Japan has six major sumo tournaments every year. Attending a sumo match can be a cultural and spiritual highlight during a visit to the archipelago. The next tournament will take place in July at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya, Japan
The event is known as the 2012 July Grand Sumo Tournament and wrestlers will compete everyday between July 8th and July 22nd. World Winder has attended Nagoya’s Grand Sumo Tournament twice in the last decade.
A large city with huge stakes in banking and auto manufacturing, Nagoya is located between Tokyo and the region which boasts Osaka and Kyoto. Travelers using the JR Railpass find Nagoya a convenient hub and worthy stop especially during tournament time. The closest subway stop to the tournament venue is Shiyakusho Station on the Meijo Line. To get to the box office and gymnasium, follow the crowd through the stone corridors leading past Nagoya Castle. You may even be able to walk alongside a massive sumo wrestler commuting to the gym for his bout.
Ticket prices for a sumo tournament vary depending on how close they are to the action. For 2012, general admission starts at 2,800 yen ($35US). Ringside seats fetch as much as 14,300 ($178US) and may come with the occasional crushing by a sumo wrestler. The more expensive seats often come with a bag of surprises and a cushion. Tickets can be purchased at the box office at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. However, weekend matches and the days near the end of the tournament often sell out in advance. There are ways to buy tickets in advance using licensed agents.
Each sumo wrestler fights once a day for the two week duration of the tournament. Lower ranked competitors match up earlier in the day. By mid-afternoon the gymnasium becomes crowded and more notable wrestlers join the fray. Make sure to try traditional Japanese food. You probably won’t be the only foreigner around. English teachers in Japan often attend sumo and many tourists attend July’s Grand Sumo Tournament while on holiday.