These guys are big. Sumo is the centuries-old, traditional form of wrestling in Japan. It’s a sport of agility, athleticism, rigor and mental toughness. The grand tournament is only held six times a year in cities across Japan. Tokyo hosts the games three times a year during two-week spans in January, May and September.
Sumo has its origins in the Shinto faith, the indigenous religion of Japan. You’ll see this sport’s Shinto roots evidenced in the various rituals and customs during the matches and the dress of the athletes and officials.
It’s just amazing to see this tradition in practice. At the matches, there are English-language brochures and guides to help you make sense of everything and enjoy – from the rules of the game to the layout of the ring and the portraits hanging from the rafters. It’s not a day to forget your camera at the hotel (guilty!) because there’s a lot of spectacle, which can easily be followed, even from the nosebleed section! Watch this video on sumo by National Geographic for a little taste.
The sumo tournament in Tokyo is held in Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium. Take the JR Sobu Line or Subway Oedo Line to Ryogoku Station. In this district, you can also find a number of restaurants that serve chankonabe, the hot pot dish that sumo athletes eat to bulk up. It’s also sold at the stadium. I took a pass on this 🙂
Updated information on tickets and more can be found on the official grand sumo tournament website. Note: online and telephone ticket sales require Japanese language proficiency. So, ask for some help, or just take your chances and head to the stadium to buy tickets (we did the latter, and it was fine even for our large group). Don’t miss this amazing experience!