What Is Chanko Nabe? Where to Eat the Sumo Wrestlers’ Favorite Stew in Tokyo?

7 min readApr 5, 2024
A beautifully served bowl of Chanko Nabe on a wooden table

Have you ever wondered what keeps sumo wrestlers strong and energetic? It might surprise you to learn that their secret lies in a hearty stew called chanko nabe. This traditional Japanese hot pot has become synonymous with sumo culture, providing the wrestlers with a nutritious and flavorful meal that fuels their intense training and matches. But what exactly is chanko nabe, and where can you experience the sumo wrestlers’ favorite stew in Tokyo?

In this article, we will look into the world of chanko nabe, exploring its origins, ingredients, and significance in sumo culture. We will also uncover the top spots in Tokyo where you can indulge in this delicious and comforting dish. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or a curious traveler, this article is your guide to discovering the secrets behind chanko nabe and experiencing it firsthand in the vibrant city of Tokyo.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chanko Nabe is a traditional Japanese hot pot and a favorite stew among sumo wrestlers.
  • It is known for its nutritious and energy-packed ingredients, making it a healthy winter dish.
  • Chanko nabe is deeply rooted in sumo culture and plays a crucial role in the wrestlers’ diet.
  • Tokyo offers a wide range of restaurants and eateries specializing in Chanko Nabe.
  • Indulging in chanko nabe allows you to experience both the taste and cultural significance of this traditional Japanese dish.

Chanko Nabe: A Healthy Winter Dish and Sumo Wrestler’s Diet

Sumo wrestlers sharing Chanko Nabe at a communal table

Chanko nabe is not just a delicious hot pot stew, but also a staple in the sumo wrestler’s diet. Its well-balanced and nutritious ingredients make it an ideal choice for those looking for a healthy winter dish.

Sumo wrestlers require a high-calorie diet to build and maintain their massive bodies, and chanko nabe provides the perfect solution. Packed with proteins, vitamins, and minerals, this hearty soup is designed to fuel their intense training sessions and promote muscle growth.

“Chanko nabe is the cornerstone of our diet as sumo wrestlers. It not only helps us gain strength but also keeps us warm during the cold winter months,” says a professional retired sumo wrestler from Tokyo.

Typically, chanko nabe includes a variety of protein sources like chicken, pork, or fish, along with an assortment of vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms, and leeks. The broth is usually made using soy sauce, miso, or a combination of both, adding a savory umami flavor to the dish.

“Chanko nabe is more than just a meal for sumo wrestlers. It represents the spirit of camaraderie and unity within the sumo stable,” explains former sumo wrestler and owner of a renowned chanko nabe restaurant in Tokyo.

For those who want to recreate the sumo wrestler’s favorite stew at home, here’s a simple chanko nabe recipe:

Chanko Nabe Recipe

Close up of hands preparing Chanko Nabe


  • 500g chicken (or your choice of protein)
  • Assorted vegetables (such as cabbage, mushrooms, leeks, carrots)
  • 200g tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 800ml chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cut the chicken and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a large pot, heat the sesame oil and cook the chicken until browned.
  • Add the vegetables and tofu to the pot and cook for a few minutes.
  • Pour in the soy sauce, mirin, and sake, and stir well.
  • Add the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15–20 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Chanko nabe is not only a flavorful and healthy winter dish, but it also offers a glimpse into the unique world of sumo wrestling. Whether you visit a traditional restaurant or make it at home, indulge in this sumo wrestler’s favorite stew and experience the taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Chanko Nabe: A Traditional Japanese Hot Pot

In the rich tapestry of traditional Japanese cuisine, few dishes capture the essence of comfort and community quite like chanko nabe. This beloved one-pot meal has deep roots in Japanese culinary history and holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of both locals and visitors.

Hot pot dishes have been part of Japanese culture for centuries, tracing back to the 8th century when Buddhism first introduced the concept of communal eating. These heartwarming meals, often enjoyed during the cold winter months, bring people together around a simmering pot filled with nourishing ingredients.

Chanko nabe, rooted in this culture of communal dining, gained prominence within the sumo wrestling community. Sumo wrestlers put great emphasis on their diet as they require substantial energy to compete. Chanko nabe, with its abundance of proteins, vegetables, and savory broth, became the ideal dish to fuel their formidable physiques.

Today, chanko nabe transcends its sumo origins and has become a beloved staple in Japanese households and restaurants alike. Families gather around the table to enjoy the warm and comforting flavors, while friends meet at chanko nabe establishments to share a hearty and convivial meal.

The beauty of chanko nabe lies in its simplicity and the ability to customize it according to personal preferences. Whether you prefer a spicy miso-based broth or a lighter soy-based broth, the possibilities are endless. The communal aspect of cooking and sharing the hot pot further enhances the dining experience, creating a sense of togetherness and warmth.

So, the next time you find yourself craving a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine, consider indulging in the heartwarming delights of chanko nabe. Whether you choose to visit a renowned chanko nabe restaurant or gather your loved ones around a simmering pot at home, this authentic Japanese hot pot is sure to take you on a culinary journey filled with warmth, flavor, and moments of togetherness.

Where to Eat Chanko Nabe in Tokyo?

zenDine Restaurant Recommendation


If you’re looking for the real deal in chanko nabe in Tokyo, you’ve got to check out Saganobori. This place is tucked away in the fancy Ginza area and is a treasure among Tokyo’s top restaurants. Saganobori is all about giving you an authentic Japanese chanko nabe experience, which is a hearty stew loved by sumo wrestlers. What makes Saganobori special is how much care they put into their food.

The guy who runs Saganobori used to be a sumo wrestler himself. He’s gone all over Japan to bring back the best tastes for his chanko nabe. You can pick from three kinds of soup bases — salt, soy sauce, or spicy — and throw in awesome stuff like soft meat, fresh veggies, chicken balls, udon noodles, and a bit of yuzu pepper for an extra kick. They make sure every part of the meal works well together to make something really tasty.

But there’s more to Saganobori than just chanko nabe. Their lunch menu is full of cool and tasty dishes, like a special curry and a colorful natto rice bowl that are both super good. The inside of the restaurant feels cozy and welcoming, perfect for any kind of group, big or small, and they can fit up to 45 people.

So, if you’re in Tokyo and want to eat like a sumo wrestler or just enjoy some amazing Japanese food, Saganobori is the place to go. With its standout chanko nabe and a bunch of other great dishes, this spot is a must for anyone who loves food and is curious about sumo culture.


We have explored the fascinating world of chanko nabe, the sumo wrestlers’ favorite stew. We have discovered the essence of this traditional Japanese hot pot, its significance in sumo culture, and where you can find the best places to enjoy it in Tokyo.

Indulging in chanko nabe is not just about the delicious combination of flavors and textures; it is also a journey into the heart of Japanese culinary heritage. This hearty winter dish not only warms the body but also immerses you in the rich cultural traditions that surround it.

Whether you choose to savor chanko nabe at one of Tokyo’s renowned traditional restaurants or embark on a culinary adventure by trying your hand at making it at home, you are sure to find comfort and satisfaction in this wholesome stew. So why not experience the sumo lifestyle for yourself and add chanko nabe to your list of must-try dishes when visiting Tokyo?


Q: Where can I find the best restaurants in Tokyo to try authentic Chanko Nabe?

A: In Tokyo, many restaurants specialize in Chanko Nabe, especially around the Ryogoku area, known as Sumo Town. For an authentic experience, consider visiting “Chanko Kuroshio,” famous for its sumo heritage and run by retired sumo wrestlers. Another popular spot is “Chanko Shibamatsu,” where you can enjoy a variety of Chanko Nabe, including their signature “Miso Butter Chanko Nabe.”

Q: Can I watch a sumo tournament and eat Chanko Nabe at the same place?

A: Yes, during the sumo tournament seasons at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, some nearby restaurants like “Sumo Chaya” offer the unique experience of enjoying Chanko Nabe lunch menus while watching a sumo match. These establishments often have a sumo ring inside and serve dishes eaten by sumo wrestlers, providing a full sumo experience.

Q: Are there any Chanko Nabe restaurants in Tokyo run by retired sumo wrestlers?

A: Yes, several Chanko Nabe restaurants in Tokyo are run by retired sumo wrestlers, offering an authentic insight into the world of sumo. “Chanko Kuroshio” and “Chanko Shibamatsu” are excellent examples, where you can try various types of Chanko Nabe and even meet former wrestlers who share their experiences and knowledge about the sumo culture.

Q: What makes Chanko Nabe a popular dish among sumo wrestlers and fans alike?

A: Chanko Nabe is not only nutritious, packed with proteins and vegetables, making it ideal for the sumo wrestlers’ diet, but it’s also a symbol of the communal and supportive spirit within a sumo stable. Fans and visitors come to Japan specifically to try this hot pot dish at places like “Ryogoku Kokugikan,” near the sumo museum and stadium, to immerse themselves in the sumo culture fully.

Originally published at https://zendine.co.




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