Two years after retiring from sumo, Toyonoshima gets his ceremony

Toyonoshima, born as Daiki Kajiwara, during his retirement ceremony at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on May 28, 2022. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

During the May 2022 Japan Sumo Association Grand Tournament (or the Tokyo Basho), a former wrestler sat in a hallway at a table, quietly selling tickets to his own retirement ceremony. Yes, once a wrestler quits his sport but decides to remain in it in another capacity, it’s back to barreling down the ranks as far as responsibilities are concerned – whether you are a yokozuna or in the lowest division.

However, for Toyonoshima (豊ノ島) and others who retired just prior to or during the pandemic, such ceremonies officially commemorating the end of a wrestler’s sumo career – as well as the trademark hairstyle which is slowly snipped away over several hours in the middle of the dohyō – were completely backed up. Since ceremonies are held in order of retirement, the schedule is now delayed by about two years. For Toyonoshima, who actually retired on Apr. 17, 2020, this meant an onsite date at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan of May 28, 2022. (Hakuho, the Mongolian yokozuna who is considered to be the greatest sumo wrestler of all time, retired in September 2021 and is finally getting his ceremony on January 28, 2023.)

Toyonoshima’s highest rank as a sumo wrestler was sekiwake, the third-highest behind the top rank of yokozuna. As such, he will be referred to as a former sekiwake for the rest of his life. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

Among the ceremony highlights was an exhibition match between Toyonoshima and former ozeki (and good friend) Kotoshogiku, in which the more recent retiree won a spirited bout.

Sopranista Okamoto Tomotaka delivered a majestic performance.

The haircutting ceremony, which featured many VIPs from and outside the world of sumo, lasted several hours. Current yokozuna Terunofuji was one of many who paid his respects.

Toyonoshima’s wife, Sunaho Takeuchi, and daughter presented bouquets to the former sumo wrestler. His daughter also gave a speech.

At the end of the ceremony, Toyonoshima unveiled his new clean haircut – signifying a new chapter in his sumo life – and greeted fans outdoors, but not before a number of current wrestlers in various divisions competed in exhibition bouts. Going forward, Toyonoshima will always be referred to his highest rank of sekiwake (three ranks below yokozuna status). Although he did not win a championship in the highest makuuchi division, he finished as the runner-up in five basho and recorded four gold stars, which are given to a wrestler each time he heats a yokozuna. These included three victories against Harumafuji and one versus Hakuho.

Catch all our footage from Toyonoshima’s retirement ceremony in our YouTube playlist and photos below: