“Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence.
Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived
— a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.” – Helen
To tell the tale of one Hana Kimura means a lot in this current timeline.
Knowing that her memory isn’t out of people’s mind but hoping that her memory would remain forever also.
From her time in the Independents. To her time in Stardom. And her time in the now unpopular Terrace House.
Everyone truly remembers her in one way or another.
As I post this article it will be just past Hana Kimura’s 23rd birthday and to tell you the truth it is harder to recount what made her so special than to just celebrate her legacy and life through a simple tweet.
But with grief comes the need to look at those moments. To show to newer fans who wish to learn more. And why her name is beyond something that can be deemed a ‘tall tale of cyber bullying’ or ‘why reality TV isn’t purely based on reality’.
Because she is more than what caused her to pass on.
She is more than the negative.
Her Independent Legacy
Hana, in regards to her time on the Japanese independents, was short lived and many of her matches are in the deepest and more illegal parts of the internet.
But it was her time working for Wrestle-1, international independents and her time in Mexico where you can find the gold underneath everything else.
Working on and off for Wrestle-1 from 2016 all the way to early 2019, this is the company besides Stardom that has seen the majority of Hana’s growth as a wrestler.
From the earliest of match-ups between her and former TJPW roster member Reika Sakai to an eventual partnership of her and ASUKA (Veny) to form the team known as ‘Flourish’.
It is telling from matches that I could dig up and find the results on that Hana was a worker and a competitor after her own mother’s heart, Kyoko.
One of the matches from her Wrestle-1 era of competing is the Wrestle-1 show: ‘Pro Wrestling Love’ in Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium.
With her against ASUKA (Veny).
Intensity from beginning to end, the relationship these two had when wrestling in singles competition can be nothing else but described as that.
Throughout the running time from the beginning to end, you can tell who was a fan favourite face and heel.
With ASUKA at that time running as a cunning champion and Hana recently returned from an excursion in Mexico.
With the result of this match up ending in Hana’s favour, it was bound to end civilly right?
Well, with no hug returned, many at that time assumed this would end up to be more than a one time thing.
With no physical records besides Cagematch showing their second ever singles together with ASUKA triumph, through these two matches the beauty of ‘Flourish’ came to be.
Her Mexico excursion in mid 2018 was probably the hardest one to find actual match information on.
However the only clip available was her attacking Star Fire, a luchadora well known for working the Lucha scene.
But with no excursion clips to find, it shows the importance that the trip had to her.
Regarding her wrestling identity and how it would change only a few mere months later.
Kyoko vs Hana
These matches had significance to the growth of Hana’s wrestling as a whole and also the relationship to her opponent in question.
The two times Kyoko wrestled Hana on Hana’s Produced Show in 2016 and during Kyoko’s retirement in 2017.
These are the perfect representation of family bonds within a tough situation such as wrestling.
If ASUKA vs Hana was intense, the two matches of Kyoko vs Hana was that intensity times a hundred.
From strength to strength.
Move to move.
Each point of both of their match ups showed the nature of their relationship.
The love that they had for one another as mother and daughter, even through negative words and actions, was and will forever be shown through those two matches.
Her Stardom Legacy
Hana Kimura and Stardom are the two things that are often easily associated with one another and it isn’t surprising.
The amount of love the two had individuality reflected in the positives that Hana received throughout her time in the promotion.
Case in point; when she was revealed to be the mysterious ‘X’ that was going to join Oedo Tai in 2016 to a rage of positivity and pink/white streamers.
But the difference between Hana in the independent scene and Hana in Stardom was based around what groups she was in; how close she was to the members and also her connection to leadership.
Oedo Tai Era
During that era of when Hana was in Oedo Tai is when the golden era of Oedo Tai really shone through, from group dynamics at an all time high to leadership.
But with the positive comes the negative with that fact that she never shined brightly during her time in the group.
She did have her moments – especially during the Oedo Tai era of ROH matches, but she never had the spark that she was currently known for in the years to come.
That is, until she came back from Mexico.
Although only a small three month excursion, like mentioned briefly, it changed her character as soon as she came back.
Quickly betraying Oedo Tai and Kagestu’s leadership in 2018 to transform into a new version of herself.
A brightly coloured one at that.
Factionless to TCS!
From strength to strength.
Hana’s time as a factionless competitor allowed her to prove herself to be a strong competitor against those she was always against and those that were once close to her in alliance.
Forming connections with gaijin far and wide, to winning the 5Star GP in 2019 to even performing the MSG in New York and the Tokyo Dome.
The sky was truly the limit.
Even to the limit of following in her mother’s footsteps into becoming a leader of a faction simply known to everyone as ‘Tokyo Cyber Squad’.
Lead alongside Jungle Kyona, Konami, Rina and Ruaka.
TCS currently is a faction that mainly focuses on individuality and acceptance as well as putting importance onto gaijin and those who wouldn’t fit into other factions such as; Stars or Oedo Tai.
They are the faction for the fans that felt lost in the joshi world, they are the faction that represent those who are unique.
Even represented in their faction mantra;
“みんな違うんだよ 誰もが良い人だ .”
– translated: “Everybody is different. Everybody is good/special.”
Her General Presence in a Legacy
‘Terrace House’ unfortunately is apart of her legacy late into her life, however it showed audiences a side of her whether it was positive or negatively influenced.
Because as much as Hana Kimura was a wrestler.
Hana Kimura was also a part of a show marketed to be ‘reality’.
This will be mainly on the positives of her influence on the show and going into the negatives later.
The Positives of Terrace House
Her involvement in Terrace House was one of conflict; on one hand we got to experience her personality away from the ring and on a more intimate scale.
But on the other hand there was the mention of said ring and career and how audiences/cast members would take to it.
Which for both is on the positive.
Her main goal, excluding love, was to express the beauty that pro wrestling was to her.
Getting more viewership to Stardom and ultimately having more people appreciate womens/joshi wrestling as a whole.
Which, in the nature of the show, did indeed work. With members of the household coming to support her at matches (even by producers’ influence).
Ultimately being proud of her achievements.
On the other hand in regards to bonding relationships with influences to the side, the connection of Hana and Kai was one that Terrace House needed.
They were goofy, they were caring, they were child-like at times.
But they were genuine to audiences.
On a personal level, there was a connection throughout the season run that reminded myself of a personal realtionship.
How the support they both had for one another didn’t damage anything in the end.
It was refreshing to see two people connect in a natural way through an unnatural programme.
But even without the negative claims, she was received to the show as warm, kind and full of heart which reflected on how she was on social media also.
With business related posts mixed in between posts commenting to co-workers/friends and the occasional cat video retweet.
Truly just like any other person online.
Mental Health and Social Perception
Reality Television is produced in a similar way that Wrestling is and no that isn’t a joke.
From Hana’s situation we can see how heads of companies/productions can manipulate a person’s perception to the audience around them.
Resulting in either a positive or negative audience reaction.
Similar to a Heel/Face situation.
But there is a fine line between knowing that you’re being perceived this way and rolling along with it.
And finding out through harmful messages and forceful situations.
And the fine line often leaves those in worse situations.
After her passing there was clearance in the manipulation of producers and to see that she was never in the wrong.
To Kai’s message after 49 days of her passing making it clear that they were indeed on good terms again and he never had any malice towards her.
And finally to Kyoko, constantly fighting everyday for this to never happen to anyone else.
But this questions what the relationship to the internet really is to the majority of people.
Whether it is an escapism of other negative just to get more negative in return?
Or is it a way to push out feelings without any action in return?
Maybe these are the questions worth answering.
There was a conversation one of our writers Lizzy had with Kenny Omega regarding a now unliked tweet from one Dave Meltzer.
Besides the initial conversation there was one tweet that very much stuck out to me and it’s a reflection of what I want to address next:
Throughout Hana’s situation those who chose to mob on her were doing it out of a simple goal of ‘wanting to bring justice to those hurt’.
While also gaining attention to those who agreed with them.
Resulting in more and more of a mob.
Thus resulted in a pile on of negative which outweighs the positivity.
Because doing something right for the good of others, doesn’t make people think of the people hurting in the process.
And doing it through a screen is more likely to not impact as much as the person in question.
That’s the reality of all of the everyday.
That is the reality of the world wide web.
Personal Final Thoughts
To touch on this subject on such an open platform was something never thought of a few months ago.
But seeing various tweets quoting the same mantra of ‘wishing she did more’ ‘wishing she had a legacy’ made me want to push on with this article.
Digging down into her catalog of matches and just showing the already amazing legacy she had created with her career.
As well as address the truth of the situation.
More than ever, I needed to celebrate a life after a passing rather than gloom over it and then move on.
Because the learning lesson from researching into Hana’s legacy and being a fan of hers was the fact that she lived until she couldn’t live anymore.
She had a beacon of light that others connected to and cherished.
She changed lives in a physical and parasocial sense.
Hana’s legacy was never about the matches she put on nor the transformations in her career.
Hana’s legacy is and always will be just her.
Truly that is a beautiful thing to live on in.