Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo …



We have been fortunate to travel to various parts of Japan and, without a doubt, one of the highlights of our first trip was to attend a Sumo Wrestling match in Tokyo.  Timing is important if you wish to attend a match as there are only six major tournaments held each year:  three at The Sumo Hall (Ryogoku Kokugikan) in Tokyo in January, May and September; one in Osaka in March; one in Nagoya in July and one in Fukuoka in November.



This is a simple sport:  the sumo wrestler who first touches the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet, or who leaves the ring before his opponent, loses – you can’t get much simpler than that!  The elevated ring where the fight takes place is called a “dohyo” which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand.



When entering the ring, the wrestlers will clap their hands and stamp their feet to drive evil spirits from the ring.  The wrestlers will also throw salt to purify the ring and spread their arms wide to demonstrate they have no weapons.



The two wrestlers will then face off against each other, each positioning themselves behind one of two white lines marked in the centre of the circle.  Each wrestler gets into a crouched position placing both fists on the ground.  This signals the start of the match and the two wrestlers will then charge at each other trying to knock their opponent over or push them from the ring.




In the higher divisions, the wrestlers very rarely charge on the first instance, instead, glaring and moving around the ring in the hope of intimidating the other fighter.  It’s quite a spectacle and you begin to realize this is a sport of strategy as much as anything else.




Some interesting Sumo facts:


  • Sumo wrestlers are required to live in training stables and must dress in traditional Japanese clothing all the time
  • Most sumo wrestlers are recruited around the age of 15
  • The actual sumo fight usually only lasts a few seconds
  • The average weight of a sumo wrestler is 148 kg




And for those of us who are watching our weight and counting calories … a typical sumo wrestler consumes as many as 20,000 calories every day!!  Wow!!  But don’t be fooled, these guys may be big but they are also very strong, surprisingly flexible and carry loads of muscle.


Japan is an incredibly diverse country with so much to see and do but an afternoon at a Sumo Tournament is a great way to see something different and experience something culturally unique to Japan.  And if you take the kids (as we did), don’t be surprised if there’s a few giggles at the sight of some bare bottoms!!


So tell me, would you include a Sumo Tournament in your travel plans if you visited Japan?



  1. I’ve never actually seen a sumo match so that was really interesting that each match only lasts a few seconds! I remember reading about their diet and how they eat chanko nabe.

    • So sweet of you to comment, Lorraine. You have the honour of being the first person to comment on my blog. Thank you

  2. We traveled to Japan last November and adored it so much. Next time I’ll be sure to catch a sumo match!

    • Japan is the most amazing country … we’ve been there twice now and can’t wait to go back! I just can’t believe how much there is to see and do!

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