Annual Contests in Tokyo

Tokyo, a city where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with futuristic innovation, hosts a variety of annual contests that highlight the diverse talents and cultural heritage of Japan. These events range from traditional arts and sports to modern technological showcases, offering something for everyone. Whether you're a spectator or a participant, these contests provide a unique glimpse into the competitive spirit and cultural richness of Tokyo. Here's a list of some notable annual contests held in Tokyo:

Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament

  • When: Held three times a year (January, May, September)
  • What: Sumo wrestling, Japan's national sport, sees its highest expression in these tournaments. Wrestlers (rikishi) compete in matches that blend strength, technique, and tradition, vying for the championship title in the sumo hierarchy.

Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)

  • When: October/November
  • What: As one of Asia's largest film festivals, TIFF showcases a wide range of films, from blockbuster hits to independent films from around the globe. The festival includes competitions for best film, director, actor, and actress, alongside various special screenings and events.

Tokyo Marathon

  • When: March
  • What: One of the six World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon attracts elite athletes and amateur runners alike. Participants compete while running through the city's iconic landmarks, cheered on by massive crowds.

Tokyo Game Show

  • When: September
  • What: This event is a paradise for gaming enthusiasts, featuring the latest in video game technology, new game announcements, and competitive gaming (eSports) tournaments. It's a place where developers, gamers, and industry leaders converge.

Kanda Matsuri

  • When: Mid-May, in odd-numbered years
  • What: While not a contest in the traditional sense, the Kanda Matsuri involves competitive elements, such as processions of portable shrines (mikoshi) carried by teams representing different neighborhoods, showcasing their strength, endurance, and community spirit.

Tokyo International Foto Awards

  • When: Submissions usually close in October, with winners announced in December
  • What: This prestigious photography contest attracts professional and amateur photographers worldwide, competing in categories like nature, architecture, and portrait photography. The awards celebrate creativity and capture the beauty of the world through the lens.

Robot Sumo Tournament (Robo-Sumo)

  • When: Varies, often in December
  • What: Combining traditional sumo with robotics, this contest challenges participants to design and build sumo-wrestling robots. It's a test of engineering skill, strategy, and innovation, reflecting Japan's leading role in robotics.

Tokyo International Choir Competition

  • When: Varies, usually every few years in summer
  • What: Choirs from around the world gather to compete in various categories, including classical, folk, and contemporary music. It's a celebration of vocal talent and international harmony.

Tips for Enjoying Annual Contests in Tokyo

  • Plan Ahead: Many of these events attract large crowds. Booking accommodations and securing event tickets well in advance is advisable.
  • Respect Etiquette: Understand and respect the cultural norms and etiquette, especially at traditional events like sumo tournaments.
  • Explore Beyond the Event: Take the opportunity to explore Tokyo and its surroundings, experiencing the city's rich culture, cuisine, and sights.


Tokyo's annual contests are a testament to the city's dynamic culture, where age-old traditions and modern innovations coexist and thrive. Participating in or witnessing these events offers a deeper understanding of Tokyo's cultural diversity and the excellence it inspires across various fields. Whether you're drawn to the physical prowess displayed in sumo, the creative expression of film and photography, or the technological marvels of gaming and robotics, Tokyo's annual contests provide a captivating and enriching experience.