Sumo is Japan’s most popular sport, and there’s nothing quite like joining 10,000 sumo fans for a match to learn about this ancient form of wrestling. The best place to experience sumo is at the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium (Ryōgoku Kokugikan), Tokyo’s largest indoor arena, where three of the six official national tournaments are hosted each year. Discover sumo’s place in Japanese culture at the attached Sumo Museum (Nihon Sumo Kyokai).
Watching a sumo tournament in this sumo hall is a quintessential Japanese experience, and with only three tournaments per year in Tokyo, it’s important to plan (and book) ahead. If you’re visiting between tournaments, you can still get a taste of sumo culture by visiting the museum, stopping at the stadium as part of a tour of Tokyo (with visits to Tokyo Skytree and Kiyosumi Garden as well), or taking a walking tour of Ryogoku District (also known as sumo town) with a sumo wrestler as your guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visit during one of three annual tournaments in Tokyo to see the hulking athletes in action.
- See the stadium on a walking or biking tour of Tokyo.
- Admission is free to the museum, which is closed Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays.
- Tournament tickets tend to sell out, especially during the final days, so it’s best to book ahead.
How to Get There
The stadium is situated a short walk from JR Ryogoku Station (West Exit) and Toei Subway Ryogoku Station (Exit A3).
When to Get There
To see sumo action live, you’ll have to plan your visit during one of three 15-day tournaments, held in January, May, and September. Wrestling takes place throughout the day, but the biggest competitors take to the ring mid-afternoon. The Kokugikan Sumo Museum is open Monday through Friday.
Seating at the Kokugikan Stadium
Spectators at Ryogoku Kokugikan have three types of seating from which to choose. Most of the seating is typical arena-style chair seats, but it’s possible to book Japanese-style floor box seats or, for the best views of the action, ringside seating on cushions. While the latter are extremely popular (and difficult for foreigners to purchase), you can arrive early in the day and watch some early matches from these seats until their rightful owners show up.