Sumo Wrestling is an Integral Part of Japan's Rich Culture and Heritage: Check out the Top-10 Sumo Watching Tours in Tokyo for a Memorable Experience (2023)

Sumo Wrestling is an Integral Part of Japan's Rich Culture and Heritage: Check out the Top-10 Sumo Watching Tours in Tokyo for a Memorable Experience (2023)

Sumo wrestling is Japan's national game and is extremely popular since ancient times. In addition to seeing all the beautiful tourist destinations and relishing the wonderful cuisine in Tokyo, you should also make it a point to come face-to-face with Sumo wrestling during your forthcoming trip to Tokyo. This BP Guide has curated a list of the top-10 Sumo watching tours in Tokyo which will surely give you a deep insight into this aspect of Japan's rich culture and heritage and make your trip even more memorable.

Tokyo: A City That Blends the Ancient with the Modern

Tokyo is the capital and largest city of Japan. It is a vibrant metropolis that combines modern technology with traditional culture. Some of the key attractions in Tokyo include the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest tower in Japan and offers stunning views of the city, the Meiji Shrine, which is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, the Imperial Palace, which is the primary residence of the emperor of Japan, and the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is one of the largest fish markets in the world and a popular destination for seafood lovers. Additionally, Tokyo is also home to many museums, parks and shopping districts, such as the Tokyo National Museum, Ueno Park and Harajuku. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo is the Shinjuku district, known for its skyscrapers, shopping and entertainment options, and a vibrant nightlife.

Japan's Sumo Tradition and Sumo Watching in Tokyo

Sumo is a traditional Japanese martial art and sport that dates back to ancient times. It is a competitive full-contact wrestling game in which two wrestlers, known as rikishi, try to force each other out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with any part of their body other than the soles of their feet. Sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, are highly respected in Japan and are considered national treasures.

Sumo tournaments, or basho, are held six times a year in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall, and tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of the tournament. Sumo tournaments typically last for 15 days, and the top division matches are held on the last three days. Watching a Sumo match is a unique experience and a great opportunity to witness the traditions and customs of the sport.

During the tournament, the wrestlers will perform a ritual purification ceremony, known as dohyo-iri, before entering the ring. The ceremony is a grand spectacle, and the wrestlers are dressed in traditional attire and wear elaborate hairstyles. Sumo matches are also accompanied by traditional music and drumming, which adds to the atmosphere of the event.

In addition to Sumo tournaments, there are also Sumo stables where visitors can observe morning training sessions, called Keiko, and meet the wrestlers. It is a good way to experience the Sumo tradition and culture, and learn more about the sport.

The Best Sumo Watching Tours You Can Book in Tokyo: Our Top-10 Picks

1. Tour a Sumo Stable and Watch Morning Training

In this tour you will get a chance to visit a real Sumo stable in Tokyo. Over a span of 2 hours, you get an exciting and unique opportunity to experience the traditional sport of Sumo up close and personal. This tour will allow you to see active professional Sumo wrestlers training early morning. The knowledgeable guide accompanying you will help you understand more about this ancient sport and provide information about its history, rules and regulations. During this experience you will also be able to watch the religious rituals that are performed in the Sumo stables. This tour schedule may be subject to change depending on the wrestlers' condition. It is important to respect the rules of the stable and to be mindful of the wrestlers' training environment. This is a great way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sport and its traditions for US$ 100 (about ₹ 8,200.00) from Japan Wonder Travel.

2. Sumo Wrestling Morning Practice Tour

This tour offers a unique opportunity for you to witness the daily training routine of professional Sumo wrestlers at an authentic Sumo stable in Tokyo. You get the chance to observe the morning practice of the wrestlers and learn about the sport and the training regimen followed by the athletes. The tour guide will provide an in-depth understanding of Sumo wrestling, including the rules, training, and diet regimen followed by the wrestlers. The tour also includes the opportunity to take pictures inside the Sumo stable, providing a lasting memory of the experience. The tour starts right in front of Re.Ra.Ku, located right outside of the East Exit of JR Ryogoku Station. The schedule of the stable may change at the last minute based on the tournament schedule and the wrestlers' training. Also, it is important to respect the rules of the stable and dress conservatively. The tour offers an exciting and unique perspective of the sport. It can be purchased for US$ 124 (about ₹ 10,000.00) from Get Your Guide.

3. Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament Viewing Tour

The Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament Viewing Tour offers you an exciting opportunity to witness one of Japan's most iconic cultural expressions, the thrilling Sumo tournament, in Tokyo. The tour begins with a visit to the Sumo Museum, where you will see fascinating collections of memorabilia. This is followed by a walk to the "Kokugikan" (Sumo amphitheater) to see a selection of atmospheric Sumo matches. The tour includes B-class reserved seats, where you will join locals in watching the matches, with an expert guide accompanying them to explain the traditions and ranking list of the sport. There is also an option to upgrade and include a dinner of traditional Japanese dishes at a local restaurant. The tour also includes visiting the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji, and Senso-ji Temple for a half-day sightseeing option. The tickets for the tour can be purchased based on pre-bookings from Viator.

4. Watch Morning Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo

The Watch Morning Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo Tour offers you a unique opportunity to observe the morning practice of Sumo wrestlers at a Sumo training center in Tokyo. The tour lasts for approximately 2 hours during which you will have the chance to watch the Sumo wrestlers train and learn about the rules and regulations of Sumo. It is a rare chance for you to glimpse this exclusive world and gain a fascinating insight into a traditional Japanese sport. The tour includes a local guide, hotel pickup, drop-off, and transfer to/from the Sumo stable. You are expected to adhere to specific rules such as not eating, talking loudly or taking photos with bright flashes or making loud noises in order not to distract the wrestlers. The morning practice tour can be purchased for US $120 (about ₹ 9,600.00) from Viator.

5. Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy a Chanko Lunch

The tour includes a Sumo demonstration and an authentic "Chanko Nabe" (hotpot) meal. You will learn about the history, training and rules behind a typical Sumo match as you watch real clashes, and even have the opportunity to try it out yourself during a skirmish with a retired wrestler. Once you have worked up an appetite, you will have the opportunity to fill up on a tasty Chanko Nabe, a meal of hotpot, rice, miso, salad, French fries, and more, used by these hulking fighters to gain weight. You will have the chance to hear accurate Sumo knowledge and have an opportunity to try Chanko Nabe. The tour includes an opportunity to try playing Sumo with the wrestlers, wearing a costume that is prepared, and also a souvenir photo with them. The traditional tour can be purchased for US$ 117 (about ₹ 9,400.00) from Viator.

6. Secrets of Sumo Culture

This tour includes a visit to a Sumo training center to observe the morning practice and learn about the history, rules and rituals of the sport. You will also have the opportunity to try some moves yourself. After the training session, the tour includes a walking tour of the area and visiting a local restaurant, shrine and temple. The tour offers a unique and intimate experience of the Sumo culture, such as exploring the secret cave at Ejima Sugiyama Shrine where Samurai warriors prayed for guidance and visiting the 1000-year-old Eko-in Temple where it's believed that 2 very powerful wishes come true. The tour also includes visits to the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, the Ryogoku area, Ejimasugiyama Shinto Shrine, a Japanese garden, and a peaceful Japanese garden Kyu Yasuda with Koi and many turtles. The Secrets of Sumo Culture Tour can be purchased for US$ 129 (about ₹ 10,500.00) from Viator.

7. Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour

The Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour offers you the opportunity to watch real Sumo wrestlers train in the morning at a Sumo stable in Tokyo. The tour starts early, with the training starting as early as 6 am for highly ranked wrestlers, and 8 am for others. The tour allows you to watch the training from a close distance and give you an opportunity to talk to and take photos with the wrestlers, depending on the situation and condition of the wrestlers. A local tour guide will accompany you throughout the tour and provide insights into the rules and rituals of Sumo wrestling. You are expected to follow certain rules such as not eating, chatting or using cell phones during the training, and to dress appropriately. The practice tour can be purchased for US$ 108 (about ₹ 8,800.00) from Magical Trip.

8. Yokozuna Tonkatsu Dosukoi Tanaka Sumo Tour

The Yokozuna Tonkatsu Dosukoi Tanaka Sumo Tour offers you an opportunity to interact with retired Sumo wrestlers and gain an understanding of the behind-the-scenes action of the Sumo world. You will learn about Sumo history, manners, training and real matches with explanations in English. You will also have the opportunity to try playing Sumo yourself by wearing a costume provided during the tour. After the Sumo performance, you will be treated to a meal of Chanko Nabe, a hot-pot dish that is a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet that is eaten by Sumo wrestlers. The menu also includes a pork cutlet plate, ice cream and a choice of oolong tea or water. Additionally, alcoholic drinks and soft drinks can also be ordered for an extra fee. Additionally, the tour is available only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday lasting for 2 hours. This classic Sumo tour can be purchased for US$ 85 (about ₹ 7,000.00) from Sumo Experience.

9. Sumo Fighting Experience

This experience offers you the chance to immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese sport of Sumo. You will get to watch a Sumo wrestling performance, learn about the history and rituals of the sport, and even try your hand at fighting with the help of a local guide. The tour includes a visit to a Sumo training center, where you will learn about the strict routine that the wrestlers must stick to, and get to understand the practices followed during the training sessions. You will also learn some basic moves and get to test them out against one of the teachers. After the training session, you will enjoy a traditional Chanko Nabe lunch, which is a hearty stew including rice, meat or fish, potatoes and vegetables. The tour lasts for 2 hours and is conducted in English. It is also suitable for wheelchair users and is committed to sustainability. The tour can be purchased for US$ 93 (about ₹ 7,600.000 from Civitatis.

10. Tokyo Sumo Stable Tour and Training Watch

This Sumo Fighting Experience Tour offers you a unique chance to witness the traditional Japanese sport of Sumo up close. You will have the opportunity to watch Sumo wrestlers train at a real Sumo stable in Tokyo, learn about the history and rituals of Sumo from an English-speaking guide, and take a commemorative photo with Sumo wrestlers after the training. The tour will take place in the Ryogoku neighborhood of Tokyo, an area which is known for housing many prestigious Sumo stables. You will be instructed on how to follow the traditions and etiquettes involved when watching and practicing Sumo. You are expected to stay for the entire duration of the practice and to refrain from sharing photos of Sumo wrestlers on social media as it could cause portrait rights issues. The Sumo stable tour and training can be purchased for US$ 208 (about ₹ 17,000.00) from Rakuten Travel Experiences.

Tips to Make Your Sumo Watching Experience Memorable

  • Try to Get a Seat Close to the Ring: While it can be difficult to get a seat close to the ring at a Sumo tournament, it's worth trying to get as close as possible. This will give you a better view of the action and the wrestlers' techniques.

  • Dress Appropriately: Sumo is a traditional sport and it's important to dress respectfully when watching a match. Avoid wearing revealing clothing and try to dress in a way that is not too casual.

  • Be Aware of the Etiquettes: Sumo has several rituals and traditions that should be respected while watching a match. For example, it is considered rude to talk or make noise during a match, and it's important to bow and clap at the appropriate times.

  • Arrive Early: Sumo tournaments can get very crowded, so it's a good idea to arrive early to secure a good seat. Additionally, you'll have a chance to watch the pre-match rituals and see the wrestlers warming up.

  • Learn About the Wrestlers: Before attending a Sumo tournament, take some time to learn about the wrestlers and their different styles. This will help you appreciate the matches more and understand the strategies being used.

  • Take Note of the Schedule: Sumo tournaments are held six times per year, so make sure to check the schedule in advance and plan accordingly.

  • Bring Cash: Many Sumo venues only accept cash, so make sure to bring enough to purchase tickets, souvenirs and refreshments.

  • Be Prepared to Stand: Many venues do not have enough seating for everyone, so be prepared to stand during the match if necessary.

  • Be Respectful: Remember that Sumo is a traditional sport and should be respected as such. Be mindful of your behaviour and avoid disrupting the matches or the wrestlers.
From our editorial team

Sumo Wrestling is Extremely Revered in Japan

As you would have realised by now, Sumo wrestling is extremely revered in Japan and as a tourist you should always be mindful of your etiquettes and the expectations of everyone associated with the sport, when going to watch a tournament or the training of the wrestlers. Your tour guide will explain these requirements at the time of commencement of the tour which need to be followed strictly. We hope this BP Guide would have helped you decide which Sumo watching tour you would like to take during your forthcoming trip to Tokyo. Share your experiences with us and stay connected for more such engaging content.