Ryogoku 3-15-4, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0026
Have someone who speaks Japanese call them before we go, to check if they will accept visitors.
About 5 mins on foot from Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu line.Admission is free.
ONLY time of day: 7:00 to 10:00. Sumo-beya are off-limits at other times.
Worst time of year:They're out of Tokyo in March, July, and November.
What to wear: comfortable clothes for sitting decently on the floor.
Who to go with: Someone who knows the ropes.
Center of gravity: The dohyo (training ring) itself; all eyes and thoughts are concentrated on it, for this is the foundation of sumo.
Etiquette: Just sit and watch. A 300-lb. coach may ask you to leave if you do anything to disturb the concentration of the wrestlers.
Within a 10-minute walk
Any number of restaurants serving chanko-nabe, the same stew that the sumo people eat; also good sushi places.
Sumo Stables (Sumo beya)
Where the big men live and train.
The sumo-beya, or just 'heya,' is the basic unit of the world of sumo. It's like a boarding school but without vacations. It is home, family and training-place to anything from two to forty-plus young men. There are now 54 of them, all in or near Tokyo.
At dawn almost every morning of the year the training ring is swept and the beginners train for an hour under the watchful gaze of their elders (and maybe a rain of blows and kicks for the lazy). The ring is swept again and a slightly older group starts training. Around 8:00 the senior men arrive -- they wear white cotton belts -- and start warming up. They will train from 9:00 to around 10:30, and that is what most people want to see.
In moshiai-geiko training, they all stand around the ring watching a bout. The winner chooses his next opponent. When the crowd surges forward calling "Watashi! watashi! (me! me!)" people unfamiliar with the ways of
sumo wonder if a riot is breaking out. Sometimes two well-matched men will have a series of bouts together, each honing his skills on the other. A visiting star will take on a whole line of men in succession. Around 10:30 they go off to take a hot bath, have their oiled hair dressed, and eat their first meal of the day (in descending order of rank).
NOTE: Watching training. Some sumo-beya do not accept visitors; some are nervous of visitors who do not understand Japanese and want you to have a knowledgeable escort. We will suggest just one heya, which is visitor-friendly. It even has a notice on the wall in English telling first-timers how to behave. But ask at your hotel, or ask a friend in Tokyo for advice. In any case, always have someone ring in advance.
Since January 1985 this imposing green-roofed building has staged professional sumo tournaments (hon-basho) in January, May and September, for 15 days, from the second to the fourth Sundays.The action starts around 8:30 a.m. with the beginners, and ends at 6:00 p.m. with the highlight bout of the day. Don't miss the colorful ring-entering ceremonies, at about 2:50 for the Juryo (second division) and around 4:00 for Makuuchi, the top division, and the solo rituals performed by the Yokozuna (Grand Champions).
Some people watch all day; get there by 2:30 if you want to see the full range, from low-rankers in canvas belts and barefoot referees in cotton outfits, right up to the Grand Champions in bright silk and referees in costly brocade.
At the gate, ask for the free English-language explanatory booklet, and the blue sheet giving the day's bouts in Roman letters.
Get advance tickets from Japanese ticket and travel agencies, Lawson convenience stores (you'll need help working the online computer) or from the gatehouse at the Kokugikan itself (tel 3622-1100, open 10:00-16:00, English speakers available).
Most weekdays you can go along on the day and buy a 2,100 yen tojitsu-ken (same-day ticket), for the unreserved seats in the uppermost row. They start selling at 8:00.
Take in with you everything you'll need - you can't slip out for a burger.
Access: Two minutes on foot from Ryogoku station on the JR Sobu Line and subway Oedo Line. Look for the green roof.
What to buy: The calligraphed banzuke ranking list, a bargain at 50 yen, and various other sumo souvenirs. Also buy drinks, boxed meals and snacks (try the Kokugikan special: yakitori - succulent chicken chunks grilled on wooden skewers)
What to tell the taxi driver: Ryogoku Kokugikan
Who to go with: Go on your own, or with a gang of friends, or with someone knowledgeable.
Within a 10-min walk
Sumo stables : Or sumo-beya. - the places where the wrestlers live and train. Many of them are very near the Kokugikan.
Edo-Tokyo Museum : Immediately behind the Kokugikan. Well worth a visit, but don't try to combine it with sumo as there is just too much to do.
Reservations : 81-3-5565-6000
4-12-5 GINZA, CHUO-KU TOKYOAdmission: ¥16,800(1st floor box seat)
¥ 14,700. ¥10,500. ¥4,200. ¥2,520
Tickets can be ordered by telephone or at the theater box office. (Box office is open 10:00a.m.-6:00p.m. everyday) The credit card is available at the Box Office Window.
Matinees 11:00AM - 3:45PM
Evening shows 4:30PM - 9:00PM
Notice:The times are subject to change month by month according to the length of the performances.Please see our Monthly Info.
Notice: The special new year performance and summer performance are subject to change in admission prices.
"English Earphone Guide" provides comment and explanations relating to the plot, music, actors, properties and other features of Kabuki which are available for a small rental fee.Language is no problem at Kabukiza.
To help non-Japanese speaking audience appreciate the plays, the theater provides an excellent Kabuki guide, who through earphones, explains in English the threads of the dramas and conventions unique to Kabuki. The earphone rent is ¥650, plus ¥1,000 security deposit. Discount coupons (two) are available for ¥1,100. The security deposit is refunded when the earphone kit is returned. English-language program costs ¥1,000.
|The Kabuki-Za theater is very close to the Higashi Ginza Station on the TRTA Hibiya and Toei Asakusa subway lines.|