I think we can agree that sumo or sumo wrestling is different from the usual sports/attraction, and it’d be very interesting to watch it and experience the culture of sumo wrestling whilst in Japan. But, you might not know where, when, and how much does it cost to see it?
No need to worry! With so much available information on the internet (especially this article), it only takes a few minutes to figure out how you can watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo.
In this article, I am going to share with you the when and where are sumo wrestling tournaments held in Tokyo, the ticket prices, how to watch sumo wrestling for free, the best way to experience a sumo wrestling watch, and more recommendations.
What is sumo?
Sumo is a Japanese style of heavyweight wrestling and also a national and professional sport in Japan. It started centuries ago and is believed that it is originated as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. Since 1958, six grand sumo tournaments are held each year. Many aspects of Japan's traditional culture can be seen in sumo.
In Sumo, two people wearing mawashi, a loincloth in Japanese, face each other in a circular ring (dohyo), pushing, grappling and trying to throw each other. The winner is the first wrestler to force his opponent to step out of the ring, or successfully force his opponent to touch the ground with any body part other than the bottom of his feet.
More and more tourists are becoming more interested in sumo watching, and it is not only a sport but also considered as a cultural experience in Japan.
How can you watch Sumo in Tokyo?
You can watch sumo from the grand tournaments that are held 6 times a year in Japan. However, only 3 of them are held in Tokyo. So, if you want to experience a professional sumo wrestling watching in Tokyo, make sure your travel dates align with the tournament period in Tokyo. For this, you need to buy tickets to be able to watch sumo wrestling.
If you are not looking to spend lots of money for this experience, or the tickets are sold out, don't worry. I'll explain also in this article.
When and where are sumo tournaments held in Tokyo?
If you are traveling to Tokyo and want to watch sumo wrestling, it’s possible to find it quite difficult as there are only 6 sumo wrestling tournaments held each year, and only 3 are held in Tokyo. So, I’ll explain to you where and when you can watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo.
3 are held at the Sumo Hall, or known also as Ryogoku Kokugikan in Ryogoku, Tokyo in January, May, and September. The rest are held in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July), and Fukuoka (November).
Sumo wrestling tournament starts on every Sunday, running for 15 days, and ends also on a Sunday during the tournament period.
Address of Ryogoku Kokugikan: 〒130-0015 Tokyo, Sumida, Yokoami, 1 Chome−３番２８号 (map)
How much does it cost to watch the grand tournament?
The price varies, but for a Japanese box, the ticket price starts at ¥38,000 (~US$ 358) with one box seating 4 people. For the arena seat, it starts at around ¥3,800 (~US$ 35).
For tickets purchases, you can click here.
Another way to watch sumo wrestling?
If you are not in Tokyo or Japan during the grand tournament periods, you can still watch sumo wrestling, even up close and for free! You can still get the sumo culture experience by watching sumo wrestlers practice in stables in the mornings. This is also known as Asakeiko or Asageiko or Keiko.
Where to watch Keiko?
There are approximately 45 stables for sumo practice in Tokyo, mostly located in Ryogoku district. Here are some stables where you can watch Keiko that are used to foreign tourists:
- Musashigawa Beya in Uguisudani (map)
- Kasugano Beya near Ryogoku Station (map)
- Takasago Beya near Asakusa Station (map)
You can also watch from Arashio Sumo Stable (map), but you can’t enter the building and can only watch from a large window along the roadside. This is ideal if you only want to watch for a brief moment or take a quick picture.
When to watch?
The time for Keiko to start and end vary from stable to stable, but usually, it starts at around 6:00 am or 7:00 am and lasts for around 3 hours.
Practice is not normally held on a weekend, and after tournaments, sumo wrestlers usually have a time off for a week.
You need to call ahead to check whether they hold a training that day, or whether it’s okay for you to come and watch, just to be safe.
You need to wake up early as it is considered respectful to come to the stable at the beginning of the practice and not leave until it ends.
Wait, there's more.
Here is a list of some etiquette you should know before you come to a Keiko:
– Keep silent throughout the whole practice to not disturb the concentration of the sumo wrestlers.
– Sit at the back of the room on a cushion (zabuton) that should be offered to you when you enter.
– Unless offered by the staff, don’t eat, don’t drink, and definitely don’t smoke.
– Don’t take photos with flash and the shutter sound on.
– Bow to the stable master or other senior who is leading the practice when you enter and leave the stable, as well as to the wrestlers.
Can you enhance and make your sumo watching more convenient? Yes.
If you feel like enhancing your sumo cultural experience, you can hire a private guide or join a private tour. If you do so, rather than just watching, you can have a better and deeper understanding of sumo as a sport and culture because your guide will be able to explain to you and answer questions you have.
Guides can also make your experience more convenient as you don’t have to bother to make calls, figure out the locations and the directions to the stable. It can be hard for individuals to schedule morning sumo training, but guides can help and sort it out for you. It's hassle free!
There are many places on the web where you can hire one, but you can’t know whether they are good and trustworthy or not. So, my recommendation is the GoWithGuide. From the website, you can hire qualified private guides, and join great private tours. It's also convenient if you're short on time or unsure of your exact trip details. Just send a Tour Request and you'll be connected with a guide who will handle creating your custom itinerary.
Recommended private tours
You can join Early Morning Sumo Practice in Tokyo and the Sumo Museum tour for a better and enhanced cultural experience of sumo. You can watch the Keiko (sumo practice) and also visit the sumo museum with a licensed guide, to make your trip more interesting. You can also join the amazing tours Sumo Wrestlers Morning Training Watch, and Tsukiji and Ryogoku (Sumo, Ukiyoe, History).
I hope this article helps provide useful information of where and when are sumo grand tournaments held in Tokyo, another way to watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo for free, a way to enhance your sumo wrestling experience, and recommended private tours.