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A toshiyori (年寄) is a sumo elder of the Japan Sumo Association (JSA). Also known as oyakata, former wrestlers who reached a sufficiently high rank are the only people eligible. The benefits are considerable, as only toshiyori are allowed to run and coach in sumo stables, known as heya, and they are also the only former wrestlers given retirement pay.

Sumo full-contact wrestling sport

Sumo is a form of competitive full-contact wrestling where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force his opponent out of a circular ring (dohyō) or into touching the ground with any body part other than the soles of his feet.

The term Elder, or its equivalent in another language, is used in several different countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority. This usage is usually derived from the notion that the oldest members of any given group are the wisest, and are thus the most qualified to rule, provide counsel or serve the said group in some other capacity.

The Japan Sumo Association is the body that operates and controls professional sumo wrestling in Japan under the jurisdiction of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Rikishi, gyōji (referees), tokoyama (hairdressers), and yobidashi (ushers/handymen), are all on the Association's payroll, but the organisation is run entirely by toshiyori (elders). The organization has its headquarters in Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo.



To become an elder, a retiring wrestler must be a Japanese citizen. This regulation dates from September 1976 and was widely thought to be a result of the success of the Hawaiian Takamiyama Daigorō, who had become the first foreign wrestler to win a championship in 1972, and had expressed interest in becoming an elder. [1] Takamiyama ultimately became a Japanese citizen in June 1980 and did become the first foreign-born elder upon his retirement in 1984. Elders must also have fought at least one tournament in the san'yaku ranks ( komusubi and above), [2] or else twenty tournaments in the top makuuchi division or thirty as a sekitori (makuuchi or jūryō division). [3] The rules were modified in November 2013 to allow membership after only 28 sekitori tournaments in certain circumstances, [4] and former wrestlers who are inheriting an existing stable need only 12 makuuchi tournaments or 20 in jūryō. However, membership can only be acquired by acquiring or inheriting toshiyori-kabu, or elder stock, in the JSA. There are only 105 shares available, and the increasing lifespan of elders has meant that they take longer to become vacant. As a result, over the course of many years, the decreasing availability of elder stocks caused their price to greatly increase, with stock reportedly selling for up to 500 million yen. Often the only way wrestlers, even very successful ones, could afford a share is if they have a large and wealthy group of supporters and financial backers. After the sumo association became a "public interest corporation" in the wake of the 2011 match fixing scandal the buying and selling of elder stocks has been prohibited, and possession reverts to the sumo association when an elder retires, and the JSA determines the next holder.

Japanese nationality law

Japanese nationality is a legal designation and set of rights granted to those people who have met the criteria for citizenship by parentage or by naturalization. Nationality is in the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice and is generally governed by the Nationality Law of 1950.

Takamiyama Daigorō is a former sumo wrestler, the first foreign-born wrestler to win the top division championship. His highest rank was sekiwake. His active career spanned twenty years from 1964 to 1984, and he set a number of longevity records, including most tournaments ranked in the top makuuchi division, and most consecutive top division appearances. He is also the first foreign-born wrestler ever to take charge of a training stable, founding Azumazeki stable in 1986. His most successful wrestler was fellow Hawaiian Akebono who reached the highest rank of yokozuna in 1993. He retired as a coach in 2009.

<i>Makuuchi</i> top division of professional sumo wrestling

Makuuchi (幕内) or makunouchi (幕の内), is the top division of the six divisions of professional sumo. Its size is fixed at 42 wrestlers (rikishi), ordered into five ranks according to their ability as defined by their performance in previous tournaments.

An exception to the purchase requirement is made for the most successful former yokozuna , sometimes referred to as dai-yokozuna, who may be offered a one-time membership of the JSA, or ichidai-toshiyori status. Three former wrestlers, Taihō, Kitanoumi and Takanohana obtained this status. A fourth, Chiyonofuji, was offered this status but preferred a normal share. These four all achieved more than twenty tournament championships in their active career. [5]

Alternatively, former yokozuna of any level of success can stay in the JSA for up to five years under their shikona or ring name, while former ōzeki can stay for three. Musashimaru and Tochiazuma were examples in 2008. Former wrestlers below that rank, since the abolition of the jun-toshiyori system in December 2006 (which allowed a two year stay), have no such grace period and must leave the sumo world immediately and permanently unless they have either already purchased a share or can borrow one from a wrestler active in the ring. It is not uncommon for a former wrestler to switch to and from several elder names over the years while searching for a permanent one. Former sekiwake Kotonishiki for example, borrowed six (Wakamatsu, Takenawa, Asakayama, Araiso, Hidenoyama and Nakamura) different elder names after his retirement in September 2000 before finally procuring the vacant Asahiyama elder name as his own in 2016. [6]

A shikona is a sumo wrestler's ring name.

Tochiazuma Daisuke Japanese sumo wrestler

Tochiazuma Daisuke is a retired sumo wrestler. He began his professional career in 1994, reaching the top division just two years later after winning a tournament championship in each of the lower divisions. After winning twelve special prizes and four gold stars, he reached his highest rank of ōzeki in 2002 and won three top division tournament championships before retiring because of health reasons in 2007 at the age of 30. In 2009 he became the head coach of Tamanoi stable.

All toshiyori have a mandatory retirement age of 65. In 2014, a new rule was instituted that allowed a 5-year extension to 70 if approved by the board of the JSA. Such special extension toshiyori must take a 30% pay reduction and cannot serve on the JSA board. It is rare for an elder with a permanent toshiyori name to leave before that time, but there have been a few examples. Former yokozuna Wajima was asked to resign in 1985 after putting up his stock as collateral on a loan, former komusubi Futatsuryū, head of Tokitsukaze stable, was expelled in 2007 because of his involvement in the death of one of his young recruits, and former sekiwake Takatōriki was dismissed in 2010 because of a gambling scandal. The former komusubi Maenoshin and maegashira Kasugafuji and Hamanishiki are other, less high-profile examples.

Futatsuryū Junichi Sumo wrestler

Futatsuryū Jun'ichi was a sumo wrestler from Hokkaidō, Japan. After retirement he became the head coach of Tokitsukaze stable. Following his involvement in the hazing and death of trainee Takashi Saito, in October 2007 he became the first serving stablemaster to be dismissed by the Japan Sumo Association. In May 2009 he was sentenced to six years in prison. He died on August 12, 2014 of lung cancer.

Tokitsukaze stable

The Tokitsukaze stable is a stable of sumo wrestlers in Japan, one of the Tokitsukaze group of stables. It was founded in 1769 and was dominant during the Taishō period.

Takatōriki Tadashige is a former sumo wrestler and professional wrestler from Kobe, Japan. He made his professional debut in 1983, reaching the top division in 1990. His highest rank was sekiwake. Known for his great fighting spirit, he won 14 tournament prizes, including a record ten Kantō-shō, and earned nine gold stars for defeating yokozuna ranked wrestlers. He wrestled for the highly successful Futagoyama stable. He was twice runner-up in top division tournaments and in March 2000, from the maegashira ranks, he unexpectedly won the yūshō or championship. He retired in 2002 and became the head coach of Ōtake stable, having married the daughter of the previous owner of the heya, the great yokozuna Taihō. However, he was dismissed from the Sumo Association in 2010 for his role in an illegal gambling scandal.


Much like other staff members of the JSA (such as referees and ushers), elders are also subject to a rank structure; only the lowest-ranking members are strictly known as toshiyori. The ranks are as follows:

Primus inter pares is a Latin phrase meaning first among equals. It is typically used as an honorary title for someone who is formally equal to other members of their group but is accorded unofficial respect, traditionally owing to their seniority in office. Historically, the princeps senatus of the Roman Senate was such a figure and initially bore only the distinction that he was allowed to speak first during debate. Also, Constantine the Great was given the role of primus inter pares. However, the term is also often used ironically or self-deprecatingly by leaders with much higher status as a form of respect, camaraderie, or propaganda. After the fall of the Republic, Roman emperors initially referred to themselves only as princeps despite having power of life and death over their "fellow citizens". Various modern figures such as the Chair of the Federal Reserve, the prime minister of parliamentary regimes, the Federal President of Switzerland, the Chief Justice of the United States, the Chief Justice of the Philippines, the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Communion and the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall under both senses: bearing higher status and various additional powers while remaining still merely equal to their peers in important senses.

Promotion up to iin occurs almost exclusively by seniority and is generally a fairly quick process; the majority of all elders are ranked as iin. Two exceptions apply: Elders using a borrowed share cannot be promoted from toshiyori, while very successful former wrestlers (generally, yokozuna and ōzeki) immediately receive full iin privileges as iin taigu toshiyori upon their retirement from active competition, even before their normal advancement up the ladder will take them to shunin and later iin status.

Furthermore, the fuku-riji and riji positions require a nomination for and subsequent election to the board of the JSA (or direct confirmation in case there are no more candidates than positions), with elections being held biennially. Yakuin taigu iin are named to their position by the chief director.

See also

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Sadogatake stable

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Ōnomatsu stable

Ōnomatsu stable is a stable of sumo wrestlers, one of the Nishonoseki ichimon or group of stables. It was founded in its modern form on 1 October 1994 by Masurao Hiroo, who branched off from the now defunct Oshiogawa stable. His first wrestler to reach the top makuuchi division was Katayama in 2005. The now retired Wakakōyū reached komusubi in 2012, as did Ōnoshō in 2017. The stable's most successful foreign recruit has been the Russian former maegashira Amūru, who retired in 2018.

Nishonoseki stable (2014)

Nishonoseki stable, formerly known as Matsugane stable, is a stable of sumo wrestlers. It was founded in 1990 by Wakashimazu of the Futagoyama stable. Wakashimazu, now known as Nishonoseki-oyakata, is also the chairman of the Nishonoseki group of stables or ichimon. It has produced three top makuuchi division wrestlers in that time; Wakakosho (2000), Wakatsutomu (2001), Harunoyama (2004), and Shōhōzan (2011). After the retirement of Harunoyama in November 2006 the stable had no sekitori until Shōhōzan reached the jūryō division in March 2010. As of January 2019 it had 11 wrestlers.

Azumazeki stable

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Dewanoumi stable

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Miyagino stable

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Kasugano stable

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Sakaigawa stable

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Takamisugi Takakatsu is a former sumo wrestler from Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. His highest rank was komusubi. He is now the head coach of Chiganoura stable.

The following are the events in professional sumo during 2009.

The following are the events in professional sumo during 2003.

The following are the events in professional sumo during 2013.

The following are the events in professional sumo during 2016.


  1. Miki, Shuji (5 May 2018). "Why can only Japanese nationals become sumo association elders?". Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  2. Gunning, John (13 June 2018). "Byzantine rules govern sumo's name shares". Japan Times. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  3. Gunning, John (9 May 2018). "Future without sumo unthinkable for Hakuho". Japan Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  4. "年寄名跡取得の条件を緩和 関取在位期間を2場所短縮" (in Japanese). Sponichi. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  5. Note that the Japanese citizen requirement still applies in this case, so Asashōryū, who won 25 championships, was not offered ichidai-toshiyori status and neither will Hakuhō, despite surpassing Taihō's all-time record of 32 championships, as both are still Mongolian citizens. If Hakuhō applies for and receives Japanese citizenship (as he is reported to be considering as of July 2017), he would become eligible for ichidai-toshiyori status.
  6. "Kotonishiki Katsuhiro Kabu History". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 25 July 2014.