Travel Report: Ryogoku Sumo District, Tokyo

Ryogoku Sumo Stadium Tokyo.

February 2019. What better way to follow up an unforgettable Tokyo morning watching live Sumo than with a leisurely saunter around the city’s pretty Sumo district? Whether you’re a Sumo fanatic or just curious this is where your wanderings should start at Tokyo’s grand Sumo Stadium (Ryogoku Kokugikan). This is Japan’s premier Sumo event venue, which is sadly quite tough to get into outside scheduled tournament dates.

Interior Ryogoku Sumo Stadium Tokyo
Inside Ryogoku Sumo Stadium, Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Japan.travel: https://www.japan.travel/en/spot/1692/

Built in 1985, Ryogoku Kokugikan hosts three of the country’s six biggest Sumo tournaments in the months of January, May and September. If you’re fortunate enough to time your visit here for Sumo season book your tickets well in advance, as the stadium is tight and compact with just ten thousand seats.

Sumo Museum Ryogoku Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.
Wall of fame Sumo Museum Ryogoku Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.

The stadium complex is also home to the understated but deliciously free to enter Sumo Museum. Open on weekdays from 10:00-16:30, the museum is a small but modern space featuring a cool wall of fame dedicated to the sport’s most celebrated wrestlers.

Painting of 1846 Sumo match The Sumo Museum Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.
Banzuke ranking chart 1849 The Sumo Museum Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.

Poke around and you’ll also find plenty of antique artwork depicting ancient Sumo matches held in the city as far back as the 1840s. They also have a Banzuke, a baffling Japanese-symbol-laden Sumo wrestler ranking chart from the Edo Tournament of 1849.

Inside The Sumo Museum Ryogoku Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.
Hidenoyama's sandals The Sumo Museum Ryogoku Tokyo
The Sumo Museum, Tokyo.

The Sumo Museum houses a bunch of personal artifacts belonging to the legendary wrestler Hidenoyama Raigoro. Apparently thousands of Sumo obsessives flock here every year simply just to check out his grubby old sandals and the frayed yokozuna rope he wore to keep his waist belt in place.

Ryogoku Takahashi Sumo Store Tokyo
Ryogoku Takahashi Sumo Store, Tokyo.

Wanna pick up some cool Sumo souvenirs? Then look no further than Ryogoku Takahashi Sumo Store, just a nine-minute walk from The Sumo Museum. It was a little tricky to find, even with the aid of Apple Maps and my buddy Rich stopping to check with various locals with his excellent Japanese skills.

Inside Ryogoku Takahashi Sumo Store Tokyo
Ryogoku Takahashi Sumo Store, Tokyo.

Don’t expect a grand superstore, Ryogoku Takahashi is a pocket-sized shop manned by a little old lady on the day of our visit. But the place was still brimming with Sumo stuff, from cheap and cheerful key rings and fridge magnets to T-shirts, models, dolls, cushion covers, umbrellas, mugs, table covers and pricy framed paintings. The store is open daily (except Sundays) between 09:00-19:30 and is just a 5-minute walk from JR Ryogoku Station.

Ryogoku Sumo District Tokyo
Ryogoku Sumo District, Tokyo.

While you’re in Tokyo’s Sumo district why not have a meal at one of the many, many Sumo restaurants run by retired Sumo wrestlers who cook up Chankonabe (Sumo Stew). Ryogoku is also where most of the city’s sumo wrestlers live in communal stables, so don’t be surprised if you pass a few of them on the street going about their daily business! For the ultimate Tokyo Sumo experience check out my article on Voyagin’s Live Sumo Performance & Duel. 

Like this? Check out my extensive library of location reports from across the city, with articles on What To See and do In Tokyo, Tokyo’s Amazing Themed Cafes, Bars & Restaurants, Other Cool Places To Eat & Drink In Tokyo, The Tokyo Subway, Trains & Electric Lines and Where To Stay In Tokyo.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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