Take in Japan at a Japanese food theme park!

A real sumo ring inside the restaurant! Experience sumo culture in the town of sumo, while enjoying tasty food.

Sumo events are held in the sumo ring inside the restaurant.

“Wow! There’s a sumo ring inside the restaurant!” Ms. Huang from Taiwan shouted joyfully while dining at “Hananomai Ryogoku Kokugikanmae Ten”. The sumo ring, created under the supervision of the Japan Sumo Association, features the same size and specifications as the ring used for grand sumo tournaments. It was established so that visitors can enjoy an experience that suits the town of sumo, Ryogoku, where the prestigious sumo hall “Kokugikan” is located and sumo wrestlers are often seen.

Although it is a valuable experience to see a sumo ring up close, regular sumo-related events held in the ring are even more valuable.

Sumo Jinku

Sumo Jinku features unique interjections such as “Dosukoi.” It is fun to join in the chorus of interjections.

“Sumo Jinku” (unique traditional songs sung at sumo tours or other sumo events) by former Sekitori (top-ranking sumo wrestlers) and “yaguradaiko” drums that announce the opening and closing of sumo bouts are items that carry traditional sumo culture into the present day. There are new programs including “Sumocercise (sumo exercise),” combining sumo and exercise, which can be enjoyed by both sumo fans and those who are not.

Popular items on the menu include “Chankonabe,” which was passed on directly from a sumo stable, and various other items that allow you to enjoy the characteristics of each area

The restaurant manager explaining the dishes

The motto of the Chimney Group is to entertain its customers. A multilingual menu is also available for foreign visitors.

What Ms. Huang also enjoyed about the restaurant was the variety of dishes. From appetizers that go with alcohol to Japanese dishes including sashimi, sushi, and tempura and desserts, there are various items that you can flexibly choose according to your liking or how hungry you are. Western style dishes including pizza are also available. The Japanese izakaya style is that each person chooses what he or she wants to eat and shares with everybody. “Since there are so many different dishes, those who don’t like raw food can also enjoy themselves. I was amazed at how many items there were on the menu.”

Chankonabe, a staple dish for sumo wrestlers

Specialty dish of Hananomai Ryogoku Kokugikanmae Ten Chankonabe

Ms. Huang and her friend tried Chankonabe, which was recommended by the restaurant manager. Chankonabe is a staple dish for sumo wrestlers containing plenty of ingredients. Although there are many restaurants specializing in Chankonabe in Ryogoku, the Chankonabe at Hananomai Ryogoku Kokugikanmae Ten is the most popular one, directly passed on from a disciple of Taiho, who was called the Great Yokozuna.

There are many female groups.

Female groups can comfortably dine at “Hananomai” restaurants as well

Specialty dish

Various kinds of drinks are also available.

Various kinds of drinks are also available, including Japanese sake, beer, shochu (distilled liquor made from barley or potatoes). Non-alcohol drinks or soft drinks are also available.

“Philosophy and hospitality of Hananomai,” as told by the head chef

Philosophy of the head chef

Mr. Hideyuki Ota, the head chef. He is skilled at cutting tuna and yellowtail.

It is “Hananomai” style to cook the dishes in the kitchen inside the restaurant right before they are served to the customers, so that we can offer them fresh food. This is because we want our customers to taste delicious Japanese dishes at the time that they taste the best. For the same reason, we insist on using fresh fish purchased on the same day and seasonal ingredients. Moreover, since appearance and a sense of the season are also important to Japanese cuisine, we carefully choose the dishes on which to serve the food. Although we work to our full capacity in the kitchen from the preparation on the previous day to the cooking on the actual day, it does not bother us at all if we can make our customers happy. We would like our foreign customers to enjoy sumo culture and Japanese cuisine as well.

It makes you want to upload your experience to social media! “Hananomai” is an izakaya restaurant where you can enjoy eating while sightseeing.

To taste the delicacies of the area you visit is one of the joys of travel. If you eat in an atmosphere where you can feel the culture or history of the area, it will become more fun and memorable. In many branches of “Hananomai,” themes are set according to the restaurant location, and they incorporate the themes into their interior designs or menus like Ryogoku Kokugikanmae Ten.

Let’s see two “Hananomai” restaurants in the popular tourist spot, Kyoto.

A bridge and dolls inside the restaurant

Reproducing one scene of a famous legend set in Kyoto

Using plenty of local ingredients

The theme of “Seafood Izakaya Kyoto Hananomai Chuo-guchi Ekimae ten” is “famous sights in Kyoto.” Guest seats in Machiya (traditional townhouses in Kyoto) style or private rooms designed in the motif of a sake barrel in the image of Fushimi, a town famous for sake breweries, are set inside the restaurant. A scene of the famous legend of Ushiwakamaru and Benkei (*), set in Gojo Ohashi Bridge in Kyoto, is reproduced in the corridor. You can experience a traditional Kyoto atmosphere while enjoying delicious meals or drinks in this restaurant.

*Ushiwakamaru is another name for Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who lived in the 12th century and is considered to be a tragic hero. Legend has it that he defeated the warrior-priest Benkei who was on a sword hunt on Gojo Ohashi Bridge, which formed a life-long master-servant relationship between them.

The restaurant uses plenty of local ingredients in its dishes, including Kyoto vegetables and yuba (a film formed when making soy milk, collected with a tool such as a bamboo skewer), which is a specialty of Kyoto. You can experience the appeal of Japanese cuisine, which places emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients.

Staff wearing a haori coat of the Shinsengumi

The grand staircase of “Ikedaya” is reproduced inside the restaurant.

Dishes using seasonal ingredients

The theme of “Hatago Jyaya Ikedaya Hananomai” is the “Shinsengumi.” The Shinsengumi was a group of samurai that acted as a special police force for controlling anti-shogunate forces in the mid 19th century, when there was fierce competition between the Edo (Tokugawa) Shogunate faction and the emperor faction. It is often featured in anime and movies. In fact, this restaurant is located where Ikedaya Inn once stood, which was the setting of the “Ikedaya Incident” in which the Shinsengumi made a raid on the emperor’s faction. The great staircase of Ikedaya Inn is also reproduced inside the restaurant.

Hand-picked ingredients from all over Japan, no compromise on taste!

Hand-picked ingredients from all over Japan

Since there are about 700* izakaya restaurants run by Chimney Group from Hokkaido to Okinawa, you can stop by wherever you visit.
*As of March 31, 2015

Not compromising on taste is the policy of Chimney Group that operates “Hananomai.” In addition to fresh and local ingredients, carefully-selected delicious ingredients are obtained from all over Japan, after examining their quality and taste from professional perspectives. In addition, the company has established an integrated system for production, distribution and service, including owning a fishery for obtaining fresh fish directly from producing areas and the production of its own vegetables, so as to offer delicious Japanese cuisine at a reasonable price. Each “Hananomai” restaurant is full of fun and deliciousness. Visit one of them for dinner or to make a memory of your trip to Japan!

List of the Chimney Group restaurants
(c) Japan National Tourism Organization.
The information and images contained in this article are extracted from the April 2015 issue of JNTO's Japan Monthly Web Magazine.

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