From the Grand Sumo Tournament to Visiting a Sumo Stable: All Things Sumo in Nagoya Part 2

Sumo wrestling is an integral part of Japan’s culture and has been practiced in one form or another for around 2000 years.

In part 1 we shared everything you need to know if you are new to Sumo, and want to attend the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. If you haven’t read it yet, follow this link.

But a Grand Sumo Tournament like the one held in Nagoya each summer isn’t the only way to experience Sumo. Nagoya also plays host to all 42 active Sumo Stables for around one month before and during the tournament. And many open their doors to visitors during the morning hours, to observe a stable’s morning practice.

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Exactly, What Is a Sumo Stable?

Sumo Stable
A Sumo Stable training space

In Japan, there are currently 42 official stables. In these stables (called Beya) the Sumo wrestlers (Rikishi), low and top-level wrestlers alike, live and train together. With very few exceptions once a wrestler joins a Sumo stable, they will stay with the same stable for their entire career. Sumo stables vary in size, with the smallest having only a handful of wrestlers to the largest having around 30. 

Each stable is headed by an Oyakata (literally parent figure), or Stable master. Stable masters are always successful retired wrestlers themselves. Their role is to manage and administer their stables and to take care of the wrestlers under their care. They also judge Sumo matches and are the point of contact for other stables and associations.

Every day the Rikishi at each Sumo stable wake up early and have training first thing in the morning called, Asageiko.

What Is Asageiko? and How Can You Watch

Kasugano Beya Sumo Stable
Kasugano Beya Sumo wrestlers practicing their daily morning training routine

Each Sumo stable has its own way of conducting Asageiko, but most follow a similar pattern. The training day usually starts around 7:00. The youngest wrestlers begin with stretching exercises.

You can tell they are of a low rank by looking at their loincloth, or Mawashi. Those who wear the black Mawashi are those of lower rank and the ones of white color are those of higher rank (Sekitori).

The wrestlers are situated around the Dohyo (ring) in rows and one of them begins to lead the count for stretching exercises. The body areas that are stretched the most are from the waist down.

Although they might not look muscular or particularly flexible, Sumo wrestlers work a lot on body flexibility and strength. This flexibility is achieved with the traditional stretching technique known as Matawari. A technique that requires the Sumo wrestler to sit with their legs as far apart as possible. While keeping the knees locked, the fighter must lean forward until his chest touches the ground. If you have never tried this move before we highly recommend doing so, just to see how difficult it is.

After rigorous stretching, they move on to warming up with Suriashi. Suriashi is a movement exercise that involves squatting down and moving forward without standing back up. A Rikishi will glide forward in a straight line ideally without any movement of the body up and down. While this might sound easy it is actually quite difficult.

While the low-level wrestlers continue to warm up with the Suriashi, the top-level wrestlers begin their own stretching and warming up routine. Shiko is a very important technique in Sumo wrestling. A Rikishi will plant one foot on the ground while lifting their opposite leg as far up into the air as possible, holding for 2-3 seconds and then stomping down. This movement helps improve balance and strengthens the core. 

After almost an hour of stretching and warming up, the real training begins.

Often they will start by practicing Butsukari Geiko, where one Rikishi stands firm while his opponent rushes at him with all his strength and pushes him across the ring. 

Another form of training is called Moshiai, where two Rikishi fights each other. The loser leaves the Dohyo and the winner stays and chooses his next opponent. 

Sanban Geiko tests the Sumo wrestler’s endurance; two Rikishi continue fighting to the point of exhaustion.

Moshiai and Sanban Geiko are first done by low-level wrestlers, then among low and top-level wrestlers, and finally among high-ranking fighters. During training the coaches and the stable chief correct and advise the fighters quite strictly. 

If it’s your first time at an Asageiko you will be impressed by the sound of two wrestlers colliding with each other. The large and heavy almost naked bodies pack an immense force and it somehow reminds us of watching a frontal car crash.

Between bouts, brief breaks are taken to collect the sand from around the edge of the Dohyo and spread it back out evenly. Breaks are also times for wrestlers to catch their breath, dry their sweat and take a drink. Top-level wrestlers will have an assistant, usually, a low-level wrestler, who during breaks will provide fresh water while also cleaning the sweat from their bodies. 

After roughly two hours of intense training, the public portion of practice will end. Although the atmosphere is generally quite strict, the wrestlers themselves are very friendly. 

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How to Watch and Enjoy Asageiko or Morning Training

Kokonoe Beya Sumo Stable
A morning training at Kokonoe Beya Sumo Stable

Starting about two weeks before the Grand Summer Sumo Tournament and continuing until the end of the tournament’s 15-day period, it is possible to visit some of the Sumo stables and watch the Rikishi (Sumo wrestlers) during their morning training. 

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus very few stables are allowing visitors to observe morning training right now.

When stables allow visitors to observe Asageiko or morning training for free they do have some very important rules that need to be observed. Please remember that Asageiko is very important for all wrestlers, it is not a tourist attraction, and so all of the rules are designed to not interfere with their training.

Behavior Rules at Sumo Stables

Show Respect: The Sumo stable is the Sumo wrestler’s home. Please show respect when arriving at a stable, with a slight head nod towards the Oyakata (coaches) and the Rikishi. This will give a very good first impression.

Turn off mobile phones: As in a movie theater, you need to turn off your phones.

Do not take pictures with mobile phones: Some Sumo stables allow you to take pictures with a digital camera but you should check before taking any photos. 

Do not use flash photography: Photos can only be taken with digital cameras, but flash photography is forbidden as you could distract the wrestlers while training. If there is no way to silence the shutter of your camera, you should refrain from taking pictures since this can also be a distraction for the wrestlers.

Do not take video: It is strictly forbidden to take video with any device.

Do not talk: For the total concentration of the wrestlers, you have to be quiet.

Do not eat or drink: Absolutely do not eat or drink except water for hydration. 

Do not smoke: Some of the coaches might smoke, but visitors are not allowed to do so.

Sumo Stables in Nagoya Where Asageiko Can Be Observed

Kasugano Beya Sumo Stable
A morning training at Kasugano Beya Sumo Stable

Not all Sumo stables allow people to watch their Asageiko. Below you will find a partial list of some of the stables in Nagoya where Asageiko is allowed to be observed. Please be aware that even the most open stables sometimes need to close their doors to visitors, sometimes with very little notice. Asageiko is free to observe but as such the stables are under no obligation to have an open-door policy every day.

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus very few stables are allowing visitors to observe morning training.

Shiki Gitsune (一年狐)
10:00 – 17:00; cierra miércoles y jueves
Dirección: 25, Monzencho, Toyokawa, Aichi 442-0037
Website (japonés) | Google Maps

Isenoumi-beya (伊勢ノ海部屋)
Location: Zenko-ji Betsuin Temple
Address: 1 Nakaotai, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 452-0822
Access: Take the Meitetsu Nagoya line to Naka-Otai Station. From there it is a 5-minute walk.
Telephone: 052-501-1757
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Dewanoumi-beya (出羽海部屋)
Location: Zenko-ji Temple (Inuyama)
Address: Kitahakusanbira-4-39 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0081
Access: Take the Meitetsu line to Inuyamayuen Station. From there it is a 10-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Tomozuna-beya (友綱部屋)
Location: Ganjo-ji Temple Yakushi-do
Address: 8 Takasukacho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0854
Access: Take the Higashiyama subway line to Iwatsuka Station. From there it is a 12-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Shikoroyama-beya (錣山部屋)
Location: Aichi Dokei Denki Midori Dormitory
Address: 1-39-1 Shikayama, Midori Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 458-0045
Access: Take the Meitetsu line to Narumi Station. From there it is a 20-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Sadogatake-beya (佐渡ヶ嶽部屋)
Location: Kongo Kindergarten (Ichinomiya)
Address: 58 Gonaka, Kaimei, Ichinomiya, Aichi 494-0001
Access: Take the Meitetsu line to Meitetsu Ichinomiya Station and change trains to Okucho Station. From there it is a 5 minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Michinoku-beya (陸奥部屋)
Location: Ansho-ji Temple
Address: 5-20 Inoucho, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0012
Access: Take the Tsurumai subway line to Shonaidori Station. From there it is an 11-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Nishonoseki-beya (二所ノ関部屋)
Location: Butchiin
Address: 1324 Otokikiyama, Tempaku Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 468-0063
Access: Take the Tsurumai subway line to Yagoto Station. From there it is a 15-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Tamanoi-beya (玉ノ井部屋)
Location: Jizo-ji Temple
Address: 1-7-3 Yamatodori, Kasugai, Aichi 486-0944
Access: Take the JR Chuo line to Kachigawa Station. From there it is a 10-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Hakkaku-beya (八角部屋)
Location: Soo-ji Temple
Address: 1-47 Shiroyamacho, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 464-0045
Access: Take the Higashiyama subway line to Kakuozan Station. From there it is a 12-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

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About the author

Web and Graphic designer based in Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture) for more than 15 years. She is very passionate and loves Japanese culture and history. She is a expert tour guide on Sumo, Sake and Japanese crafts. She is also a photographer, travel writer....and a travel-food-dance lover.
2 Responses
  1. David

    Hi, I’m David a Digital Marketing Specialist currently living in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture. I stumbled upon your blog about Nagoya due to my interest in Sumo. Can I ask if you know the nearest stable in my area? Thanks

    1. Hi David, this is Elisabeth expert in Sumo. There was a stable close to your location, the Oguruma stable (尾車部屋), but they closed and were absorbed from another stable that is in Seto.
      Another option is to visit Nishiiwa stable (西岩部屋) https://nishiiwabeya.com/
      They stay at Toyoake: 愛知県豊明市沓掛町山新田53-1
      Best, Elly

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