Sumo Grand Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan

When in Tokyo, one of the things that should be added to your must do list is to watch Sumo wrestling.

I was able to attend a Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium last February. I was lucky enough to get discounted tickets in advance from the Japanese school where I study and watched with my classmates. I brought my camera and took the chance to document one of the oldest sports which has been practiced for centuries. I was able to freely take photographs around the stadium during the games. Just make sure not to be in anybody’s way and you’ll be fine. You can also bring bento boxes inside and eat while watching the games.

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Ryogoku is known to be Tokyo’s sumo town. As I got off to Ryogoku station, I immediately noticed portraits of former Sumo champions posted in the walls as well as hand prints of various wrestlers. We then proceeded to the Ryogoku Stadium. Upon entering, we heard loud voices of people cheering, the Sumo tournament has begun. 1 sumo game is very quick and lasts for around 30 seconds. A sumo wrestler wins by forcing his opponent out of the ring or when an opponent’s body part touches the ground other than his feet.

One ritual in Sumo that caught my attention was when the wrestlers threw salt around the ring. It is a symbol of purification before the match begins. 

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The games lasted the whole day from 11:00am to 5:30pm, with the exciting matches in the latter part of the day. There are also interesting matches in between such as a match between a Sumo wrestler and children. See more of Japan’s national sport through my photos below.

ACCESS: Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium is accessible through the Ryogoku station of JR Chuo/Sobu line and takes about 3 minutes by walking from the station. Tickets can be bought at in advance.