Hundreds gather to pay final respects to late yokozuna Chiyonofuji

Kyodo

Some 1,000 turned out to honor late legendary sumo wrestler Chiyonofuji on Sunday, when the funeral and memorial service were held at Tokyo’s Kokonoe stable.

Cattleya, the orchid loved by the iconic former yokozuna, were laid inside his coffin, as his former stablemate and fellow yokozuna Hokutoumi, current Japan Sumo Association head director, and former ozeki Chiyotaikai, who succeeds Chiyonofuji as stablemaster Kokonoe, spoke.

“I will take the way of sumo that the master taught me, etch it into every fiber of my body and strive to uphold it,” the new stablemaster said in his eulogy before the hearse left for Ryogoku Kokugikan, an arena Chiyonofuji ruled as a wrestler.

Chiyonofuji, a lean muscular Hokkaido native affectionally nicknamed “wolf,”ranked third in career championships, with 31. He died a week earlier at the age of 61 due to pancreatic cancer.

“I came to realize how loved my father was. We didn’t have much time together as a family but we could share his last moments together,” his second daughter Kozue said Saturday night, when around 2,000 attended his wake.

Chiyonofuji was the first sumo wrestler to receive the People’s Honor Award in 1989 and was also the first wrestler to win 1,000 bouts in 1990.

A public send-off ceremony is scheduled on Oct. 1 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.