Catch Some Sumo at Yasukuni Shrine

Apr 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Events

Sumo Match Yasukuni ShrineThe Hono Ozumo at Yasukuni Shrine is a great opportunity to see sumo in Tokyo for free!   On Friday April 10th, ceremonial sumo matches will be held in an outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of the shrine.

Approximately 200 rikishi (sumo wrestlers) will participate in bouts that start after opening rites an the blessing of the dohyo (sumo ring) at 9AM.  Higher ranking rikishi will begin their bouts around 2PM followed by the Yokozuna (grand champions).

Preceding the bouts at 2PM is an impressive dohyo-iri (formal ring entering ceremony) featuring rikishi parading into the dohyo wearing a kesho-mawashi (richly embroidered ceremonial silk aprons).

Sumo Ceremony Yasukuni Shrine

The Yokuzuna (grand champions) then take turns entering the dohyo wearing massive braided hemp ropes ties elaborately in the back and ornamented on the front with strips of paper hanging in zigzag patterns.  The yokuzuna are each attended by a senior gyoji (referee) and two other wrestlers, one carrying a ceremonial sword.

Sumo Yokuzuna Yasukuni Shrine

The concluding rite of the day is the “bow dance” which became part of Sumo custom sometime during the Edo Period when a winning wrestler was awarded a prize of a bow and to express his satisfaction and appreciation performed this dance.

Sumo Bow Dance Yasukuni ShrineBe sure to get there early as admission is free but limited to the first 6,000 people. The venue opens at 8:30AM.  Also, bring something to sit on along with a bento or other food and drink as seating is on the ground and there are no food vendors on site.  (Yasukuni Shrine Access Map)

If you have never seen sumo live before this is one event that you won’t want to miss!  Last year I spent a breezy spring day watching some great sumo with  cherry blossom petals floating to the ground like snowflakes an the event is sure to be as magical this year.

Other free sumo events this month are as follows:

April 11th – Fujisawa in Kanagawa

April 18th – Nagano

April 19th – Tochigi

If you can’t attend one of these free events take some time to see if you can attend one of the other events on the 2009 Grand Sumo Tournament Schedule. The next tournament starts May 10th in Tokyo and tickets go on sale on April 11th.

Image Credit:  Personal Collection (2008 Hono Ozumo at Yasukuni Shrine)

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