Kakuryu Acquires Japanese Citizenship

Here is a clip from Japan’s Official Gazette.

Kakuryu is officially a citizen of Japan.

A lot has been riding on this citizenship. With his physical fitness deteriorating, there was a real danger he would be forced to retire without a citizenship. This would have meant he could not stay as an oyakata, as the rules of the NSK only allow Japanese citizens to be toshiyori (oyakata).

This would have been regrettable even without the background noise, as Kakuryu has a good reputation for leadership by example, and his presence in the sumo world would have been missed. But in his case, there was also the issue of the dying wish of his master, the late Izutsu oyakata, who wanted him to take over the heya.

The heya no longer exists as such, and even the building where it was located is currently being demolished. But now that he has earned his citizenship, he will be able to take the Izutsu name (there is some evidence that the former Toyonoshima is only holding it temporarily), and establish the heya again – as has already happened in the history of that heya. I’m sure this will make the Widow Fukuzono happy, and probably the late master’s brother, Shikoroyama oyakata, as well.

And of course, every sumo fan who has come to love and respect Kakuryu.

17 thoughts on “Kakuryu Acquires Japanese Citizenship

  1. Long overdue. Now with this in place, I feel he’ll retire sooner rather then later regardless of January.

  2. Good to hear…very WELCOME news, indeed! I enjoy watching Kakuryu do his brand of sumo, and it is only fitting that he’s now gotten Japanese citizenship. I know there was A LOT of drama with his native country Mongolia over this, but glad to hear that there was an agreement of sorts, and there were no further roadblocks in Kakuryu’s path to citizenry. Thanks for the report, Herouth!




  4. I am not sure why there’s drama in Mongolia about it, what do they expect? Neither Japan nor Mongolia allow for dual citizenships, meaning this would be the only option either way.

    I feel like Kakuryu is going to end up as their chairman at some point, since if there was one thing he’s always been better than Hakuho at, it’s being a sumo politician.

    • I think it’s highly unlikely, unless Kisenosato dies young. And even then, the xenophobic undercurrent will probably prevent it.

  5. What great news to wake up to! He has been hanging on for this and I’m sure he will make a great trainer and stable master. He can now tell the YDC where they can shove their warning.

  6. Yay, I needed some good news today. May you have a long and happy career as an oyakata, Kakuryu, whenever you are ready to take it up.

  7. He may not be too many people’s favorite, but it’s hard to imagine anyone disliking him. Definitely good news that he will be staying in sumo.

  8. Will this make it easier for his wife to acquire citizenship? (I know it’s not a written requirement for okamisan like it is for oyakata, but I suspect it’s still preferred…)

    • It’s an entirely different thing. For oyakata the requirement is per the charter of the NSK, and can therefore be fulfilled by a mere procedural change, while the person himself doesn’t change at all.

      The expectation that an okami-san will be Japanese is not procedural, however. The reason for it is that the okami-san serves as the heya’s representative, interacting with support groups, suppliers, neighbors and so on. The husband has often grown up mostly in the sumo beya, and even when Japanese-born, often lacks the finesse required for navigating Japanese social code. In a country where your exact social position with respect to others also determines sitting arrangements, order of entrance to elevators, and even direction of sitting in a train, the role requires a native with well-exercised social skills.

      Which a Japanese citizenship will never give Kakuryu’s wife. My guess is that he will have a heya manager instead.

  9. So happy about this! Kakuryu seems to be a good teacher and it would have been a shame to lose him (as far as sumo goes) because of citizenship.
    It’d be nice to see at least one more good basho from him but I’m dubious sadly due to his physical niggles.
    Still, I’m glad this is finally sorted. Omedetou!

  10. Count me in as one who loves and respects him. Until the inuries, he was a solid Yokuzuna, who also possessed a great deal of class. However, he was doomed to be “the other one” because who could compete against Hakuho? I’m happy for him and look forward to see him continue to excel in another role.

  11. Congratulations! I admit, when I first got back into watching sumo 3 or 4 years ago, I was not a fan of Kakuryu. but he grew on me. (I was especially amused by his clip singing the Hakkeyoi song, haha!)
    Happy to see he will continue to be around in sumo after his retirement from the ring!


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