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East side story of Akihabara (Ryogoku)

posted 08/09/01

Even if not the national sport from a legal perspective, sumo wrestling has long been recognized as such by the general populace as well as by the international community, and just two stations East of Akihabara on the JR Sobu Line, lies the beating heart of the sport - Ryogoku; itself home to around 20 of the sports 50 plus stables housing 700 men.

 Home to the sport's only purpose built stadium, the 11,092 capacity,'Kokugikan' (lit: Hall of (the) National Game) which houses the Sumo Museum (free admission when no tournament is taking place), as well as a great many restaurants serving the sumo staple of chanko-nabe and tempura, Ryogoku really comes alive each January, May and September as the crowds flock to see the New Year, Summer, and Autumn tournaments.
This year's Aki (Autumn) Tournament will be held from September 14th to the 28th and will see wrestlers from around a dozen nations trying to outsmart and out muscle their opponents over the fifteen days of action. Only the very best will pick up the coveted solid silver Emperor's Cup and many eyes will be on Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and his compatriot, Asashoryu.
Why not compare the old and the new, the modern and the not so modern by jumping on the train and heading East from Akihabara to the older, and slower paced neighborhood of Ryogoku?
A stop further East and you'll end up in 'Kinshicho', but that's another story.
Kodama  from Japan Hopper


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