7 Best Sumo Experiences You Can Book Instantly

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If you're considering including the great sport of sumo in your plans or need to book something ASAP, here's my guide to 7 of the best sumo experiences out there, that you can book instantly.

When it comes to sport in Japan, there's nothing quite as iconic as giant sumo wrestlers throwing each other around (and out of) a circular dohyō ring. 

Sumo is an ancient practice, originating in agriculture as a ritual dance for a good harvest. Today it still draws in huge numbers of fans to the six live tournaments that take place across Japan every year. Outside of these tournaments, a sumo wrestler's life is a strict one. 

Watching an actual sumo bout, or getting closer to the ancient traditions and rules that govern the sport, such as visiting a wrestlers training stable, are rare opportunities for visitors to glimpse inside this exclusive world, providing a fascinating window into this Japanese tradition. 

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Top 7 Best Sumo Experiences The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Top 7 Best Sumo Experiences You Can Book Instantly
by Rob Dyer



Sumo in Japanese culture

Sumo is bigger and more important to Japanese culture than just the six big tournaments taking place every year.

Prehistoric wall paintings suggest sumo originated from an agricultural ritual dance for a good harvest, and sumo was first specifically mentioned in a manuscript dating back as far as 712.

Japan Sumo Association rules mean a sumo wrestler's life is highly regimented.  Most wrestlers live in communal sumo training stables, known as heya, where all aspects of their daily lives, from what they can eat to how they dress, are dictated by strict traditions.


How the sumo experiences were shortlisted

To compile this list I turned to one of our partners Viator. They have an excellent range of experiences and tours and are owned by Tripadvisor, so they're trustworthy and reliable.

I reviewed all the sumo-related experiences rated the highest by customer reviews, then filtered the experiences by ranking them starting with the 5-Star reviews - the highest possible review rating.

Four of the entries have the maximum 5-Star rating and two have 4.5-Stars (based on verified Viator customers). That's folks like you who have actually taken these specific experiences.

I've included what you might call one 'outlier' experience:  Edo Tokyo & Japanese Culture Tour. Outlier in that this is, first and foremost, an historical/cultural tour, which includes the Ryogoku area, the home of sumo in Japan, and a chanko nabe lunch (the hotpot dish eaten regularly by sumo wrestlers).

To help you decide which is the best fit for your specific interests, I've included a representative review by a genuine customer for each of the experiences. 


Important extra information

NOTE: With sumo experiences there are often specific details to be aware of before you book.

When you click through to the individual activity pages on the Viator website make sure you read all the notes for each of these experiences. Look especially for the 'Additional Info' section, and be sure to expand these to see them all. Sometimes there's a lot of important extra information (and sometimes caveats) you should be aware of before you place your booking. 

OK, let's get wrestling!



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In a hurry? Read my Quick Guide

Best for watching sumo

Experiences 1 and 2 are the only ones here that include tickets to watch an actual sumo tournament.

Best if you're short on time

Experience 3, at approximately 1 hour, is the shortest of all. If you're short on time, this is the one to book.

Best for families

Experience 4 and experience 5 are, I think, the best all round best match for families.

Best for meeting a sumo wrestler

Experience 5 is the only one led by a genuine former sumo wrestler.

Best for a fun time

Experience 4 is specifically designed to be fun - whatever your age.

Best to watch morning practice

Experience 3 and Experience 6 both give you access to sumo training stables.

Best for wider historical & cultural context

To place sumo in its wider historical and cultural context Experience 7 is one for you.



The Best Sumo Experiences - Overview

TOKYO / OSAKA / NAGOYA / FUKUOKA

5/5

1. Grand Sumo Tournament Tickets & Tour

Watch wrestlers at one of the Grand Sumo Tournaments, then learn the history of sumo and its precise rituals. Afterward, you'll take a walking tour of the area and visit a local restaurant, shrine, and temple.

sumo experiences Grand Sumo Tournament tickets and tour

RYOGOKU, TOKYO

5/5

2. Sumo Tournament Experience in Tokyo

Enjoy the unforgettable experience of attending a Grand Sumo Tournament. Led by a sumo expert who will explain the rules and customs. Includes b-class reserved seats in the Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium.

Sumo Tournament Experience Sumida Tokyo

SUMIDA, TOKYO

4.5/5

3. Watch Morning Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo

Spend two hours watching sumo wrestlers train and observe the rules and regulations of sumo. It’s a rare chance for visitors to glimpse the everyday lives behind this exclusive world.

sumo experiences Watch Morning Practice Sumo Stable Tokyo

SUMIDA, TOKYO

5/5

4. Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy Chanko Nabe Lunch

Eat, train, and fight like a Japanese sumo wrestler during this sumo demonstration and authentic chanko nabe (hotpot) lunch meal.

sumo experiences Challenge Sumo Wrestlers Lunch

ASAKUSA, TOKYO

4.5/5

5. Asakusa and Ryogoku Walking Tour with Sumo Wrestler

Feel like you’re big in Japan during this 2.5-hour tour, led by a sumo wrestler, of Tokyo's Ryogoku sumo district and the historic Asakusa district.

sumo experience Asakusa Ryogoku Walking Tour Sumo Wrestler

SUMIDA, TOKYO

4.5/5

6. Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour in Ryogoku with Sumo Lunch

Get up close and personal and watch real sumo wrestlers going about their daily morning training program. Includes the classic chanko nabe hotpot - the traditional sumo wrestler meal.

sumo experience Tokyo sumo practice with lunch The Real Japan

MARUNOUCHI, TOKYO

5/5

7. Edo Tokyo & Japanese Culture Tour with Government Licensed Guide

Learn what Tokyo was like before it became massive. This historical and cultural tour takes place in the Ryogoku area, learning about the capital of sumo in Japan. Try chanko nabe, the sumo wrestler hotpot.

sumo experiences Edo Tokyo Japanese Culture Tour

The Best Sumo Experiences - In Detail

1. Grand Sumo Tournament Tickets & Tour
Tokyo - Osaka - Nagoya - Fukuoka

Rating:  5/5 Stars

4 hours (approx.)

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English

sumo experiences Grand Sumo Tournament tickets and tour

Overview

If it's tickets for one of the six annual sumo basho (tournaments) you're after, then this small group experience gives you the chance to choose whichever best suits your itinerary. Choose from the cities in which the basho takes place: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya or Fukuoka.

Watch wrestlers in competition action and learn about the history of sumo and its precise rituals, which you'll get to try for yourself. Afterward, you'll take a walking tour of the area and visit a local restaurant, shrine, and temple. This experience has a maximum of 20 participants.

NOTE: in Fukuoka and Osaka the package includes tournament tickets only, no tour. However, instructions to guide you are included.


What's included

  • Tournament admission and 2nd Level seat included (front row seats available for extra fee)
  • A walking tour of the area (excluding Fukuoka and Osaka)
  • Visit a local shrine and temple (excluding Fukuoka and Osaka)
  • Visit a local restaurant (excluding Fukuoka and Osaka)

Customer review

review Grand Sumo Tournament experience Tokyo The Real Japan

Is this experience for you?

This experience includes tickets for one of the six annual sumo basho (tournaments), but it looks like the Tokyo based experiences include the most activities. NOTE: This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason.

Book this experience



Cancellation Policy
This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason.

Lowest Price Guarantee



2. Sumo Tournament Experience in Tokyo

Rating:  5/5 Stars

4 hours (approx.)

Reserved seats

Offered in: English

Sumo Tournament Experience Sumida Tokyo

Overview

An experience that includes much-sought after tickets to the actual Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo.

The ancient sport of sumo is bound by so many strict rules, rituals, and unique techniques that attending a sumo tournament can be a bewildering experience. Rather than attending alone, book this experience, which includes b-class reserved seating and is led by an expert in sumo wrestling who explains everything you need to know about sumo traditions and culture.

This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason. However, it requires a minimum number of participants. If it's cancelled because the minimum isn't met, you'll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

What's included

  • Enjoy the classic Japan experience of attending a sumo tournament
  • Led by a sumo expert who will explain the rules and customs
  • Includes b-class reserved seats in the Ryogoku Kokugikan
  • If selected, includes dinner at a local chanko nabe (hotpot) restaurant (vegetarian option available)

Customer review

review Sumo Tournament Experience Tokyo

Is this experience for you?

If you're looking to attend one of the Grand Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo and want expert guidance and information on sumo traditions and customs this (approximately) 4 hour experience delivers all of this. Optional dinner (including vegetarian option) selectable at checkout.

Book this experience



Cancellation Policy
This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason.

Lowest Price Guarantee



3. Watch Morning Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo

Rating:  4.5/5 Stars

1 - 1 hour 30 minutes (approx.)

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English / Japanese

sumo experiences Watch Morning Practice Sumo Stable Tokyo

Overview

If you're short on time but want to get a behind-the-scenes look at the daily training routine of real sumo wrestler's this popular experience gains you access to a part of Japanese tradition that not many visitors see.

This is not a show, or performance, this is real training you get to see. So, make sure not to eat, talk loudly, or take photos with bright flashes or loud noises so you don't distract the wrestlers.

With over 200 customer reviews averaging a high 4.5/5 rating, this is one of Viator's most booked sumo experiences. Official timing is given as between 1 hour and 1.5 hours, but this may be shorter when there is a tournament taking place.

Your local guide will send you the specific starting point via email around 1 week prior to your experience date as access depends on the availability of each sumo stable.

What's included

  • Attending genuine training at a sumo stable in Tokyo
  • Activity requires sitting for long periods of time on the floor
  • Gain access to a part of Japanese tradition that not many visitors see
  • Offered in English and Japanese to a small group (maximum of 10 guests)

Customer review

sumo experience review Watch Morning Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo

Is this experience for you?

Many sumo stables are not open to foreign visitors, and for those that are, spectators are expected to adhere to specific rules. If it's a genuine insight into a sumo wrestler's life you're seeking then this is for you. Just be sure not to disturb them!

Book this experience



Cancellation Policy
You can cancel up to 7 days in advance of the experience date for a full refund.

Lowest Price Guarantee

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4. Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy Chanko Nabe Lunch

Rating:  5/5 Stars

2 hours (approx.)

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English

sumo experiences Challenge Sumo Wrestlers Lunch

Overview

This is the most overtly fun experience in this list.

Eat, train, and fight like a real Japanese sumo wrestler during this sumo demonstration and authentic chanko nabe (hotpot) meal. You'll discover the history, training, and rules behind a typical sumo match as you watch demonstration clashes. If you're up for it, you can even try it yourself during a skirmish with a retired wrestler!

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, dig into a tasty chanko nabe, a filling meal of hotpot, rice, miso, salad, fries and more, used by these hulking fighters to gain weight. Admission to the demonstration and meals are both covered.

The video below gives you a good insight into what to expect from this Tokyo experience.


VIDEO: Sumo Wrestler Challenge With Chanko Nabe Lunch

What's included

  • Admission to the demonstration and meals are both covered
  • Meet and learn from a retired sumo wrestler
  • Battle a hulking former sumo wrestler as you enter the ring yourself (if you dare)
  • Fill up on tasty chanko nabe, rice, miso, salad and more during an included lunch

Customer review

sumo experience review Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy Lunch

Is this experience for you?

If you're looking to have some fun while learning about sumo, then this is definitely the one in this list for you. Children are welcome to participate and can even fight the wrestlers too. There are currently over 130 5-Star reviews for this one.

Book this experience



Cancellation Policy
You can cancel up to 7 days in advance of the experience date for a full refund.

Lowest Price Guarantee



5. Asakusa and Ryogoku Walking Tour with Sumo Wrestler

Rating:  4.5/5 Stars

2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English

sumo experience Asakusa Ryogoku Walking Tour Sumo Wrestler

Overview

This 2.5-hour guided walking tour of Asakusa and Ryogoku in Tokyo is led by a real sumo wrestler and includes a translator guide. During the experience, you'll learn about the history of Japanese wrestling and explore the 10,000 capacity Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium and wrestlers’ stable. You will also visit Tokyo's famous Asakusa's Senso-ji temple, sample the snacks and shopping of Nakamise Street, and more.

Your guide may be a just-retired sumo wrestler if an active wrestler is not available due to tournaments or other reasons. Of course, there should be no difference in the quality of the experience or their knowledge about the world of sumo. This walking tour begins at Ryogoku Station and ends at Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa.


What's included

  • Walk led by a genuine sumo wrestler (with a local translator)
  • Explore the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium and wrestlers’ stable
  • Visit a sumo goods shop in Ryogoku, and souvenir shop in Asakusa
  • Check out the iconic Senso-ji temple in Asakusa

Customer review

sumo experience review Asakusa Ryogoku Walking Tour Sumo Wrestler

Is this experience for you?

NOTE: When compiling this entry, I saw that there are only four reviews and the most recent one shown dates back to 2017. I couldn't see why there were not more reviews or more recent reviews. Many such experiences stopped altogether during the Covid-19 pandemic and have been slow to restart, maybe this is one of those? Just worth being aware of.

Book this experience



Cancellation Policy
This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason.

Lowest Price Guarantee



6. Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour in Ryogoku with Sumo Lunch

Rating:  4.5/5 Stars  | Badge of Excellence

3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English

sumo experience Tokyo sumo practice with lunch The Real Japan

Overview

Visit a sumo heya (practice stable), where the wrestlers live and train. Sumo wrestlers wake up very early, so you have to go in the morning to see them training and sparring with each other. To observe the sumo training sessions, you normally have to sit on the floor and respect the fighters by being silent while they carry out their rituals.

This morning training experience provides exclusive insight into Japanese culture and history through this fascinating sport. You'll see the athletes practicing up close, followed by the classic sumo wrestler lunch: chanko nabe.

This experience has been awarded Viator's Badge of Excellence, awarded only to those experiences that have met Viator's highest quality standards and are well-reviewed by travellers. 

What's included

  • Entrance fee of sumo practice, local guide, and tour photos
  • Visit to the sumo museum (unless it is closed)
  • Sumo wrestler lunch called chanko nabe hotpot
  • Pass by Edo Tokyo Museum and Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium

Customer review

review Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour The Real Japan

Is this experience for you?

This experience is focused on you getting up close to real sumo wrestlers going about their daily training regimen. It also includes a visit to the sumo museum placing what you've seen into a wider social setting. It is also the only one in this list to have been awarded Viator's Badge of Excellence.

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Free Cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance

Lowest Price Guarantee



7. Edo Tokyo & Japanese Culture Tour w/ Government Licensed Guide

Rating:  5/5 Stars

6 hours (approx.)

Pickup offered

Mobile ticket

Offered in: English

sumo experiences Edo Tokyo Japanese Culture Tour

Overview

Modern Tokyo couldn't look more different than it did during Japan's Edo period (1603-1867), so understanding its rich history and culture will give you a whole new perspective on Japan's capital city. This private walking tour with a government licensed guide explores Tokyo's past, so you can discover what it was like before it became one of the largest cities in the world.

This experience includes fascinating sights like the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, where you can see a collection of Edo period buildings in a beautiful outdoor setting. You can also visit the National Showa Memorial Museum to learn about life in Tokyo during and after the war.

Sumo fans will want to explore the Ryogoku Area - to learn about the capital of Sumo in Japan and try the famous chanko nabe hotpot that's a staple food in every sumo wrestler's diet. 

Once you place your reservation, a guide will be in touch with you directly to plan your private itinerary based on your interests. If you need more time, you can contact the guide for hourly extension fees.


What's included

  • Licensed Local Guide
  • Customizable Tour of your choice of 3-4 sites from 'What to expect' list
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible

Customer review

sumo experience review Edo Tokyo Japanese Culture Tour

Is this experience for you?

If you want to include more of Tokyo's history and culture and/or want an experience that is customisable then this is the one for you. You could also combine this tour with another of the experiences here to give you a more fully-rounded and detailed understanding of how sumo became such a key part of Japanese culture.

NOTE: at approximately 6 hours, this is the longest experience in this list, so make sure you have sufficient time to fit it into your plans.

Book this experience



Free Cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance

Lowest Price Guarantee



Which sumo experience is best for you? 

Hopefully this shortlist has helped you identify at least one of the best sumo experiences. There should be something for everyone in the list, even for those with only a passing interest in the sport. If you're still unsure, go back and look at my quick summary at the top of the page, or take my quick Sumo Quiz and get an instant personal recommendation from me.

Answer just a few quick questions and I'll give you my recommendation for the best sumo experience for you. 😀

Also, don't feel you have to rely only on this post. Click on the 'Learn More' button below each entry that might be of interest and you'll be taken to the Viator experience/tour page where you can find a lot more detailed information on each, which should make choosing between them easier.

If you have any feedback or questions simply leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer. I respond to every comment left on this blog.

Oh, and if you've already taken any of these or similar sumo tours, please share your feedback by leaving a comment below so others (me included!) can benefit from your experience.

Nagoya sumo tickets – best seats & experiences

Looking for Nagoya sumo tickets and experiences? With a lowest price guarantee? You need to check out my guide: Nagoya Sumo Tickets – Best Seats & Experiences. It includes everything from premium seating to behind-the-scenes tours and more.


SEE ALSO: Visiting a Sumo Tournament

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Top 7 Best Sumo Experiences The Real Japan Rob Dyer

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