Hiroshi, Mon Amour

Why am I a fan of Hiroshi Yamato? The pictures above are screen caps of a 2012 AJPW match about seven months previous to the match I reviewed earlier this year here, against the same opponent, Shuji Kondo, Yamato's tag partner earlier that year. (You can watch it here on YouTube.) These shots establish the man's rugged beauty, the high cheekbones, the muscular shoulders, the smooth biconvex thighs. Beyond that, I like him because he embodies the stoicism of the Japanese warrior. Like the 1950s movie stars I most admire, Sterling Hayden, Aldo Ray, and Toshiro Mifune, Yamato is a lovable tough guy, who both exploits his animal violence and seeks to find in himself a measure of nobility too. That is beauty of soul, not just the rectitude of a man who is weak or stunted and has no other choice but to be "good," but a man at war with his own beastly nature, even as he hones it as a tool of survival, yearning for honor, justice, or a moment of grace in an unkind and brutal world.

Ruthless Kondo seems totally at ease in this dog-eat-dog world. He does not merely operate within its violence out of necessity, as Hiroshi does; it is his world, the only world Kondo cares to know, a world he grimly preserves with every breath he takes. He thrives on its many injustices, on its casual and pointless injuries, with only a reptile's sense of shame and honor. Equally driven to destroy and conquer, Hiroshi and Yamato stand in pointed contrast to each other, in physique, in gear (Kondo's black and heavy boots, Yamato's ebullient color), in fighting technique (Kondo the bull versus Yamato the jaguar).

Then there is, too, the wonder of pro wrestling in Japan: its balance of acrobatics and grunt'n'groan mat grappling, of choreography and real stinging chops, of hectic speed and near stasis (one thing I admire about Japanese puroresu is its fearlessness in letting things slow down now and then, to allow the twisted-together bodies to exhaust each other to the point of inertia). Then, too, there's that distinctively Japanese quality of manliness you can see in every samurai movie and in every (Japanese) Godzilla movie: the resolve to fight past the point of fatigue, humiliation, and pain, to grasp for victory even at rock bottom, to watch physical energy collapse into itself and then explode in a climactic surge of passion for duty and glory--if not in victory, then at least in self-immolation in the pursuit of victory. These are the traits I see exemplified in every Hiroshi Yamato match I have seen.


  1. Thanks for this post on Hiroshi. He's one of my favorites, too.

  2. thank you for the post. i'm a fan of japanese wrestling and movie fight scenes. even like the hokey ultra man and power rangers.

  3. searched for Yamata vs Kondo but the match is no longer available. found some cool tag team matches. Hayashi & Kondo vs Yamato & Nakanoue was super entertaining. great acrobatics and theatrics. good showmanship. love this blog!


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