30 Things to Do in Ryogoku, the Traditional Town of Sumo, in 2018

  • Ryogoku is a district most commonly associated with the popular Japanese sport of sumo. Sumo tournaments have taken place in the Ryogoku Kokugikan (sumo stadium) and sumo stables in the area for over a century and attract visitors from far and wide who come to get a glimpse of the giant wrestlers. The neighbourhood is so well-known as being the local sumo hangout place that there is even a sumo-sized dish specifically for the wrestlers which is a huge, filling hot pot.

    As a town that was around in the Edo period, Ryogoku has a rich history to discover which can be found in the streets and museums. With all this culture to discover, it’s time to get exploring with these 30 things to do.

    For more things to do in other areas, check this list out!
    Would you like to stay in Ryogoku? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    1. Learn to Play the Taiko Drum


    Taiko is a traditional Japanese drum which lets out an impressive sound when beaten with two bachi drumsticks. Taiko is usually played as a group and when the taiko drums are beaten in unison you’ll understand the fascination of a taiko performance.

    Why not have a go at the taiko drums with a professional teacher in Ryogoku? Lessons are held on Tuesdays and Fridays 7 pm-8.30 pm, Thursdays at 10:30 am-12 pm and Sundays 12:30 pm-2 pm. As taiko drums are played standing, they are played in a particular stance that also involves moving and chanting. Usually accompanied by other instruments such as the takebue (bamboo flute), you will also have the chance to have a go at these.

    Booking details: Learn to Play the Taiko drum in Tokyo!

    2. Taste Boar Hot Pot

    Boar Hot Pot

    While the chanko nabe is the most popular dish in Ryogoku, you can savour the taste of an altogether unique hot pot in this district as well: Boar hot pot. The delicious, tender meat is seen as a healthy, lower calorie alternative to other meats and is served up in a delicious soup with some vegetables and herbs to top it all off.

    As an added bonus, you’ll be awarded a discounted ticket to the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku so your next dinner out is already organised!

    Booking details: Boar-meat hot pot dinner with a Robot Restaurant ticket

    3. Take a Trip Back to the Edo Times

    The history of Ryogoku means there are plenty of stories to be uncovered around town. Take a trip to the Edo-Tokyo Museum where you can learn about the history of Toyko and see replicas of the 400 year Edo period that ran from 1603 to 1868. Also, discover the many spiritual places that Ryogoku is home to and learn how they are linked to the tradition of sumo. Visit all these attractions with a tour run by a knowledgeable local that will give you an in-depth insight into this area’s fascinating history.

    Booking details: Stroll around the sumo district and feel the spirit of Edo!

    4. Visit the Sumo Photography Museum

    Ryogoku is the district of sumo, and if you’re interested in learning more about these sportsmen, head down to the Sumo Photography Museum. It’s free to enter and great for people who are following the sport as you can find out who is who as well as the history of the sport.

    Sumo Photography Museum website *Japanese only

    5. See the Place Where Ryunosuke Akutagawa Grew Up

    Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a Japanese writer who has been coined the “father of the Japanese short story.” The Japanese literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, was named after him. Ryogoku is the place where this remarkable man grew up, so if you’re a fan of his work, be sure not to miss the landmark where you can read about his life (both Japanese and English are available.)

    You’ll find the information on the street corner, near the AEON sign.


    6. Check Out Ekoin Temple

    If you’ve visited Japan before, you’ll know that the country is home to an enormous amount of temples, each with their own history and charm. A ten-minute walk from Ryogoku Station, this temple has a significant history, a graveyard which includes Nezumi Kozo, or “rat boy” who, legend states, stole money from wealthy feudal lords and gave it to the poor before he was captured and executed. This charming temple is a favorite of visitors to Ryogoku and shouldn’t be missed!

    Ekoin Temple website *Japanese only

    7. Take a Short Boat Trip on the River

    This relaxing trip is a shortcut between the Tokyo Edo Museum and Asakusa, and takes you along the river where you can see many landmarks such as the Asahi Beer Headquarters, the golden flame statue, and Tokyo Skytree. If you’re tired from walking, why not get back to Asakusa Station by boat on a fine day and take in the views on the Tokyo Mizube Line?

    Tokyo Mizube Line website

    8. Browze Sumo-Related Goods and Traditional Sweets and Kokugido

    The ground floor of this building sells traditional snacks and sumo merchandise, as well as Japanese desserts such as “anmitsu” with ice cream and bean paste coffee. For an unusual but delicious dessert and a chance to grab souvenirs, don’t miss this charming little shop in Ryogoku.


    9. Check Out the Ryogoku Fireworks Museum

    Fireworks have played an important role in Japanese celebrations and festivals for many years, and this free-to-enter museum showcases information about these festivals as well as the history of Japanese fireworks. It’s an interesting find, and perfect if you get caught in the rain during your trip to Ryogoku.


    10. See the Kyu Yasuda Garden

    Described as a “haven of peace and tranquility in Tokyo”, this lovely Edo-style garden has a pond with koi carp and bonsai trees. Take a break among shopping and sightseeing to unwind in this gorgeous little garden.

    Kyu Yasuda Garden website

    11. See a Performance at Theater X

    Theater enthusiasts can enjoy a performance at Ryogoku’s Theater X, also called Theater Cai, that gives insight into Japanese culture as well as embracing cultures from all over the world. With great acoustics and a dedicated staff team, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time enjoying what performance they have on offer here.

    Theater X website *Japanese only

    12. See the Lord Kira Residence

    What I'm Reading Right Now #176 #47ronin #mikerichardson #stansakai @darkhorsecomics #historicalfiction #graphicnovel

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    Have you ever heard of the 47 Ronin? The story of the 47 samurai who hunted down their leader’s murderer and then committed suicide is a story that’s well known in Japan and abroad as well. Lord Kira was the one responsible for the death of the leader, Lord Asano, and his residence is in Ryogoku. This place has a rich and important history and by visiting, you can feel the spirit of the faithful Samurai from the story.


    13. Visit Yokoamicho Park and Memorial Museum

    A pleasant place to visit in autumn especially, Yokoamicho Park is close to the previously mentioned Kyu Yasuda Garden and is home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Memorial Hall and Great Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum, which are memorials to the victims who died in the 1923 earthquake and corresponding fires which killed over 140,000 people. Unwind in the tranquility of the park and pay your respect to the victims who are still remembered even nearly a hundred years after the disaster.

    Yokoamicho Park website

    14. Don’t Miss Tokyo Ireido


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    While you are in Yokoamicho Park, be careful not to miss Tokyo Ireido, which houses 123 bodies, some of which were victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake and others who died in the Great Tokyo Air Raid during World War II.

    Yokoamicho Park website

    15. Check Out Ryogoku Bridge

    Ryogoku Bridge, which was constructed in 1659, has a lot of history and is an important bridge in Tokyo that has been the inspiration for many woodblock paintings. If you’re walking (or on a boat) between Ryogoku and Asakusa, keep an eye out for this bridge, also called Ryogoku-bashi in Japanese.


    16. Visit Japan Stationery Museum

    #日本文具資料館 素晴らしい。珍しいモノがたくさん観られた。

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    Crazy about stationery? Don’t miss the Japan Stationery Museum, or the “Nihon Bungu Shiryokan” in Japanese! It showcases basically everything to do with writing including pens and pencils, old calligraphy equipment, antique fountain pens, as well as writing impliments from hundreds of years ago before the age of paper and futuristic robot arms.

    There’s a very small window where this free-to-enter museum is open: just between 1:00pm and 4:00pm on weekdays only, so if you’re in the Ryogoku area at this time, check out what the Stationery Museum has to offer.

    Stationery Museum website *Japanese only

    17. Eat Edo-Style Cuisine at Ryogoku Edo Noren

    The twelve shops that make up Ryogoku Edo Noren serve authentic and traditional Japanese food from sushi to soba noodles! They also sometimes hold events such as festivals. If you’re in Ryogoku and find your stomach rumbling, head to this exciting group of restaurants and take your pick!

    Ryogoku Edo Noren website *Automatic translation available

    18. Have a Coffee at Crazy Cafe Blank

    The Japanese love their cafes, and this special Crazy Cafe Blank was fashioned from a former factory, flooded with light, and famed for its high-quality milk from Nakahora Farm in Iwate, which they use to make their popular lattes. If you want to sit down and take a rest from sightseeing with a delicious cup of coffee, consider trying this unique little place 15 minutes north of Ryogoku Station.

    Crazy Cafe Blank Tabelog page

    19. Visit the Sumida Hokusai Museum

    This popular museum is dedicated to the artwork of Katsushika Hokusai. Even if you haven’t heard his name, it’s highly likely you’ve seen his woodblock print works The Great Wave Off Kanagawa and Red Fuji. Hokusai was born and grew up around that area and inside the museum, you can see some examples of his great works as well as information about his life. It’s fascinated if you’re interested in Japanese woodblock print art or Japanese history in general.

    Sumida Hokusai Museum website

    20. Take a Relaxing Bath at Edo-yu

    The Japanese love to relax by taking a bath in a “sento”, or public bath. At Edo-yu, you can sit in a hot bath at this spa while looking at the large work of Red Fuji by local artist Hokusai. After several weeks of walking, exploring, traveling, and sightseeing, a hot bath at this popular “sento” might be just what you need!

    Edo-yu website *Japanese only

    21. Eat Chanko Nabe

    Also Ryogoku is famous for its special hot pot called 'chanko nabe' which is commonly eaten by sumo wrestlers to gain weight. It's basically a mix of seafood, meats and vegetables which you can end with carbs by adding noodles or rice into the broth. We went to the most known one called Tomoegata. There are 2 branches across the path from each other so if you can't get into one, try the other one. TBH I didn't think it was anything incredible… they also add sardine balls which left a very strong fish-guts kinda base in the broth (you know, just that strong sardine taste). If you like that, maybe you'll enjoy this. Personally I prefer regular shabushabu ☺️ but had to try chanko out once! ✔️ off the list and that would likely be the last #tomoegata #ryogoku #chankonabe

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    Chanko nabe is one of the staple foods of Japanese sumo wrestlers. It contains a lot of vegetables and protein and is made with chicken broth, sake or mirin, fish or chicken, and lots of vegetables. What better place to try this delicious and hearty hotpot than in Tokyo’s heart of sumo wrestling? You can try chanko nabe in eateries like Chanko Tomoegata, Chanko Kirishima, and Ryogoku Edo Noren mentioned earlier.

    22. Try the Best Soba Noodles in Ryogoku

    If you have dietery restrictions meaning you can’t eat chanko nabe, why not try delicious buckwheat noodles instead? Hosokawa near Ryogoku Station offers some tasty soba, professionally prepared by local chefs. Soba is a favorite of both locals and visitors, so be sure to give it a try!

    Hosokawa website *Japanese only

    23. Check Out the Birthplace of Katsu Kaishu

    History buffs cannot miss this memorial to a very important statesman who was involved in the Meiji Restoration. He was a low-ranking Shogun who manned the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to travel to the western world. An important man in Japanese history, his memorial is worth a visit.

    Birthplace Memorial of Katsu Kaishu website *Japanese only

    24. Sing Karaoke

    Karaoke is a popular pastime in Japan. you can get a private room in which you can sing many songs including popular Japanese hits, English songs, and other languages too such as Korean, Chinese, and Tagalog. If you get caught in the rain or you’re spending the evening in Ryogoku, spend an hour or two at Karaoke no Tetsujin or Big Echo, eat and drink, and unwind!

    25. Try to Spot a Real Sumo Wrestler

    Ryokogu is the town of sumo. On your travels, see if you can spot a real sumo wrestler! These huge and powerful men are something to witness. Feel free to ask for their photograph, too, as long as you’re not disturbing them from anything important!

    26. Have a Drink at Popeye

    This cosy and casual bar is close to Ryogoku Station and is perfect to sit and enjoy some food and drinks after a busy day of exploring. The bar features craft beer, bottled beer, and ale, as well as various kinds of food such as cheese assortments, steaks, potato dishes, sashimi, and party menus.

    Popeye website

    Discover Ryogoku and Its Surroundings

    There are also many things you can do that include Ryogoku and other areas. Take a look at these tours below.

    27. Explore with a Sumo Wrestler


    You can’t go to Ryogoku with at least catching a glimpse of a sumo wrestler. Heading to see them training or at a tournament is a great way of getting the sumo experience but how about taking it that one step further and having a sumo wrestler show you around Ryogoku?

    Be shown around the streets of the area where you can see where the wrestlers spend their time, get your hands on some sumo-inspired souvenirs and eat your way around like a sumo wrestler with the famous chanko nabe.

    If you’d like to discover more of Tokyo’s old, traditional side, you can also take the tour over to Asakusa where you’ll find one of the biggest temples in Tokyo, Sensoji Temple. Very few Japanese people can even say they’ve had this experience, so think up all your sumo questions and get ready for an all together different way of touring Tokyo.

    Booking details: Tour Asakusa and Ryogoku with a sumo wrestler

    28. Photograph Your Way Around Old Tokyo

    Behide of woman has backpack in Autumn season at Senso-ji temple in Asakusa District, a major tourist attraction in Tokyo, Japan

    Have you ever got home from an amazing holiday and realised you only took a few photos and they don’t reflect how good your trip was? We’ve all been there and, while it’s good to live in the moment, it’s such a pleasure to have good photos to look back on.

    Exploring the Ryogoku area and other must-see places around Tokyo with a local photographer that knows the area well will not only give you a full understanding of each area but the photographer will also get some great shots of your day out to make sure you have some good snaps to take home with you.

    Booking details: Deep Tokyo Photo excursion with a professional Photographer

    29. Cycle Around the Area

    Attractive athletic young male in sunglasses, helmet and sports clothing standing on desert street with his beautiful blonde girlfriend, waiting for their friends before having morning ride together

    If you’re the type of traveller that likes to get a lot done but without too much effort, cycling your way around is the best way for you to discover Tokyo. On the Asakusa and Nihonbashi course, not only will you be able to check out some of the highlights of Ryogoku but you will also see many other sights including parks, Kabuki theaters, the famous Tsukiji market, Ueno Zoo, the Imperial Palace and much much more.

    With bike tours going every day and on different courses around the city, there’s no excuse to not join in with at least one tour of the city on two wheels. So, on your bikes!

    Booking details: Enjoy a full-day cycling sightseeing tour of Tokyo!

    30. Dress Up As a Ninja and Discover the Streets


    It might not seem like the most obvious thing to do on a day out in Tokyo but dressing up as a ninja before getting your tourist on is most certainly one of the most fun things to do.

    Discover some of the oldest parts of Tokyo including Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Dori before munching on okonomiyaki, a delicious Japanese pancake. Finish it all off with a trip to Purikura, the unmissable Japanese photo booths, to get some unforgettable photos of the day you dressed up as a ninja. This is a great day out for both children and adults, so let’s get exploring ninja style!

    Booking details: Take an exciting tour in Tokyo dressed as a ninja!

    While the Ryogoku area may be small, it has a sumo-sized history and culture which guarantees a fun and fulfilling day out. Whether you’re a big sumo fan or not, a trip to Ryogoku is a good insight into the sumo world and the perfect way of finding out more about Japan’s fascinating history and typical traditional activities. Ryogoku is also in a good location if you’re looking for a hotel with a handy Haneda Airport shuttle service which will take you straight from Haneda Airport to Ryogoku.

    For more things to do in other areas, check this list out!
    Would you like to stay in Ryogoku? Check out all the hotels in the area here!