The rankings are updated after the tournament, according to each wrestler’s performance. In the ranking system, those with good results are ranked higher and those with poor results are demoted.The top division is called “makuuchi” and the second division is called “juryō. At the summit of sumo is the yokozuna. Unlike lower ranked wrestlers, a yokozuna cannot be demoted, but if his performance deteriorates, he will retire.
The best way to watch sumo is to attend a sumo tournament. Tickets are on sale for each day of the 15-day tournaments.
There will be three types of seating available to the general public
- Ringside seating
Ringside seats: the closest to the ring, the most expensive and hardest to find seats. Ticket holders will be sitting on cushions on the floor, risking the wrestler jumping into the audience and getting hurt.
- Box seats
The rest of the stadium’s first floor consists of Japanese-style box seats, typically seating four people (some with more seats and some with less). Taking off their shoes, the audience sits on the cushions. Tickets are available for the entire box, whether or not they are full. The box seats are divided into three boxes, A, B and C, depending on the distance from the ring.
- Balcony seating
There are several rows of western seating on the second floor balcony. The balcony seats are also classified into A, B and C seats according to the distance to the ring. In addition, there are exclusive seats for those who hold the cheapest type of ticket, the “same-day ticket,” which can only be purchased at the stadium on the day of the event.
A limited number of same-day tickets are still available at the ballpark, even though some days are sold out in advance. Sumo tickets go on sale about a month before the start of each tournament.
The ring-entering ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m. (from 13-15 at 10 a.m.), the second division (juryo) at 15:00 a.m., and the first division (makuuchi) at 16:00 a.m. The inter-divisional ring-entering ceremony is also a sight to behold. The highest ranked wrestler’s bout will take place before 18:00. The final day of each competition is staggered by about 30 minutes to accommodate the final championship ceremony.
The more spectators, the better the atmosphere in the stadium and the later the game is played. Also, the intervals between matches are longer, the preparation time is longer, and there are more pre-match moves by the top wrestlers. If you have limited time, it is recommended that you stay at the stadium to watch at least one of the top wrestlers’ matches from 15:30 to 18:00.
The best way to enjoy sumo other than watching the game is to visit the practice hall in the morning. A sumo stall is a place where wrestlers live and practice together, and all aspects of their lives, such as sleeping, eating, practicing, and free time, are strictly controlled by their stable master. There are currently about 40 rooms, all of which are located in the metropolitan area.
But a sumo room is neither a public place nor a tourist attraction. There are few rooms that accept tourists, and they must be accompanied by someone who is fluent in Japanese and familiar with the customs of the sumo world. In addition, visitors are expected to strictly adhere to the house rules and not to interfere with the practice; they are expected to sit quietly on the floor for two to three hours.
In fact, it’s very difficult for a foreign tourist to tour a room on their own. Therefore, it is recommended to take a guided tour to attend the morning training.