Sumo is one among Japan’s most well-known sports activities, and a extremely authentic Japanese cultural expertise in and of itself.
However few would-be vacationers to Japan know a lot concerning the historic sport of sumo, so we’ve put collectively this easy guide to experiencing sumo in Japan.
In case you’re interested in seeing sumo, and your travel dates are versatile, it’s value going out of your option to attend a sumo basho (event) during your trip to Japan.
The one drawback for vacationers is that the tournaments solely happen a number of occasions a yr, which signifies that for most vacationers attending a basho ends up being inconceivable.
To assist be sure this doesn’t occur to you, we’ve put together info on:
- When and where sumo tournaments take place
- How to buy basho tickets
- And where to take a seat!
- 1 When & Where To See Sumo
- 2 Buying Sumo Basho Tickets
- 3 Attending a Basho: It’s Event Day!
- 4 In search of more authentic Japanese experiences?
When & Where To See Sumo
One of the simplest ways to expertise sumo is by attending one of many official basho (sumo tournaments), which happen simply six occasions annually in places throughout Japan. For details read on!
There are different ways to experience sumo as properly, similar to by going to one of many sumo exhibitions held in between sumo tournaments, or by visiting a sumobeya, the place the rikishi (wrestlers) stay and practice.
Tokyo’s Sumo Tournaments are held in Ryogoku Kokugikan (photograph by Guilhem Vellut CC BY)
Morning Sumo Follow
In case your travel dates don’t overlap with a sumo basho, attending a morning sumo apply could be a fun and interesting choice.
As you might imagine, sumo wrestlers get up early, with lower-ranked rikishi beginning earlier, and their higher-ranked colleagues becoming a member of in later in the morning.
Since sumobeya are traditional spaces, anticipate to take a seat on the floor – and plan to be silent as you observe the huge yet agile rikishi interact in their morning ritual.
In case you’d like to visit a sumobeya (typically translated into English as “sumo stable”), you’ll be able to attempt to determine it out on your own, or for a much more seamless expertise guide a morning sumo coaching tour.
Visiting a sumobeya for morning apply is particularly exciting, but for the quintessential sumo experience there’s nothing like attending a sumo event.
For info on non-tournament sumo events and exhibitions, seek the advice of the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Japan Sumo Affiliation) web site
Sumo Schedule: Basho Dates & Places
The official sumo basho (tournaments) take place six occasions a yr, beginning in January and then occurring each other month by way of November.
Three of the six sumo tournaments happen in Tokyo on the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo area, in Tokyo’s old style Ryogoku neighborhood, with the opposite three held in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
Under is an inventory of each sumo basho, and the place and when it takes place. Each event lasts for exactly 15 days (starting and ending on Sunday), with the exact dates various from yr to yr.
- January Event (Hatsu Basho): Tokyo
- March Event (Haru Basho): Osaka
- Might Event (Natsu Basho): Tokyo
- July Event (Nagoya Basho): Nagoya
- September Event (Aki Basho): Tokyo
- November Event (Kyushu Basho): Fukuoka
For the precise dates of every basho, here is a link to the Japan Sumo Affiliation’s official sumo schedule.
Begin! (photograph by davidgsteadman CC BY)
When attending a sumo event you will have the option of sitting on traditional Japanese-style flooring cushions, or in trendy stadium-style chair seats.
For the complete Japanese expertise we advocate Japanese-style seating, although for those who’re very tall or concerned about sitting on the ground (albeit on cushions) for relatively lengthy durations of time, you could choose to opt for the chair-style seating.
To allow you to determine, we’ve put together the important particulars about every seating choice under.
Flooring Seats Vs. Chairs
There are three essential classes in relation to seat varieties at a sumo event:
- Japanese-style box flooring seats
- Area-style chair seats
- Ringside flooring seats
As ringside sumo tickets aren’t usually out there to the general public, and are typically reserved for people with particular business or sumo connections, we’ll give attention to the most typical forms of seats: Japanese-style flooring seats and western-style chair seats.
Sumo wrestlers (rikishi) put together to face off (photograph by Edward Dalmulder CC BY)
Japanese-style Packing containers (i.e., Flooring Seats)
Japanese-style seating might be good when you’re in search of a totally Japanese expertise. You remove your footwear and sit Japanese-style on flooring cushions inside a small designated “box” area.
The Japanese-style bins also provide an incredible vantage level from which to witness the action, as all flooring seats are a bit nearer to the action than the arena-style chair seats.
One thing to be wary of in terms of box-style seating is that the area is sort of small, so regardless that most bins are designed to accommodate Four individuals, many individuals choose to split these Four-person packing containers between just 2 individuals. In case you’re tall — or just want enough room to stretch out your legs a bit — then this can be a nice concept, as it might make issues rather more snug.
It’s value noting that Japanese-style sumo seating may be very uncomfortable for travelers with back or knee problems, or individuals not used to sitting Japanese type for prolonged durations of time.
One other essential observe is that, in contrast to area seats, bins are bought per box, not per individual. They come in quite a lot of sizes, primarily designed for groups ranging from 2-4 individuals.
It’s not potential to buy a person area in a field – you have to purchase the whole box. They’re obtainable in A, B and C classes, with A being the closest and C the furthest from the dohyo (the ring). Costs range from about 40,000 to 50,000 yen per box (divided by the variety of individuals in your social gathering).
Area-style Chair Seats
For those who’re hesitant to take a seat Japanese fashion as described above, then arena-style chair seating could also be the best choice.
Along with the acquainted consolation of a chair, these are additionally the least costly seats at sumo event venues.
If there’s a disadvantage, it is that they’re slightly additional again from the motion. Nevertheless, basho venues are sufficiently small that the dohyo isn’t too far (when you’re involved about with the ability to see, bringing binoculars is a good idea).
Area-style seats can be found in A, B and C classes, with A being the closest and C the furthest from the dohyo. Prices range from about Four,000 yen to 10,000 yen.
Sumo wrestlers paying respect before the event (photograph by arriba CC BY)
Buying Sumo Basho Tickets
In case you are planning a custom trip with us, we’ll make all of the preparations for you to attend sumo. But should you’re making the preparations your self, here is some key info that will help you acquire sumo tickets.
The primary and most necessary factor is, in fact, to ensure your journey dates overlap with one of many sumo basho. The subsequent step is to determine in your most popular sort of seating and very best price range for tickets.
If you realize for positive that you simply’d wish to attend a sumo basho, we extremely advocate buying tickets in advance – in current years, demand for sumo tickets has spiked dramatically.
Along with Japan’s increased reputation (which means extra travelers looking for tickets), interest among Japanese individuals has also increased with the first Japanese yokozuna (sumo champion) in a few years (most yokozuna truly are typically from other nations, akin to Mongolia and Bulgaria).
Nowadays, sumo tickets are likely to sell out virtually immediately, with many being wolfed up by skilled resellers. Weekends are typically in highest demand, notably every basho’s remaining weekend. In the event you’re not in Japan, one of many best ways to get sumo tickets in advance is through an organization like BuySumoTickets or Voyagin.
Typically you can too purchase tickets at the sumo basho venue or at conbini (comfort shops) all through Japan (at convenience shops the automated system is in all Japanese, so this feature might require some endurance!).
Sumo Event “Tours”
Even when tickets are more likely to sell out, main tour corporations in Japan — reminiscent of JTB and Voyagin — maintain a limited stock of tickets and supply temporary tours that embrace the prospect to attend the basho.
While this will sometimes be a superb backup choice, please notice that even these tours are in excessive demand and may sell out in advance.
Attending a Basho: It’s Event Day!
Assuming you’ve obtained sumo tickets, congratulations! The day has lastly come for you to attend the basho.
Sumo is an all-day affair, however most spectators skip the morning matches and arrive in the mid-afternoon, when the higher-ranked rikishi (wrestlers) start their matches.
For those who arrive in the morning you’ll discover a comparatively empty venue, but you’ll have the ability to see a few of the lower-ranked wrestlers going up towards each other.
Until you want to spend the whole day at sumo, we advocate arriving in the mid afternoon. This is when the environment begins to affect, because the venue fills up and the perfect wrestlers start their matches.
Ensure you’re seated nicely earlier than 3:45 pm, when the gang comes alive because the makuuchi (prime wrestlers) enter the ring. At 4:00 pm, the yokozuna (grand champion) enters the ring, and probably the most exciting bouts begin.
The climax takes place when the two highest-ranked wrestlers face off in the concluding match right around 6:00 pm (5:30 pm on the basho’s remaining day). In case you’re attending sumo be sure to be there for this part of the day, nevertheless it’s greatest to expertise at the very least 1-2 hours of matches beforehand to get a extra complete sumo expertise.
Beer, Sake & Snacks
The sumo expertise would not be full without some snacks and drinks (whether or not you prefer cold draft beer, sake, or Japanese whisky.
It’s virtually a practice to have a number of drinks while watching sumo, although definitely not a requirement. You can even preorder special bento packing containers to take pleasure in at the event.
A bento box to take pleasure in whereas watching the sumo wrestling (photograph by kadluba CC BY)
In search of more authentic Japanese experiences?
We hope our guide to seeing sumo helps you take advantage of your Japan journey!
In case you are trying to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan, we have now assets that may help.
Start by testing our pattern Japan travel itineraries and learning about our means of crafting custom-made journeys for vacationers looking for distinctive, authentic experiences.