TW: Suicide, self-harm, mental illness
I was up late on Friday night, struggling to fall asleep in the sticky heat of my childhood bedroom. My mindless scrolling was stopped short when I saw a photograph of a familiar, smiling face and the caption “please don’t let this be true.” Suddenly even more awake, I clicked through and read a headline I could not have predicted in a million years: Hana Kimura had taken her own life.
Kimura had been a regular presence in my life for the better part of the last year. As a devoted Terrace House fan, I became acquainted with her when she joined the cast of the popular Japanese reality show in September 2019. With her bright pink hair, tan skin, and infectious laugh, she was a welcome change from the lineup of porcelain models that the show has a habit of casting. Kimura was a well-known professional wrestler, and embodied the strength of her profession while remaining butter soft at heart. Some fans saw Kimura as irritating and immature, particularly when she began her romantic pursuit of housemate Ryo Tawatari, a professional basketball player. Yet, each time Kimura laughed a little too forcefully or struggled to hide her jealousy, I could only see myself in her. It’s a near-universal experience shared by unique women to face the pain of rejection on the basis of that uniqueness. Or, more simply put, to watch the object of your desire opt for someone blonde.
The critique Kimura received for her pursuit of Tawatari provided plenty of fodder for the denizens of Twitter. The vitriol aimed at Kimura escalated even further, though, following an incident between Kimura and fellow housemate Kai Kobayashi. After Kimura left her expensive, custom-made wrestling costumes in the laundry, Kobayashi failed to check the machine before doing his own washing and ultimately destroyed her costumes. There was a heated confrontation on the show, after which Kobayashi ultimately apologized and he and Kimura reconciled prior to Kobayashi’s departure from the show not long after.
While the incident seemingly blew over in the minds of the housemates, the internet refused to let it rest. It seems so trivial in retrospect, but as we all know the faceless population of Twitter and the like are capable of ruining someone’s lives with a breadcrumb…