This article, written by Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Hyper Misao, originally appeared in Japanese in volume 5 of the poetry journal Nemuranai Ki. The accompanying photos did not appear in the magazine and were taken by yours truly at TJPW events on January 4 and 5, 2020.
Translator’s note: Tanka is a traditional Japanese poetic form with 31 syllables, typically divided in a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern. Tanka are written in one continuous line in Japanese, but commonly broken up into five lines in English translation.
This past February, I posted a tweet that sent a tiny murmur through poetry circles.
White steed of Bellerophon
Now up among the stars,
Will surely be kind to me
And kill you where you stand
—Kirin Fuyuno, age 18
That bit of tanka verse was published in Hiroshi Homura’s serial “Tanka, Please!” column in Da Vinci magazine. I am Kirin Fuyuno, or rather, I was; nowadays, I’m known as Hyper Misao, a professional wrestler. Five years after my wrestling debut in 2015, I decided to share that poem with my followers on Twitter, figuring it would be a fun fact for wrestling fans. I tweeted out a few photos of my present-day self wrestling, along with the cover of a “Tanka, Please!” compilation book that just so happened to have that poem of mine featured on the obi insert.
— ハイパーミサヲ Hyper Misao (@misao_tjp) February 2, 2020
I was positive that nobody would remember Kirin Fuyuno, whose career as a published poet spanned all of one poem in one magazine. But that tweet got a much, much larger reaction than I ever expected. Of course, that’s because there’s no apparent connection between poetry and pro wrestling, and people were surprised at the disparity. Who could blame them? Not even I ever expected that sensitive, delicate girl to enter the rough-and-tumble world of pro wrestling.
Back then, I was so fragile that I might’ve injured myself with every breath, and I had trouble getting a handle on the distance between myself and other people. I struggled with the feeling that my life was not my own. On one particularly bad day, I decided to skip my university classes and went to a bookstore instead. That was when I made my first encounter with Hiroshi Homura, through his poetry collection Kyuuai Doukou Hansha (Courtship’s Pupillary Light Reflex). I was astonished at how precisely he put words to all the pain that I was going through.
Soon I devoured every essay and poetry book of Homura’s that I could find. My new appetite led me to the contributors’ section of Da Vinci. I’d never written a tanka before in my life, but I started writing and sending in poem after poem. I had one mission: to be read by Hiroshi Homura himself. It felt less like I was submitting poems to a magazine, and more like I was sending him letters, or sharing pages from my diary. At last, Homura chose one of my poems to publish, along with a brief comment—giving me a solitary door connecting me to the world. Through tanka, I’d found a way to face up to something inside me that I’d ignored for a long time. It felt as if blood first began to flow through my veins at that moment.
I was struck by the sincerity shown in this poem from an 18-year-old girl. This poem is beyond the ability of any middle-aged man to write, myself included. If a middle-aged man really wants to kill somebody, provided he has the strength, authority, or money, he could probably manage. So who would ask Pegasus to do it with such sincerity? Someone meek, someone without money or authority. This is a prayer, and poetry and prayer are close neighbors. Of course, this doesn’t come from a place of hate towards “you,” but rather from a place of love.
—Hiroshi Homura’s comments on Fuyuno’s tanka
However, even though I’d managed to assuage my own inner world, I still had plenty of trouble facing the real world outside. Bit by bit, the balance between my body and mind crumbled. My grip on life was plummeting towards zero, with nothing to stop it.
But then, another chance encounter saved me; this time, it was pro wrestling. While I was out one day, I happened upon one of DDT’s Street Wrestling events and was immediately enthralled. Right before my eyes, actual, flesh-and-blood people were clashing with each other, getting knocked over, and rising again! Doing completely careless things with childish abandon and all the strength they could muster! It was a call to action. Before I knew it, I was talking to a representative from Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling about joining up. Instinct propelled me past any regard for what my parents or anyone else thought about it. It was the first decision I’d ever made of my own free will.
This bookish girl suddenly found herself on the road to wrestling—and it was a very rough road. Just keeping pace at practice was a Herculean effort, rewarded with a lot of pain. But thanks to that pain, I started to feel like my body was, at long last, coming back to me after long years apart.
Tanka helped soothe my spiritual pain, and wrestling helped me reclaim my physical pain as something of my own. To the outside observer, the connection might be impossible to trace. But to me, the journey from poetry to pro wrestling seems like the only obvious path towards reclaiming the flesh and blood I’d been missing. Both of them came into my life by sheer coincidence. I don’t know what the message is here, or who it’s from. But I sincerely hope that my unusual trajectory could one day spark change in someone else’s world. That selfish desire is what keeps me stepping into the ring.
I’d like to leave you with one more poem I wrote long ago:
A straight crayon line,
No matter how long its span,
How far from end to end,
When seen from straight ahead
Is only a single point