Eating Sumo: Which Rikishi Has the Best Lunch?

Photo by the author, pixelation by iPhone 7

The last time I visited Ryokogu Kokugikan, the lunch selections were named according to the various sumo ranks – “Yokozuna Box,” “Ozeki Box,” etc. But today, I went to the hallowed stadium for day 2 of the Hatsu-basho, and found that the bento selections had been named after some of our nearest and dearest superstars.

So, for a bit of fun, let’s run through each of the selections, and then you can vote for the rikishi with the best bento at the bottom (EDITED: all of the poll embeds were breaking so just leave your selection in the comments). All of these bento boxes are the same price, so your choice strictly comes down to the contents, and the descriptions are more or less verbatim as they are presented in English on the menu. If you want to be cheeky, feel free to create a menu for another rikishi’s bento in the comments.


  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Mackerel in miso sauce
  • Chicken nanban
  • Lotus root seafood scissors
  • “Cut the cooked kelp”
  • Pickles marinated with soy sauce
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • Cherry tomato


  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Grilled beef
  • Beef croquette
  • “The spitted cutlet of pork”
  • Potato salad
  • Cherry tomato
  • Japanese style omelette
  • Kinpira burdock root


  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Salty mix of chicken and Japanese leek
  • Mushroom marinade (Marinated mushroom?)
  • Boiled egg
  • “Food boiled and seasoned: Radish, Carrot, Konjac, Shiitake mushroom, Japanese butterbur, Taro”
  • Honey pickled plum
  • Meat ball


  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Sirloin pork cutlet
  • Beefsteak
  • Boiled egg
  • Boiled vegetables: Carrot, Potato, Pumpkin, Broccoli
  • Pork sausage
  • Cherry tomato
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • Pickled vegetables


  • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
  • Deep-fried chicken with Japanese leek sauce
  • Deep-friend Chinese style dumpling
  • Boiled egg
  • Boiled vegetables: Carrot, Potato, Pumpkin, Broccoli
  • Cherry tomato
  • Boiled mixed beans
  • “Stir-fry shrimp in chilli sauce”


35 thoughts on “Eating Sumo: Which Rikishi Has the Best Lunch?

  1. Tochinoshin

    • “Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice” (Umeboshi)
    • Yakitori chicken thighs
    • Cha-shu pork thighs
    • Beef thighs
    • Do fish have thighs? If so there’d be some of those too
    • …add another chicken thigh for good measure
    • Cherry tomato

  2. Ichinojo

    • Pork
    • Rice
    • Fried Pork
    • Fried Rice
    • Extra Pork
    • Extra Rice
    • Pork in Sweet Sauce
    • Rice Pudding
    • One Small Umeboshi

  3. I’ll pick Goeido, but I’ll hang onto my food tightly to make sure it won’t try to backpedal away from me while I was eating.

  4. Takayasu box — wouldn’t try unless I was assured the mackerel was cooked. The others I would try,
    despite not being familiar with all the foods.

    Given all acceptable boxes are available, I’d be pressed to pick between Goeido and Hakuho. I’d pick the Hakuho box except the egg in the Kisenosato photo looks salmonella-hazard undercooked. So Goeido lunch for me!

    • I’ll have the Takayasu box. I love me some seafood.

      I like the sound of the Hakuho box too, but I worry what might happen if I started it too early.

  5. Thankyou so much for this Josh!
    It really helps with planning.
    On senshuraku I am attending the sumo with two of my friends from Australia, who happen to be Muslim, and I was a bit concerned about finding food they could eat in the stadium. But this looks like they could eat most of the Takayasu box which is awesome!!
    Did you happen to see many vegetarian food options??

    • I wasn’t looking out for it, so am probably not best placed to answer that. It might be tough as outside food is meant to be forbidden (I noticed a sign anyway), and it seemed like most full meals were fish and meat heavy. There will at least be plenty of snacks that will be compliant with their diet however

      NHK World’s J-Trip Plan did a ramen episode featuring a halal ramen shop that might be helpful for your travel partners though:

      • We brought in some outside food before, because it was pouring down rain and we didn’t feel like dropping stuff back off at the hotel before entering the stadium. I think as long as you aren’t super blatant about it, they don’t mind. It’s not super high security like most US events.

      • Thankyou!!!
        A few of us who speak some Japanese have been teaching her how to say ‘I do not eat pork’ and ‘I am halal’.

        I just saw a post on Instagram from one of the ‘Kinboshi’ comedians who recommends the Kakuryu box!

  6. I will take the Kisenosato box. However, I have heard another box is on offer:

    Kagayaki box

    Dried pickled sour Japanese plum on the rice (Umeboshi)
    Chicken katsu—breast meat, not thighs (2) w/tonkatsu sauce
    Koshihikari rice
    Kano crab w/sainbaizu
    Cherry tomato

    Note! The Kagayaki box is a special marketing promotion of Japan Rail. As such, it is only available as an Eki Bento, available at Tokyo Station, Kanazawa Station, or aboard the Hokuriku Shinkansen line.

  7. Personally, I’d opt for the Takayasu box, with the Kisenosato box as my second choice.

    Terunofuji special: all five boxes for the price of three. #toosoon ?

    • So back in 2016 there actually was a Terunofuji bento box, which I ate along with some beer, takoyaki and yakitori.

      It remains my favorite, cause he was smart enough to include the best part of the cow – Gyuu-tan!

  8. Having actually eaten the Kakuryu box, I’ll go with that one. As stadium foods go, it was pretty good and the price was great for what you get.

  9. The goeido box looks delish.

    However, what about the Endo box:
    *kalbi beef
    *maguro sashimi
    *fire-grilled shrimp
    *small umeboshi
    *chirashi sushi on top of koshihikari rice with a cup of small green tea (in case you prefer to have ochazuke)
    Comes decorated in a large pink silk bow. And seems like there’s always a long line for this, as it can sell out pretty quickly.

  10. The Takayasu box in a walk — love mackerel and really do not care for chicken. The Kakuryu box if they were sold out of the Takayasu. And the Endo box because I just really want that to happen…

    • Interestingly enough the Takayasu box seemed to be the one sold out in the most places around the stadium

      However whether that’s a reflection of popularity, menu, or simply the fact they made less, I do not know

  11. How about the Harumafuji:

    Dried pickled sour plum on the rice
    Spring (春=HARU) rolls
    Basashi (馬=MA)
    Daifuku (福=FU) mochi stacked in the shape of a rikishi (士=JI)
    A bottle of champagne

    …too soon?


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