You can experience that feeling of real live sumo
Sumo is Japanese wrestling with big half-nude men in topknots battling it out. The sound of them slamming into each other and their red-hot bodies with sweat spraying all about make for an overwhelming spectacle. On top of the severe training, there are the various techniques and tactics that have been polished over time that make watching sumo so profound. How about enjoying sumo live, a sport that has more than 1500 years of history? At Kokugikan, you can experience the sumo of wrestlers competing in front of your eyes.
Getting out of Ryogoku Station, you can see the massive stadium of Kokugikan with its light green roof of Japanese design. The current form of Ryogoku Kokugikan has a short history, having been built in 1984. When you enter the stadium, there is the dohyo (sumo ring) in the center and the suspended roof from the ceiling. This unique interior only found in sumo is also deeply interesting.
The enjoyment of sumo lies in watching the bouts while eating a bento box lunch. There are stores selling bento inside Kokugikan (bringing food in from outside is basically prohibited). Buying food there and then watching sumo at your seats as you nosh away at your lunch is the way to enjoy the sport. The yakitori bento is especially a Kokugikan specialty. There is a yakitori factory down in the basement and you can eat the skewers of grilled chicken made on that day downstairs. The souvenir shop has sumo-related goods such as towels and T-shirts.
One surprising thing is that for sumo, the bouts start from 8 a.m. But the matches with the big names actually begin from after 3 p.m. so it’s best to catch them from around 2:30. In addition, there is a sumo museum which is free to enter in the stadium, so how about taking a look in there before watching the bouts? There are interesting exhibits on display such as gorgeous ornamental aprons and woodblock prints.
Sumo is held everywhere while on tour around the prefectures, so please take note about when you are able to see the sport. The tournaments held at Kokugikan in Tokyo are in January, May and September. Since during other times, the tournaments are held in other prefectures, please check the schedule at the homepage of the Japan Sumo Association. Ticket information is also available there.
The numbers of foreign-born sumo wrestlers have also increased which has led to the sport taking on an international flavor. Sumo has now charged into a new age. With the attraction of sumo continuing to carve a history between the traditional and the modern, please come and experience the real thing.