Part IV: Epilogue
Is Hana Kimura an angel?
“Irving Shaw. God Was Here, But He Left Early. That keeps coming to my mind for some reason,” Fumi Saito explained.
Some are convinced she is.
Kyoko Kimura spent much of this summer speaking with Japanese media in an effort to call out Fuji TV and directors of Terrace House for irresponsible and errant practice regarding Hana. She explained to Mainichi,
“Cast members are in a weak position. There’s no way they’re in a place to say that they can’t do something they’re asked to. Like with people who are victims of harassment, the harasser may say they perceived there to be ‘no coercion,’ but for the person affected it’s different.”
Kimura has also started a subscriber-only blog to express herself more candidly. She’s also been outspoken about ending anonymous online harassment and called on people to stop spreading hate on Twitter. This is indicative of Kyoko’s character, though; as mentioned in Part II of this series, Kyoko Kimura is inevitable.
Hana Kimura’s legend has undoubtedly grown despite her absence. Fans across the globe have created tributes, written and otherwise, to Hana’s memory. Ring of Honor dedicated an entire episode of their weekly television show to Hana, on top of the many documentaries and tributes to her on Japanese TV over the year. The question of “Will fans forget Hana Kimura?” has seemingly been answered, and fans across the world can rest easy in that she’ll always be around in some form another—she is clearly unforgettable.
The story of Hana and Kyoko is, really, a story about two free spirits exploring life together, regardless of cultural norms; they both are citizens of the world, not only Japan. In teaching Hana the philosophy of pro wrestling, Hana found freedom within it, and at a young age. She understood as a child how liberating the pro wrestling lifestyle could be, which led to her having an expert mind for the ring at 22. In Stardom, Hana was often in placed in charge of her team for trios matches—she was that trusted. It was as if Kyoko’s iron will was on loan to her. She absorbed Kyoko’s free spirit early on and it stayed inside of her.
“For the 15 years I was doing it, I would always show up to matches ready to compete; the thing that fueled me was my wish to work hard for Hana.”
But, according to Fumi Saito, Hana left before Kyoko’s story finished. “I don’t think the story is over yet,” Saito said.
Between pandemic restrictions, the Terrace House situation, and Bushiroad’s recent purchase (and overhaul of Stardom), Hana’s life changed in a blink, from living and breathing wrestling to having nothing but online slander.
Hana would at first respond to the hate, but it lead to more bullying . She played a heel role on the show and when wrestling for Stardom, but she played it so well that many believed that was her true nature, though everyone from inside wrestling knew better and spoke otherwise of her; Hana Kimura was the total opposite of a heel in real life.
Radio and podcast host Jim Valley, who did English commentary on Stardom’s New York City show alongside Fumi Saito last April, shared with us a story highlighting Hana’s true nature. After the show finished, Valley and the rest of the crew walked to a nearby restaurant for a celebratory dinner. He saw Hana and Momo Watanabe walking a few hundred feet in front of him, sharing an umbrella in the New York City rain, laughing arm in arm. “They were two teenage girls being teenagers,” Valley recalled.
According to Fumi Saito, the story of Hana and Kyoko Kimura isn’t over yet. Hana Kimura lives on inside of Kyoko, and her essence only grows with time. To many, she was a beacon of hope, the shooting star of 2020, the person who’d lead women’s wrestling into the future—only to leave early. She had to, though, as it is the way she brought us all here today, together.
(words by Thich Nhat Hahn, translation Justin M Knipper)
The only thing worthy of you is compassion.
Invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
your courage intact, your eyes kind, untroubled,
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile,
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you will behold you across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.
無限の空が地球という形を取り、 輪廻 が 空 なる無と解脱に吸収されますように。