Sumo, Japan’s National Sport

Derived from ancient Shinto rites celebrating a good harvest, Sumo is Japan’s truly unique national sport. The tournament’s lively pageantry is really as exciting as the matches themselves (lasting only a few seconds!).

Based on the popularity of the country’s six national tournaments (bashō), we must arrange seating quite some time in advance.

As Bev, Zen, and I first witnessed during a sumo morning practice session at Tokyo’s Musashigawa Beya stable, the wrestler’s display of agility and durability is truly remarkable. The wrestlers live and train here, and practice each morning, followed by a large meal of “chankonobe” (meat or seafood stew). Yes a sport, but we consider this a most unique Shinto-centered cultural experience.

Before each tournament bout, each wrestler (rikishi) rinse their mouths with water and toss salt in the ring; appropriate purification rituals reflecting Japan’s native Shinto culture.  Since no translations are available at the Sumo tournaments, we provide an English-speaking guide for our clients with a blow-by-blow description of events. Enjoy!

Sumo Tournament Schedule:

Tokyo: January/May/September

Osaka: March

Nagoya: July

Fukuoka: November

National Geographic - Japanese Sumo Wrestling