Culture

Enjoying the Sumo experience in Japan

Sumo is Japan’s national sport. Very popular among foreigners, many people want to see Sumo wrestlings. So if you are visiting Japan, here is our guide to help you knowing more about the world of Sumo.

The History of Sumo

Sumo Wrestling

"Sumo Wrestling", Yoshitora, 1852

Sumo originated in Japan, at least 1,500 years ago. It was originally linked with Shinto, and performed to entertain the gods (kami), along with prayers for a good crop.

In the Nara period (710-794) and Heian period (794-1192), Sumo wrestlers started performing in front of the Emperor. Today, Sumo has still some religious elements, such as the wrestling area that is considered sacred.

But unfortunately, it is in decline in Japan. Indeed, fewer people are going to Sumo tournaments.

Sumo Rankings

There are many ranks in Sumo. The ranks of the first division are:

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1) Yokozuna (横綱): the highest rank. Yokozunas wear a special rope around their waist when they enter the ring.
2) Ozeki (大関): known as the champion rank, just below yokozuna.
3) Sekiwake (関脇)
4) Komusubi  (小結)
5) Maegashira  (前頭)

Where can I see Sumo wrestlings in Japan?

If you want to see Sumo wrestlings, you have 2 different options:

Go to a Sumo tournament

In Japan, six annual Sumo tournaments are held in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. You can check the dates here and buy tickets here.

Go to a Sumo morning training session

Many Sumo stables are welcoming tourists to come and see their wrestlers training for free. You can search for a Sumo stables here if you understand Japanese. The Arashio-beya is one of the stable that is welcoming visitors and provides an English website. Don’t forget to call ahead to check if the stable is welcoming visitors and is holding a training session on that day.

Finally, if you want to know more about the history of Sumo, don't forget to visit the Sumo Museum, located in Sumida-ku, in Tokyo.