Enjoy sumo in Ryogoku
In the Edo Era, Ryogoku became an area comparable to Ueno and Asakusa due to the development of Ryogoku Bridge. Sumo started to flourish from Kanjin sumo (tournaments to raise the necessary funds to build and restore temple buildings) at Eko-in Temple. The major sumo tournaments are held in January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena. In addition, the 1st floor of the arena is a sumo museum where material on sumo such as woodblock prints, banzuke (rikishi rankings), and ornamental mawashi aprons (a type of beautiful loincloth worn by the wrestlers when entering the ring) is collected and stored. On the 2nd floor, the purikura (photo stickers) booths where you can get a picture with a rikishi are popular. There is also the hot pot cuisine that the wrestlers eat, known as chanko-nabe, which has a traditional taste at each sumo stable where the ingredients and seasonings are not particularly decided upon. “Chanko Kawasaki” is a place that perennially goes high in the rankings. The “tori-chanko” (chicken) is a popular dish that hasn’t changed since the restaurant’s founding in 1937. Some of the sumo stables to which the rikishi belong offer viewings of the early morning practices. There are 5 rules for these viewings: 1. No whispering, 2. No photographs, 3. No turning your back on the ring and no shifting of your legs, 4. No smoking, food or drink, 5. Cellphones and smartphones are turned off. Since telephone reservations are common for direct visits, it’s best to go together with a guide if going individually may become a problem.
The “hands-on” Edo Tokyo Museum
Opened in 1993, this is a museum that relates the 400-year history of Tokyo from the Edo Era. Material on the culture of the common people is mainly stored and displayed. A raised-floor style has been constructed in consideration of the neighboring Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena. The use of the space is extravagant, and its specialty is being “hands-on”. You can experience the lifestyle of the common people of the time through things such as a real-life replica of the Edo Era Nihonbashi Bridge and rickshaws.