Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo 2024: Thrills, Spill and Rituals

Ever wondered what it’s like to witness sumo tournaments in Tokyo? Sumo is an image many people think of when considering traditional Japan. Sumo is more than just a sport; it’s a unique insight into the country.

Sumo wrestling in Tokyo isn’t just an event; it’s an immersion into Japan’s history and culture. Within the walls of Ryogoku Kokugikan, this ancient sport comes to life in a spectacle of power, strength and ceremony. 

After attending a Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, I’ve written this article to guide you through what to expect. I’ve covered everything, from the different Tokyo sumo tournaments and when they’re held, to securing your tickets, getting there, and discovering the best local eateries. Plus, I’ll share personal insights, tips, and tricks to enhance your enjoyment of sumo wrestling in Tokyo.

Two Sumo wrestlers fighting in the middle of the ring.
Two Sumo wrestlers fighting in the middle of the ring.

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Tokyo Sumo Tournament Tour Options
  • Watch sumo from comfortable reserved seating.
  • Learn from a guide who is knowledgeable about sumo.
  • Enjoy the atmosphere and join in the fun with locals.

Why you must see Sumo in Japan

Are you planning a trip to Japan and on the fence about catching a sumo match in Tokyo? Here’s a quick rundown: Sumo isn’t just for sports fans or culture buffs; it’s for anyone seeking a slice of authentic Japan. Here are my thoughts on who will enjoy sumo the most and why.

  • Sports Fans – Lovers of contact sports and general sports enthusiasts. As a fan of pro wrestling, boxing and MMA, I felt at home watching sumo matches in Tokyo as many of the elements and energy felt the same. Sumo is Japan’s national sport and exclusive to Japan. Exhibitions and events may occur in other parts of the world, but Japan is the home of sumo. This is the best chance to experience authenticity and feel the real atmosphere.
  • History Buffs – Sumo is steeped in 2,000-year-old history and traditions. Sumo is traced back to a contest of strength described in Japan’s oldest historical chronicles. This fight was conducted before the Emperor and featured the warlords Nomi no Sukune and Taima no Kehaya. 
  • Explorers of Japanese culture – Throughout the Sumo matches, you will see rituals and ceremonies connected to the Shinto religion, such as throwing salt into the ring and the big stomp.
  • Bucket List Travellers – For people wanting once-in-a-lifetime experiences, sumo is something that most people won’t have the chance to experience unless they visit Japan.
  • Families – Tokyo sumo wrestling is a fun and educational experience for the whole family. Watching the sumo tournament will give you a better understanding of Japanese people and traditions. A small sumo museum inside the Ryogoku Kokugikan will also help you learn more about the sport. 
Flags outside of the arena display the names of Sumo champions.
Flags outside of the arena display the names of Sumo champions.

Why Sumo Might Not Be For You

I highly recommend attending Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo and would say it’s a must-see experience. However, some people might not enjoy it as much or want to skip it altogether. Some of the reasons include:

  • Not interested in sports – If you don’t enjoy watching live sports, sumo might not change your mind. It’s based on the same concept of one person trying to beat another.
  • Limited time – Sumo can take up a big chunk of a day, including travelling to Ryogoku Kokugikan and sitting for hours to watch the tournament. 
  • For visitors on a budget, sumo can be expensive, especially if you visit it as a tour group.
  • Different cultural interests – Sumo can be very different from Western sports and has massive cultural differences. The rituals and traditions before each match may leave some visitors feeling confused or impatient. It’s best to learn about these rituals and understand their meaning to appreciate the sport fully.
  • Dislike crowded venues – Sumo can be very busy and crowded. The arena wasn’t very busy when we arrived during the preliminary matches. However, the arena was about 95% full when the main fights began. There were also lines when I was going for snacks or beer, which may annoy some people.
The Ryogoku Kokugikan fills up more and more as the day progresses.
The Ryogoku Kokugikan fills up more and more as the day progresses.

Major Sumo Tournaments in Japan

There are six major Grand Sumo Tournaments in Japan every year. These tournaments, called Honbasho, determine the ranking and salary of the competing Sumo wrestlers. 

Three of these Sumo tournaments are held in Tokyo in January, May and September, all at the Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Outside of Tokyo, there is a Grand Sumo Tournament in March at Osaka Edion Arena. In July, it is held at the Dolphins Arena in Aichi. And finally, in November, it takes place at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.

If watching Sumo tournaments in Tokyo is one of your top priorities, plan your trip carefully around when one of the major tournaments is happening.

Major Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo

The three Tokyo tournaments always take place in the same three months. There is the January Tournament, the May Tournament and the September Tournament. The dates vary year-by-year, but usually only by a few days.

Remaining 2024 Tokyo Sumo Tournament Schedule

  • The May Tournament: May 12, 2024 – May 26, 2024
  • The September Tournament: September 8, 2024 – September 22, 2024

2025 Tokyo Sumo Wrestling Schedule

  • The January Tournament: January 12, 2025 – January 26, 2025
  • The May Tournament: May 11, 2025 – May 25, 2025
  • The September Tournament: September 14, 2025 – September 28, 2025

The first tournament of the year is the Hatsu Basho. Taking place in January, this also serves as a celebration of the New Year, and many fans wear traditional clothing. This is also the first time to see the Sumo wrestlers of the year and predict how they will perform for the rest of the year.

In May, the Natsu Basho takes place. Many tourists from all over Japan come to Tokyo to watch this tournament, giving it an exciting atmosphere. 

September sees the Aki Basho as Autumn begins. This is the beginning of the new season, which means wrestlers start new challenges, and new wrestlers might even appear.

If you can’t make it to one of the Tokyo tournaments, a fun alternative wrestling event to consider is Wrestle Kingdom. It’s a massive pro-wrestling event that runs on January 4 every year at the Tokyo Dome.

Tournament Venue – Ryogoku Kokugikan

Sumo tournaments in Tokyo are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan, also known as the Tokyo Sumo Arena or the Ryogoku Arena. Built in 1985, the Sumo Arena has a capacity of 10,000 and hosts sumo, boxing, pro-wrestling, and concerts. 

Sumo tournaments in Tokyo take place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Sumo tournaments in Tokyo take place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The Ryogoku Kokugikan is located in the Ryogoku District in the Sumida Ward. It is next to the Sumida River and within walking distance of the Tokyo Skytree.

How To Get There

Ryogoku Arena is a short walk from Ryogoku Station on the Toei Oedo and the JR Sobu lines.

Tokyo Station to Ryogoku Station takes 13 minutes. Take the JR Yamanote Line to Akihabara Station, then transfer to the JR Sobu Line to Ryogoku Station.

Shinjuku Station to Ryogoku Station takes 22 minutes on the JR Sobu Line.


Here’s a breakdown of the facilities at Ryogoku Kokugikan.


There are three main seating options: Tamariseki, Masuseki and Arena Seats. Tamariseki and Masuseki are box seats that require you to sit on the floor on a cushion. The Arena Seats are individual standard arena fold-out seating. 

The Tamariseki seats are the most expensive as you are closest to the action at the ringside. These seats are normally reserved for sponsors and officials, with only a select few going on sale to the public. 

Then there are Masuseki seats, which are boxed floor seats with four people. These are listed as Box A, Box B, and Box C. Box A is closest to the ring. These seats are all on the first floor.

Tamariseki and Masuseki Seating at Ryogoku Arena.
Tamariseki and Masuseki Seating at Ryogoku Arena.

The second floor has the arena seats. These seats are all comfortable fold-out chairs and cheaper than the box seating. There are Arena S, Arena A, Arena B and Arena C seats. 

Arena seating at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Arena seating at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Arena S has the closest seats on the second floor. I recommend these if you want to capture good photographs and videos. The Ryogoku Kokugikan is a square arena with no-obstruction views of the Sumo ring. Area C seats might be a little far back for people with poorer vision.

Food and Drink

There are vending machines scattered throughout the arena, which are great for a quick drink. If you require something more substantial, there are plenty of places to pick up food and drink inside the area. 

There’s a wide range of food available, including sushi, bento lunch boxes, fried chicken, hot dogs, and ice cream. There’s also a variety of drinks available, such as coffee, soft drinks, beer and sake.

Some of the food options at Ryogoku Arena
Some of the food options at Ryogoku Arena


Ryogoku Kokugikan has an accessible flat entrance that is wheelchair-friendly. Universal access restrooms are also available. There are areas to park wheelchairs and strollers before entering the main arena and elevators to assist visitors between different floors. There is also some accessible boxed seating available for watching the Sumo tournament.

Planning your Visit to a Sumo Tournament

If you have decided you want to attend a Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, you may still have questions about how to buy tickets and the best times to attend.

Purchasing Tickets

You must plan ahead if you want to attend sumo wrestling in Tokyo. Sumo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan can often sell out, so it is best to act quickly. 

Tickets for Grand Sumo Tournaments go on sale roughly one month before the event. Only a limited number of same-day tickets are available on the morning you wish to attend. These can be purchased from the box office in front of the Kokugikan Arena beginning around 7:45 am.

Official ticket sales for Grand Sumo Tournaments are available through the Oosumo website. Sumo tournament Tokyo tickets through the official website are the cheapest option, but they sell out quickly, so if you use Oosumo, you should buy them on the day and time of release. 

Oosumo Ticket Prices:

Here’s the pricing for ringside, box and arena seats.

Ringside Seats

Ringside Seats cost 20,000 yen (US$133)

Box Seats

Box Seat prices range from Box Seat C tickets costing 22,000 yen (US$ 146) for two guests up to Box Seat S tickets costing 60,000 yen (US$ 399) for four guests. Weekend and holiday tickets cost more than weekday tickets.

Arena Seats

The cost of arena seats ranges from 3,500 yen (US$23) for Chair Seats D up to 11,000 yen (US$ 73) for Chair Seats SS. As with box seats, you pay more for weekend and holiday tickets than weekday tickets.

Viator and Klook Ticket Options and Prices for Sumo Tours

Another option for hassle-free advance tickets is booking through companies like Viator, Klook and Get Your Guide.

These tickets are significantly more expensive but have an easy booking process, let you book further in advance and include a lecture and an English-speaking tour guide. The S and A class (but not the B-class) seats also have a yakitori snack, a drink and a cheering towel.

Sumo tours can also be a way to get sumo tickets if you have tried to obtain them through the official Oosumo site and were unsuccessful.

Viator and Klook Ticket Prices:

Viator’s cheapest sumo tour ticket option is for B-class Chair Seats, which cost 14,000 yen (US$ 93) on a weekday. The middle option is for A-class Chair Seats. You will pay 23,000 yen (US$ 153) on a weekday for this option. The highest-priced option is for S-class chair seats, which cost 30,000 yen (US$ 200) on a weekend.

Klook sumo tour prices are the same as for Viator.

As with Oosumo, you will pay a slight premium over these prices for weekend and holiday tickets.

Get Your Guide:

Get Your Guide has a wider range of tour options. The most basic option is attending the sumo tournament. You can then add on visiting various sumo landmarks and sumo stables and/or a chanko-nabe dinner after attending sumo. Prices vary depending on the options you choose.

My ticket for the Grand Sumo Tournament.
My ticket for the Grand Sumo Tournament (through Viator).

Best Days and Times to Visit

In this section, I look more closely at the best days and times to attend a sumo tournament.

Best Days

Coming on the first and last day of the tournament has a more exciting atmosphere and maybe some extra traditions and rituals. But remember that tickets for the opening, closing, and weekends sell out quickly.

If you can’t attend the first or last day, there isn’t a best day to attend sumo. The Grand Sumo Tournament is a round-robin tournament, not an elimination tournament. This means all wrestlers in the top two divisions will compete daily across the 15 days of the tournament. You also can’t predict who will be matched against each other on which days.

Wrestlers aren’t eliminated if they lose. Their goal is to secure as many victories as possible throughout the tournament. On the tournament’s final day, the Sumo wrestler with the best record of wins over losses will win and be awarded The Emperor’s Cup. 

Other prizes are awarded on the final day, including an award for the sumo wrestler that caused the most upsets, one for fighting spirit, and one for best technique. 

Best Time

Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo start around 9:25 am and finish around 6:00 pm. If you have limited time to attend sumo, turn up early to mid-afternoon, as this is when the higher-ranked wrestlers start to compete.

You can enter anytime if you have a ticket that’s not part of a tour package. 

The tour group tickets will have you arriving at the arena between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm, depending on your ticket price. 

Attending sumo via a tour will give you time to watch some Intermediate Division fights, watch the ceremonial entrances (at about 3:40 pm), shop, or grab some food in the arena before the highest-ranked wrestlers start to compete. 

Broad Outline of Daily Match Schedule

The preliminary matches start the day, featuring new and up-and-coming competitors. Around 2:35 pm, the Juryo matches will start. These matches feature wrestlers from the second highest (of six) divisions, and more visitors will begin to show up as these matches start. 

Finally, the Makuuchi matches begin around 4:05 pm. The Makuuchi is the Senior Division and features the most experienced and highest-ranked Sumo wrestlers. The arena will fill up before the main matches begin.

Sumo Traditions and Rituals

Through the day, there are special events and ceremonies that you won’t want to miss. 

At 3:40 pm the Makuuchi wrestlers make their entrance. This will be your first chance to see all of the huge wrestlers together. 

They walk down to the ring in the reverse order of their rank and then form a circle around it. They wear decorative kensho-mawashi as they do a short ancient ritual, and as they face the crowd, their fans will begin to cheer. 

Forming a circle around the ring.
Forming a circle around the ring.

Around 3:50 pm, the Yokozuna (highest-ranked wrestler) will make his entrance. When I attended, the crowd went crazy for him, with many shouting his name. He wears a massive braided rope, which weighs 35 pounds and has strips of zig-zag paper hanging from the front. This features the same style of ornamental paper designs used in Shinto shrines across Japan. 

The Yokozuna is accompanied by two other wrestlers, one of whom carries a sword. 

The Yokozuna is the highest-ranked Sumo wrestler in the world.
The Yokozuna is the highest-ranked Sumo wrestler in the world.

While the other Sumo wrestlers crouch, the Yokozuna performs the dohyo-iri ceremony. He begins by loudly clapping his hands to get the gods’ attention, then extends his arms and turns his palms face up to show that he isn’t hiding any weapons. To finish the ceremony, he lifts one leg high in the air and delivers a large stomp, followed by the opposite leg. The purpose of the stomp is to drive evil spirits away from the ring.

At around 6:00 pm, a bow-twirling ceremony (known as the yumitori-shiki) concludes the event. This ceremony features a specially selected Makuuchi Sumo wrestler doing an ancient routine while twirling a bow staff, which was first introduced in the Edo period. This ritual can be viewed as the Sumo wrestler expressing satisfaction for the victorious sumo of the day. 

Bow twirling ceremony at the end of the day.
Bow twirling ceremony at the end of the day.

Sumo Rules

Sumo is a straightforward sport to understand, which makes it a great experience and trip for the whole family.

The sumo ring, known as the dohyo, is 18 square feet and two feet high. It is constructed of clay and covered in a thin layer of sand. Inside the ring, there is an inner circle that is around 15 feet in diameter.

One way to win a match is by pushing the opponent out of the circle.

Throwing opponent out of the ring.
Throwing the opponent out of the ring.

The second way to win is by throwing an opponent inside the ring so that their body touches the ring floor. This can be any part of their body, including their knee or even a fingertip. The same rules apply to the circle; if their heel or even one toe leaves the circle, they lose.

Throwing opponent to the ring floor.
Throwing opponent to the ring floor.

During the match, there are rules for sumo wrestlers to follow. Punching, kicking, hair pulling, eye poking, and choking are completely forbidden. There are also no weight limits in sumo, compared to boxing and MMA. So you might see someone competing against an opponent that is twice their size. 

My Personal Experience of Sumo

If you want to attend a Sumo Tournament in Tokyo but aren’t sure if you should use a guided tour, I am here to help you. I will explain the whole process, the positives and negatives, and give my opinion about the experience.

Meeting Point and Guide

The meeting point for my tour was the West Exit of Ryogoku Station. However, looking at Viator now, some of the tour’s meeting points are listed at the Ryogoku View Hotel. So make sure to check before you go there on the day.

When I arrived at Ryogoku Station, there was no doubt that I was in the correct place. Towards the station’s west exit are giant portraits of sumo champions and their huge handprints.

Portraits of sumo wrestlers and hand prints.
Portraits of sumo wrestlers and hand prints.

There’s also a height guide on the wall showing the height of various Sumo champions, which I saw many kids and adults comparing themselves to the sumo wrestlers.

Portraits of sumo wrestlers at Ryogoku Stadium
Full-size cutouts of sumo wrestlers at Ryogoku Stadium

The meeting time at the west exit of Ryogoku station was 2:15 pm, and it said they leave sharply at 3 pm. I arrived about 30 minutes before the meeting time, which allowed me to explore the nearby area. 

Exploring Ryogoku made me realise how steeped in Sumo history this town is. There are hotpot restaurants run by former sumo wrestlers, which have their portraits outside, and there are statues of sumo wrestlers proudly on display. The famous Ryogoku Arena provides the backdrop.

I headed back to the meeting point and was surprised to see a group of about 80 tourists. Tour staff members were holding green signs saying “Japan Wonder Travel.” 

I told one of them my name, and they scanned my QR code. Then, the staff member took me over to my English-speaking guide. My group had around eight people in it, which was a good size for the guide to talk to us all and let us ask questions. 

Our guide was a native Japanese woman who had excellent English skills. She was highly knowledgeable about sumo, and you could feel her passion as she talked about the sport and answered any questions. 

Ryoguku Edo Noren

When we headed off, our first stop was at the Ryogoku Edo Noren, located at the station. 

Upon entering, I noticed how much this looked like an old Japanese town. The interior and architectural style have an authentic Edo period atmosphere. 

There were various restaurants and bars around the outside edge of the complex featuring different styles of Japanese food. In the middle of the Ryogoku Edo Noren is a lifesize sumo ring. There are also a few shops selling traditional crafts and sumo souvenirs.

Ryogoku Edo Noren is like an old Edo town.
Ryogoku Edo Noren is like an old Edo town.

Our guide walked us around the complex while explaining the history of sumo, the rules of the matches, rituals such as why the wrestlers throw salt in the ring before their match, things we should watch out for in matches, as well as some interesting and informative facts such as how many times sumo wrestlers eat in a day,

She also answered any group questions about sumo, and I was very impressed with her knowledge. It was clear from this point that although this was her job, she was also a huge sumo fan, as she spoke with so much passion and insight.

Walking to the Arena

After this pitstop, we walked to the Ryogoku Arena. We passed a range of food stalls and souvenir stands. There were large colourful flags on bamboo poles on display. The guide explained that these are ‘nobori’, and they display a sumo wrestler’s name and their sponsor. These little bits of information made the whole experience more exciting as it became more understandable.

Nobori flags on display.
Nobori flags on display.

Sumo Museum

My group entered the Ryogoku Arena together, and the guide informed us that we would stop at the Sumo Museum before heading to our seats. The museum is a collection of exhibitions and paraphernalia relating to Sumo history. Staff rotate the displays throughout the year. Items featured include woodblock prints, embroidered ceremonial aprons and official ranking lists. I enjoyed this small museum, which didn’t take too long.

Trophies at the Sumo Museum.
Trophies at the Sumo Museum.

Seating at the Arena

Next, we headed to our seats, and I have to say I was surprised by how good the view was. We were sitting in the Area B section on the second tier, which wasn’t as far back as expected.

The venue isn’t overly large, and because it’s all tiered, and the layout of the Ryogoku Kokugikan is a square with a circle ring in the middle, you get an excellent view from all positions. My seat offered a completely unrestricted view, and I could take photos easily without leaving my seat.

The view from my seat.
The view from my seat.

The seating in the arena is comfortable, with fold-down seats comparable to a decent cinema. I have yet to try sitting in the boxes, but I heard that it can become quite uncomfortable, especially if you are tall or not flexible. 

Our Guide’s Role at the Arena

During the entire time we were in the Ryogoku Arena, the guide would explain stuff to us and give us tidbits of information. She also told us the best time to go for food or snacks and even offered some recommendations.

There were already some matches happening as we entered, and the guide explained to us that the matches start around 9:30 am, leading up to the Senior Division matches at 4:05 pm.

I watched a few of the Juryo (Intermediate Division) matches as our ever-helpful guide explained the rules of the matches and what the ceremonies, routines and actions meant before a match started. This furthered my enjoyment as I now knew what the sumo wrestlers were doing so many things before the actual match began.

Getting ready to throw salt - It cleanses the ring and dries sweaty hands.
Getting ready to throw salt – It cleanses the ring and dries sweaty hands.

Getting some Food and Drink at the Arena

After taking in a few of the matches, I decided to quickly go for some food and a drink before the main matches began. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of food and drinks that were available to buy inside the stadium. 

I will go into more detail about the food and drink choices later in the article. As a quick overview, there were popular yakitori skewers, a wide selection of sushi, bento boxes with a variety of fillings, and a bunch of snacks. 

As I had already had lunch that day, I decided on a bag of smoked spicy sausages for 300 yen (US $2.05) and a glass of draft Asahi beer for 550 yen (US $3.75).

Spicy sausages and beer.
Spicy sausages and beer.

Watching the Senior Division Matches

I returned to my seat as the Makuuchi (Senior Division) entrance was beginning. 

The competing wrestlers walked out and stood in a circle around the ring. I was in awe at how huge some of these wrestlers were, definitely larger than life. Then, the Yokozuna (Highest Rank) made his entrance. 

The fans love the Yokozuna, and there were large cheers during his entrance, and everyone shouted in unison while he did his ceremonial routines. Then, it was time for the main event. 

The Makuuchi bouts began at 16:05, and the audience was electric. The crowd came alive for the main bouts, and I noticed the empty seats on the floor area were full.

Throughout the main bouts, our English guide kept us in the loop. She would give us information about which sumo wrestlers were up-and-comers, who was the favourite to win, and even where they were currently ranked. This enhanced the whole experience and often had me on the edge of my seat or cheering on the underdogs.

Sumo wrestlers display the palms of their hands to show they don’t have weapons.
Sumo wrestlers display the palms of their hands to show they don’t have weapons.

As this was my first time at sumo, it surprised me at first that some of the matches were over in about 10 seconds. But this made the experience pacing better as it was constantly moving and entertaining.

Leaving the Event

The event finished just after 6 pm, and I left with the crowds into the street. I walked around the Ryogoku Arena to have one last look and make sure I hadn’t missed anything. 

On the way back to the train station, I was surprised to see two Sumo wrestlers crossing the road at the same time as me. As big as they looked from my seat, they looked even bigger up close.

A statue of a Sumo wrestler standing proud in the streets of Ryogoku.
A statue of a Sumo wrestler standing proud in the streets of Ryogoku.

Food at the Sumo Tournament

Attending a Sumo tournament in Tokyo can be a long day out. So it’s great that there are many choices inside the arena and around the general Ryogoku district.

Inside the Sumo arena are several places to grab a snack or some hearty food to keep you going during the day’s matches. 

One of the most popular foods to eat during Grand Sumo tournaments is yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). Since the 1950s, spectators have eaten yakitori while watching sumo, and it is commonly believed that it will bring your favourite Sumo wrestlers good luck.

There are a range of other popular items for sale, including sushi, fried chicken, hotdogs, soft serve ice cream, snacks and the Sumo wrestler’s favourite dish, Chanko Nabe. Chanko Nabe is a protein stew of meat and vegetables that Sumo wrestlers eat to bulk up. In the sumo arena, smaller bowls of chanko nabe are available to spectators to buy and enjoy for as little as 300 yen.

Some of the food choices at Ryogoku Arena
Some of the food choices at Ryogoku Arena

Outside of the arena, there are loads of stalls and food trucks selling easy-to-eat food such as takoyaki, oden, and sweet potatoes. 

If you are looking for something more substantial, there are plenty of restaurants in the Ryogoku area where you can sit down and enjoy a proper meal. Many of the restaurants are located in the nearby Ryogoku Edo Noren building. Here are some of the food choices available:

  • There is a bakery called Paris & Candy that offers freshly baked breads, sweets, and traditional Ryogoku pudding. 
  • If you are looking for a Japanese meal, Tsukishima Monja Moheji sells Monjayaki and the more popular Okonomiyaki. 
  • Tsukuda Takisaburo can meet all your sushi needs with high-quality fresh fish and domestic eels. 
  • If you are craving ramen, there is the Noodle shop Tadokoro Shoten, which specialises in miso-based ramen. 
  • Nihonbashi Yabukyu is a restaurant that sells Japanese buckwheat noodles. The restaurant was founded in 1902 and has a branch restaurant in the Ryogokyo Edo Noren building.
  • A former sumo wrestler runs Chanko Kirishima, which specialises in authentic chanko nabe with recipes from the sumo stables. You can choose from different flavours, such as kimchi, salt, miso, and soy sauce, and these stewed hot pot dishes contain all kinds of vegetables and a variety of proteins.
Chanko Kirishima - A popular chanko nabe restaurant run by a former Sumo wrestler.
Chanko Kirishima – A popular chanko nabe restaurant run by a former Sumo wrestler.

Merchandise at the Sumo Tournament

If you are looking to grab some souvenirs on your trip to watch Sumo tournaments in Tokyo, the Ryogoku Arena has loads of shops selling a variety of merchandise.

One of the most popular items I saw was the colourful Sumo fan towels. These have different Sumo wrestlers’ names and pictures emblazoned across them. I spotted many fans in the arena waving their towels to support their favourite wrestler during his match.

There are also more traditional souvenirs for sale, including magnets, postcards, stationery and keychains. Some of these feature very traditional designs, and others have cute cartoon pictures of the Sumo wrestlers. So there is something for everyone.

A stall inside Ryogoku Kokugikan selling a variety of souvenirs.
A stall inside Ryogoku Kokugikan selling a variety of souvenirs.

For people looking for clothing, there are items like baseball caps and t-shirts featuring images and names of the most popular Sumo wrestlers. The t-shirts especially feature very Japanese imagery and would make a great souvenir to take home from your visit to the land of the rising sun.

Tips for a Memorable Visit to a Sumo Tournament

If you have decided to head to the Ryogoku to check out Sumo wrestling in Tokyo, here are some of my final tips to make the most of your experience.

If you have decided to book a tour through Viator or Klook, remember that you won’t be attending the full day of Sumo matches. You will be meeting around lunch or late lunch and will have a brief tour before heading straight to the Sumo arena. 

If you want to soak in the atmosphere and have a look around the stalls outside of the stadium, etc, I would arrive an hour or two before the meeting time. I was only there 30 minutes before the meeting, so I missed out on seeing some of the festivities outside of the arena. When I left after 6 pm, it was all closing up.

Also, if you use a tour, your guide will be very knowledgeable about sumo, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. I asked some questions about different wrestlers, food, and when was the best time to go for a quick snack and drink, and my guide was extremely helpful.

Speaking of food, grab some food beforehand and stay hydrated, as the sumo day can be pretty long. If you are eating inside the stadium, keep in mind they stop selling food early, from about 4 pm to 5 pm. So head to the food stalls in plenty of time, or you might miss out.

Finally, sumo is a lot of fun. The matches are quick and frenetic, and the crowd gets louder as the day goes on. Feel free to join in cheering and chanting with the locals. I saw many foreigners doing this, and the local Japanese fans appreciated it.

Another related event that I highly recommend is pro wrestling. Both are contact sports and feature larger-than-life athletes. However, sumo is much more traditional with simple rules, while pro wrestling is about spectacle as much as the action. I highly recommend checking out Wrestle Kingdom if you happen to be in Tokyo in early January.

Attractions near Ryogoku Kokugikan

If you want to make a day trip out of your visit to the Ryogoku area, there are other things to do nearby to keep you entertained.

Kyu Yasuda Garden

If you are looking for a nice place to relax, Kyu Yasuda Garden is a historical garden from the Edo period. This is a stroll garden, which means it’s a garden with circulating walking paths. This garden is especially popular in autumn for its many trees with autumn leaves. There is also a Shinji pond at the centre of the garden.

Sumida Hokusai Museum

Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous Ukiyo-E (woodblock print and painting) artists. If you want to learn more about his work and see his art on display, there is the Sumida Hokusai Museum, which opened in 2016.

Japanese Sword Museum

For visitors interested in Japanese sword culture, why not check out the Japanese Sword Museum? This museum preserves and exhibits over 190 traditional Japanese swords. There is a wide range of swords on display to admire and appreciate the Japanese craftsmanship and cultural relevance.

Sumida River

Finally, there is the Sumida River. This river flows for 23 km and connects to Tokyo Bay. At any time of the year, a stroll down the Sumida River makes a very peaceful and enjoyable walk.

If you are visiting in Spring, there are cherry blossom trees along the side of the river which makes it a popular place for cherry blossom picnics. In July, one of the largest firework festivals takes place at Sumida River and there are loads of night markets selling goods. 

Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a popular tourist destination in the Ryogoku district. However, it is closed until the end of 2025 for refurbishment. 

Edo-Tokyo Museum
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Sumo Tournament Tour Options
  • Watch sumo from comfortable reserved seating.
  • Learn from a guide who is knowledgeable about sumo.
  • Enjoy the atmosphere and join in the fun with locals.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo

Here are my answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about sumo tournaments in Tokyo.

Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo - Pinterest
Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo – Pinterest Image

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group or Discord Server

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group and our Japan Travel Planning Discord Server – they are great resources to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

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Craig Nixon is a writer and videographer originally from Glasgow, Scotland. He has a bachelor's degree in Film and Television from Edinburgh Nappier University, and he produces short films as well as online video content. He has previously written about and reviewed Asian cinema for the blog TemptAsian Film. As well as writing and compiling movie lists for Taste of Cinema. Craig is a keen traveller, but has now settled in Japan, where he enjoys exploring and documenting this fascinating country. Tag along with his latest adventures here: Instagram: Tik Tok: