Day 2, we had already planned out our holiday structure everything was broken in 3 Day groups.
- Day 1 – Travel and settle in
- Day 2 – Pre-booked Tours
- Day 3 – Anything else we wanted to do.
For day 2 in Tokyo it was Sumo Tour.
We where lucky enough with our dates that we landed in Tokyo mid way through the May Grand Sumo Tournament, There are only 6 Sumo Tournaments each year (Jan, March, May, July, September & November). Note If you do want to see sumo when you are in Japan, book early and book through a tour, every single day of the tournament was fully booked with hundreds of people lined up outside hoping to get in.
Our Sumo tour started @ Midday so we decided to head out and wander around Shinjuku for the morning. First things first breakfast…. easier said than done one thing I had never thought to ask about Japan is breakfast, although the Japanese obviously have breakfast, they don’t have much of a breakfast culture so finding somewhere to just buy food was a bit of an unexpected chore, enter our first lucky find;
Now as a first time tourist to Japan, having to resort to what appeared to be a western style breakfast place as our first port of call felt like a little bit of a failure, that was until I experienced Japanese bread…OMG
Ok now for someone who hasn’t tried bread from Japan you are probably wondering what is wrong with me, bread is bread. No not in Japan, it’s a magical experience of fluffiness and taste. Walking into a foreign country for the first time and not speaking the language can make ordering food a unexpected experience, Japan makes this much less surprising, everything has a picture and most places have a English menu. With hunger being my primary driver I went with the safe Coffee, ham & egg set menu option. Unlike bread, Japanese coffee is not a magical experience, it a watery trip of weakness. I found the coffee at Doutor to be some of the better coffee in Japan, but if you are used to strong barista made coffee the weak, milky luke warm machine made coffee that you get in most of Japan is disappointing. The sandwhich’s are not though, super fuffy bread, perfectly toasted and taste awesome.
Our next find was the Tokyo Federal Government Building, sounds exciting right… I know who doesn’t love a federal government building. Ok so it isn’t that exciting but as far as government building go it has an awesome view of Tokyo and is free!
, it’s probably the only government building which has a 4.5 Star rating on tripadvisor (it’s also some how the 2nd best thing to do in Shinjuku???). The building itself it pretty impressive but it also has twin tower each with it’s own observation deck on the 45th floor, looking out over Shinjuku and Tokyo from 202m give a glimpse of just how huge Tokyo is.
Next we were off to Sumo, we met up with our tour guide Mai at Hamamatsucho bus terminal, as an introduction to Tokyo this was a great way to learn how to find a train without a guide…. slow down ahhh come back… help has anyone seen my tour guide, one thing learnt after going through a few guided tours in Japan… walk fast seriously how we didn’t lose a few people if beyond me. Mai was a great resource happy to help out with anything and everything Tokyo and Japan, not just Sumo, she gave everyone a walk through of the city has we past through, recommendation on where to go, how to get there and what to try. Once at Ryogoku station Mai hurried us through to the arena to make sure we could watch the sumo’s make their entrance, this is where we discovered that Sumo isn’t just for bloke that it has a huge female fanbase, and that Mai was a huge Sumo fangirl, it was awesome to see her part way through a explanation on Sumo origins, to stop and completely fan girl out on the Grand master who was walking in, Mai’s enthusam for Sumo was infectious.
After the obligatory cheesy photo with a cut out of a sumo, we headed into the arena, I’m not sure what i was expecting inside, but it wasn’t what was there, beer stalls, bento shops, souvenir stands and a monster stadium. Once inside Mai talked us through the matches and the ceremony leading up to the bout, the ceremony on each bout takes about 4-5min but the actual bout it’s self was typically over in under 10sec. The bout’s themselves where more entertaining than I expected but this may have been related to just how excited Mai was when it got up to the more senior matches.