How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

If you want to know how to watch sumo in Tokyo with kids, you’re in the right place. I’ve been to the Ryogoku Kokugikan (Tokyo’s Sumo Stadium) half a dozen times for matches, and one or both of my kids came along. Watching sumo in Tokyo with kids is a blast, and it’s not that difficult or expensive.

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids

The Kokugikan is just a few subway stations north of my old neighborhood. The area around Ryogoku has lots of interesting things to do with kids, which I’ll explain in an upcoming post. But first, let me explain how to watch sumo in Tokyo.

Related Posts

Save & Share on Pinterest!

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips PIN 1

Watching Sumo in Tokyo

Do you want to go to a sumo tournament? Seeing a sumo match at the Ryogoku Kokugikan is the best way to see sumo. You should know, however, that while sumo wrestlers train year-round, there are only a few basho (official sumo wrestling competition) in Tokyo every year. The other major tournaments are in cities like Osaka and Nagoya.

The Tokyo bouts (usually) take place in January, May, and September. Each tournament is just over two weeks long. So you have a nice window of opportunity to get tickets, especially if you go on a weekday in the middle of the tournament. It’s much less crowded then. That’s how to watch sumo in Tokyo: go when the crowds aren’t around.

Seating: How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo

Seat prices range from a cramped square of tatami mats for four people at over JPY 10,000 (approx. USD $100) a person to individual seats on the second level for JPY 3,800 (around USD $35).

So you want to sit close? Fine, go for it. However, you should understand that if you pay more to be closer, you will be sitting on tatami mats with no seat back. This gets uncomfortable after a while. I lived in Japan for 13 years and I never got used to it. Besides, you can’t really sprawl out, or have your feet pointing toward the ring. My advice? Get a seat, not a mat.

  • You can buy tickets at the stadium or check here.
  • Make sure you’re buying tickets in the right city. Tokyo bouts take place in the Ryogoku Kokugikan.

How to watch Sumo in Tokyo with Cheap Tickets

The place we usually sit, however, is in the jiyu-seki (自由席, unreserved seating) at the very top row. These may be referred to as the “free seating,” but the “free” in these seats is that they’re general admission and up for grabs — they actually cost money. These seats are JPY 2,100 for adults, JPY 200 for kids and under 4 are free.

These tickets go on sale at 8 am every day of the tournament — no pre-sale. To actually acquire these sumo tickets, you need to be there much earlier than that. I once arrived after 7 am three days in a row and left empty-handed. Only when I arrived at 6 am (the ticket booth opens at 7 am) did I get my tickets.

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips

This is what the line looked like when I showed up at 7:30 am on a Friday. Bad idea. I lived 20 minutes away at the time, so this was a mild inconvenience for me. Not so for you if you’re only in town for a few days. It might be worth considering trying an afternoon watching sumo in with an early-morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market since you’ll have already been up for hours before this.

First Come, First Served

The jiyu-seki would be considered the “nosebleed seats” in the stadium: the very top row. Also, as the “free seating” name suggests, they are first-come, first served.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the top row seats are still pretty good. You can hear the slap of their bodies when they collide, and c’mon, those guys are huge. Also, most days of the tournament start in the morning and finish around 6 pm. The biggest-name wrestlers perform last, and that’s when most people show up. If you go on early afternoon, or even in the morning when young no-name wrestlers battle, you’ll likely get a good seat.

Food, beer, and kid-friendly beverages are sold here, but you can also pack a few bento and drinks in your bag if you want.

Other Things to Do in Kokugikan

The matches move quite fast. There’s one after another roughly every 5-10 minutes. This can be exciting, but for some kids, this pattern might get monotonous after a while, so get up and walk around. Check out the building and the surrounding grounds. There are a shrine and a small sumo museum. The sumo museum gets mentioned a lot as something to do here, but in my opinion, it’s not that impressive or anything that will keep your attention for long.

Instead, my daughter and I like looking in the glass cases at all of the trophies and other awards bestowed on the best Japanese wrestlers.

When you travel to Tokyo with kids, try to watch Sumo if possible. Watching sumo in Tokyo with kids is a blast, and it's not that difficult or expensive. The Tokyo bouts take place in January, May, and September. Each tournament is just over two weeks long. So you have a nice window of opportunity to get tickets, especially if you go on a weekday in the middle of the tournament. Read our post to find out how you can watch Sumo while you are in Tokyo.

Many closer seats are empty in the morning/afternoon, so it’s possible to sit a little closer if you’re bold. Just be humble and apologetic if the seat’s rightful owner shows up. Get up immediately. Doing this is a risk, however: if it happens late in the afternoon, there may not be any free seating left.

If no tournament is happening while you’re in Japan and you still want to see sumo in Tokyo, then try watching an asageiko (morning training).

Morning Training: How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo

Asageiko: How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips

You can pay a tour agency to set up a visit to morning training, or you can do it on your own without too much trouble. Here’s how. A number of sumo stables allow visitors to observe their workouts but under certain conditions. More on that below

The training sessions usually start at 5 or 6 am, depending on the stable, so this could also be a post-Tsukiji visit if the kids can stay awake.

It’s best to have a Japanese speaker with you, or at least to call ahead and make sure training is happening that day (there are a variety of reasons why it may not).

The main stables that allow observers at morning training include:

Even more info at Sumo Fan Mag

Arashio-beya is probably the easiest for families because you’re watching through a window on the street. Here, you don’t have to worry about fidgety kids disturbing the training. Details on their training at the end of the post.

If you really want a front row seat, however, you need to know how to act. There are strict rules to honor if you and the kids want to witness this, and you need to make sure that you are ready.

Morning Training: The Rules

  • Bow when you enter and bow when you leave. If you come face-to-face with a wrestler or trainer perhaps, a small bow wouldn’t hurt then, either.
  • You must be ready to sit still and quiet for several hours, possibly on the floor, without pointing your feet toward the wrestlers or trainers.
  • No talking, no food, drink or gum, and no smoking. Some of the trainers may smoke or take a drink of water. That doesn’t mean you can.
  • Don’t touch the dohyo (ring). At all. That’s sacred ground for these guys.
  • Be ready to take off your shoes at the entrance. Slip-off shoes are essential in Japan, really. Avoid an awkward moment unlacing hiking boots at the door.
  • No hats, sunglasses or headphones
  • No flash photography.
  • Turn all devices off before you enter. Make sure your watch doesn’t beep.

Arashio-beya Details

Arashio-beya practice begins at 7:30 am and runs until around 10 am. Directions and more details in English on their site. You’ll find the stable below.

Have You Watched Sumo in Tokyo with Kids?

What was your experience like? Where did you eat in the area? Are you looking for more to do in Ryogoku? We want to add all the info possible on watching sumo in Tokyo here, so if you have tips on how to watch sumo in Japan, please let us know!

Further Reading: Beyond Watching Sumo in Tokyo

PIN THIS!!!

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips pin 2

How to Watch Sumo in Tokyo with Kids — Japan Family Travel Tips PIN 3

Image credits: #1, #3, #7

Disclosure: some of my posts have affiliate links, but they cost you nothing and help us travel and share our tips with you. My opinions are my own and this post is only to help you learn how to watch sumo in Tokyo. If you have tips on how to watch sumo in Tokyo that are not listed here, please let us know.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

css.php