Hana Kimura — A Lesson In Perception & Choice

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(Updated 07/01/2020)

I want to preference this by stating for the world the I’m a big fan of pro wrestler Hana Kimura. Yes, I will be discussing her suicide and what ran up to her untimely and heart-wrenching death. This is not a critique but a study that could provide what I think is valuable insight and life lessons for those of us who struggle with life. 

I know for a fact that some moron out there will only skim this article and spin it as something negative towards Kimura. (It had happen to me most recently when I eulogized the death of my cousin Zachary on Facebook.) I have the utmost respect for Kimura as a person and a professional wrestle. She spent her life doing what most people don’t have the guts to do and making the necessary sacrifices in her life to pursue her goals. Despite of the way she ended life, Hana did the very best that she could with the knowledge that she had and the options that she was able to see through out her life. 

Who is Hana Kimura?

Copyright World Wonder Stardom/Bushiroad

Hana Kimura was a second-generation Japanese wrestler who was trained at and started with Keiji Mutoh’s Wrestle-1 promotion, and then bounced around between there, Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling and World Wonder Stardom, where she eventually settled in. She also made some pit-stops around the world for various indy promotions. Personally, Kimura had gotten me hooked on Stardom. I originally became interested in Stardom thanks to hot talents like Toni Storm and Karie Hojo (Karie Sane in World Wrestling Entertainment) when they first popped up in WWE’s NXT promotion. But I first laid eyes on her when she made a brief appearance in Ring of Honor with two fellow Oedo Tai stablemates. 

Kimura was one of those people who had what is often referred by people in the wrestling business as the illusive “IT”. If I could possibly describe “IT”, it’s the combination of an attractive appearance,  charisma, the capacity to connect with the audience. Many people have pieces of “IT”, but very few have that unique combination to become a massive star in pro-wrestling. Think Shawn Micheals, Steve Austin, the Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Rick Flair. Hana Kimura, in my less than humble opinion had those attributes in spades. 

For example, I saw ESPN’s documentary on Bruce Lee. He was an ethnic Chinese guy, born an American, raised in Hong Kong, and made his name back in America. Lee and his family suffered with all sorts of discrimination on both sides of the Pacific. He had “IT”. You couldn’t deny what you saw on screen. He was handsome, well spoken, and could connect with any viewer.

Hana Kimura always added those little details that enhanced everything she did, both in and out of the ring. She put everything into her character and made it larger than life for wrestling fans.

Before her untimely demised, she had solidly placed herself as a fixture in Stardom’s main event scene with the likes of Mayu Iwatani and Bea Priestley. In 2019, she massively put over Giulia and set her up for bigger things in her career, like winning the 2020 Cinderella Tournament before the Covid19-scare shut down Stardom.

Outside of pro-wrestling, Hana did a lot of modeling, some acting (although I haven’t confirmed this) and was in the Netflix reality series Terrace House

When The Preverbal Shit Hit the Fans

I’ve been frequenting Lords of Pain (wrestling news site) for probably a decade now. Usually I’ll bounce over there to see what’s going on and maybe read a column or two. That’s how I learned about Hana Kimura’s death. All that I can say that it was a f#cking shock. Many pro wrestlers have died, often much too young, but I hadn’t cried over anyone since Chris Benoit killed his family and took his own life.

Sounds kinda stupid, but I can connect with anyone who’s plagued with depression and attempts at suicide. Maybe “connect” is not the right word, but I’ve been down that road before. Suicide is an extreme solution to a lifetime of struggle. 

As a good Catholic, you get taught that suicides go to Hell. Like a lot of things in Catholicism, there’s not Scriptural basis that I’m aware of for this. I know that Jesus teaches that your body is a temple of the Lord. you should treat it with the utmost respect. At that time, I became stupidly fearful for Kimura’s soul. After some research, I feel a little better about that issue.

I Always Thought That She Had It All…

Perception is not reality, but our opinion based upon our limited knowledge of that person, situation, et cetera; and the view that we create with that limited knowledge and our personal biases.  We often poorly make decisions due to our limited perception. It’s a flaw that human beings deal with on a daily basis. 

What limited knowledge that we do acquire is often filtered through a third-party, who may or may not obtain it from a second-hand source. For example what made the Covid19-Scare so awful were that people were being informed by sources who either giving misinformation are out right junk science. So-called reputable sources like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Center For Disease Control used were constantly flip-flopping on there recommendations and disseminating bad data. The trouble with knowledge is that we can only acquire so much of it at a time. We never learn everything that we need to know, when we need it. We can only act utilizing the knowledge that we have.

Source: @hanadayo0903 on Instagram

My limited perception of Hana Kimura was that she was a relatively happy person, working hard, doing what she loved, and truly living life. Everything seemed to be falling into place for her. But that was the mask that she wore for the general public. We all wear masks for different people and different situations. Few people truly knew about her personal struggles, metal health issues, and all of the cr@p that she received on social media.

Cyber Bullying & the Mob

The unanimous opinion online has been that Hana was driven to suicide due to cyber bullying from fans of the reality series Terrace House. Fans of the show were upset over how Hana reacted to having an estimated $1,000 costume shrunk-down in the wash by another cast memeber. In reaction to that scene, she received all sorts of sociopathic tweets ranging from “All of the Japanese people are against you.”, to “Die.” 

07/01/2020 — I’ve just been made aware of a recent interview with Kyoko Kimura (in Japanese), Hana’s mother. She revealed that there was a great deal of manipulation by Tarrance House producers to up the dramma and make Hana come off like a villain. Please read the translation on Twitter by @farrahakase.

Cyber bullying is a mass over-reaction that ends in a dog-pile of self-righteous anger and venom. Very little thought is utilized when the mob strikes. Their anger is indirectly personal. And the consequence are rarely ever contemplated. Watching NHK’s special on cyber bullying, featured an interview of an unidentified guy in his 20’s who reacted poorly to Hana ripping on the guy who shrunk her costume. He was one of the ones who tweeted one of the more “mild” tweets towards Kimura. The guy who did the wash was a struggling comedian and slacker. Hana accused him of not taking life seriously. The unidentified tweeter wasn’t particularly successful in his own life and took Hana’s comments as a personal affront towards himself. So he felt bad and then felt angry. Then he tweeted.

Cybering bullying is an impulsive choice that people make. Did the fan have to tweet something nasty over an event that really shouldn’t had affected him? No. He should had behaved like a grown-@ss man instead of throwing a virtual tantrum like a child. I’m not saying that he had no right to feel angry. But it’s a television show. Terrance House was designed to invoke the emotions of the audience in order to keep them watching. Hours of video were recorded, chopped up, and pasted together to form the most engaging narrative.

None of the viewers get to fully know the cast members or the actual context of the circumstances filmed. I’m pretty certain that none of the people who were dog-piling on Hana Kimura over her appearances on Terrace House ever considered these things.

Yes, You Can Ignore the Trolls, Dammit!

Someone once wrote me that “people everywhere are craving for love…” We all need love. Some of us are smart about it, while some of us look for it in all of the wrong places.

Social media has this wondrous function commonly referred to as the LIKE button. Whenever we see a “like”, we receive an affirmation from a stranger for what we posted, and then our brain hits us with a shot of that sweet dopamine. Too much of the good stuff allows our social media experience to get out of hand.

On the flip-side, when the exact opposite occurs and people are tweeting at you because your post because their mad. Then your brain begins to dump cortisol into your system, making you feel terrible over the trolls who are condemning you. From my understanding, Hana’s psychological state couldn’t handle the 100s of anger tweets day in and day out, as she revealed online,

“Nearly 100 opinions every day. I couldn’t deny that I was hurt. I’m dead. Thank you for giving me a mother. It was a life I wanted to be loved… Thank you to everyone who supported me. I love it. I’m weak. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be alive anymore. It was a life I wanted to be loved. Thank you everyone. I love you. Bye.”

Mulling over the comments of trolls on a daily basis is healthy for no one. Ideally, Hana should had take a break from social media and turned off the notifications on her phone. This would had allowed for an opportunity to clear her mind as opposed to driving herself into a blackhole of despair. Giving cyber bullies who don’t really know you, who you’ll like never get to meet in real life, and who wouldn’t have the guts to tell you how they really feel to your face your attention is also a choice. Yes, you too can just ignore the trolls as opposed to give them power.

Source: @hanadayo0903 on Instagram

A Brief Note on Depression

I have to bring this up. There are two types of depression: 1) The temporary kind like you would experience after the death of a loved one; 2) There chronic depression. It’s a form of sadness and self-loathing that never seems to go a way, no matter what you do.

When you’re stuck with #2, your entire perspective on life is tilted towards the negative. Everything that you do is riddled with mistakes and errors. People’s praise is either unwarranted or in error. Sure you can put on a happy-face, but you’re still a miserable f#ck with no hope. You don’t sleep well. you react poorly towards most people. Maybe you try to self-medicate. And one problem seems to beget another.

It broke my heart to hear of Hana’s suicide. It wasn’t the right choice because so many people end up getting hurt by her death. People who feel driven to suicide fail to realize all of the people who really do love them and how they’ll be affected by their death. 

After posting photos of self-harm, many of Hana’s fans tweeted their support and love for her. There were even people who contacted members of Stardom to check on her. But it wasn’t enough. By the time she was found, it was too late. 

Photo from Hana Kimura’s funeral. Copyright World Wonder Stardom/Bushiroad

Hey, I Have An Idea! Let’s Make A Law!

I keep reading that people want to have a “conversation” about cyber bullying. For me there’s not much to discuss. Cyber bullying for me boils down to not leveraging the “Golden Rule”. You know, the one that Christ taught,

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you:do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" Matthew 7:12

Human beings by their nature do bad things. No one is born a “good person”. One has to learn how to become and work hard towards becoming someone who is good. In our age of stupidity, we dehumanize people whom we disagree with. It makes it easier to cr@p on someone from a far.

Japanese politicians are rushing through legislation “doing something about” cyber bulling, but just like their counter parts in the United States Congress, I guarantee that none of them will ever read a single page of whatever tripe gets passed. 

Whatever does pass as law will have a chilling effect on free expression online. I will also guarantee that the new legislation will harm political speech. If you have a problem with a governor, mayor, or any other civil servant, expressing yourself via social media might get you in trouble or blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, etc.

But people keep going to the government again and again for solutions because they lack the willingness to assume responsibility for their own behavior and their own problems. People who lack self-discipline are incapable of being free.

That’s not to say that I am opposed to laws that would make it easier to sue for slander online. Some people make their money with their reputation. Online character assassination or purposely false accusations should be dealt with in a court of law.

The Need To Focus On Mental Health

I honestly don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Everybody’s different. Everyone struggles with different issues in their life. Mental health is a difficult conversation to have with one another due to all of the stigmas and fears associated. People suffering with depression have trouble being open about it due to potential embarrassment and/or  alienation. No one wants to be labeled as “crazy” or “weak”.

One the other end of the spectrum, no one wants to offend anyone who may need help. Or people may believe that they aren’t capable of helping anyone suffering from the likes of depression.

Friends, family, and co-workers need to provide the occasional helping hand if someone is struggling. They may reject that help out of pride, but it will let that person know that there’s someone they can reach out to. 

Everybody’s Different. Everyone’s Special.

If you’re struggling with severe depression or thoughts of suicide, I can only give you the same advice that anyone else will give you. Get help!  Sounds lame, huh?

Yeah, I know life is a struggle. But life is a series of struggles. It’s not about the mythical golden pot of gold at the end of your rainbow, it’s about the journey. Only you can make life work for you. There’s no lottery. There’s no pill. There’s nothing out there that will magically make you feel good about yourself and your life. You must choose to improve your own circumstances.

Life is all about choices. Sometimes they range from shit to crap, but they exist. Sometimes we pick the wrong choice and f#ck up. But that’s okay. It’s never the end of the world. It just looks that way.

Start by accepting where you are right now. Then figure out your first step to move forward. Nothing happens overnight, but eventually the highs and lows will become less extreme.

“Yes sir!”

Tokyo Cyber Squad Salutes you!
“Everybody’s different! Everybody’s Special! Yes Sir!!” Copyright World Wonder Stardom/Bushiroad

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