Ryōgoku Kokugikan

Top choice spectator sport in Asakusa & Sumida River

Image by J. Henning Buchholz Shutterstock

If you’re in town when a tournament is on – for 15 days each January, May and September – catch the big boys in action at Japan’s largest sumo stadium. Doors open at 8am, but the action doesn’t heat up until the senior wrestlers hit the ring around 2pm. Tickets can be bought online one month before the start of the tournament.

Around 200 general-admission tickets are sold on the day of the match from the box office in front of the stadium. You'll have to line up very early (say 6am) on the last couple of days of the tournament to snag one.

If you get there in the morning when the stadium is still pretty empty, you can usually sneak down to the box seats. You can rent a radio (¥100 fee, plus ¥2000 deposit) to listen to commentary in English. Stop by the basement banquet hall to sample chanko-nabe (the protein-rich stew eaten by the wrestlers) for just ¥300 a bowl.