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They’re sweaty, they’re chubby and they love pushing each other around. But enough about the folks at my family reunion, let’s talk about sumo. This quintessentially Japanese sport is a lot of fun to witness with kids, and the Ryogoku neighborhood surrounding Tokyo’s Kokugikan sumo stadium has several other places worth visiting, too.

Each sumo tournament lasts two weeks, and the next one in Tokyo starts Sept. 15. Tickets cost upward of ¥10,000 to sit near the dohyō (sumo arena), but I prefer the general admission section. These are the cheapest seats in the house — the very last row where the stairs meet the ceiling — and tickets are just ¥2,100 for adults and ¥200 for kids (under 4 is free). But are the closer seats worth it? Perhaps, but the Kokugikan isn’t a big place, and even the back row offers a decent view. Sumo wrestlers are big, remember, and you can still hear the slap of flesh on flesh and make out their facial expressions when they get a stray forearm to the neck. My daughter brought along a pair of cheap plastic binoculars to admire the detail in their kesho-mawashi (ornamental loincloths). But while binoculars are a nice bonus, they are not required to enjoy yourself. The only downside to the cheap seats is that large groups may not be able to sit together, unless on a weekday.

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