The 27-year-old, dressed in a suit and tie at a news conference in Tokyo, said that while he was stepping back from competition, he would continue his career as a professional athlete.
He added he would keep striving to achieve the fabled quadruple axel — which has never been completed in competition — following his unsuccessful attempt at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Hanyu, a two-time world champion and winner of four Grand Prix Finals, is known to his worldwide fan base — including a massive following in China — as the “Ice Prince.”
His supporters are known for throwing Winnie the Pooh toys onto the ice after his performances; the skater considers the A.A. Milne character a lucky charm.
Hanyu expressed his “deepest gratitude” to his fans on Tuesday, adding he hoped people would continue supporting him and believing “it’s worth watching me skate.”
“Please continue to watch me fight,” he said, bowing several times to the cameras and reporters.
Many fans flooded to social media to express their support for his decision on Tuesday, thanking him for his hard work and dedication to the sport over the years.
He defended his title at the PyeongChang 2018 Games — the first male figure skater since 1952 to win back-to-back Olympic golds.
Hanyu attempted to secure a third gold medal at the Beijing Winter Games in February — but injured his ankle during practice, and fell while attempting the notoriously difficult quad axel.
Hanyu had not managed to successfully complete the four-and-a-half rotation jump before bringing it to the ice, and he ultimately placed fourth in the competition.
In June, Hanyu conducted an ice show tour through Japan but did not speak with media, the Olympics site said.