Tenryu joined sumo gym in 1963 at the age of 13 and became a paid competitor in 1973. However, due to an internal problem of the gym, he suddenly left sumo and joined All Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1976. After trained by the Funks in Amarillo, he had a debut match against Ted DiBiase in November of that year.
After the departure of Tiger Toguchi (Kim Duk/Tiger Chang Lee) in 81, he became the third guy of Al Japan after Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta. In All Japan, he had great feuds against Riki Choshu, Jumbo Tsuruta, and others. However, he left All Japan for a newly founded Super World Sports in 1990. SWS is closed in 1992, and he started WAR (Wrestle And Romance, later renamed Wrestle Association "R") where he had interpromotional feuds against New Japan, UWF Intertional, and FMW, but it also closed in 2000. He became a freelancer since then and wrestled for every major organization as well as some independent groups.
He has won several major titles in Japan in both singles and tag team divisions. However, his biggest achievement is probably the fact that he is the only Japanese to gain the pinfall wins from the two biggest stars in the puroresu history: Giant Baba (in 1989) and Antonio Inoki (in 1994).