Every September there is a two-week national sumo tournament held in Tokyo and before coming to Japan I had purchased a ticket for day six. The tournament is held at the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo and each day of the tournament there are sumo matches from around 8:30am to 7:00pm. My ticket was for a chair seat in the stadium’s upper level, however during the morning hours there aren’t many people watching the matches and the ushers don’t care where you sit, so after arriving at the stadium I sat myself down in one of the box seats not far from the action. In retrospect I should have been even bolder than I was and moved up one or two more rows but I had a very good view from where I was sitting.
For about an hour I watched the lower division wrestlers battle it out and seeing everything up close would be helpful for me to better understand what was going on when I’d be watching the high ranking matches from my seat in the upper level later in the day. I also got to see few really good, drawn-out matches. Most of the time sumo bouts are over in less than ten seconds because one wrestler will quickly gain an advantage but sometimes you get two evenly matched opponents who go at each other with everything they’ve got in a bout that last thirty to sixty seconds. Those longer fights were easily the most exciting to watch.
Once I felt like I needed to do some other sightseeing I went to the upper level to locate my seat (so that I could more easily find it later) and then got some photos from the upper level before exiting the stadium. You’re allowed to leave the stadium grounds and return one time, and the staff at the exit gave me some sort of invisible ink stamp on my hand that I’d need to show when I came back in the afternoon.