A dizzying mixture of old ways and modern style, crowds and calm, and arguably the best food scene on the planet.
Travel bucket list idea:
Tokyo, Kanto, Japan|
Nothing quite says Japanese sport like large, semi-naked men trying to wrestle each other to the ground.
Sumo has been around for at least 1,000 years, initially performed to appease the Shinto gods before eventually becoming the major sport it is today. From the brief, yet hard-hitting bouts to the Shinto-influenced pomp that surrounds them, it’s a brilliant spectacle – and Tokyo’s Ryogoku neighbourhood is the centre of it all.
There are three 15-day sumo tournaments a year at the Kokugikan arena in Ryogoku, but if you miss those you could take a morning tour to one of the sumo training stables to watch the rikishi (wrestlers) go through gruelling practice routines.
Any time of year, Ryogoku is also worth a night-time visit for a chanko nabe dinner. This protein-heavy hotpot of fish, meat, vegetables, and tofu, is what rikishi eat to stay supersized.
Getting there & doing it
Morning tours of the sumo training stables to watch the practice routines are only accessible as part of on organised tour.
To see the Grand Tournament at Kokugikan, book well in advance via the official website.
When to do it
The Grand Tournaments are held over 15 days every March, May and September at the Kokugikan.
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