baggy pants cruising the aisles with baskets loaded with crisps, biscuits, and enormous bottles of pop. Forget tea ceremony, kabuki, geisha glimpses, snow-capped Fuji sightings—this still ranks as one of my most profoundly satisfying oh-my-God-I’m-in-Japan moments.