No guarantees of course that a tournament will be going while you are in town, but if there is a tournament in progress, it is well worth catching the sumo.
There are 6 tournaments a year, 3 of which are in Tokyo, the other 3 in Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka respectively.
Tournaments go for 15 days at a time, from Sunday to Sunday two weeks later. If you are going to visit Japan, I recommend having a look to see if the Sumo is on while you are there.
The sumo stadium is in the Ryogoku district, just a short walk from the station. If you are going to be in Tokyo during January, May or September you are in luck, as that is when the tournaments are held. We were there in April, so didn't get to see a tournament, but we still enjoyed the sumo museum which displays the photo's of past champions and the colorful embroidered sashes. We also saw a Sumo Wrestler coming to practice...he was enormous!
If you get a chance try to go to the final sumo match and stay for the prizes that are given out after. Here is just one of a long procession of prizes that are given out to the winner. Too bad they couldn't make it any bigger. He had to receive at least 10 huge ornamental trophies and it looked like a new car was waiting for him outside along with hundreds of devoted fans.
The Sumo matches at Ryoguku are truly a different experience.Most of the match is spent with the opponents staring at each other, walking away and stretching and slapping themselves. They also throw some salt in the ring and go back to staring. After about 4 to 5 times doing this they start grappling. That lasts about a minute. It seems strange but it is thoroughly entertaining. There is plenty of pomp and circumstance and the final award ceremony has to be seen to be believed.
The Kokugikan is Tokyo's purpose-built sumo stadium on the bank of the Sumida river. Three basho (contests) are held here each year, and Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka each host one contest. The 15-day tournament for the Emperor's Cup becomes increasingly tense as the top-ranked wrestlers - the yokozuna - vie for victory. Each wrestler fights once each day, striving to achieve the 15-0 record that will secure the cup. In high-priced Japan, it's something of a surprise to find that tickets for the basho can be bought for only a few hundred yen.
The sumo combatints going at it. Note the judge in his ornamental garb.You win by either forcing your opponent outside the circle or getting part of his body to touch the clay floor.