The Guide to Watching Sumo in Japan

Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport which is deeply rooted in their culture since the 3rd century and still practiced professionally to date. It is not like any regular sports, it is highly respected and it is also a religious ritual practice by Shintos.

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If there aren’t any Sumo tournaments during your visit to Japan, you can visit the stables and watch their hardcore and brutal 3 hours training from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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However, it’s not that easy to watch Sumo training. As I mentioned that it is something highly respected. The wrestlers live in the stable, so you are basically asking them to allow a stranger into their home.

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Where: Ryogoku District is where you will find sumo stables almost at every corner.

How:

  • Call in advance to check if they will allow entry
  • In case you didn’t find any luck upon calling them, wake up early and go from stable to stable and politely ask if you could watch.

Things to do:

  • Arrive at the stable before the practice starts
  • Bow to the stable master and wrestlers as you enter
  • Stay quiet
  • Do not play on your phone
  • Ask permission if you want to take any photos or videos
  • Refrain a lot of movements
  • Do not eat or bring any food

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Personal Experience: I did not make a prior call arrangement. I went directly to Ryogoku, grabbed a map from the tourist office where it shows where all the stables are located. I walked from stable to stable.

I got rejected in 2 stables and was welcomed in the 3rd Stable couple of minutes after the training had already started.

They gave me permission to take photos and videos but then I got told off because I was taking too many. So I hid my phone and watched the training attentively.

 

A Yemeni/Indonesian who knew nothing outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; now craving to explore other cultures, traditions, and way of life.

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