Last Updated on March 5, 2024

Tokyo is a great city if you are a sports fan because it offers some unique sporting opportunities, from traditional sumo wrestling and martial arts to modern events such as the J-League and the chance to see the sporting museums or attend a Yomiuri Giants game.

Tokyo sports fans guide

Furthermore, Tokyo is also a fascinating city in terms of food, and cultural experiences. So what’s not to love about Tokyo?! Let’s take a look at what Toyko can offer you are a sports fan and visitor.

Watching Live Sport in Tokyo

In Tokyo, you have the opportunity to watch live games and matches featuring various professional and amateur teams across a range of sports and these include:

1. Baseball

Yomiuri Giants

One of Japan’s most popular baseball teams, the Yomiuri Giants play their home games at the Tokyo Dome. You can find the tickets and match schedules here.

Tokyo Yakult Swallows

Another professional baseball team based in Tokyo, the Yakult Swallows compete in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and play their home games at the Meiji Jingu Stadium. Tickets and game schedule here.

2. Football (Soccer)

FC Tokyo

Competing in the J1 League, FC Tokyo is the capital city’s professional football club, based at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo.

I highly recommend trying to go to an FC Tokyo game, to experience the unique Japanese football culture, a very different experience from the English Premiership.

Tickets and further info from FC Tokyo.

Tokyo Verdy

Also competing in the J2 League, Tokyo Verdy is another football club based in Tokyo and based at the Ajinomoto Field Nishigaoka stadium.

The standard is arguably equal more so to the English second division (3rd tier) and a great cultural experience.

You can get tickets via the official Toky Verdy site.

3. Basketball

Alvark Tokyo

Alvark Tokyo plays in the Japanese B League, of the professional basketball leagues, with the Arena Tachikawa Tachihi as their main base. Official site here.

Tokyo Excellence

Another B League team, Tokyo Excellence, provides another opportunity to watch a live basketball game while you are in Tokyo.

They are based at the Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground Gymnasium. More on Tokyo Excellence here.

4. Volleyball

Toray Arrows

Toray Arrows is a women’s volleyball team based in Tokyo, competing in the V.League, with their home venue the Minato City Sports Center. Learn more on Toray Arrows here.

5. Horse Racing

Tokyo Racecourse is located in Fuchu on the outskirts of Tokyo, and it is one of Japan’s premier horse racing tracks.

The racecourse hosts numerous racing events throughout the year, including major races like the Japan Cup, Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), and the Yasuda Kinen.

To get to the racecourse, from central Tokyo take the train to Fuchu-Hommachi Station.

You will also then find shuttle buses are also available from Fuchu Station to the racecourse on race days.

6. Golf in Tokyo

Golf in Tokyo is a popular pastime among both locals and expatriates, despite the limited space in the city itself.

There are some public golf courses and these include:

Tokyo also has driving ranges where you can practice within the city without having to travel far.

Annual Sports Events

Sumo wrestling event in Tokyp

1. Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon, an annual event typically taking place in late February or early March, holds a prestigious status as one of the six World Marathon Majors.

It draws not only elite runners from across the globe but also welcomes thousands of participants of varying skill levels, creating a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere of athleticism and camaraderie.

You can learn more here about the Tokyo Marathon.

2. Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament

Sumo wrestling tournaments are held in Tokyo three times a year, usually in January, May, and September.

The tournaments last for 15 days each, providing plenty of opportunities to witness this ancient sport in action.

The full schedule can be found here.

Watching Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo as a Tourist

In Tokyo, there are a few places where you can watch sumo live and learn more about the sport. Here are some recommendations:

1. Ryogoku Kokugikan

This is the primary venue for sumo tournaments in Tokyo.

Located in the Ryogoku district, Ryogoku Kokugikan hosts the three annual Grand Sumo Tournaments held in January, May, and September.

It is the largest sumo arena in Japan and offers an immersive experience of watching sumo live.

2. Sumo Museum (Kokugikan Sumo Museum)

Located within the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Sumo Museum showcases the history and traditions of sumo wrestling.

The museum features exhibits of sumo artifacts, memorabilia, and old documents, related to the evolution of sumo over the centuries.

3. Sumo Stable Training Sessions

Some sumo stables in Tokyo allow visitors to observe wrestlers’ training sessions.

While not as formal as watching a tournament, attending a training session offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rigorous training regimen of sumo wrestlers.

Stables such as Arashio Beya and Takasago Beya occasionally open their doors to visitors, but it is essential to check in advance and respect any rules or guidelines set by the stable.

4. Eko-in Temple

Located in the Ryogoku area, Eko-in Temple offers sumo-related cultural experiences, including sumo-themed tours and exhibitions.

The temple’s sumo-related artifacts and exhibits provide a deeper understanding of sumo’s spiritual and cultural significance in Japan.

Sumo the Experience

Experiencing sumo in Tokyo is a unique and culturally rich opportunity. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your sumo experience:

1. Know the Schedule: Sumo tournaments, called basho, are held six times a year in Japan. Three of these tournaments take place in Tokyo: January, May, and September.

2. Purchase Tickets in Advance: Sumo tournaments are popular events in Japan, and tickets often sell out quickly. It’s advisable to purchase tickets in advance through official channels or authorized vendors to secure your spot.

3. Arrive Early: On the day of the tournament, arrive early to the venue to soak in the atmosphere and witness the pre-match rituals and ceremonies. Sumo wrestlers participate in elaborate rituals, including purifying ceremonies and warm-up exercises, before each match.

4. Observe the Matches: Find your seat in the arena and enjoy the thrilling matches. Sumo bouts are brief but intense, with wrestlers aiming to force their opponent out of the ring or to the ground.

5. Learn the Rules: Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of sumo, such as the different winning techniques (kimarite) and the significance of the ring (dohyo). Understanding the rules will enhance your appreciation of the sport.

6. Explore the Surroundings: Take some time to explore the area around the venue, as there may be food stalls, souvenir shops, and cultural exhibits related to sumo. You can also visit nearby sumo stables to observe wrestlers’ training sessions.

7. Immerse Yourself in the Culture: Sumo is not just a sport but also a reflection of Japanese culture and values.

8. Enjoy the Atmosphere: Experience the excitement and energy of the tournament as fans cheer for their favorite wrestlers and celebrate the victories.

9. Capture Memories: Capture the highlights of your sumo experience through photographs and videos, but remember to do so respectfully and without disrupting the proceedings.

Participating in Sports When in Tokyo

When visiting Tokyo, there are plenty of sports activities to participate in, whether you’re looking for recreational fun or a chance to experience traditional Japanese sports. Here are some options:

Recreational Activities

1. Running and Cycling

Tokyo offers numerous parks, riverbanks, and designated cycling paths where you can go for a run or rent a bike to explore the city.

Popular spots include Yoyogi Park, the Imperial Palace Gardens, and the Arakawa River cycling road.

2. Golf

As mentioned earlier, you can find several golf courses and driving ranges in and around Tokyo that welcome visitors.

3. Tennis and Squash

Many sports clubs and facilities in Tokyo offer court rentals for tennis and squash enthusiasts.

It’s a great way to meet locals whilst also keeping fit. Just use the Playtomic app and it matches you with people of the same level and in local clubs (it works worldwide).

Traditional Japanese Sports

1. Sumo Experience: Try your hand at sumo wrestling with a sumo experience package offered by select venues in Tokyo.

Learn the basics of sumo wrestling, including the stances and techniques, and even have a mock match wearing a sumo wrestler’s traditional attire.

2. Martial Arts Classes: Experience the discipline and grace of traditional Japanese martial arts by taking a class in karate, judo, kendo, or aikido.

Many dojos (training halls) in Tokyo offer introductory lessons for beginners.

Water Sports

Kayaking and Canoeing: Explore Tokyo’s waterways by renting a kayak or canoe. Paddle along the Sumida River or explore the scenic Inokashira Park in nearby Mitaka.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP): Iokyo, especially in areas like Odaiba Beach and Enoshima Island. Rent a paddleboard and enjoy a leisurely ride along the coastline.

Indoor Sports and Fitness#

Indoor Climbing: Test your strength and agility at indoor climbing gyms in Tokyo. Suitable for all levels.

Yoga and Pilates: Join a yoga or Pilates class at one of Tokyo’s many studios to rejuvenate your body and mind. Classes are available in various styles and levels, catering to both beginners and advanced practitioners.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

Tokyo is packed with accommodation options and we tend to always booking.com for stays when we travel:

 

Getting Around Tokyo

Getting around Tokyo can seem overwhelming at first due to its extensive public transportation system and the sheer size of the city. Give it two days though and you’ll be fine.

Trains and Subways

1. JR Yamanote Line

This loop line connects many major stations including Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. It’s particularly useful for getting around central Tokyo.

2. Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway

Tokyo has two subway systems, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway, which cover most parts of the city.

The Tokyo Metro lines are identified by letters (e.g., Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line) while Toei lines are identified by colors.

Taxis

Taxis are easy to find but tend to be relatively expensive versus public transportation. They’re convenient for short trips or if you’re traveling late at night when trains and buses are less frequent.

Getting to Tokyo

Getting to Tokyo, Japan, is relatively easy in terms of international air travel, with two major airports to choose from, and with connections worldwide.

Flying to Tokyo

Most international travelers reach Tokyo through one of its two major airports:

Narita is roughly an hour’s drive from the center of Tokyo and is the main gateway airport for international flights.

Haneda Airport is more central and mainly deals with domestic flights around Japan.

Both airports though are well connected to the center of Tokyo with plenty of transportation options.

By Land

If you are traveling within Japan or from a neighboring countries, Tokyo is easily accessible by train, bus, or car. The city is served by an extensive network of highways and railways, connecting it to major cities across the country.

The Shinkansen, or bullet train, offers high-speed rail service to Tokyo from cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, allowing you to cover long distances quickly and comfortably.

Tokyo’s main train stations, including Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station, serve as transportation hubs, providing convenient connections to local and regional trains as well as subway lines.

Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.

  • Flights – are also now offered by booking.com and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
  • Booking.com – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
  • Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
  • Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
  • Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.
  • Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events