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17 Sumo Secrets in Tokyo

17 Sumo Secrets in Tokyo

Published on Dec. 1, 2015 by

Sumo Wrestling is one of the best events to attend in Tokyo with these being the 17 Secret Tips & Facts which I carefully selected if you ever decide on visiting Japan. I missed my chance 3 times to obtain tickets due to it being sold out so prior to booking my plane ticket I reserved a sumo package.

Tips & Advice
  • Where: Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium in Tokyo [Map]
  • When: January, May & September (lasting 15 days each)
  • Hours: 12pm - 6:00pm
  • Price: ¥13,000 Yen ($120 USD) per person
  • Tickets: Tokyo Travel Pal (guide provided and includes Chanko dinner)
  • Why: Truly an authentic Japanese experience
  • Notes: Book your tickets months ahead, it is known to sell-out fast. Make sure to include the Chanko dinner option. Also, read the 17 tips listed below to prepare yourself accordingly.
  • Related: Self-fishing restaurant Zauo

Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japansumo husband and wife in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japancutest yokozuna in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanmatt enters the sumo ring in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

You can obtain tickets including an English speaking guide here: Click Here and scroll down this page for my 17 tips & facts regarding sumo!

yokozuna - highest class of sumo in Tokyo, Tokyo, JapanRyogoku Kokugikan banners in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanthe sumo trophy at Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanthe active scoreboard during the sumo event in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

The Sumo Tour Tokyo includes a tour guide, tickets, a translation radio and a chankonabe dinner after the event for $150 dollars.

Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, JapanRyogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo

The Sumo wrestling matches are being held in January, May & September during a 15-day period at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Sumida, Tokyo.

snacks and drinks at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanchanko dinner - sumo style in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanhand sizes of the sumo wrestlers in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanentrance hall at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japangaint stadium of the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, JapanRyogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanenjoying the fights at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanoutside art on the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo ring in Tokyo in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

My favourite part was meeting a Sumo wrestler at the station to really get an idea of their size and magnitude.

meeting a famous Sumo Wrestler in Tokyo, Tokyo, Japanmeeting a famous Sumo Wrestler

The growing popularity of Sumo during the Meiji period led to the building of the original Kokugikan in Ryōgoku in 1909. The Japanese army appropriated the facility in World War II, and some tournaments were held outdoors at a baseball stadium. 

  1. Hand-prints of famous Sumo wrestlers can be found at the Ryogoku train station which you can compare to your own hand.
  2. There are 3 annual tournaments in Tokyo, each lasting for 15 days in January, May and September, book your tickets months in advance. Sumo is known to sell out fast, so I booked my tickets first before I booked a flight or book with a travel company who will also provide a personal guide.
  3. Make sure to obtain a translator radio to enjoy the Sumo match in multiple languages.
  4. Prices usually start at $40 dollars and recently there is a special on ringside seats, for $150 dollars you get the chance to have a 400 pound sumo wrestler plant his ass on your face as he hurtles down the stage.
  5. Before the match starts, get yourself a nice cold beer and takoyaki balls! Seating quality is phenomenal but don't expect cup holders.
  6. There are many different levels in Sumo wrestling with the Yokozuna being at the top, surprisingly there are currently no Japanese Yokozuna, instead they are all Mongolian. You can recognize a Yokozuna by their thick white rope.
  7. Go checkout the Sumo museum during the extended break between the junior and senior sumo matches, and if you are lucky you may meet a sumo wrestler as well!
  8. At balcony level you'll notice the sumo match-board, the red light indicates the match winners.
  9. Before and during the matches you will see people with large banners walking on stages; these are names of the Sumo schools and sponsors.
  10. Leave before the end of the event to avoid long waiting lines at the Ryogoku train station.
  11. If you do decide to stay you can enjoy a Sumo bow ceremonial dance which officially ends the event.
  12. Go enjoy a chankonabe dinner, a Sumo staple dish, which is a rich soup with lots of assorted meats, fish and vegetables.
  13. Referees are called gyoji, the top-ranked Gyoji wears a dagger. Traditionally, this is suppose to represent the seriousness of the decisions they must make and their preparedness to commit seppuku if they make a mistake.
  14. A Sumo wrestler takes in 20,000 calories a day on average!
  15. Sumo wrestlers used to be skinny back in the old days.
  16. Traditionally, fans express their disappointment by throwing cushions at the stage.
  17. As you noticed in the video above; there are currently many foreigners attending Sumo making it a true international sport.