So randomly, during the last summer camp a few weeks ago, a masked man came to the barn to speak with the owner (apparently they know each other somehow, small island and all...) and suddenly I realized that he was one of the guys from the random wrestling poster that's been hung up at at the barn. So I went over and asked in my bad, broken Japanese if we could take a picture with him in his sweet wrestling mask, and of course he said ok. The guy spoke English, I told him how I take kickboxing and how much I like wrestling (mostly the big, huge, muscley guys in tiny underpants). The owner ended up buying us tickets to go see this guy wrestle and I've been excited about it for weeks.
So, my friends and I go off to this thing, not really knowing what to expect. I mean the guy we met at the barn said there were wrestlers from all over Okinawa and Japan and even a wrestler from Australia in the group. He said that he never takes his mask off. Never?! He even rode a horse with the mask on under his helmet. I wish I had been there to see that.
I'm thinking we're going to some type of underground fight club kind of thing. I'm anticipating like crazy martial arts mixed in giving it a real Japanese flare. ... Well, it was a unique cultural experience that's for sure.
We found the place easily enough. It was a large indoor pavilion and the first thing we have to do after giving our tickets is take off our shoes. Ewwwy. I really particularly dislike this aspect of Asian cultures. Do NOT like. If I'm going somewhere where I know I have to take my shoes off I always bring some socks, but I was not expecting to take my shoes off to walk around a big icky stadium place. I have a huge fear of getting that horrible toenail fungus, plantar warts or anything else really horrible on my feet and I don't want my feet walking around after everyone elses funky feet. Bleh. Anyways, shoeless we go.
The whole show was in Japanese, so we could only really guess what was being said and what was going on. I do know that the crowd was into it. Really into it. They were going nuts. There was Habu Man, Mango Man, Goya Man, Mongoose Man, Pineapple Man, Eisa Dancer Man, Shisa Dog Man, even Have A Good Time Orion Beer Man. There was one chick wrestler and I think she was some kind of bird. They are all uniquely Okinawan themed wrestling characters. Too funny. And they were all in costumes and of course masks. Some of the masks were beyond creepy. I found it extremely disturbing when they were wearing their masks, but normal clothes especially. Like after they were done with their show, they would change and then walk around, but still with the creepy mask on. I couldn't help but think of the dude we met at the barn and how if I saw some of those masks out on the street I would be totally terrified.
I had a really had time getting any pictures to turnout, but here are a couple.
So, we saw match after match and 3 hours worth of Okinawa Pro Wrestling. There was a short Eisa performance at the beginning, a half time show with 3 girls singing and dancing and tons of extremely unflattering tight spandex costumes. It was strange, funny, unique and something I'll never forget. It was one of the many, many times I've wished I had made my lazy ass learn Japanese.
Here is an article from last year on Okinawa Hai:
This years event was held at a larger venue at the Okinawa Prefectural Hall of Marital Arts in Naha.