Sumo is an important part of traditional Japanese culture, boasting a history of over 1,500 years. Due to its deep roots and old traditions, there are many customs, rules, and rituals surrounding this national sport – having a basic knowledge of sumo will allow you to really be part of a match!

The History of Sumo

Mentioned in various myths and folk tales, it is said that sumo originated sometime around the year 712. Sumo was performed as an annual ritual when rice was planted, as a way to pray for a bountiful harvest. Over a long period of time, a fixed set of rules had established itself and sumo began taking on the form that we know today. As one of Japan's most famous national sports, sumo keeps on attracting not only Japanese people but visitors from all over the world.

Going to a Grand Sumo Tournament for the First Time

There are six grand sumo tournaments per year. In January, May, and September, grand sumo tournaments are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan. This place is considered as the sumo sanctuary and numerous great matches have been performed here.

About the Banzuke

All sumo wrestlers are classified in a ranking hierarchy called banzuke, according to their performance. The top rank is called Yokozuna, the next lower rank is Ozeki, followed by Sekiwake, Komusubi and Maegashira. On the banzuke, wrestlers are divided into east and west sides. The allocation will be made based on their results of the previous tournament. If wrestlers are on the same rank, the wrestler of the east side is considered to be higher.

How to Watch a Grand Sumo Tournament

Just like many other things within Japanese culture, sumo puts a lot of emphasis on manners and rituals. Besides those of the actual competition, there are a variety of different rules to follow for the audience as well. Sumo has a lot to do with respect, between the competitors but also towards the sport itself. Let's take a look at the most important rules.

How to Get Tickets

For grand sumo tournaments, two types of tickets are available: those sold in advance and those sold on the day of the match. You can book tickets both on the phone or online, or simply buy a ticket on the day of the match at the venue at which it is held. Naturally, these grand tournaments are very popular so if you're planning to buy a ticket at the venue itself, keep in mind that they might sell out really quickly.

Seat Types

There are three types of seats: Tamariseki, Masuseki, and the seats on the second floor.

Tamariseki are Situated Closest to the Ring

Tamariseki are the most prestigious seats. The seats are situated closest to the ring and are also called Sunakaburiseki (sand bathing seats). Those are generally reserv…

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