Sumo Wrestling Japan – Where to Watch and What to Expect

Sumo wrestling is one of Japan’s most well-known sports and attending a sumo wrestling match is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the authentic ancient Japanese cultural experience. During a year there are only six sumo tournament events or as it is locally known, basho. These happen across various locations in Japan. Each basho lasts for 15 days, starting on a Sunday and then ending on a Sunday again. In between, you can, however, experience sumo by going to sumo exhibitions. These are usually held in between basho. An excellent opportunity to see some sumo wrestling is during their morning practice during the basho. During early mornings it is low ranked rikishi starting off the practice session and then later on during the practice session the higher-ranked wrestlers join in. During these sessions in the sumo beya, all onlookers sit around on the floor in silence. The sumo beya is a traditional space, and hence it is expected of visitors to respect the rules of silence while the agile, but large rikishi do their daily rituals.

Sumo Tournaments

Even though the morning practices are exciting and fun to attend, the best sumo experience is still during a tournament. For the remainder of 2019, there are always two tournaments scheduled. The one will be taking place in September in Tokyo. The Aki Basho is from the 8th to the 22nd. The last one for the year is happening in Fukuoka. This is the Kyushu Basho is happening from 10 – 24 November.

Very Particular Seating Arrangements

These events are very much structured, and the same goes for their seating arrangements as well. Hence some guidelines if you are planning on attending your first-ever sumo tournament. There are three types of seating available. The one is the floor seats next to the ringside, but these tickets aren’t ever open to the public and are more reserved for those with some business connections to the sumo wrestlers.

A second option would be the Japanese-style boxes. This is truly unique, and you will be expected to take off your shoes and then to sit on a cushion within a specific area allocated to your ticket. Floor seat tends to be slightly closer to the wrestling and usually delivers on a higher point of view. Therefore be prepared to pay between 40 000 and 50 000 yen per box. Also, note that these are sold per box and not per person. This means that every table can accommodate 2-4 visitors. Hence when you do have a ticket for a box seat, you can’t take up the entire area. If this option is too uncomfortable for you, there are several chairs in arena-style as well. They are further away from the action and binoculars can be a great idea. These seats are also much cheaper than the box seats and usually averages between 4 000 and 10 000 yen. To attend a basho is a brilliant way to experience the Japanese culture like none other. Hence book your tickets in advance since they do sell out quickly.