Chanko Nabe: Nutritious Sumo Wrestler’s Hot Pot!

Chanko, known as the meal of sumo wrestlers, is a local dish born in Tokyo. In particular, chanko-nabe, which offers a well-balanced taste of meat, fish, and vegetables, is an attractive nabe dish with a gentle flavor and abundant nutrition. Here we introduce the characteristics of chanko, and recommended restaurants!


What is “Chanko”?

“Chanko” refers to the meal of sumo wrestlers. Chanko-nabe, one of the chanko dishes, is a hot pot dish for sumo wrestlers and a local dish of Tokyo. The main ingredients are meatballs, vegetables, and udon noodles, and the soup is usually soy sauce or miso-based with chicken stock. However, since there is no clear definition of the ingredients and seasoning of chanko-nabe, it can be said that the it varies greatly depending on the restaurant or individuals.

Originally, chanko-nabe was only eaten in sumo stables and was not very popular among the public. However, after the number of nabe (hot pot) restaurants on the street increased, chanko-nabe gradually became popular among the public. As a result, more and more families began to adopt chanko-nabe as a home-cooked dish, and customizing the recipe to their liking.

In sumo wrestling, “to touch one’s hand on the ground” means to lose, so it is said that meat from animals that stand on four legs, such as beef or pork, is rarely used in chanko-nabe served in sumo stables. On the other hand, beef or pork is often used as an ingredient in chanko-nabe at restaurants or at home.

There are also differences in seasoning, with chanko-nabe in sumo rooms being soy sauce- or miso-based, while salt-based chanko-nabe is often served in restaurants or at home.

Although there are small differences between chanko-nabe in sumo stables and those made at home, the basic concept is the same: to use a variety of nutritious ingredients.

Relationship between Chanko and Sumo

As mentioned earlier, “chanko” refers to “all dishes served at sumo stables” and does not necessarily indicate only chanko-nabe. So in reality, “chanko” means all dishes served at sumo stables including curry and rice, set meals, rice bowls, and so on.

Chanko-nabe, among all chanko dishes, is known for its use of nutritious ingredients that cater to the wrestlers’ health. Alongside meat and fish, it uses a variety of vegetables like burdock root, bean sprouts, and carrots, offering a well-balanced meal compared to other nabe dishes.

In addition, wrestlers need to eat a lot to make their bodies bigger since their physique plays a major role in winning and losing, significantly impacts their performance in matches. Eating a large quantity of food in one meal can be challenging with set meals or rice bowls. However, with chanko-nabe, the food is stewed, and the ingredients become smaller, making it easier to consume a large amount.

Moreover, finishing the nabe with udon or zosui (Japanese rice porridge) by adding noodles or rice into the soup allows for more efficient consumption and bodybuilding. Chanko-nabe is indispensable to the sumo world as a dish that contributes to wrestlers’ health!

Let’s Go Try Hiroshima Oysters!

The restaurant we went to this time was “Chanko Kirishima”.

Chanko Kirishima is located near Ryogoku Station, and the entire floor from the first to the eighth floor is occupied by the restaurant! When we entered the restaurant, we found the curtain separating the seats was a cute sumo wrestler pattern✨ We also found a picture of a sumo wrestler when we took the elevator upstairs!

There are three types of lunch menus to choose from, and we ordered the smallest one, “西” (1,500 yen excluding tax). 

Even though it is the smallest, it is a very generous portion: chanko, rice, sashimi, side dishes, and pickles… and you can get more rice. The chanko-nabe was very tasty with a rich pork bone flavor! It was a very satisfying lunch.

Check out our travel plans for sightseeing in Ryogoku, the city of sumo wrestlers!

3 Recommended Restaurants

Chanko Kirishima Ryogoku Honten

Chanko Tomoegata Ryogoku

Chanko Kappou Ouchi

Editor’s Comment


As the cold winter approaches, many Japanese people will crave chanko-nabe to enjoy with their family and friends! This gently seasoned dish, rich in nutrients, is a perfect way to relieve fatigue. If you’re interested, consider trying authentic chanko-nabe at a nabe restaurant in Ryogoku, Tokyo, known for its close resemblance to the taste of sumo wrestling rooms✨

For those who want to know more about local gourmet foods in Tokyo

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