Ryogoku (両国, Ryōgoku) is a district of Tokyo where the sumo stadium, many sumo stables, chanko restaurants and other sumo related attractions can be found. It is the center of the sumo world. Sumo events have been staged in this area since a long time before, but until the beginning of the 20th century, sumo tournaments were held outdoors at shrines and temples.
In 1909, the first permanent sumo hall was built in the Ryogoku area. Today's sumo stadium, the Kokugikan, is the fourth built in Tokyo and has been in use since 1985. It seats over 10,000 visitors and hosts three of the six annual sumo tournaments (in January, May and September).
Sumo stables are the places where sumo wrestlers live and train. Among the several dozens of sumo stables currently in existence, many are located in the Ryogoku area. At some stables, it is possible to view the sumo practice in the early morning hours. Most of them require advance applications by phone and some request that guests are accompanied by a Japanese speaker.
Chanko nabe is the staple food of sumo wrestlers. It is a hot pot dish that comes in many varieties and contains vegetables, seafood and meat. There are several restaurants in the Ryogoku area that feature chanko nabe on their menus. Many of the restaurants are managed by retired wrestlers.
Chanko nabe served at a restaurant which features a dohyo (sumo ring)
Other places of interest in the Ryogoku district are located within walking distance of Ryogoku Station and the sumo stadium, including the excellent Edo-Tokyo Museum on Tokyo's history and culture, the Sumida Hokusai Museum, one of Japan's best ukiyo-e museums, and Yokoamicho Park which commemorates the two most destructive events to hit the capital during the 20th century: the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the fire bombings of World War Two.