Sumo in Japan: This is How You Look at The Traditional Sport!

Sumo in Japan: This is how you look at the traditional sport!
Sumo in Japan: This is how you look at the traditional sport!

Ever wanted to watch a sumo tournament in Japan? Or are you looking for tips on how to watch Sumo in Tokyo/Japan? or where you can buy the sumo cards? Then don't waste your time on any pages, but check out this article to see how you can watch sumo in Japan, what the Sumo cards cost and which are the best seats in the hall.

Let's see how you can experience sumo in Japan:

What is SUMO?

Sumo is a wrestling sport that was originally developed to entertain the gods. The rules are quite simple: a wrestling is considered to be finished when a fighter is pushed out of the demarcated circle or one touches the ground with a different part of the body than the sole of the foot.

A typical battle usually lasts only a few seconds; There are several fights for this in a single tournament. A sumo tournament lasts over 15 days and takes place 6 times a year: Tokyo (January, May, and September), Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November).

The wrestlers belong to one of the 40 sumo stables and are divided into a sumo ranking (Banzuke), which is adjusted after each tournament. Wrestlers with positive results (more wins than defeats) rise, but with negative results. Let's take a closer look at the rankings

The top league is called Makuuchi and the second jury. At the top are the Grand Masters, also called Yokozuna. Unlike the lower ranks, a grandmaster cannot descend, but he is expected to abdicate in poor performance.

How does a tournament run?

Let's take a look at the schedule of a tournament day. It usually takes place from 8.30 is to 18.00 pm. First, the low sumo wrestlers begin, then the higher ranks follow. Specifically, the timetable looks like this:

# 8.00 pm: Admission to the building

# 8.30 pm: start of the lower sumo fighter (however, only at 10 o'clock on the tournament days 13-15)

# 14.20 pm: Enema of the Second Division (jury)

# 14.40 pm: Fights of the Second Division (jury)

# 15.45 pm: Enema of the Top League (Makuuchi)

# 15.50 pm: Enema of the Three Sumo Masters (Yokozuna)

# 16.15 pm: Fights of the Top League (Makuuchi)

# 17.30 pm: Fights of the best three sumo wrestlers (Yokozuna)

# 17.55 pm: Bow-Dance of a sumo fighter (only on days 1-14).

You can find a specific schedule on this page: link. On the last day of the tournament, however, the schedule moves forward 30 minutes to have time for a winning ceremony. The later the day the more visitors are in the hall. Most visitors will not arrive until 3pm. If you have little time, I recommend that you only view the tournaments from 15.30 am to 18.00 pm.

What is the sequence of a sumo fight?

A simple battle can be divided into 12 steps and looks as follows:

#1. The sumo fighters come out of their locker rooms, bow down and sit on pillows in front of the ring.

#2. The Ring person (Yobidashi) goes to one side and names the side and the name of the ringer.

#3. The Ring person (Yobidashi) then goes to the other side and calls out the other side and the second wrestler.

#4. The ring judge goes to the center and recalls the names. The wrestlers enter the ring and position themselves in their sides. There they stomp to strengthen their muscles and expel evil spirits from the ring.

#5. The wrestlers are squatting and clapping their hands to show that they are not carrying weapons. At the same time, the hall spokesman says the side, the name, the origin and the stable of the sumo wrestlers. In addition, the sand is swept around the ring to make battle tracks visible immediately.

#6. The wrestlers come to the center. They stomp several times and go into the squat for clapping. The referee is standing on the edge.

#7. Now the eye contact with the opponent is established and the fists are put on trial. The referee initially positions itself sideways to the combatants.

#8. Only when the referee has received the "OK" from the timer does he face up to the fighters. Now both fighters are crouching in front of the white line. Once all four fists are placed on the ground, the battle begins.

#9. The fight is over when a fighter leaves the Strohring or touches the ground with a different part of the body than the soles of the feet.

#10. After the fight, both fighters go to their sides and bow down together with the referee.

#11. Then the loser leaves the ring, turns around again and bows before he disappears. The winner sits down and makes a short cutting hand movement. The referee announces him as the winner.

#12. The winner leaves the ring, turns around, bows and leaves the hall. At the same time, the hall spokesman announces the winner and also the technique with which he has won.

And then we go on with the next fight!

Are there differences between the fights of the higher ranks?

Yes, the higher the rank, the more rituals are added: The sumo wrestlers enter the ring in impressive ceremonies, throw salt, drink water or wipe the sweat with a towel. Moreover, with increasing rank, the number of stomping and clapping increases and also the belts become more colorful. Otherwise, not many changes.

How much does sumo cost?

Let's get to the exciting question of what sumo costs: The Sumo tickets start in Tokyo from 2200 yen (18 euros). This applies The closer you are to the ring, the more expensive the cards are. It is best to buy the card online via the official pages ( and ( or alternatively in Japan via a Konbini. You can buy the tickets one month before the tournament. The exact sales dates can be found on the official site.

Attention: You should be quick, as most cards are sold out in a few hours on the first day of sale. Online you can only pay by credit card and have to accept a handling fee of 1000 yen (8 euro). You will receive your tickets at the cashier or vending machine on the day of the tournament. But here you have to show your credit card again!

If the tickets are sold out, you still have the option to purchase one of the 200-day tickets (general admission seating) on the date of the tournament. These seats are in the last row on the first floor and do not have a seat reservation. You should, however, be in front of the sumo hall at the stalls before 5.30 a.m., as the tickets are sold out quickly.

What kinds of seats are there?

Now let's look at what you get for your money. A sumo hall is built in four directions: West 西, Frontal 正, East 東 and the back 向正. Besides the ground floor, there is also the first floor (balcony seats). In total there are three types of reserved seats:

#1. Ring seats

The green Pillow seats are located right next to the ring, making them the most expensive and hardest to get. A card costs 14,800 yen (120 euro). There you sit on hard pillows and risk being slain by a falling sumo fighter. You also have to sit in the tailor's seat or perch, as you are not allowed to stretch your legs. Shooting and eating are prohibited here to minimize the risk of injury to the falling sumo fighter.

#2. Box seats

Box seats are on the ground floor. A box contains 4-6 seats, which are equipped with hard pillows. You pull out the shoes before and put them under the box behind you. The food and photography are allowed here. Cards are only issued for 1.2 or 4 people per box. Tickets cost here from 11,700 yen/person. The boxes are also divided into classes A, B and C after the distance to the ring, where a is the most expensive cards.

#3. Balcony seats

Balcony seats are located on the first floor and are equipped with proper chairs. If you can't sit on your butt for long, I recommend you reserve these seats. You already get tickets for 3800 yen. The seats are also divided into classes A, B and C after the distance to the ring, where a is the most expensive cards.

# Day Ticket seats

The 200 daily tickets (general admission seating) will be sold on the day of the tournament. These are intended for the seats in the last row on the first floor. The tickets cost 2200 yen (18 euro) and have to be paid cash. A card is always sold per person, i.e. all persons must be in the same place. The seats do not include seat reservations so you can choose your seat. However, you have to stand at the checkout at 5.30 a.m. in front of the sumo hall to buy them.

Where are the best seats?

You get the best view from the seats from the direction frontal 正 (SHO). There you buy the Class A box cards. Here you can sit comfortably, shoot and eat photos. If you can't sit long, I recommend you take the seats in the front row on the balcony. There you sit on chairs and have no disturbing heads in front of you. If you don't have any money, you can also buy the cheap tickets for the first floor and sit down on the ground floor until 3 pm.

What is eaten in sumo?

Traditionally, Japanese in a sumo tournament eat chicken skewers (Yakitori やき鳥) or sandwiches that are sold in front of the hall at stalls. There is also a delicious Japanese beer. The chicken skewers are also freshly prepared every day in the sumo building. If you want to have something different, you can also buy a lunchbox, which is dedicated to a sumo fighter. If you lack the wherewithal, you can bring something. Officially, however, drinks or lunch boxes are prohibited.

Is there a dress code at sumo look?

Join, there is no dress code, but you should not come into the hall with blue jeans or short skirt. Blue jeans are a no-go! With a short skirt, you will have trouble sitting because you always have to make sure that you don't see your panties. If you are wearing a kimono, you may receive a small gift from the Sumo Association. From 10.30 pm The air conditioner turns on so that it will be quite cold in the hall until about 2 pm. Just put on a long, black trousers and shirt!

Tips to watch Sumo

And finally I give you 10 helpful tips to look at Sumo:
  1. Make sure you're in Japan at the right time. The tournaments are held in Tokyo (January, May, and September), Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November).
  2. Buy the tickets in good time, as they are usually sold out on the first day of sale.
  3. If you're unhappy with your seat, come at 8:00 in the morning, then you have a free seat choice. Most visitors do not arrive until 3pm so you can sit on the ground floor without any problems. If the owner politely asks you to go, apologize to "Sumimasen" and go to your seat.
  4. On the doors, the cards on the ground floor are only checked at 1pm. So go to the toilet before 1pm to be back on the ground floor before checking.
  5. If you don't wear eyeglasses, bring eye drops and a visor cap so you don't get dry eyes.
  6. Bring an empty bottle of water, which you can fill at the water dispensers on the ground floor free of charge. Besides, another pillow, because otherwise the next day the butt will hurt you pretty much.
  7. In the building in front of the hall, there are many stalls, where you can find yourself with sumo photos and souvenirs.
  8. If you come to the tournament in the kimono, you may receive a gift from the Sumo Association.
  9. If you have little time, I recommend that you only come from 15.30 am to 18.00 pm. Most of the visitors are there and can see the best fights.
  10. Visits to Tokyo the Sumo Museum (Ryogoku/Tokyo). During the tournaments, it is only available to cardholders. (Opening hours: 10.00-4.30 pm; Admission: free of charge, closed on weekends)

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