Do you know the Ryogoku Kokugikan?

Hello to sumo fans all around the world! In this article, we will introduce you to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, a sacred place for sumo, a traditional sport of Japan. Located in Ryogoku, in the heart of Tokyo, this venue is known as the place where grand sumo tournaments are held. Here, you can see up close the wrestlers competing in strength and technique on the dohyo (sumo ring). In addition, there is also a sumo museum where you can see valuable exhibits related to sumo. If you are interested in experiencing Japanese traditional culture or if you are interested in sumo, please come and visit.

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About Ryōgoku Kokugikan

The current Ryōgoku Kokugikan was completed on November 30, 1984, and has been in use since the first tournament in 1985. The building, which has three floors above ground and two below, incorporates various disaster prevention systems based on past lessons. A natural smoke vent that opens in eight segments is installed in the golden “head ornament” on the roof. Rainwater that falls on the roof is stored in a tank underground and used for miscellaneous water in the building. The rooftop plaza on the second floor also serves as an evacuation area during disasters. The Kokugikan is a building that contributes to the community.

In addition to sumo, Ryōgoku Kokugikan is also used as a venue for other sports events such as boxing and professional wrestling. It is also used as a venue for various entertainment events such as concerts and exhibitions. Its multifunctionality and unique atmosphere never fail to fascinate visitors.

There is also a sumo museum where you can see valuable exhibits related to sumo. You can learn about the history of sumo from ancient times to the present, which will help you understand the dynamic battles of the wrestlers more deeply.

Types of Audience Seats

Tamari Seats (Sunakaburi) 

These seats are so close that sand can fly onto them. There are six to seven rows of these seats on each of the east, west, south, and north sides of the dohyo (sumo ring). Spectators sit on zabuton (cushions) to watch the matches, and eating, drinking, and taking photos are prohibited in these seats.

Masu Seats (Masuseki)

A 1.3-meter square space surrounded by iron pipes, with cushions laid out for four people. Shoes can be stored under the seat behind you. The distance from the ring is between 7 and 30 meters. Now, box seats for one or two people are also being sold.

Chair Seats

The second floor of the Kokugikan has chair seats for spectators to enjoy sumo. These seats have the advantage of being unobstructed and easier to see than box seats.

The chair seats are divided into five categories: S seats, A seats, B seats, C seats, and free seats. The view of the dohyo (sumo ring) varies depending on the seat.

S Seats: These are the frontmost seats, and the distance to the dohyo is about the same as the ninth row of the B box seats. Because there is nothing obstructing the view, these seats are also suitable for taking pictures.

A Seats: These are located around the fourth row. The seats are quite angled, so the view is not obstructed, but you will be looking down quite a bit more than from the S seats.

B Seats: These are located around the seventh row. From here, the dohyo feels quite far away.

C Seats: These are located in the 12th to 13th rows and are quite far compared to the S seats. However, you can still clearly see the movements of the wrestlers.

Free Seats: These are in the top row of chair seats and are sold on the day of the event. Even from the furthest distance, you can surprisingly see well.

These pieces of information should help you choose the best seat for yourself. Everyone enjoys watching sumo in their own way, so find your own perfect spot to watch!

Box Seats

These seats were installed in response to internationalization when the Ryogoku Kokugikan was newly established. It’s a multi-person box seat with a space of about 3 meters square. Tickets are only sold at the Sumo Information Office. It’s the farthest from the ring, and binoculars are necessary

Inside Kokugikan

Normally, the backside of the Kokugikan, which is usually off-limits to non-staff members, is equipped with facilities and functions that support Sumo wrestling. On the first basement floor, there is a sumo ring, and there are waiting rooms for wrestlers on the east and west sides. In addition, there is a large hall for parties that can accommodate 700 people. During tournaments, it may also be opened as a dining corner where you can taste the Chanko-nabe hot pot from the Sumo room.

Moreover, the factory for Yakitori, a specialty dish of Ryogoku Kokugikan, is also located in this basement. It is recommended to enjoy Sumo wrestling while eating Yakitori and drinking beer

Enjoying the Kokugikan

There are many pleasures at the Kokugikan besides watching Sumo wrestling. To the right of the entrance hall is the Sumo Museum, where about 100 Sumo materials are always on display from among the 30,000 items in the collection. In the afternoon, the wrestlers enter the venue, so near the staff entrance, you can see wrestlers in kimono up close and take pictures.

Inside the Kokugikan, there is a street called Chaya Street, where tea houses line up, making you feel as if you’ve slipped back in time to the Edo period. There are also many restaurants near the Kokugikan where you can enjoy dishes from various Sumo rooms. We will introduce these in other articles

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