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n. (context sumo English) an elder


A toshiyori (年寄) is a sumo elder of the Japan Sumo Association. 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.

To become an elder, a retiring wrestler must be a Japanese citizen and must have fought at least one tournament in the san'yaku ranks, or else twenty tournaments in the top makuuchi division or thirty as a sekitori (makuuchi or jūryō division). (The rules were modified in November 2013 to allow membership after only 28 sekitori tournaments in certain circumstances.) However, membership can only be obtained by purchasing toshiyori-kabu, or elder stock, in the Japan Sumo Association. There are only 105 shares available for purchase, and the increasing lifespan of elders has meant that they take longer to become vacant. As a result, their decreasing availability has caused their price to greatly increase, with stock now reportedly selling for up to 500 million yen. Often the only way wrestlers, even very successful ones, can afford a share is if they have a large and wealthy group of supporters and financial backers.

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 Association, 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.

Alternatively, former yokozuna of any level of success can stay in the Japan Sumo Association 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, 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 rikishi still active in the ring. It is not uncommon for a former wrestler to go through several elder name 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.

All toshiyori have a mandatory retirement age of 65. It is rare for an elder with a permanent toshiyori name to leave before that time, but 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 are other, less high-profile examples.