[Anime Culture Monday] Anime Hot Spot: Ryogoku Kokugikan from Hinomaruzumo (Hinomaru Sumo)

If you saw Hinomaruzumou (Hinomaru Sumo), then you know that the high school national sumo tournament took place at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. And what other anime have you seen this arena? It is also where Takamura fought Brian Hawk in the second edition to Hajime no Ippo. So if you’re looking for a place to enjoy some combat sports besides the Tokyo Dome, Ariake Arena, or the Saitama Super Arena, we also recommend the Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Location 1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida Ward, Tokyo

It is a 2-minute walk from the west exit of Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line and/or a 5-minute walk from Ryogoku Station on the Toei Ooedo Subway

Cost of Admission Prices differ according to seating, events, season, and age. For a May sumo event, VIP seats can cost 14,800 yen per person, while rows 1-8 cost 11,700 yen per person, 10,600 yen for rows 9-12, etc. On the second floor of the arena, rows 1-6 cost 8,500 per person ,while the cheapest you can get is a take-whatever-seat-is-open section for 2,200 yen per person.

Hours of Operation Differs depending on event but on average between 10am to 4pm.
Phone Number 03-3623-5111
Website Website: www.sumo.or.jp/Kokugikan

The Experience

Compared to most arena seatings, the Kokugikan has you sitting on the floor with some traditional cushions for you to make yourself comfortable. This style of seating feels more in tune with Japanese culture as you view sumo or whatever event it has of the day. The arena is officially owned and sanctioned by Japan’s sumo association so everything you see in Hinomaruzumou is exactly as it is in real life! At the center is the dohyo and hovering what looks like the roof of a traditional Shinto shrine, there is a tsuriyane, with each corner having a different color tassel (red, black, green and white) that represents the four seasons and animal gods of Chinese culture. The blue represents the east, dragon, and spring. The red represents the phoenix, south, and summer. The white represents the west, fall, and the tiger. And the black represents the north, tortoise, and winter. In some instances, it will display a banner that the event is sold out and thank the audience for the success. As portrayed in Hinomaruzumou, one Rikishi (or wrestler) enters from the east, and the other from the west.

Additional info

As we shared in the introduction, not only can you view sumo wrestling, you can see boxing and pro wrestling as well. As a matter of fact, the Kokugikan will host boxing for the 2020 Olympics, and you can see notable wrestling events such as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament finals here as well. So this is a must-see for combat sports enthusiasts.

Not only can you enjoy actual sumo wrestling, the first floor actually has a museum dedicated to sumo open from 10am to 4:30pm on weekdays, and is free to the public! However, the website does stipulate that the museum does close to change exhibits and is only free to those that are attending a sumo event. What you can see on display are woodblock prints of ancient matches, and robes of former yokozuna champions.

Around the arena of the Ryogoku district, you can get a taste of a sumo diet through its Chanko Nabe restaurants. Some restaurants within the area are Hanonomai and Chanko Tomoegata. In some instances, you might be able to meet some famous up and coming Yokozuna, or something along the lines of stand up comedy or a karaoke of traditional enka folk songs! The food available is pretty much the Japanese version of the Atkins Diet (more protein, less carbs). If you visit Hananomai, it even has a dohyo in the restaurant itself!

Final Thoughts

For those that loved Hinomaruzumou, you may be able to catch high school sumo wrestling during the summer! Thankfully, Japan’s Sumo Association has an English section to its homepage for you to check out some upcoming events to come check out! If boxing or pro wrestling is more your thing, then there will be instances for you to check out such events at this arena as well! So, if you want to enjoy a sporting event just by sitting on a cushion on the floor (and checking out some great food), then visit the Ryogoku Kokugikan in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo’s Sumida Ward!

by 010

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