Sumo is one of Japan’s most well-known sports and a highly authentic Japanese cultural experience in and of itself. But few would-be travelers to Japan know much about the ancient sport of sumo, so we’ve put together this simple guide to experiencing sumo in Japan.
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What you will find on this page:
Sumo is a national obsession in Japan and a remarkable spectacle for any visitor. It is a sport with a history that stretches back to the mists of time that still remains true to its rituals
From the traditionally coiffed knots that mark a professional wrestler to his mawashi loincloth, the sacred clay ring, the colorfully attired judges and the rites of throwing purifying salt on the ground before the wrestlers are locked in combat, this sport is like no other.
Sumo was originally believed to have emerged as a ritual dance to entertain the Shinto gods at shrine festivals. Early versions of the nascent sport became codified, and the object was for a wrestler to throw his opponent. The raised dohyo ring was reportedly introduced in the 16th century and the final touches were added to the rules in the Edo period (1603 and 1867).
It was around this time that sumo became a spectator sport, with bouts typically held at shrines, until the first Ryogoku Sumo Hall, the Ryogoku Kokugikan , opened on the banks of the Sumida River in Tokyo in 1909. In the years after the war, tournaments were shared more equally around the country. Today, there are six tournaments—or basho—held each year, with events in Osaka in March, Nagoya in July and Fukuoka in November alternating with the three tournaments in Tokyo.
The governing body of professional sumo is the Japan Sumo Association. Six tournaments are held every year: three in Tokyo (January, May, and September) and one each in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July), and Fukuoka (November). Each tournament lasts for 15 days during which each wrestler performs in one match per day except lower-ranked wrestlers who perform in fewer matches.
All sumo wrestlers are classified in a ranking hierarchy (banzuke), which gets updated after each tournament based on the wrestlers’ performance. Wrestlers with positive records (more wins than losses) move up the hierarchy, while those with negative records get demoted. The top division is called “Makuuchi” and the second division is called “Juryo”. At the pinnacle of the sumo, hierarchy stands the yokozuna (grand champion). Unlike wrestlers in lower ranks, a yokozuna cannot be demoted, but he will be expected to retire when his performance begins to worsen.
The Japan Sumo Association has an English-language website that provides details of upcoming basho and information on how to purchase tickets. Typically, single arena tickets cost under 4,000 yen, while a four-person box costs around 40,000 yen. Tickets can also be bought at the box office on the day of a tournament, but many days are often sold out, so it is advisable to buy them in advance.
Kind of Sumo Experiences
Optional & Details
Interested in watching a serious practice of Japan’s national sports, Sumo?
This is a great opportunity to watch sumo wrestlers’ serious practice and training from a short distance.
Feel the sumo world and observe how the practice is usually done.
This experience will certainly be unforgettable.
Jan, Feb, Apr, May, Jun, Aug, Sep, Oct, Dec
*End time varies day by day.
*Term & Conditions Applied
You will be able to learn the basic rules and regulation and also the daily life of a Sumo wrestler and their struggle to reach the top. This is a very rare opportunity that you don’t want to miss out.
Also what makes this tour even more special is the fact that children and women are also allowed to stand on the ring and join the experience.
A option: Sumo design Paper weight
B option: Sumo Chopstick
C option: Edo Rice + Sumo Ramen (Salt flavor) + Sumo Ring Coaster
Price (per person)
(Age 7 and above) 11,000 JPY
Children below the Age of 6 can join in free. (However lunch ticket is no included)
1 hour for Sumo performance
Starting time is 10AM. Please be at the facility before 9:45AM.
(Lunch ticket must be used on that day from 11:00AM – 1:00PM)
This experience is only on Tuesday
*Term & Conditions Applied
Learn the sumo world’s behind-the-scene stories and their daily life, and enjoy Chanko-nabe hot pot! This is a very rare opportunity to actually play sumo with sumo wrestlers (retired).
Let’s eat CHANKO-NABE (hot pot cooking) with a SUMO PERFORMANCE. You cannot experience this at anywhere else!
You will hear accurate sumo knowledge and also have an opportunity to try CHANKO-NABE. (CHANKO-NABE: unique meal in the Sumo world).
Price (per person)
*5,500 Yen for children under 11 years old.
Sumo demonstration starts at 12:00PM
Chanko lunch start at 12:50PM
End of program at 2PM（You may leave the restaurant anytime before 2pm.）
This experience is only on Thursday
*Term & Condition Applied
Group tour & FIT Arrangements