Booking Your Trip to Experience Sumo in Osaka

EDION Arena Osaka Exterior
The EDION Arena in Osaka

Wherever you are around the world, you’re probably fortunate enough to catch at least a few of the day’s sumo highlights from NHK World. But as many of us here at Tachiai have been fortunate enough to experience, there is no comparing the highlights (or even the extended live broadcast) to actually being in the arena. But sometimes, just planning the trip is unbelievably exhausting! So I put together, as part of a new series on Tachiai, a walkthrough to cover the essentials of planning your trip.

Each of Grand Sumo’s four tournament cities provides a unique and interesting experience. Today I’m going to tell you, in painstakingly explicit detail, how I put my trip together to Experience Sumo at the EDION Arena in Osaka. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below – your questions will help other Tachiai readers experience sumo as well! Click through to read more after the jump…

Booking Your Travel

It sounds easy and obvious, but one of the toughest things to do, especially for foreign visitors, is to figure out your flight details. Accessibility is going to vary depending on your country and city of origin, but fortunately, Japan is one of the busiest and best connected air transport destinations in the world, with several major airports.

For Osaka, the big question you have to answer is: what kind of trip to Japan do you want to have and how do you want to get there? I shoehorned this trip in around work commitments, and knew I would likely have to focus on one of the three weekends of the tournament. I use Google Flights to enter a variety of date combinations and also destination cities. You can set Google Flights to track a multitude of different itineraries, and send you email updates as the prices change, so that you can book your ticket at the optimal time with the best price.

The main focus for me, owing to my short trip, was to find a flight either into Kansai International Airport (KIX) or a connecting flight from Tokyo into the old Osaka International Airport at Itami (ITM). If you’re coming from far away it is much likelier that you will have more availability to Kansai. If you have more time to spare, you can also look at the main Tokyo airports Haneda and Narita as options, as Osaka is a few short hours away on the high speed Shinkansen train. But if you’re just planning to go to Osaka, the Tokyo airports will need to be several hundred US dollars (tens of thousands of yen) cheaper for it to be worth your while to fly there. Still, it’s good to know all of your options.

The most cost effective way for me to book ended up being a flight from my home base in Los Angeles into Kansai via San Francisco, with a return from Itami via Narita back to LAX a few days later. Whew!

Booking Your Sumo Ticket

You have multiple options for booking your ticket to the Basho. The Sumo Association sells tickets directly on their website via Ticket Oosumo, and you can complete this transaction in English. Pay attention both to the on-sale dates – due to the increased popularity of the sport, all fifteen days of the recent tournaments have been selling out, and even trying to buy your ticket a day after it goes on sale from the Sumo Association may leave you with few or even no options. This is doubly true for tournaments like the Haru basho which take place outside of Tokyo: the EDION Arena, like its counterparts in Nagoya and Fukuoka, is smaller than the Kokugikan, so there are fewer available tickets to begin with.

There are alternate vendors however, and here at Tachiai we like to use BuySumoTickets.com. The site takes preorders before tickets go on sale, and only sells tickets at a slight markup. It’s a good way to ensure that you can get your ticket as the website has boots on the ground in Japan to complete their ticket purchases. You can also have shipping expedited, or save on shipping if you plan to buy tickets for multiple days or take in other sports such as J-League football. I’ve used both the Sumo Association’s site as well as BuySumoTickets, and opted to use BuySumoTickets for the third time ahead of the Haru basho.

Booking Your Accommodations

The Osaka honbasho is special for a multitude of reasons. We will cover the in-venue experience in a later post, however your visit to see live sumo in Osaka is unique. First of all, unlike Tokyo or Nagoya, the EDION Arena is located in a very vibrant (and central) part of the city. Osaka is known as The Nation’s Kitchen and there are plentiful food and hotel options near the venue.

There are many chain and boutique hotels servicing the area. Since I was short on time in Osaka, I looked for a hotel that would set me up with easy access to and from the airports, the arena, and good food options. Since I had a long flight, it was also important to me that I could get a higher quality hotel than some of the tiny business hotels (with no windows in the room and a single bed), while still keeping the price somewhat affordable.

As I travel frequently I use a variety of tools for finding a hotel: Kayak and TripAdvisor as aggregators to determine the price and quality of a hotel, RocketMiles to see if there are hotels with deals that can net me a large return of frequent flyer miles, and JetSetter for deals on higher quality properties. In this case, I let Kayak and TripAdvisor do the work for me to find the best room in the best hotel at the lowest price, and then used Agoda, which was the lowest price booking partner to complete the purchase. If you can book through the hotel website itself it’s always better, but it’s impossible to predict where you’ll find the best price, so it’s good to keep all your options open.

If you’re smarter than me and you can book further in advance, you can probably get a better deal than my USD $150 a night at the Cross Hotel. That said, the hotel was located on a major road (Shinsaibashisuji) with plenty of amenities, very near to the major Namba train station and accessible to the arena on foot: all things which were important to me. It was also very clean and comfortable.

It’s possible that you can also use a home rental service like Airbnb in lieu of a hotel stay. However, not all apartment buildings in Japan (as in many other countries) allow tourist stays, and I have experienced issues with folks who have put their apartment up for rent in the past in spite of this. So, be careful and read all of the user reviews. Amazing apartment deals are certainly possible to be had on Airbnb, but with the cost savings comes an additional layer of risk. I will, however, likely be using Airbnb on my upcoming visit to Tokyo for the Natsu basho.

Arriving in Japan

You will want to check your country’s guidelines for travel to Japan. As an American, I’m able to stay up to 90 days without obtaining a special visa, so all I needed to do is complete the entry cards (for Japanese immigration and customs) on the flight and show up at the airport with my passport! If you’re not sure whether your country is subject to visa-free entry, the Japanese government has posted a list which you can view by clicking here.

If you decide to book accommodations close to the arena, you can get the Nankai Main Line train from Kansai International Airport toward Namba Station, which is the nearest major station to the venue.

From Osaka International Airport (Itami), you can take the Osaka Monorail Main Line and then transfer to either the Hankyu Takarazuka Main Line or Midosuji Line toward central Osaka in order to reach your destination.

And of course from elsewhere in Japan via rail, you’ll likely be coming on the Tokaido Shinkansen which arrives at Shin-Osaka station. From here, train connections are vast towards all areas of the city.

Bear in mind that multiple train companies operate in the region, so you may need to cross over multiple entry/exit gates with your IC card. More info on how to acquire and load this card can be found by clicking here.

Getting to the EDION Arena

EDION Arena Interior - Makuuchi Match

The EDION Arena (also known outside of sponsorship purposes as the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium) is centrally located and can be found just a few short blocks away from Namba train station. As stated, Osaka is chock full of fantastic food options, although the area directly surrounding the arena is somewhat lighter on these options than the more tourist-friendly and food-heavy Dotonbori neighbourhood just to Namba train station’s east and north.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stop in for breakfast before you reach the venue, I recommend Dotonbori’s Marafuku Coffee, which is about 5 minutes walk on the other side of Namba station from the arena. It’s an old school, classic coffee shop with a full sit down breakfast menu and assortment of beverages. There are few things better to get you ready for a day of sumo than a classic exceptionally fluffy plate of Japanese pancakes to go with Marafuku’s strong coffee. Americans might be bemused to see that “American Roast Coffee” is noted as “weak coffee” on the menu, so do yourself a favor and get the local blend!

From Namba’s main station, you can take exit 5 and walk about 2 blocks south to reach the arena. It is also easily accessible within 5 blocks of several other station exits.

From here, you’ll just need to get your ticket ready and look forward to enjoying the day’s action! Coming soon, we’ll post a review of the day’s experience inside the venue itself.

24 thoughts on “Booking Your Trip to Experience Sumo in Osaka


  1. More advice: book the trip as far ahead as possible. It’s Sakura season, prices rise sharply as the date approaches, and accommodations go scarce.

    I stayed at the APA Hotel Namba Eki Higashi, a few minutes walk from the arena and from the Namba station. It’s worth mentioning that there are, in fact, three Namba stations. There is the Nankai station which is closest to the arena and is the destination of the Kansai Airport train. The subway station is further away, and that’s the contact point to Shin-Osaka for the shinkansen. Then there is the Namba-JR station, next to the Osaka domestic airport. That’s the farthest away, but if you’re planning to use the Ta-Q-Bin service to ship you’re luggage from Osaka, like I did, that’s where you’ll need to go.

    As for the tickets at the official Tickets Oosumo site: are you sure the transaction can be completed in English, or at all? When I tried it, the site said free registration is required. The registration form was in Japanese, and furthermore, required a Japanese address and phone number. Basically, leaving no option but BuySumoTickets (excellent service, I should say).


    • Good point re: Namba station. The good thing, however, is that I believe the numbering system is such that each of the different stations serving Namba under different operators do not have multiple exits with the same number – that is to say I am fairly sure there is only one Exit 5 (though I could be wrong) and all of the stations are connected via underground passageway.

      Re: Ticket Oosumo – yes, I have completed the purchase in English before and the site currently seems to be operating in English, though I have felt the service was better with BuySumoTickets (mainly because I could pre-order and also ask questions or bundle my tickets with other sports), so I haven’t used Ticket Oosumo in a few basho. But I didn’t have any problems receiving my tickets in the states when I did use Ticket Oosumo (and I certainly do not speak Japanese). It’s possible however that they have changed their site, but it appears to be the same as when I last used it.

      Also a great point re: planning your trip as far ahead as possible. I booked my Osaka plane tickets in November, pre-ordered my basho ticket as soon as I could through BuySumoTickets, but left my hotel a bit late which is why I paid more than I probably had to.


    • I highly recommend it! Look out for the next post in the series and we will also cover this for the Kokugikan in Tokyo very soon, hopefully ahead of the May basho in the hopes that it will either help people plan a last minute trip or to get prepared for Aki!


  2. Yes people! Come to the May basho and hang out with me!

    Also remember, if you buy your tickets from buysumotickets.com and you are a repeat customer, Remind them, so you get a discount on their handling fees.

    I strongly recommend attending a basho that is outside Tokyo, as the Heya’s are a lot more relaxed and it is easier to attend morning training sessions. Just note, these sessions are shorter then pre-basho, but it gives you a chance to interact with your favourite rikishi. When I went to Nagoya, I was able to attend training at 5 different heya’s, but in Tokyo I was only able to attend 1.

    I actually stayed at airBnB when I come over to Japan, as I find them a lot more comfortable then hotels, and significantly cheaper.


    • I’ll see you there! They are also arranging jungyo tickets this time. I think I’m definitely doing an Airbnb in Tokyo. I agree they are great value especially for longer stays and when you can plan ahead, it’s just important to always do your homework!


      • I wanted to mention that there are other apartment rental services in addition to Airbnb like HomeAway/VRBO/TravelMob. I’ve used those sites successfully for both my Japan trips and other trips to Europe and the US.


    • Thanks for the tip on morning practice. I wish I would have known about that when I was at the Fukuoka Basho in November. I didn’t realize it was an option during the basho.


    • Would be interested to hear more about how you managed to visit so many heya in Nagoya – hoping to go back this year!


      • Some of the Heya websites have information as to where they are staying at the regional locations and a phone number to call the evening before to make sure training is on and open the next day.
        I was very fortunate that I made sumo friends on Instagram before I headed over and they took me out each morning.


          • Sorry it isn’t more helpful, but my biggest tip is to try and connect with Japanese sumo fans. They seem to know everything and have access to everything. Also most Japanese sumo fans are so happy that foreigners are taking a genuine interest in their sport. Josh’s ‘ones to watch’ articles are a great asset, as most people I met are really interested in following the lower ranked rikishi, whether it be a new up and comer or supporting someone from their home town!


  3. I just got home from Osaka and was able to go to 4 days of sumo! I buy general admission tickets for 2100 yen each. You get in line the day of the event by 6am and they sell 200-250 seats each day first-come-first-served. It’s a bit of waiting in line but since Osaka always sells out, it’s a great way to go. I went opening day, last day and 2 other days. Its definitely worth going to see it live!


    • Thanks Stephen! This is a great point. I knew that they definitely offered GA tickets in Tokyo but wasn’t aware of the number of tickets on offer in Osaka. So we’ll make sure when we post in advance of next year’s tournament to make sure to include this. I’m glad you had a great time!


    • If you do that in Tokyo, you better bring some good glasses. The general admission ticket are really far away and up… Even then after Kisenosatos promotion i heared people were lining up much earlier than 6am. So it depends a bit on how much in demand it is. also worth to note that you can only buy one ticket a person, so no lining up for your friends. Good last resort option though.


  4. I also had a good experience with sumo tickets.com. In 2017 I had them delivered to my Osaka hotel and they were waiting upon my arrival. Very efficient and reliable.


  5. Wow this are great news to me . I have the plan to go to Japan for the Olimpics and catch great Sumo at the same time.


    • Great idea! We’ll be doing a post about how to plan a Tokyo sumo trip later this spring. Definitely keep your eyes peeled to Tachiai for that.


  6. I was fortunate enough to go on day 9 in Osaka this year. 3 years ago I went on day 11 in Tokyo. What a difference between the two locations. In Osaka you are RIGHT there with the rikishi. They walk right beside you as you are checking out souvenirs. After winning his match and getting dressed, Nishikigi was just milling around the hallway in public so I spoke to him for a moment and shook his hand. Super nice guy!

    Osaka is highly recommend! Oh and the daibutsu in Nara is 100% worth the trip.

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