Tag Archives: chanko-nabe

Sumo size me: How to eat like a sumo wrestler

imageA sumo wrestler with Hironobu Itabashi, an assistant and translator with the Dateline Tokyo journalism program.

Oct. 26, 2014

I live with sumo wrestlers. They are out and about in the neighborhood where I am staying, Ryōgoku, the section of Tokyo that is the center of the sumo world. There is a sumo stadium, sumo stables where the big guys live and train, and chanko restaurants, where the big guys eat in vast quantities as part of a weight-gain diet.

What they eat – every day – is chanko-nabe. Nabe means “pot” (or the big hearty soup that is made in that pot). Chanko means, more or less, the enormous meal that is prepared in multiple stages in that same pot.

Luckily, a friend who is Japanese joined me for a chanko-nabe night out, and helped me to understand what was happening. We sat on the floor at a low table, a large ceramic nabe bowl at the center, and a gas burner underneath the bowl to cook and simmer the various ingredients.

A smiling woman in a kimono knelt down to our level on the floor to talk about what we might like to have. Continue reading