Apologies if this post isn’t written very cohesively, this is the first time I’ve written a long-form obituary before and dealt with some self doubt on if it would even be appropriate for me to be writing an in memoriam post for a person I’ve never met, from a country thousands of miles away. It felt a bit weird to try and eulogize someone who you only knew as a wrestler and celebrity that you were a fan of; I have no personal stories of meeting Hana Kimura or of seeing her matches live but I still felt a need to write about how bright of a person Hana Kimura was, the people she inspired, and the lasting impact she left on her friends, family, and fans. This is unfortunately also another entry in the long list of young women who have attempted and those who succeeded in taking their own lives as well as the women who have been attacked because they committed the crime of publicly emoting or expressing themselves in a way our male-dominate societies deem “unacceptable” “rude” or “unlady like”. As of writing this post it has only just been 24 hours since Hana started posting a worrying string of tweets that ended in “Everyone, I love you. Bye bye”. Despite it being around 3 am in Japan, fans were immediately concerned and were trying to reach out to her promotion and those close to her to try and get help to her as soon as possible. Even her friends state-side did their best to get in contact, not even 12 hours later news broke from the official Stardom twitter account that Hana Kimura had passed away at age 22.
Hana first wrestling in the ring in DDT back in 2005 and shortly held the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight championship before losing it to her mother, Kyoko Kimura. Kyoko Kimura was a long time joshi wrestler best known by current fans for her afro and rasta colored ring gear. In 2016 Hana made her formal wrestling debut after training in the Wrestle-1 after being a ring girl for mma promotion Pancrase, it was easy to see that she had a level of charisma not seen by many that early in their wrestling career and she only got better as she wrestled in more promotions, JWP, Wrestle-1, Sendai Girls, Stardom, and others during 2017. Most will remember her for being apart of the Stardom stable Oedo Tai for most of her career sporting black and red ninja inspired gear alongside stable mates Kyoko Kimura, Kris Wolf, Kagetsu, and others. With the increasing international popularity of Stardom over the last years it was no surprise that Hana was able to connect with the growing audience with her unique looks and undeniable personality. Through out the day wrestlers and fans have been posting tweets, blogs, and articles expressing their sorrow for a young soul that they admired and loved. A common theme was how warm and friendly Hana was, how much she was willing to help foreign wrestlers in Japan, how much fun she was to hang out with outside of wrestling, and the positive impact she had on fans to make sure they enjoyed their time at the shows; it is undeniable that Hana had a heart of gold and spread her energy to everyone around her, further enriching their lives. With her passing a giant hole has been left in many people’s hearts that can now be only filled with a finite source of memories, a life that was cut short after 22 years is tragic especially a life that was cut short due to a perceived lack of options after being backed into a corner by a continued campaign of harassment used by people that perceived her actions on a reality show deemed inappropriate and out of line.
The reason why this tragedy happened is something similar to what happened to two South Korean singers last year, one of them also being famous in Japan. For years leading up to their passing Goo Hara and Sulli had been victims of online harassment, inconsequential things would get inflated into crisis of morality and decency in comments sections on websites like Naver and Pannchoa would spill over to social media and flood search bar results of their names with negativity. Goo Hara crying after being berated by MCs on radio show ‘Radio Star’ could be seen as the real driving force in negative forces starting to target her and had to deal with an abusive ex-boyfriend while Sulli seemed to live her life according to how she wanted to and that forever irritated people, she had received so much online hate she hosted a tv show about dealing with negativity online but unfortunately they both decided to take their own lives last year. Many different cultures have had long-time beliefs that people that are a part of the entertainment industry, whether through stage, film, music, etc, and other creatives are not as valuable to a society as the tradesmen, the intellectual, and in modern times those who specialize in STEM fields. Whenever entertainers make fortunes through “lesser skills” the bias against them grows and when there’s a misstep the hate, actually deserved or not, bubbles over and people attack these strangers through the anonymity of the internet with no second thought until that person either shows enough remorse or sometimes dies. Being a young female entertainer is often a difficult life to live, people and fans feel a sense of ownership through your public image, men often see you as an object of sexual desire, once you reach a certain level of fame you’re now expected to be a morally-just role model even if you never intended to be one, and the list continues until you’re stuck with the choice of either trying to fit this strict model that the populace wants you to be or try to be yourself and deal with the constant nagging disapproval of people in life and online. Harassment online against a specific target is never committed by fans, it’s by depraved people who target someone they feel they can easily affect through words and in the world of idols it’s usually young women who are the victims.
The inciting force that led to Hana taking her own life was an incident from Fuji TV & Netflix reality show, Terrace House, where housemate, Kai, had thrown his dirty laundry into the washer without checking it and shrunk Hana’s Wrestle Kingdom gear. His previous attitude towards house chores and life had created a tension that made Hana have an emotional burst late at night after they had a date that Kai had a friend pay for since he didn’t have enough of his own money. She gets very upset about her gear, that was expensive to have made and meant the world to her, got shrunk cause of someone’s carelessness and expressed all of her frustrations towards Kai in that moment. At the end of the argument she takes Kai’s hat off of his head and tells him not to touch her, it wasn’t a smack as some had described she just grabbed a hat off of his head in the heat of the moment. She would later apologize but the damage to her public image for some Terrace House viewers was already done, people continued to hound her and leave threats against her because of this five minutes of television. There’s a host on this show that is on hiatus because he’s committed tax fraud but he’s been allowed to live because he didn’t cross some arbitrary line that Hana did, she acted like a human who felt disrespected and was punished for it because people felt that they could target her and they succeeded. The World Wide Web has existed for thirty years now, simply logging off isn’t as easy as it was back in 1998 as websites, social media aka SNS, and other aspects of internet use have become vital parts of people’s lives. Cyber bullying has real life consequences just like physical abuse and it’s sometimes harder to escape because people from anywhere in the world can find you, any fault you may have, and use it as a slight against you as much as they want without punishment. Someone has lost their life at just twenty-two years old because of an argument on a tv show over laundry. This is all depraved people need to make another person a victim.