When you think of Japan one of the first images that pops into your mind is probably of Sumo wrestling. In fact, with its unique aesthetic, ancient traditions and tough training regimes, there are few more iconic Japanese activities than Sumo.
Thanks to its reputation as Japan’s national sport, many visitors to the country aim to take in a match during their stay. Exciting, powerful and fascinating to see, a visit to a Sumo tournament will make a fantastic addition to any stay in Tokyo
As well as taking in a traditional Sumo wrestling event, those with the right connections can gain access to the stables where the athletes live and train. Providing a unique glimpse into the world of Sumo champions, a visit to a Sumo stable or ‘beya’, which is usually off limits to the public, is guaranteed to be a highlight of your trip to Tokyo.
Sumo stables are incredibly traditional places. Having changed very little over the past 1,000 years, they remain at the heart of the sport in Tokyo, as well as the rest of Japan.
Traditionally the place where the junior wrestlers of each band train, eat, sleep and bathe, Sumo stables teach aspiring wrestlers to live by the rules and customs of the champions who have gone before them.
Though most stables are closed off from the public, some do open their doors to a lucky few, giving tourists and Tokyo natives the chance to learn more about this fascinating world.
Visiting a sumo stable
One of the main attractions of visiting a stable is having the chance to see these giant sportsmen up close. In general, spectators watching a training session will be able to sit much closer to the wrestlers than they would be able to during a match, with some seats just 10 feet from the action.
Visitors will be able to observe the many rituals involved with Sumo, such as salt purification, however guests inside the stable must stay perfectly quiet, refrain from using a camera flash and ensure their phones are switched off for the duration of their visit.
What’s more, visitors must remove their shoes and refrain from pointing the soles of their feet towards the ring. If spectators forget just one of these rules of etiquette, they risk being physically removed from the stable, something nobody will relish, especially after seeing the size of the bouncers!
For those looking to gain unique insight into this incredible sport, some luxury hotels in Tokyo offer exclusive trips to Sumo stables around the city. As long as you respect all of the traditions and customs of the stable, it should be an incredible experience you’ll never forget.
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