Three times a year the Grand Sumo Tournaments are held at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, the national sumo stadium, which is close by Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line or Toei Oedo Line. For 2013 the scheduled dates are as follows:
Sunday January 13 – Sunday January 27 2013
Sunday May 12 – Sunday May 26 2013 (tickets go on sale April 6)
Sunday September 15 – Sunday September 29 2013 (tickets go on sale August 3)
Tickets are from 2,100 Yen for unreserved seats at the rear of the upper floor on sale on the day, to 14,300 Yen for a ringside seat (where you are warned that you might get injured by a falling sumo wrestler!)
Matches start at 9.30am with amateur wrestlers, the more senior ones starting around 2.30pm – so tickets to the earlier bouts are easier to come by, and Friday and Saturday evening fights are the most difficult to secure. All matches are preceded by traditional Shinto ceremonies, and lots of leg-shaking and grunting designed to intimidate the opponent. Fights may last only a few seconds – the loser is the first to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet, or who gets thrown out of the ring. There are no classes or weight restrictions in sumo so each tries to be the biggest and heaviest and can weigh up to 250kg – traditionally they eat chanko nabo, a rich meat, fish and vegetable stew, and you can try this dish for yourself in one of the many restaurants in the Ryogoku district.
Watching training sessions
Wrestlers live in residential ‘stables’ with up to 30 others, with every aspect of their lives and athletic training ruled by a ‘stablemaster’. Training starts at 5 or 6am most mornings – at some stables you can go and watch these early training sessions but you should ask your hotel to ring them the day before to check they will be open for visitors to watch the strictly disciplined sessions, and catch a glimpse into the lives of the junior and higher ranking athletes.
If you would like to attend a morning training session whilst you are in Tokyo please email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com for more details on arrangements that we can make for you. You might like to incorporate watching a morning training session with a full or half day private guided day tour of Tokyo with your own guide and using public transport, more details are here