Tokyo to Nagoya for a sumo match
March 25, 2014 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Tokyo with my family in July, and I would love to check out a sumo wrestling match. I found that there will be a tournament happening in Nagoya while we are there. It looks like the Shinkansen train can make the trip in ~100min. Is this a feasible day trip for 3 ppl (2 adults + 1 6y/o)? Any insight appreciated
posted by askmehow to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sumo is an all day event, starting with the very lower ranks at 8:30 AM and ending around 6 PM. Most people only go from Nakairi (where makuuchi sumo wrestlers start) which starts around 3:50 PM.

You will be able to get there in time. Going back, the last train from Nagoya to Tokyo leaves (on weekdays) at 10 PM and arrives at 11:45 PM. If you want to take this last train, I strongly suggest you book in advance - last trains are usually full.

If you want to buy tickets to the match, they go on sale May 22. I have no idea whether they will sell out ahead of time or not, it really depends on which day you are going.

More info available on the Nihon Sumo Kyokai website.
posted by xmts at 6:57 PM on March 25, 2014

Absolutely, go.

The train trip will be a breeze.

As for the sumo, I can't tell you the local details but I've been twice in Tokyo, and I'd go again. General admission tickets go on sale the day of at maybe 9AM? for about $25. People line up in the morning and they sell out at some point but they are available. Once inside you're supposed to sit way up high but there's a happy tradition of moving down until the rightful owners show up, then moving on, maybe up. The rikishi get older, bigger and the refs' costumes more elaborate as the day goes on, and in mid-afternoon the lights get a lot brighter when the TV coverage begins. Everything ends at 6PM, plenty of time for your train ride back to Tokyo, if you last that long. Enjoy!

Check in at the Nagoya TIC in the station, once you arrive. Or even better, visit one in Tokyo first, ask for advice, they're very friendly and knowledgeable. The main one near Yarukucho keeps moving, last I heard they'd be in the Shin-Tokyo building.
posted by Rash at 8:08 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a thread discussing exactly this, plus added sightseeing in Nagoya. (Nagoya Castle is reconstructed, coincidentally. I don't know what sightseeing there is that would excite a 6 year old. Maybe one of the two Toyota museums, which are in different parts of the city--one's cars and the other is textiles + cars and walkable from the station in Nagoya, but it's a sweaty walk.)

If you end up wanting to stay in Nagoya, I stayed here, which was really nice. It's sort of an odd place because I think it caters mostly to Japanese families, but the owner then uses hostel booking sites to fill his extra space.

I went from Tokyo to Nagoya and back on the slower shinkansen, which took about three hours, using cheaper tickets bought from JR Tours in the Tokyo station (use google translate to read the site). That could be an option for one direction of a day trip, particularly if your kid likes trains.
posted by hoyland at 8:10 PM on March 25, 2014

If you plan to do more train travel than the Nagoya trip, especially on the shinkansen, a Japan Rail pass can be a really good deal. Drawback: you can't take the Nozomi, you have to take the Hikari.

In general, Hyperdia is my go-to "can I make it there and back" tool for Japan. I use it a lot. Hasn't lied to me yet, but if you're not a Japanese speaker, beware of 3-minute train changes in big stations like Yokohama. It can take a few minutes to figure out which is the right platform.
posted by ctmf at 8:11 PM on March 25, 2014

I'd suggest spending the night in Nagoya if you can swing it. When my wife and I visited Tokyo a few years back, we spent 2 days in Nagoya with friends and it was a nice break from the big big city. There was plenty to do. Nagoya Castle was cool.
posted by gnutron at 8:25 PM on March 25, 2014

About the sumo being an all-day event: Even the morning matches of the lower-ranked - but still awesome in the sense of inspiring awe - wrestlers are worth watching. One of the reasons is that many of the locals only show up for the highest-ranked wrestlers at the end of the day. You can have front-row seats until approximately lunchtime, no matter what you paid for your ticket. When people show up to claim their seats, you move back to your assigned place.

If I were taking this trip, I'd plan an early train (despite the kid, because front row is that worthwhile) or spend the night/extra day in Nagoya as gnutron suggested. You can also buy your tickets ahead of time, instead of waiting in line, and may want to search that out before making the queue. I don't think I paid much more than the $25 cited above, I think it was ¥3500.
posted by whatzit at 12:22 AM on March 26, 2014

Be very careful. My mother became addicted to Sumo while living in Japan. She now pays extra for NHK on her cable so she can see the bashos. She has also traveled to California just to see the bashos in this country.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:28 AM on March 26, 2014

My mom is in the same boat as Ruthless Bunny's! It is quite addictive, and more and more interesting the more you learn about it!
posted by segatakai at 9:10 PM on March 26, 2014

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