Japan’s national sport sumo should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Japan. It is one of the oldest and most popular sports and many elements of the Japanese culture and traditions are embedded. Besides visiting the Grand Sumo Tournament, there are many options for learning more about this impressive sport.
Sumo wrestlers [rikishi] live together in a sumo stable, under the strict regime of the stable master. The sumo stable is the place where they live, train and sleep together. Almost every morning they practice and have serious and energetic practice matches. In the greater Tokyo Region, approximately 40 sumo stables can be found, many of them are located in Ryogoku area.
Visit a sumo stable
A small number of sumo stables welcomes people to come and see the morning practice. However, there are strict rules and manners to being the audience. All sumo stables require that tourists are accompanied by someone who is fluent in Japanese and familiar with the customs of the sumo world. Furthermore, visitors are expected to follow the house rules strictly and not disturb the training session. In practice, it is very difficult for foreign tourists to visit a stable on their own. Instead, the recommended way to witness a morning practice is to join a guided tour. Read more about our special sumo stable tour.
Chanko Hot Pot
In addition to your visit to the stables, you can also experience the food culture of sumo. Sumo wrestlers follow a strict diet, taking in approximately 20.000 calories each day! The most popular food cooked and eaten by sumo wrestlers is Chanko Hot Pot. This dish is rich in protein and includes a variety of ingredients that are soaked into warm soup. If you would like to try Chanko, we offer a tour that will take you to a sumo stable for practice watching followed by Chanko Hot Pot eating. Enjoying this meal together with the wrestlers will definitely be a special experience. Read more about this experience at our website Watching Sumo morning training and Enjoy sumo wrestlers’ food
*Please note that during the Grand Sumo tournaments, there is morning practice but it’s earlier than usual. And during the tournaments in Osaka, Fukuoka or Nagoya, there is no morning practice in Tokyo.
Ryogoku, the center of the sumo world
For centuries, Tokyo has been the sumo capital of Japan, especially Tokyo’s Ryogoku district. In Ryogoku many sumo stables are located as well as the Kokugikan sumo stadium where three of the six annual tournaments are held. In this district many sumo related attractions can be found.
The Sumo museum is housed inside the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall. The museum has a wide range of materials related to the history of sumo on display, from woodblock prints and official listings of rank, banzuke, to the ceremonial aprons worn by the great rikishi of the past.
1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo 130-0015
Open weekdays 10am – 4.30pm
The Ekoin Temple is the spiritual home of sumo and has hosted many tournaments before the first Ryogoku Kokugikan was built in 1909. Those days, the sumo tournaments were held outdoors at temple, just a short walk from Ryogoku Station. Today, you can see a stone monument on the temple grounds that honours past rikishi and stable masters.
2-8-10 Ryōgoku, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0026
Open daily 9am – 16.30pm
Sumo by students
Some universities have sumo club and they do practice hard. These students are the future of sumo wrestling in Japan and the training is equally to the professional sumo wrestling training. It is a unique experience to see sumo by future professional sumo wrestler.
Sumo regional tour
Every year sumo wrestlers will go on a provincial tour that covers different areas. These always take place outside the Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament period. Please check the official website of Nihon Sumo Kyokai for the up-to-date schedule.
To enjoy sumo is a unique experience in Japan and we really recommend you go and see a sumo wrestling if you can. Read more about the Grand Sumo Tournament in our blog Japan’s national sport: Sumo-wrestling. If you have any questions or recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment here.