Ryogoku Station is a railway station in the Yokoami district of Sumida Ward of Tokyo that serves the JR East Chuo-Sobu and the Toei Oedo Subway Lines. Ryogoku Station is a very busy station as it handles passengers from Ryogoku and nearby neighborhoods as well as visitors to the popular Edo-Tokyo Museum and Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium.

Ryogoku is an area in Sumida Ward on the eastern end of Tokyo. This bustling area, popularly known as ‘Sumo Town’, is the center of sumo (a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan's national sport, which originated over 2,000 years ago as a performance to entertain the Shinto gods) and has numerous temples, parks, and museums. Ryogoku still holds much of the old Edo charm and visitors to the area can encounter Yukata-clad sumo wrestlers with traditional topknots in the streets. There are a number of sumo-beya (sumo stables) in Ryogoku where the wrestlers live and train. Many chanko nabe (staple food of sumo wrestlers containing vegetables, seafood and meat) restaurants can also be found in the area.

Ryogoku is centered around Ryogoku Station with its many attractions located on all sides of the station. The main places of interest in Ryogoku are:

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Ryogoku Kokugikan (literally meaning Ryogoku National Sports Stadium) is located just a minute’s walk from Ryogoku Station. The stadium, with its large copper-sheeted roof shaped like a square with rounded corners, can be seen from the north side on the station. Built in 1985, it is the largest sumo arena in Japan with a capacity for 10,000 spectators. It is the fourth sumo stadium to be built in Tokyo, the first being in 1909, before which sumo was traditionally held outside shrines and temples. Three grand sumo tournaments, or basho, are held at Kokugikan in the months of January, May and September and each one lasts for 15 days. A variety of other events are also held at the stadium – including boxing, pro wrestling, and the 'Beethoven's Ninth for 5000 Voices' concert held every year on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of February.

On the first floor of Kokugikan is a museum dedicated to the history and preservation of Sumo, the Sumo Museum.

Sumo Museum

The objective of the Sumo Museum is to “gather and preserve a wide range of materials related to the history of sumo”. Opened in 1954 as a small facility, it soon expanded and moved to its present location in Ryogoku Kokugikan in 1985. The main collections of the museum include 3700 color prints, 150 picture scrolls, 10 folding screens, 560 keepsakes and memorials, 500 antique books, 3100 books and magazines, 1000 scrapbooks, 3600 sumo banzuke (ranking list), 1225 tournament logs, 1450 lists of records, 490 sumo dolls, and 5700 photographs. These items are displayed in themed exhibitions held six times a year. Entrance to the museum is free, except during tournaments when entry is with tickets. Besides the exhibitions, the museum also functions as a research center and has a library and storage space for items not on display.

Sumo Photo Museum


Sumo Photo Museum is another sumo related museum located a short walk from Sumo Museum. Exhibited in this small museum are photographs and other related materials that belong to the Japan Sumo Association. It is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except during tournament days in January, May, and September when it is open every day.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Located 1 minute walk from Toei Oedo Line Ryogoku Station A4 Exit is one of Tokyo’s best museums – the Edo-Tokyo Museum. This museum was founded on March 28, 1993 as a facility to preserve the historical heritage of Edo-Tokyo. The building in which the museum is situated is unique in itself and looks like a pyramid on stilts. It is built on an elevated-floor type warehouse and its highest point is at 62.2 meters, which is approximately the same height as Edo Castle Tower. To get to the entrance of the museum, visitors have to go up 3 high escalators. The constructed area of the building is 30,000 square meters, which is 2.5 times bigger than the field area of the Tokyo Dome stadium.

The museum is divided into 3 zones – the Edo Zone, the Tokyo Zone, and the topical theme exhibition zone. The Edo Zone is the first zone that visitors come across on entering Edo-Tokyo Museum. To enter the zone, visitors have to cross a replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge. This zone portrays the characteristic lifestyle of the Edo period, including the economic system and the culture of the Edo Era. Among the attractions of this zone are a miniature of the palace of Lord Matsudaira in Otemachi, a miniature Nihombashi neighborhood, and numerous other artifacts and documents.

The second part of the museum, or the Tokyo Zone, starts at the change from the Edo Era to the Tokyo Era including the European and American influences. The effects of WWII and the reconstruction period have also been covered. Some of the attractions of this zone are a few reconstructed buildings, miniatures of the late 19th century Ginza, and details of the Great Kanto Earthquakes of 1923. The third part of the museum, the Exhibition Zone, has special exhibitions of topical themes that change several times a year.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a must for all visitors to Tokyo. It is a rich source of Tokyo history and culture where every facet of life in old Tokyo has been presented in a compelling and memorable way.

Tokyo Restoration Memorial Museum


Sumida is one of the areas that was most badly affected during both the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II. During the Earthquake in 1923 and the resulting fires, 95% of Sumida was destroyed and over 50,000 people were burnt to death. Then during the World War II air raids, over 110,000 lives were again lost. The Tokyo Restoration Memorial Museum exhibits all the articles salvaged from these two major disasters. Photographs and records of the earthquake and bombings are also on display. Adjoining the museum is the Memorial Hall , the resting place of all the unclaimed bodies. The Museum and the Hall, which stand in memory of the two terrible events just 5 minutes from Ryogoku Station, are open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry is free.


Tortoiseshell Museum


Japan has a long history of tortoiseshell ware, and the Tortoiseshell Museum stands testimony to this. Located 3 minutes from Ryogoku Station, this small museum displays a large assortment of tortoiseshell accessories dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Items displayed include beautifully crafted combs, hair clips, necklaces, ear-rings, etc., besides various tools used in the making of the exquisite pieces. The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Wood Carving Museum


The Wood Carving Museum is another of Sumida Ward's small museums. On exhibit here is an impressive collection of beautifully carved wood items that include chests, paneling, puzzles and other decorative items. The museum is open every day except Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eko-in Temple

Eko-in Temple is located 3 minutes walk from the west exit of JR Ryogoku Station. Originally built in 1657 as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Great Meireki Fire, the temple today is also dedicated to the spirits of those who have drowned at sea, died in prison, aborted children, and even lost or dead pets. The Temple has also played an important role in the history of sumo. From 1768 until the first Ryogoku Kokugikan was built in 1909, the sumo tournaments were held here in the spacious and beautifully landscaped temple grounds.

There are several monuments in this very eclectic temple of Tokyo. The main and the original is the Banninzuka, or 'The Mound of a Million Souls', which was built in 1657 in commemoration of the fire victims. Since 2002 a statue of the Kannon Buddha also graces the mound. Chikara-zuka, or 'Mound of Strength', is located a few meters from the Banninzuka. This mound was erected in 1937 as a gift from the Sumo Association in recognition of the temple’s historical role in the sport. New sumo initiates come here to seek blessings. The Animal Souls Tower is a dominating feature of the Temple. Originally built by Shogun Ietsuna, the founder of the Temple, on the death of his beloved cat, the Tower is dedicated to the souls of dead and lost pets. Across from the Tower is the Mizukozuka, or the 'Mound of the Stillborn'. Constructed in 1793, it commemorates the souls of stillborn infants. The entrance to this mound is flanked by two statues and the mound itself is lined with rows and rows of tiny Buddhas. The Nezumikozo Stone is dedicated to Nezumikozo (1797-1832), known as Japan’s Robin Hood as he used to steal from the rich and powerful and gave it to the poor. It is believed that rubbing a pebble on the Stone and keeping it in your wallet will give you luck and make your wishes come true.

Kyu-Yasuda Teien Gardens

Just north of the Kokugikan are the Kyu-Yasuda Teien Gardens, one of the many gardens in Sumida and one of the most beautiful in Tokyo. Originally the site of a feudal lord's mansion in the 1600’s, it was inherited by Yasuda Zenjiro in the early 1900’s. Just before his death, Yasuda Zenjiro donated the land to the public in 1922, but before it could be opened, it was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. By 1927 it was renovated and became a park. The park was famed for its pond which was fed by the Sumida River. During World War II, the river became polluted and as a consequence the park was ruined. It was restored in 1971 to look like it originally did during the feudal days. Ryogoku Public Hall, where several public functions are held, is located inside this park.

Yokoami-cho Koen Park

Yokoami-cho Koen Park is another fascinating park located just across from the north-east entrance of Kyu-Yasuda Teien Gardens. This spacious and beautifully landscaped park combines natural, artistic and architectural beauty with historical interest. Two halls are located on the park grounds –

1. Tokyo Metropolitan Hall of Repose, or Tokyo-to Ireido. This large concrete Buddhist temple-style hall with a 41m-high three-story pagoda was built in 1930 to commemorate the victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake. It was rebuilt in 1951 after it was destroyed in the World War II bombardments. Large paintings depicting scenes from during and after the earthquake are displayed on the walls inside the hall.

2. Reconstruction Memorial Hall, or Fukko Kinen-kan. This hall was built in 1931 as a monument to the efforts of those who rebuilt the city devastated by the fires that ravaged Tokyo in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. The hall is comprised of two floors that display artwork and data presentations of the destruction brought about by the earthquake. Outside the hall are twisted forms of the machines melted in the fires after the earthquake.

Also within Yokoami-cho Koen Park are the Monument to the Child Victims of the Earthquake, a Japanese-style garden, and a Peace Monument. The Peace Monument was built in 2001 in memory of those killed in World War II. This monument is in the shape of a huge inclined semi-circle of stone planted with flowers, with a small room in the center containing the names of 100,000 victims.


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