The lifestyle and culture magazine Oheyago Journey published an interview with Yoshiko on August 16th, talking about her life as a wrestler and as a TikTok celebrity dessert chef.
She’s scary but cute! Yoshiko-san is the woman of the hour, who has used this seeming contradiction to draw in more than 330,000 followers on TikTok and 140,000 followers on Twitter. We talked with Yoshiko-san about what her everyday life as a wrestler is like, and what making sweets means to her.
The young girl who got into wrestling and making sweets
Yoshiko-san, who has always loved eating, came into the kitchen when she was an elementary school student to help her mum cook, and learnt how to cook herself. She is broadly interested in “creating”, and naturally came to try her hand at making sweets.
– You have said that you’re obsessed with making sweets up to this day, but what was it that drew you to it in the first place?
Yoshiko: I love making things, and I find great pleasure in the process of creating anything I can. Also I feel a sense of accomplishment when I make something exactly as I imagined it, and I’m happy when I try something and it tastes better than I expected. People often try my food, and it makes me happy when they say it’s delicious and they smile.
– When it comes to making sweets, you have to take it seriously and make sure all the measurements are very accurate, isn’t that stressful?
Yoshiko: I’m really good at that. I measure it exactly – I won’t accept it being even 0.1 gram off! So I never mess up.
– You must be elite if you’ve never messed up a recipe…!
Yoshiko: I very rarely make mistakes, but there are times when I make something and think “this is different to what I expected…” Recently I made poodle cookies out of meringue, and while I was filming the top started to melt and stuck to my hands, so I just laughed. They’re difficult to make. (Haha)
Yoshiko-san came across joshi pro wrestling when she was in elementary school. It happened because an acquaintance of her mother was a wrestler and they went to support her.
– What did you think when you first saw joshi wrestling?
Yoshiko: I knew nothing about it when I first saw it, but I thought “that’s so cool!” and was immediately hooked. From there I went to watch many times, studied it in my own way, and told everyone around me, “in the future I’m definitely going to become a wrestler!”
– What was your mum’s reaction?
Yoshiko: She said, “it’s your life so I’ll support you,” but I think she didn’t really believe me. (Haha) Actually in middle school I fell away from wrestling for a while. I guess because my relationship with my friends changed, and I really enjoyed hanging out with them. And after I graduated I got a normal job in interior decorating.
– Really! How was that job?
Yoshiko: Working was a new experience for me, and since the content of my work was “creating,” which I’d always liked I enjoyed the job. But it was physically tough… a female co-worker of mine who joined at the same time quit after one day. (Haha) And I learnt that, “working from morning till night is really tough, and making money is a lot of work.” I think it was great experience to go out into the world at least once.
– So how did you get back into wrestling?
Yoshiko: One day I randomly discovered the blog of Fuka, who I’d seen lots of times when I went to watch pro wrestling, and I left a comment saying, “it’s Yoshiko! Do you remember me?” And then she replied, “Of course, aren’t you going to become a wrestler?”
– Seriously? (Haha)
Yoshiko: Right? (Haha) It’s strange even to me, but that one word brought back the passion I’d had for pro wrestling. And immediately I replied, “I’m going to do it!” And now it’s been ten years.
– You went from interior decorating to the world of joshi pro wrestling. Isn’t that a big change?
Yoshiko: Yeah, the interior decorating work was a male society, but joshi wrestling is a women’s society. We lived in a dorm, but since it was a bunch of fifteen and sixteen year old girls we were always being loud and chatting and hanging out – it felt like an extension of school so it was fun.
– I assume training is hard, was that the case?
Yoshiko: Once I started, I realised that there was a huge difference between watching and actually doing it. The bumps that wrestlers take in matches may look easy, but they’re really difficult and you have to practice them a lot. In fact you have to start by training your neck, so tenacity is essential.
Even so, because I was in the world that I’d admired since elementary school I was motivated to try out this move or that move, and I enjoyed it. I was really happy when I learnt new moves.
I want people to see me as a professional wrestler
– What is your normal training like?
Yoshiko: We start with a warm up, then we do “foundational” muscle training and running, practice bumps and moves, and sparring (match-style practice). The wrestling promotion I belong to, SEAdLINNNG, has a different practice routine every time so I never get bored.
– I assume that actually doing a match is a whole different kind of enjoyment?
Yoshiko: That’s right, we fight for the fans in matches so it’s very enjoyable and gratifying to hear the cheers and support… The power of the audience is honestly amazing. When you win and you are happy together, or when you lose and you are sad together – it’s so important. It’s because of the fans that we can stand in the ring and get stronger. I’m able to work hard because I want to make them happy.
– You are fearless in your matches.
Yoshiko: When I get on stage, it’s like a switch is flipped. It’s like I become another me. In other words, I become a version of myself that is aware of their surroundings. Because when you’re in the ring people are looking at you from all sides.
– So when you’re making sweets…?
Yoshiko: It’s “my true self.” It’s my off-duty face. I make a lot of things on my own, so I feel like I’m immersed in my own private world. When I’m stressed I really want to make sweets, so sometimes I’ve started in the middle of the night.
– Of course. So the two balance each other out. Your [TikTok] videos have become hugely popular on social media, what are your thoughts on that?
Yoshiko: I didn’t know much about TikTok before I started, so I was surprised by how far it could spread. I started because I wanted to do something to entertain the fans when we were in the middle of isolating at home and we couldn’t put on matches, or even see much hope in the future. Now that lots of people outside the world of wrestling have seen my videos I want to make the most of this opportunity and have them see me as a pro wrestler.
– I want to come and see you wrestle, but when the wrestling spills into the audience it’s kind of scary…!
Yoshiko: Don’t worry, the other wrestlers will protect you!
– Got it! In your opinion, what is the appeal of pro wrestling?
Yoshiko: In pro wrestling, the fight is life itself. You stand up against difficulties, and even if you get beaten up the people around you support you to get back up. But at the end of the day you win with your own strength, and the crowd’s support. There’s a story in every fight, so I hope that you’ll come and see it with your own eyes.
– What are your goals and dreams for the future?
Yoshiko: My goal is to fill Korakuen Hall, the spiritual home of wrestling. In order to that, I have to increase the number of new fans, so I will continue to work hard to get the word out about wrestling. My dream is to have a packed hall of fans all cheering for me. Right now I have the belt so I’d like to wrestle in front of a lot of fans who have come to see me.
When talking about pro wrestling or sweets making, she always says things like “I like to see the fans happy,” or “I like to see people’s happy faces when I give them sweets,” and I was impressed how she talks about putting other people first. I learnt that Yoshiko-san’s strength is underpinned by a kind heart that always thinks of others.