Social Study Tours

Watching Sumo live

The two secrets about how to watch Sumo live, sitting in the first row and paying only for the most affordable tickets! The real fun watching Sumo is preparing lunch at home, packing it up and spending the day eating and drinking with friends or family at the Kokugikan. This is what most people in Japan do once in a lifetime. Now is your chance, since tomorrow a 2-weeks long tournament starts there in Ryuogoku, the east-part of Tokyo!


Sumo watching

[Credit the Culture Trip]


Buying tickets is rather complicated, especially for a foreigner. Most are not even available on the market and can only be received through good contacts. Some are held by big companies sending employees to enjoy this very traditional form of entertainment. The tickets on the market get on sale about a month before the actual tournament and are sold out almost immediately. If you are lucky, you can purchase tickets still in a convenience store like seven eleven.

BUT …here come the two secrets! (*-_^*) 

Secret No. 1: On each of the 15 days the tournament lasts, people line up from around 6am in front of the sales window of the Kokugikan and try to get one of the day-tickets (Toujitsuken当日券).  Depending on the day, there are up to 200 available, only one per person, to be paid in cash. They cost 2200 yen for an adult. Those are the cheapest tickets for the last row in the second floor…



Secret No.2: What most people do not know is that from 8:30am until around 1pm you normally can sit in the first floor, as close to the ring as you please, until the real owner of the expensive seats (40.000 yen is a bit much…) are coming. Usually not before 3pm, but if earlier, just politely change the seat. The real action goes on in the lower leagues, before the big stars show up in the afternoon.


Sumo stadium

[Credit Arab News]


Being close, you can see all the details, smell the hair wax (the same stuff the Geisha are using) and feel the tension of the young wrestlers who usually join a team at the age of only 15!

You can bet that they enjoy a little support from you. You may shout “Ganbatte!”  頑張って, roughly translated as “do your best”. In the early hours the hall is quiet empty.

We are talking about Japan’s over 2000 years old official national sport, hence the name of the Sumo stadium Kokugikan 国技館, the “hall of the national sport”.


Is there a foreign wrestler from your country? Maybe! 

The Japanese youth is not too interested in many traditional things, probably the same in your country, that means that the older generation as well as foreign tourists are the main audience. Depending on where you are from, there might even  be a professional sumo wrestler from your country! See a list of all foreigners in Sumo HERE. If there is no date written under “intai”(retired), he is still active and you can cheer for him in the hall!

Currently the top-ranked Rikishi (term for sumo wrestlers) are from Mongolia. We also have Russians, Bulgarians, Georgians, Filipinos, a Canadian, Egyptian, Brazilian, Chinese, some from the USA, Korea and so on.

If you ask around, most people in Japan have seen it on TV, but going there watching one of the 3 tournaments per year happening in Tokyo (the other 3 are held in Osaka, Nagoya and Kyushu) is something a normal person hardly ever does. Your next chance in Tokyo will be in September, or after that in January next year.


  • Make sure you do not eat or drink, sitting on the cushions close to the ring, this is allowed in the boxes farther from it. You must be able to run away if a wrestler is flying towards you, falling from the Dohyou.
  • Better wear trousers, in the first floor you are sitting on the ground.
  • Bring enough food and drinks
  • All friends watching with you must be waiting in front of the ticket window too
  • Be early enough, otherwise the day-tickets are sold out

Believe it or not, several of the high-ranking wrestlers are very popular and have especially many female fans. Let us know if you get hooked!

Ozzz! (Greeting the wrestlers are using.)


Watching SUmo

[Credit Yokota]


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