A half day walk-and-eat tour in the Sumo town of Ryogoku! Don’t miss the historical sites, museums, and foodie destinations. Vol. 1

Do you know the traditional Japanese sport of Sumo? Ryogoku is famous for Sumo, because there have been many sumo stables located here since ancient times. Excluding sumo, we don’t know much about the history and places to go in this town.
There are a lot of historic sites and buildings from Japan’s Edo era in Ryogoku.
I’ll show you some must-go-places such as museums, sumo-related-facilities, and local snack shops.
Let’s stroll around Ryogoku in half a day, you might even come across sumo wrestlers on the street!

2016-10-25   Culture, Destinations, Foods & Drinks, Tokyo,

title_Ryogoku


【CONTENTS】

My recommended local snacks in Ryogoku when you feel peckish!

Kazenokura is a shop that sells baked doughnuts and minced meat cutlets, and is a 2-minute walk from the West exit of Ryogoku station. Sumo wrestlers periodically stop at this shop to get minced meat cutlets. You can find quick snacks to stave off your hunger.

The 3 most popular baked doughnuts are plain, maple syrup, and orange flavor.
The 3 most popular baked doughnuts are plain, maple syrup, and orange flavor.

This shop has 10 kinds of baked doughnuts (165 yen each), Japanese croquette (95 yen), Ryogoku minced pork cutlet (185 yen), and Ryogoku pork loin cutlet (250 yen).

I got the Ryogoku pork loin cutlet the shop staff recommended. I was impressed with the juicy meat and the flavor of ingredients even though it wasn’t just immediately cooked. I didn’t need any seasoning for it. The owner said its made by hand with 65% pork loin and 35% onions. I definitely want to try one right out of the cooker on my next visit. I also tried a purple yam doughnut. It had a soft texture and a natural sweetness. Baked doughnuts are healthier than fried doughnuts, aren’t they?

Kazenokura

  • Spot name:
  • Address:2-18-3 Ryogoku Sumida-ku Tokyo
  • Opening hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm (Open seven days a week)



You will see some statues of Sumo wrestler posing on Kokugikan street, continuing on from Ryogoku Station. They are good photo spots for tourists.
There is also a Ryogoku tourist information center near those statues. If you have no plans for sightseeing in Ryogoku, drop by here to get tourist information and maps.

The Ryogoku tourist information center is a convenient place for tourists without travel plans.
The Ryogoku tourist information center is a convenient place for tourists without travel plans.

I met two women from England on this street. They just arrived in Tokyo that day and it’s their first time visiting Japan. They said “We wanted to come to Japan for long time and we have no plans.” “Where should we go in Tokyo?” I was surprised that they didn’t plan their trip. They wanted to see a Grand Sumo tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, but couldn’t because its the off-season now. I answered their questions about tourist information in Tokyo.

Ryogoku tourist information center

  • Address:2-19-1 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku Tokyo
  • Getting there:
  • Opening hours:10:00am-6:00pm(April-September)/10:00am-5:00pm(October-March)
    ※Until 6:30pm during the Grand Sumo tournament held in Tokyo.
    ※Staff are not available from 12:00pm to 1:00pm
  • Closing dates:Regular holidays Mondays and Dec.29 – Jun.3 (except the period of the Grand Sumo tournaments)
  • Telephone:
  • Websitehttp://visit-sumida.jp/spot/6196/

The historical temple Eko-in, closely linked with sumo.

Eko-in temple is close to Ryogoku station. This temple was built in 1657. In the same year, the biggest fire in Japanese history occurred, the Great Meireki Fire. It destroyed about two-thirds of Edo city and about 100,000 people perished. After the fire, Eko-in has become a place where the victims of disasters, not survived or claimed by family or relatives, as well as animals, are laid to rest.

 It is also said that the temple is the origin of having masses for miscarried and aborted fetus’ in Japan .
It is also said that the temple is the origin of having masses for miscarried and aborted fetus’ in Japan .

Eko-in is also known as the spiritual home of sumo, since tournaments began being held here from 1768, until the first Ryogoku Kokugikan, or Ryogoku sumo stadium was built in 1909.
There is a big stone monument called Rikizuka that provides comfort to past spirits of Sumo stable masters.

The grave of Nezumikozo
The grave of Nezumikozo

The another highlight of this temple is the grave of Nezumikozo. He was a legendary thief like Robin Hood. He stole from Japanese feudal lords and wealthy merchants to give to the poor. Whether that was true or not though, Japanese people love this legend.

He is said to have special luck for escaping from the police during the Edo Period. People consider him a lucky man and still visit his grave to share in his good luck.
There are also graves for animals such as dogs, cats, birds, horses, and even fur seals. You might see some cats relaxing in this calm temple.

The grave for a legendary cat.
The grave for a legendary cat.
Eko-in Temple

Semi-Western style sweets; Ryogoku Anpan

After I left the temple, I went to the bakery SAINT ETOILE, famous for Ryogoku Anpan.

The most popular bread, Rogoku anpan, is branded a sumo wrestler.
The most popular bread, Rogoku anpan, is branded a sumo wrestler.

Have you ever had anpan? Anpan is round soft bread with sweet red bean paste, and its a popular bread-snack in Japan.

Ryogoku anpan (165 yen), which is the top selling product in this shop, contains smashed sweet red bean paste called tubu-an and is branded a sumo wrestler. Another popular product is

Ōedo anpan (165 yen), with strained sweet red bean paste called kosi-an. The common anpan doesn’t contain whipped cream inside, but Japanese and Western style anpan like this have become popular in recent years. The price is reasonable and it is good for breakfast or snacks.

Ōedo anpan
Ōedo anpan
SAINT ETOILE Ryogoku branch

  • Address:4-38-8 Ryogoku Sumida-ku Tokyo
  • Opening hours:7:00am-9:00pm(Mon-Saturday)/7:00am-8:00pm(Sundays and National Holidays in Japan)
  • Closing dates: Open seven days a week

Let’s go to museums near Ryogoku Kokugikan!

●Journey of Tokyo from the Edo Period to modern times; The Edo-Tokyo Museum
The Edo-Tokyo Museum, with its novel design, is near Ryogoku Kokugikan (Ryogoku sumo stadium).
Before you enter this museum, take a look at the bronze statue of the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa placed on a leafy walking trail behind the museum. He governed Japan during the Edo period. This statue sitting on a pedestal shaped turtle as a deity of water, is modeled after Ieyasu when hunting hawks. It’s a little bit surreal.
The Edo Tokyo museum introduces history and culture from the Edo period to modern Tokyo by showcasing original objects and replicas. You’ll be amazed at the faithful exhibits representing life in the Edo cityscape. You can touch some of exhibits and take photos with them!

Samurai, Kabuki, Sushi. Let’s experience old Tokyo at the Edo-Tokyo Museum!【江戸東京博物館】

Edo-Tokyo Museum



The bronze statue of the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, and the museum building modeled after an elevated-floor type warehouse.
The bronze statue of the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, and the museum building modeled after an elevated-floor type warehouse.

●Feel the history of Sumo! The Sumo museum
Ryogoku kokugikan is a sumo stadium and most people know this if they are sumo fans. When grand sumo tournaments aren’t held, this place is very quiet. The Sumo Museum is on the first floor in Ryogoku Kokugikan and there is no entry fee.

Sumo wrestlers’ comic foregrounds placed around the main entrance of Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Sumo wrestlers’ comic foregrounds placed around the main entrance of Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The Sumo Museum is a compact museum, but you can see interesting exhibits such as Ukiyo-e, an ornamental apron of a sumo wrestler in the Edo Period, and photographs of sumo successors. Please note that photography is prohibited in this museum!

Tourists from Canada who visited The Sumo Museum. Sumo is very popular even among international visitors.
Tourists from Canada who visited The Sumo Museum. Sumo is very popular even among international visitors.
The Sumo Museum

  • Spot name:
  • Address:First floor of Ryogoku Kokugikan, 1-3-28 Yoko-ami Sumida-ku Tokyo
  • Opening hours:10:00am-4:30pm(Last admission:4:00pm)
  • Closing dates: Saturday, Sunday and National Holidays in Japan
  • Price:Free(During the Grand sumo tournament held in Tokyo, you need to show your sumo tournament admission ticket)
  • Websitehttp://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoMuseum



●Japanese master artist of ukiyo-e, Hokusai Katsushika; The Sumida Hokusai museum
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was born in the present-day Sumida Ward during the Edo Period, and is one of the most famous of all Japanese artists.

The Sumida Hokusai museum will open on the 22nd of November 2016, and will be dedicated to him. This museum will introduce to visitors, the works of Hokusai and his disciples. His works from the Peter Morse collection and the Muneshige Narasaki collection, who were experts of Hokusai, are worthy of special mention. Can’t wait to see his works that had a great influence on European artists!

A countdown board to the museum opening date, representing Red Fuji from his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series. It’s made of flowers and plants and is placed near Ryogoku Kokugikan.
A countdown board to the museum opening date, representing Red Fuji from his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series. It’s made of flowers and plants and is placed near Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Sumida Hokusai museum



I will introduce some more places to go in Ryogoku in my next article.
I hope you’ll be looking forward to it. Talk to you then!

A half day walk-and-eat tour in the Sumo town of Ryogoku! Vol.2

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AUTHOR

koume

koume

Hi, I am Koume. I’m originally from Fukuoka and currently living in Tokyo. I have lived in Australia, the Philippines, and Cambodia for several years. Through my life abroad, I have rediscovered the beauty of Japan. I hope my articles will be a helpful resource for both Japanese and foreign visitors.

Information

Address 1-4-29 Yoko-ami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Hours -
Price -
Close -
Access Sobu Main Line:Ryogoku Station
Toei Oedo Line:Ryogoku Station
Phone -
Website Visit the website of SUMIDA Tourism Office.
http://visit-sumida.jp/english/