Ryogoku area guide | Time Out Tokyo
Up for a bout? Sumo is everywhere in Ryogoku

Ryogoku area guide

Find the best eats, art and things to do in Tokyo's historic 'sumo town'

By Mari Hiratsuka
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Home of the Kokugikan sumo stadium, the spiritual and physical heart of Japan's national sport, Ryogoku is where to head if you're looking to spot giant men dressed in traditional garb strolling down the street. This historic neighbourhood just east of the Sumida River emerged as an entertainment district in the Edo era and still hosts plenty of old-school ryotei (traditional fine dining) restaurants, in addition to famed sights that remind visitors of its illustrious past. 

One particularly noteworthy spot is Ekoin Temple, the site of some of the first professional sumo tournaments and the main venue for these bouts before the opening of the original Kokugikan in 1909. Pay your respects here before heading over to the current arena, which is set to host the Olympic boxing events in 2020, and find more great restaurants, shops, galleries and sightseeing spots with our guide to the best of the area. Start exploring right away, or check out our Neighborhoods page for more area guides.

Start with the essential sights

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Museums Ryogoku

This large museum’s outlandish architectural style may not appeal to everyone, but the building houses the city’s best collection of displays dealing with the history of Tokyo. Highlights include large-scale reconstructions of Nihonbashi bridge and a kabuki theatre, as well as detailed models of quarters of the city at different eras...

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Sport and fitness Ryogoku

In addition to three Grand Sumo tournaments every year, the country's top sumo stadium hosts everything from fashion shows to gigs and mixed martial arts bouts. Advance tickets go on sale about a month before each tournament, while some unreserved, back-row balcony seats (one per person) are always held back for sale from 7.45am on the day...

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Sumida Hokusai Museum

Art Galleries Ryogoku

Opened in November 2016, this museum is dedicated entirely to Edo-era Sumida's most famous son – ukiyo-e superstar Katsushika Hokusai. In addition to viewing displays of the woodblock print wizard's countless masterpieces, you can learn about Hokusai the man, his life in Sumida and what the city looked like between 1760, when Hokusai was born in Katsushika...

Tokyo Mizube Cruising Line Ryogoku Pier

Things to do Ryogoku

Trains are obviously the most popular form of public transport in Tokyo, but if you have the time why not avoid the squeeze and take to the water to get around instead? These cruises swan along the Sumida River to Asakusa before heading to Odaiba and back to Ryogoku – roughly an hour’s worth of cruising...

Stop for some coffee and sweets

Kokugido

Restaurants Cafés Ryogoku

The shop on the ground floor of this venerable sweets dealer sells traditional snacks and sumo merchandise, while the café upstairs offers truly offbeat treats like bean paste coffee and anmitsu desserts with ice cream...

Crazy Cafe Blank

Restaurants Coffeeshops Ryogoku

Found in a residential street roughly a 15-minute walk north of the station, this comfy neighbourhood café is worth the trek. Housed in a former factory that's been turned into a light-filled, very stylish but far from sterile space, it's famed for its lattes, made with high-grade milk from the Nakahora farm up in Iwate...

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Ryogoku Terrace Café

Restaurants Japanese Ryogoku

This café and restaurant offers terrace dining and a seasonal menu featuring bistro cuisine with Japanese tastes and homemade desserts. In winter, they turn the terrace into a warm and cosy kotatsu dining experience, offering special menus such as nabe...

Find the best local eats

Ryogoku Edo Noren

Shopping Ryogoku

Built in 1929, the historic former Ryogoku Station building has been fully restored, with the old façade kept intact, and now hosts this decidedly nostalgic shopping and restaurant complex opened in November 2016. Based on the underlying concept of 'enjoying Edo-style cuisine', twelve different stalls offer Edo-inspired food, drink...

Hosokawa

Restaurants Ryogoku

For the best soba in Ryogoku, stroll past the Edo-Tokyo Museum from the station, cross Kiyosumi-dori and look for this wonderfully traditional shop in an alley on your right. The Michelin-starred Hosokawa serves up superb fare at very reasonable prices...

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Tomoegata

Restaurants Japanese Ryogoku

There is no official definition of the dish known as chanko nabe, but it refers to the protein-rich stew eaten by sumo wrestlers. It makes sense, then, that you’ll find a cluster of chanko nabe restaurants near the Kokugikan. One of these is the hugely popular Tomoegata, which was built by a master of the Tomozuna sumo stable and is actually on the stable premises...

Gyoza Kaikan Bandaisan

Restaurants Chinese Ryogoku

Satisfying locals' dumpling cravings for well over half a century now, this classic spot deals in thick, simple and delicious – you guessed it – gyoza. Big eaters may want to take part in the shop's 'gyoza challenge': any man who eats 100 of their signature pan-fried treats within an hour can walk out of the shop without paying a yen...

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Momonjiya

Restaurants Hot pot Ryogoku

Look for the boar statue on the wall above the entrance and you'll know you're in the right place. Specialising in boar meat, this restaurant – founded in 1718 – serves up a delicious shishi nabe (boar hotpot), but do try out the venison sashimi and bear soup too...

Travel back in time

Kira Mansion Ruins

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Ryogoku

Simple memorials, a quite modern statue and a well built on the site of its renowned predecessor are all that remain of the mansion once lorded over by Kira Yoshinaka, the bad guy in Chushingura – or, as it's more commonly known in English, the legend of the 47 ronin. This now solemn spot is where the samurai led by Oishi Kuranosuke decapitated Kira, who had insulted their master...

Ekoin Temple

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Ryogoku

Surrounded by office blocks and other bulky buildings, this temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism was constructed to honour the tens of thousands of Edoites who lost their lives in the 1657 Great Fire of Meireki. Ekoin was also the site of kanjin-zumo (the predecessor of professional sumo) tournaments for 78 years...

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Kyu Yasuda Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Ryogoku

A Japanese garden right next to the Kokugikan, Kyu Yasuda was originally located inside the mansion complex of Honjo Munesuke, first lord of the Kasama domain. Having once drawn on the Sumida River's water for its lake and streams, recreating a tide effect inside the garden, it's beautiful year-round...

View some art

Gallery MoMo Ryogoku

Art Ryogoku

Opened in 2008, the second outpost (the other one is in Roppongi) of this contemporary art gallery strives to cultivate a new generation of artists through an exhibition selection that emphasises fresh new names and unique personalities...

Ai Koko Gallery

Art Galleries Sumida

Opened in 2011, this gallery is found inside an apartment complex and focuses on contemporary art. You can expect quite a variety of conceptual pieces and events from the likes of Daisuke Nishijima, Masahiro Wada and Yuji Ohta...

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Ryogoku Monten Hall

Art Ryogoku

First opened in 1989, Monzen-Nakacho's Monten Hall has hosted a wide range of gigs and performances – from the traditional to the truly experimental. Having moved to Ryogoku and re-opened as this artsy spot in 2013, it remains on the cutting edge of the local art scene...

Shop like a local

Merikoti

Shopping Accessories Ryogoku

A brand of knitted zori (Japanese-style sandals) for wearing indoors, Meri has taken this traditional style of footwear and turned it into a unique combination of softness, the comfort of knitted materials and adorable Nordic designs. Especially handy (or footy?) when it's cold...

Okawaya

Shopping Ryogoku

Found just around the corner from the Kira Mansion Ruins, this venerable wagashi shop has been in business since the Meiji era. Their creations include the popular Sumida River Monaka, a bird-shaped cookie sandwich filled with bean paste, and the Kira Manju...

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Ikiji Store

Shopping Ryogoku

A Sumida-based clothing manufacturer, Ikiji brings together a collective of skilled artisans working with shirts, knitwear, leather and more, and combine traditional techniques with modern silhouettes and textiles. They deal in everything from polo shirts and sweaters to bags, business card cases and other small accessories – all of which draw on the Edo-era concept of iki (sophistication)...

Lion-Do

Shopping Ryogoku

A run-of-the-mill clothing purveyor back in the day, Lion-Do later adapted to its surrounds – it's located very close to the Kokugikan – and specialised in extra-large wear and gear for the huge wrestlers strolling the neighbourhood. If you're looking for jeans with a 100cm waist or a jacket fit for the Hulk...

End the day with a drink and a bath

Popeye

Bars and pubs Craft beer pubs Ryogoku

Though it's long been regarded as the essential destination for beer enthusiasts in Tokyo, Popeye actually started life as a Western-style izakaya. Its transformation into a specialist craft beer haunt has been slow but spectacular: it now boasts an unrivaled 70 beers on tap, all kept in impeccable condition and most of them produced by Japanese breweries...

Bar Helissio

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Ryogoku

Cocktails made with fresh fruit are the speciality at this classy Kiyosumi-dori bar, which also boasts a superb food menu. Info on the day's specials and juicy fruit details can be found on their Facebook page, which is updated every day...

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Ryogoku Edo-yu

Health and beauty Saunas and baths Ryogoku

End the day with a soak at Ryogoku's premier public bathing facility, a spotless, spacious 'super sento' with Hokusai works painted onto the tiled walls. The baths range from artificial hot springs and bubble baths to a cold tub, while the three saunas include a Finnish-style dry sauna...

Find your next destination

Kuramae area guide

Things to do

The traditional centre of craftsmanship is undergoing a revival – follow us on a stylish stroll along the Sumida River

Bookable tours

Photo: Magical Trip

Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice Tour

Things to do Nihonbashi

Get to know Japan’s national sport on an intimate level at a sumo morning practice. You’ll meet your local guide in Ryogoku, Tokyo’s sumo district, where they’ll introduce you to the world of sumo – from the rules and etiquette in a sumo match to their daily giant meals. 

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