Hiroshi Tanahashi’s life story can now be told in this series of autobiographical interviews, available for the first time in English!
–So let’s go deeper into your Dojo life today. What was life like away from training?
Tanahashi: Well, this was the first time I was in that kind of sport focused living environment. I just went into it with an open mind, took everything for what it was, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Well, I guess being three to a room was pretty tough.
–Who was in that room?
Tanahashi: Right next to the door was Togi Makabe, then me in the middle, and at the other end was Katsuyori Shibata.
–That’s quite the interesting combination!
Tanahashi: Heheh. Think about us three in that room, and the air conditioning wasn’t in great shape back then. I don’t do great in the heat, and in the middle of summer, me or Makabe would get up and turn the cooler on, only for Shibata to then wake up and turn it off. We’d go back and forth all night.
–The battle for the air conditioning came before the battles in the ring.
Tanahashi: That air-con remote was the source of a lot of issues between us. Makabe always took precedent as the senpai though.
–Did you ever rib one another?
Tanahashi: Hmmm, I remember he had a girly pin-up on the wall. When he was out one time I swapped it for a bodybuilding picture.
–Haha! An inspirational move for Makabe maybe?
Tanahashi: This sexy swimsuit model swapped out for (bodybuilder) Dorian Yates. But he took it well! When he got back and saw the different poster he went ‘Sweet pose! This room was already manly and now it’s gotten even manlier!’
–Who of your Young Lion class did you get on best with?
Tanahashi: I’d say Kenzo Suzuki, probably. We ended up rooming together, after that first spell with the three of us. We ended up really connecting, sharing our hopes and dreams, putting plans together for the future. We ended up having some, ah, adventures as well.
–‘Adventures’ that we can publish?
Tanahashi: …Maybe not…
–Suzuki’s a little older than you, right?
Tanahashi: He’s two years older than me, yeah. I’m… not sure how much I can say about that period without getting into trouble!
–A lot of shady stuff?
Tanahashi: Oh, I don’t know about shady. I remember back in the day, we would keep two dogs in the Dojo, Waka and Momo. I remember one time we were taking a break so we walked the dogs down by the Tama river. We got talking to a couple of female fans, and by the time we got back the senpai were pretty mad ‘where the hell have you been!’
Tanahashi: There was another time when the squats were just getting ridiculous. Both of us were in so much leg pain we couldn’t move. So Kenzo says ‘I hear what you should do is soap up your fist, then kneel down and grind your fist against your thigh’. So jump cut to the two of us, naked in the bathroom, kneeling together in complete awkward silence, rubbing our thighs. After a while he goes ‘shall we just, like, stop?’
–It got a bit too weird! What about Shibata? He’s younger than you, but was technically your senpai.
Tanahashi: Yeah, he was still a kid back then. He was quite skinny at the time, and I think that led to him getting hurt a lot.
–He was still only in his teens.
Tanahashi: Right; three years younger than me, so only 19.
–Was he quite the lone wolf type?
Tanahashi: Well, he did keep himself to himself quite a bit. He was a good deal younger than me and Kenzo, and I don’t think I ever saw him talk much with (Wataru) Inoue either. But he liked his clothes and his shoes. He and I actually went shopping to Shibuya and Harajuku quite a lot.
–Wow, I wouldn’t expect that.
Tanahashi:The office was near Shibuya back then, so we would go shopping after visiting the office quite a bit. We had a similar style back then I think, but whether that would play nowadays I don’t know (laughs)
In Ace’s HIGH 13, find out what it was like for Tanahashi to be an attendant to the stars!