Toyonoshima announces his retirement

The NSK official Twitter, as well as most of the sports outlets in Japan, report that the highly popular Tokitsukaze beya veteran, Toyonoshima, has announced his retirement, and will now become Izutsu oyakata.

Toyonoshima was ranked Ms2e for Haru and expected to gain back his sekitori privileges (and income) with a simple kachi-koshi. Sadly, that kachi-koshi didn’t come, and his 2-5 result was certain to send him below the promotion rank on the Natsu banzuke.

When that result became clear, Toyonoshima asked the press to give him some time to consider his options. He said he was more or less ready to quit, but his daughter wanted him to press on.

We sometimes refer to short-stature rikishi like Ishiura, Terutsuyoshi and Enho as “pixies”, and marvel at their ability to maintain high rank and fairly impressive results in Makuuchi. But Toyonoshima and his 170cm have been there long before them. Toyonoshima reached the rank of Sekiwake several times, and raked in 5 jun-yusho, 10 special prizes and 4 kinboshi during his 18 year career.

As Izutsu oyakata, he intends to continue serving at Tokitsukaze beya.

24 thoughts on “Toyonoshima announces his retirement

  1. Retiring now means he’ll still be on the next banzuke, right? I wonder if virus drama tipped him over the edge as being a mid-ranked rikishi vs being a coach…or if it adds more stress to coaches than to wrestlers and if maybe he was a bit hesitant to start coaching now. What’s certain is there’s another delayed danpatsushiki…looking at Spring 2021?

    • I didn’t see anybody mentioning dates or even seasons… The danpatsu-shiki at the Kokugikan are usually held when the rikishi are at Tokyo, so normally right after a Tokyo basho, before they go on Jungyo.

      He’ll be on the next banzuke, but since he was in Makushita, and probably below the promotion line, he is not depriving anybody of their chance at a visit in Heaven.

      My personal speculation is that the Corona thing may have affected, or threatened to affect, his wife’s ability to provide for the family, so he couldn’t afford to remain without income much longer. But that’s just complete speculation.

  2. A question from Carolina via FB…did he buy the kabu? Or is he borrowing it? Sumodb still has ex-Sakahoko as the kabu owner.

    • Neither, I believe.

      In recent years a new rule has been enacted that says kabu can’t be bought or sold, and the NSK decides who gets which. The rule also says no borrowing, although it does allow for “temporary holds”. But those seem to be limited to kabu that belong to active rikishi.

      Until now I wasn’t sure this rule was really real. But I believe if the Widow Fukuzono had any right to the kabu, she would not have sold it to anyone but Kakuryu.

      It’s possible that the old ownership rules are still in effect and she just lent it to Toyonoshima, but I seriously doubt that.

      • Her blog post shows that she (and her daughter) are still very active in the sumo world…and had me wondering how long she would be an okamisan. I don’t think she wants to leave the life, even as stressful as it seems right now.

        • She is no longer an okamisan as she doesn’t have a heya to be an okamisan to. Share a link to the blog? Her daughter is a pop idol, isn’t she?

  3. All the best to him on his retirement. Now we have three of the “seven samurai” still fighting…

      • I often see references to NHK commentator Shuhei Nagao in 2008 who said Toyonoshima, Goeido, Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Homasho, Toyohibiki and Tochiozan held the key to a Japanese resurgence in sumo.

          • It’s a big shame they never gave us one final Kotoshogiku / Toyonoshima match up when Toyonoshima made it back up to makuuchi last year

            • Last March they were ranked M8 and M14, which wasn’t that big a stretch. Such matchups happen pretty often, including all 4 possible pairings during the most recent tournament.

  4. This isn’t related but do you guys know if there are special considerations due to covid for sumo wrestlers? As we all know, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. are conditions that make things worse. Sumo wrestlers have to put on so much weight on top of their muscle that whether we like it or not this causes health risks, which they take like champs (on top of the daily risks of actually competing and risking horrible injury, these guys are incredible) but I worry so much that all these conditions would make things worse for a rikishi that gets covid.

    Has there ever been any talk related to this? I hope they are taking extra care of all the rikishi!

    • If you are talking about national health policy, there is nothing. The NSK is in a position to tell rikishi what to do, and they consult with an expert on infectious diseases as well as the Kokugikan infirmary staff.

    • I recently saw a PBS program about “Fat” that specifically featured sumo wrestlers. Apparently, the fat carried by rikishi in training is not a heath hazard for diabetes or cardiac problems. Because they exercise for many hours each day, their fat is all subcutaneous and not abdominal or around organs, which is where the danger lies. The problems begin when they stop training. So retired rikishi really need to be cognizant of that risk.

      • Frankly, I don’t know how recent that information is. Rikishi weigh more than they did 10 years ago, and certainly more than they did in the 90s, and I don’t think they match their eating habit with more training. One thing is certain, though: many rikishi suffer from sleep apnea, requiring CPAP (e.g. Daieisho, Takarafuji, even Hakuho). That’s definitely a risk factor.

        • I think the information is recent. There has been a lot of research on fat cell metabolism and newly discovered hormones they secrete. Apparently hours of exercise causes secretion of a hormone that causes fat to be laid down subcutaneously. It’s been known for a while that abdominal fat is unhealthy, subcutaneous fat much less so. But there has been a sort of Puritanical campaign that damns all fat.
          The sleep apnea is something else, as is the damage to their joints from carrying so much weight.

            • It was a new program, not a repeat. They were very specific about sumo wresters because they used them as an extreme example of how a physically active fat person may not suffer from the health effects that a sedentary fat person would do.

              • I see. I just wonder if it’s not something that’s just assumed from old literature about the subject.

  5. I missed Toyonoshima’s peak years but I remember rooting hard for him on the final day of Hatsu 2016. I really did not like Kotoshogiku at that point and Toyonoshima was the only man who could stop him.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.