The All Black loose forward Jerome Kaino says it was the toughest decision of his life, but he's excited about playing in Japan for the next two years.
The 28-year-old, who is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, had an option to end his NZRU contract following the Super Rugby season which he has chosen to do.
Kaino believes it's probably good timing for him to go, however he hopes to return and play for the All Blacks again.
The 48-test veteran, who will play for the Toyota club, says playing in Japan for two years could prolong his career.
Kaino's agents confirmed there was a lot of interest in him from overseas and that the NZRU couldn't compete with the money that was being offered.
NZRU CEO Steve Tew says they made a very strong bid to keep Kaino in New Zealand and would have loved for him to stay but, ultimately, they understand his decision.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says while it's obviously disappointing that Kaino is leaving, he respects and accepts his decision and hopes to see him back one day.
Kaino has the rare distinction of playing for every New Zealand national side since first pulling on the black jersey for New Zealand Schools in 2001.
He played all but one minute in the All Blacks successful Rugby World Cup campaign last year, was named player of the year and was a finalist for the IRB Player of the Year award.
Kaino is out of the game for six months after shoulder surgery.