become a sumo

I’ve had my fair share of amazing, warrior-like experiences in Japan. Making my own knife like a real blacksmith, learning how to shoot arrows from horseback, and training to become a ninja. But, this summer I did something I never thought I’d be able to do. I had the chance to become a sumo – although sadly, this didn’t involve eating enough to match their size!


Find a sumo

become a sumo

In all my time in Japan, I never actually saw a sumo match. The closest I ever got was seeing the wrestlers buying snacks from the convenience store by my apartment. So, when I heard I was going to have the chance to not only watch them wrestle, but actually battle a sumo too – I was ecstatic.

Our sumo experience took place in an unassuming building in Asakusa, Tokyo. When we entered, it was typical Japanese style, with tatami floors and sliding doors. So, we slipped off our shoes and settled on the floor chairs with the others. There were 8 of us in total. A family of three from Scotland, a couple from LA, and my brother and me.


See a sumo

become a sumo

The first part of our experience was a sumo demonstration. This would give us a great base for when we would later become a sumo ourselves. With the help of an English speaking guide, the demonstration began.

become a sumo

The two jovial wrestlers showed us how they train, how not to fight, and how to win a match. The whole event was filled with laughter, as the sumo’s constantly pretended to fall onto us, or scream in pain at nothing at all. I was expecting this to be a very serious, and methodical demonstration of skill. I’m so glad I was wrong. They had us all laughing our heads off! I’d love to tell you more, but I really don’t want to ruin the surprise – this is one event you really do need to see in person!


Become a sumo

become a sumo

Then, it was time for the main attraction! This was our chance to become a sumo wrestler, and battle against the masters. Of course, there was no way we could hope to best these beats of sumo at our diminutive size – so we suited up!

Then, we went through all the rituals needed at the start of a match – and got stuck in! Once again, the matches were filled with hilarity. Obviously, none of us were any kind of match for the real sumo’s, but they all let us win in the end. Although, not before picking up us, twirling us round, and generally messing with us (and ripping a nice big hole in my pants in the process…)!

become a sumo


Eat like a sumo

After all that exertion, it was time to dig in to a traditional sumo meal. If you want to become a sumo, you must eat like one! This traditional dish is called Chanko Nabe. It’s a big, steaming hot pot, filled with pork and countless veggies! It’s incredible filling, and undeniably tasty. The sumo wrestlers always eat this after practice, and it is prepared by the junior wrestlers.

become a sumo

We were also given some free gifts after the event was over; a magazine about sumo, a list of the sumo champions, and an outline of some sumo moves we had seen previously. All in all, it was a fantastic day, and an experience I will never forget!

Want more ideas for things to do in Tokyo? Check out 24 Hours in Tokyo by Erika’s Travels!

Do you want to become a sumo like me? Have you ever seen a sumo match? What experience would you love to do in Japan? Let’s Discuss!

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Become a sumo

  • Susanna Kelly

    What a great story!
    I’m impressed you wrestled these big dudes and won!

    • GeekGirlGoes

      haha – of course I won!! It was hilarious though! They were so dramatic when they finally let you win!

  • Diana C

    What a unique and fun experience!! I think my favorite part would’ve been the sumo meal 🙂 I love the photo of you with the two sumo wrestlers and how one is smiling nicely and the other is trying to look tough hahah

    • GeekGirlGoes

      Haha, yeh the ‘tough’ one was definitely the most fun! He was also the senior wrestler, so he was in charge!

  • Soumya Nambiar

    Those sumo wrestlers are so adorable like some kind of giant pandas. I would love to do this one day. Such an incredible unique experience. And they let you win too. 🙂

    • GeekGirlGoes

      What a great comparison! Giant panda’s is spot on! haha
      And what do you mean LET me win? I was definitely stronger…haha

  • Punita Malhotra

    I can not even imagine being face-to-face with a sumo wrestler, let alone train to become one! Travel experiences that people are searching out are becoming so unique with time 🙂

    • GeekGirlGoes

      I know! It’s amazing isn’t it! Japan is great for experiences like this – there’s so much to do! 🙂

  • Woah, that sounds like an amazing experience. I think it would be so fun to do! Thanks for the inspo!

    • GeekGirlGoes

      No problem! It really really was! haha

  • Anisa Alhilali

    This sounds like so much fun. I wanted to see a sumo match when I was in Japan but didn’t get a chance, would love to next time I am there.

    • GeekGirlGoes

      Same! I never saw an actual sumo match! It’s on the list for next time. Even though I don’t think anything could beat this!

  • Omg! This looks like tons of fun! I would love to see a Sumo Wrestling match…and do what you did and actually learn how to Sumo. What a unique experience.

    • GeekGirlGoes

      It really was one of the funniest days ever! I’d love to go and see a real practice though. This was more the fun side of Sumo. I think it would be cool to go back and see the more serious side too.

  • Bryony Clapperton

    This is hysterical! I love your style of writing anyway always full of description and always humorous.

    Another great article. Thanks for sharing.

    • GeekGirlGoes

      Thanks so much Bryony! Comments like this really mean a lot to me – you have no idea! 😀

  • Anne Pel

    Haha! This sounds like it was such good fun, and a great experience. I love love love the photos with it hehe, almost feels like I was there!

    • GeekGirlGoes

      Thanks Anne! It really was great fun! One of the most fun-filled days I’ve had!

  • Oh my gosh this looks amazing!!! What an absolutely fun experience – I’d love to try it one day 🙂

    • GeekGirlGoes

      You definitely should! This is probably one of my top recommendations for anyone visiting Tokyo right now! 🙂

  • Dash the Map

    The photo of you as a sumo is priceless! What is the cost to be a sumo for a day/hour? Did the sumos speak English or was there a translator?

  • This is one of the most insane things I’ve ever read. How much did it cost?

  • Emily Guglielmo

    How do you book this experience? Or do you have the name of the business?