Had your heart set on seeing sumo in Tokyo but arrived between tournaments, or all the affordable sumo tickets have sold out? Fear not, you may still be able to get yourself a dohyo-side seat to watch some seriously impressive sumo training. How, you ask? Look no further than the free sumo wrestling pratice sessions at Arashio-beya in the area of Hamacho.

The 200 kg rikishi Amakaze sporting a big grin as he effortlessly does the front splits. | Photo by Mareike Dornhege

Viewed through the stable’s large windows while standing in a quiet backstreet, the practice does lack the salt-tossing ceremony and silken pageantry of an actual sumo tournament. Nonetheless, pressing your nose against the glass rewards you with an authentic glimpse of the daily lives of aspiring sumo wrestlers.

The mixture of exertion, expression, muscle, sweat and sand is intimate enough to feed your inner voyeur. If you are really lucky, you won’t have to share the experience with too many other visitors on the morning you attend.

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When to watch the practice at Arashio-beya

Photo by Gregory Lane

Arashio-beya practices sumo between 7:30am and 10am on most mornings, except in March, July and November. The wrestlers also take a week off after each of the Grand Sumo Tournaments.

If you are not immune to disappointment, it is best to call the sumo stable between 4-8pm the day before you wish to attend to make sure the practice is actually taking place—and to ask for exact starting and ending times. For non-Japanese speakers, the stable’s website has a dialogue in romaji to help you through the conversation. Rest days and changes to the timetable are often announced on the website too.

The Arashio-beya sumo stable doesn’t require reservations to watch through the windows, but the courtesies expected in return for the privilege of watching sumo practice are outlined on the website. For example, no flash photography is allowed.

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Sumo stables tour in Tokyo

Most stables allow you to take a memorabilia picture with the wrestlers after the training. | Photo by Mareike Dornhege

To get a closer look, there are tour operators that can take you inside a sumo stable to watch the training close up. You can reserve a spot on a guided sumo stable tour through booking sites like Klook and Magical Trip.

Considering booking but wondering what it’s really like? You can read about what to expect on a morning sumo stable visit, as we sent a writer to experience it for herself.

Keen to explore other types of throwdowns? You might find our guide to Japanese Pro Wrestling interesting.

How to get to the Arashio-beya sumo stable in Tokyo

The sumo stable is closest to Exit A2 of Hamacho Station on the Toei-Shinjuku line, and just a stone’s throw from the lovely Sumida riverside Hamacho Park. It is also a mere 10-minute walk from Exit A1 of Ningyocho Station on the Hibiya Line, making it an easy jump-off point for a twirl around the old Tsukiji Fish Market.

Bonus Opportunities to See Sumo Training in Tokyo

Setagaya Hachimangu Autumn Festival Sumo
A sumo display at the Setagaya Hachimangu Autumn Festival | Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

If you happen to be in Tokyo during Autumn, you might well be in with a chance of watching student sumo wrestlers perfecting their technique. Each year at the Setagaya Autumn Festival a ritual sumo session takes place in an outdoor dohyo in front of the shrine. With a more playful element to their matches, the students are brilliant to watch, with tag-team challenges and impressive strength.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This article was originally published in September, 2014. Last update: August, 2022.

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