Sumo in Tokyo

Sumo tournaments, each lasting 15 days, are held in Tokyo in January, May (when the emperor himself attends), and September, all at the Impressive 10,000-seat Ryogoku Sumo Hall in Ryogoku.

Tournaments begin on a Sunday, with each fighter wrestling once a day. Bouts start each day at around 2:30pm with the lowest-ranking wrestlers and continue in ascending order, with the top ranks wrestling from 5-6pm, ending with a bout Involving the highest-ranked wrestler, usually a yokozuna (grand champion).The stadium tends to fill up with spectators as the day goes on.

The best views are on the north side of the stadium. It is advisable to book tickets in advance from Playguide, Ticket PIA at the Ginza 5 Building, or any Lawson’s convenience store. Easiest to get are midweek tickets in the first week of a tournament. If you cannot buy tickets via an agency, try asking your hotel to check for returns, or lining up at the stadium Itself at about 8am on the day.

Inside the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Wrestling Arena in Tokyo

If you are not in Tokyo during a tournament, you may be able to watch the daily practice at a sumo stable, or beya.

Most are open to anyone who wants to watch, with a few basic rules: don’t eat or use a camera flash, and be quiet. The closer a tournament is, the more likely you are to be politely turned away. The best time to view practice is 6-10am. Most of the beya are situated near Ryogoku station. Try Kasugano Beya, a tall building with a green copper gable over the entrance, Izutsu Beya, or Dewanoumi Beya. Traditional sumo has been much enlivened by an influx of foreign wrestlers from Hawaii, Mongolia, and Europe, many of whom have become very successful.

Some stables with an unusually open attitude have also made special trips abroad in order to raise aware­ness of sumo internationally: some of their stars even appear in television and other advertise­ments. While eyebrows may have been raised among purists, they cannot deny that such activities have been very good for business.

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