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Monday, September 28, 2015



Ryogoku in Tokyo is the heartland of the ancient sport of sumo in Japan. It is here near the banks of the Sumida River that many, though by no means all, of the major sumo stables or heya are based.

Dewanoumi ichimon.

It is at the heya that sumo wrestlers practice and live and learn the strict etiquette required of this spiritual Japanese sport.

There are over 40 heya arranged in groups of six ichimon. The heya in existence today are named after the founding oyakata, a retired former wrestler.

Heya in Ryogoku, Tokyo.

The six ichimon are: Dewanoumi, Isegahama, Nishonoseki, Takanohana, Takasago and Tokitsukaze.

The heya will have a practice ring often on the ground floor, where the kitchen is also located. The upper floors are the sleeping and living quarters.

Heya in Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Some heya allow visitors to watch the early morning keiko (training) which starts from about 5am or later but many have signs posted saying that spectators are not allowed, especially during tournaments in Tokyo.

Of the six annual sumo basho or tournaments, 3 are held on the road in Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya. Then the whole heya must decamp and find accommodation in hotels or ryokan. Temporary rings can sometimes be found in temples and shrines where the wrestlers practice. The video below shows a practice session at Akibasan Jiganji Temple in Tenpaku-ku in east Nagoya (sadly no longer used).

Tokyo Heya

Oshima-beya (大島部屋) 3-5-3 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku; Tel: 03 3632 6578
Musashigawa-beya (武蔵川部屋) 4-27-1 Higashi Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tel: 03 3805 6343
Wakamatsu-beya (高砂部屋) 3-5-4 Honjo, Sumida-ku
Futagoyama-beya (二子山部屋) 8-16-1 Kita Koiwa, Edogawa-ku, 03 3673 7339
Kasugano-beya (春日野部屋) 1-7-11 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku
Izutsu-beya (井筒部屋) 2-2-7 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku

Dewanoumi ichimon.

© JapanVisitor.com

The Perfect Guide to Sumo by Ito Katsuharu (the 34th Kimura Shonosuke); Translated by David Shapiro

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