The Miracle Couple: The Unexpected Meeting and Farewell of Antonio Inoki and Mitsuko Baisho | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Miracle Couple: The Unexpected Meeting and Farewell of Antonio Inoki and Mitsuko Baisho

Masashi Hosoda's Space-Time Detective ⑫

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Inoki’s wife!”

On October 1, 2022, the prodigious professional wrestler Antonio Inoki passed away.

When the news of Inoki’s death broke at 9:13 a.m., grief swept across Japan, and social networking sites were instantly covered with messages of condolence.

Inoki held an engagement press conference with Mitsuko Baisho at Haneda Airport after winning the UN heavyweight belt on March 29, 1971 (Photo: Kyodo News)

Soon after, comments from his former disciples also flowed through the timeline.

Everything about pro wrestling was Mr. Inoki. It was life itself.” (Tatsumi Fujinami / “Nikkan Sports” 20:44, October 1, 2022)

I was very lucky to have met Mr. Inoki and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and to be a part of it.

As a “follower of Inoki,” I have endless memories of him. My earliest memory is of a commercial for “Jumbo Frankfurter” (Nippon Ham) in which he dressed up as Tarzan and shouted “Jumbo. I was a kindergartener. I also began watching live wrestling on TV, and by the time I was in the third grade of elementary school, I was completely hooked. My parents, who were watching the matches with me, were always saying, “Inoki is exaggerating,” and “He’s so cool,” but strangely enough, I didn’t listen to them. But I didn’t listen to them because I enjoyed the matches more than anything else. In other words, Antonio Inoki may have been the first person who helped me to break free from my parents’ influence and develop an ego.

Some may disagree, but I have never felt that way about Inoki, who is said to be “flashy” and “flamboyant. I never had the impression that he was bright and cheerful, but rather that he was “dark” and “introverted. I even felt as a child that he was taking out his daily frustrations on his opponents. That was also why I was attracted to him.

Knowing Inoki, the existence of Mitsuko Baisho also naturally came into view.

To Inoki’s followers, she would have been “Inoki’s wife,” but in reality she was such a popular actress that she did not need such a title. She appeared frequently in movies and TV dramas, and, above all, in commercials. It is no exaggeration to say that at one point in her career, there was not a day that went by when she was not seen. She is a bit like Ryoko Yonekura or Masami Nagasawa today, but maybe not at all. Anyway, that’s how exposed she was.

Speaking of exposure, when I was in the sixth grade, the movie “Narayama Shokei” (directed by Shohei Imamura) was released. Newspapers and newspapers were actively reporting that the film had won awards overseas, so even a child knew about it. I went to see “Narayama Bushi Geki” with my classmates, even though I should not have done so.

Even I, who have a good memory, cannot recall the details of why a sixth grader went to see a film of this type by Shohei Imamura, because it was so shocking.

What was etched in my mind was the image of Mitsuko Baisho, her voluptuous body unabashedly opened and laid out by a group of filthy men.

Inoki’s wife!”

The shock was so great that I could not eat dinner, watch TV, or sleep at night. I couldn’t understand how such a filthy film had won such a prestigious award, and I even resented my friend who had invited me to see it, saying, “If this is the case, I shouldn’t have gone to see it.

Mitsuko Baisho” came first.

A few days later. I was secretly watching a rerun of “Tuesday Suspense Theater” while I was away from home, and I saw an actor known for his “loving wife” performing an intense bed scene. At that moment, Mitsuko Baisho’s voluptuous body suddenly came back to my mind, and I thought I whispered to a rural elementary school student, “Actors are not supposed to be married to their husbands.

Actors, whether they have husbands, families, or anything else, they always do what they have to do once they accept a role.

Needless to say, the troubled sixth grader was greatly impressed. In other words, Antonio Inoki and Mitsuko Baisho were like a guide who led the young author into the world of adults.

Antonio Inoki and Mitsuko Baisho. As far as I can tell from the National Diet Library, the first time that this miraculous couple’s relationship came to light was in the January 31, 1970, issue of “Josei Jishin” (Women’s Journal of Japan). In the article, there is an article titled “Scoop! Mitsuko Baisho, 23, and Antonio Inoki, 26, a professional wrestling champion, are getting married! It is often said. The story is often told that at the time the couple was “Mitsuko Baisho and Antonio Inoki,” in that order.

According to the article, they first met in 1966 when Toyoto, a senior wrestler, invited Mitsuko Baisho to a performance at the SKD (Shochiku Revue), where she was a member at the time. Toyoto was already acquainted with her, and after the show, they had Chinese food in Shibuya with other SKD actresses.

The late Tadahiro Mori (passed away in 2019), former head of TBS’s sports department, with whom the author had been in contact through interviews, was a producer of TWWA Pro Wrestling Live, an international pro wrestling broadcast program, and was a friend of Toyotome’s. He recalled Toyoto as follows.

Toyo-san was a man who knew many people in the entertainment industry. He knew many movie actors and actors in the Bungakuza and other shingeki theaters. I think she was like a sister to Masako Izumi.

In other words, Mitsuko Baisho, or rather the members of the SKD troupe, was one of Toyotobori’s contacts in the entertainment world. This alone shows that Toyoto was an indispensable figure for Antonio Inoki in the past.

In his book “Kan’ichi Inoki: An Autobiography” (Bungeishunju), published in 1998 just after his retirement, he wrote, “After that, we went out for dinner several times, but it was always with her friends and Toyoto. No further progress was made,” he wrote, but reports at the time were different. In the fall of 1966, six months after getting to know each other, they drove to Yokohama. That was our first date.

Soon after that, Inoki proposed to her, saying, “Will you marry me? This was even though they were not even dating. However, Mitsuko did not respond. It was only natural. Inoki had a wife and child at the time.

However, if we assume that the first date and the failed proposal took place in the fall of 1966, it coincides with the time when Inoki was struggling as the ace of a new organization, Tokyo Pro Wrestling. He may not have had time for romance.

They met again three years later, in the fall of 1969, when a friend of Inoki’s, who was a fan of his sister Chieko Baisho, visited Baisho’s house in Nerima on the pretext that he wanted Chieko’s autograph. At that time, Inoki had returned to Nippon Pro Wrestling and was divorced and single again.

Inoki’s onslaught of attacks!

This is where Inoki’s fierce attack begins. He quickly won over his mother, who was a pro-wrestling fan, to his side, and set his sights on his father, who was opposed to the relationship. He was also interested in her father’s unparalleled love of alcohol, and he demonstrated his “geezer-killer” ways by frequently visiting the Baisho family in Nerima, saying things like, “I’ve got some rare sake on hand.

In fact, even when Mitsuko is not home, he visits the Baisho family and soaks himself in their home. His scheming attitude is rather amusing, as he is a man who lives by the maxim, “He who wishes to shoot the general should first shoot the horse.

They were married on November 2, 1971. The venue was the Board Room of the Keio Plaza Hotel, with 1,500 people in attendance. It was what is commonly referred to as a “100 million yen wedding.

Incidentally, Sankei Shimbun, Hochi Shimbun (now Sports Hochi), and Sankei Sports reported the marriage as “Mitsuko Baisho and Antonio Inoki got married,” while Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Spo nichi, Nikkan, Daily, and Tosupo reported it as “Antonio Inoki and Mitsuko Baisho married. The information should be accurate.

As for the two after that, it goes without saying that they are an ideal husband and wife couple. Last year, when I appeared on “Maeda-Niaki Channel” (Youtube), I had a discussion with the host, Maeda-Niaki, about “Antonio Inoki and Tadashi Sawamura,” and I was impressed by his “Inoki theory” that he revealed.

I think Mitsuko Baisho was very important to Inoki. Mitsuko Baisho opened Inoki’s eyes to his talent. “What to show” and “what not to show”……. I think he got that from Mitsuko’s influence, and I think it was actually a big thing.”

The author generally agrees. I agree, but I think it is undeniable that Mitsuko Baisho was also inspired by her husband, Antonio Inoki. This is the spectacular wet scene in the open-air bath she had with Taro Mikuni in the 1979 film “Vengeance is mine,” and her shocking performance in the aforementioned “Narayama Bushi Kou”. In the sense that she showed an emotion that is not found in most actresses, it is not hard to see that these performances were also part of the “Inoki-ism”. In fact, she made the following comment during this period.

When he comes back, I feel as if someone else has come. So I don’t make special meals for him. (omission) When it comes to controlling his physical condition, including meals, he really is a professional. I think that is a part that even a wife would never be able to enter.

Even such an idealistic couple had to part ways.

The year 1985, when the author was in the second grade of junior high school, was a special year, as has been discussed for some time.

Hiromi Go and Seiko Matsuda broke up, the Tanaka faction split, Expo ’85 Tsukuba 85 opened, Seiko Matsuda and Masateru Kanda got married, Chairman Nagano was stabbed to death, Onyanko Club boomed, Japan Airlines jumbo jet crashed, Ross scandal, Kazuyoshi Miura arrested, Masako Natsume died, the Plaza Accord started the bubble economy, “8 O’clock! All hands together” program ended, the Hanshin Tigers won the championship for the first time in 21 years, the KK draft issue, and so on. In this writer’s mind, “Shoken (Kenichi Hagiwara) and Mitsuko Baisho’s passionate love affair” is also included in the “history of incidents” of 1985.

Ironically, this issue of FRIDAY (September 27, 1985) came out on September 20, the day after Inoki’s famous match with his favorite disciple Tatsumi Fujinami at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

According to the article, at 4:55 p.m. on September 4, Mitsuko Baisho came out of the Aoyama apartment where Shoken lives. When directly confronted, she stated, “She is one of my friends, a very good friend. She stated that she had done nothing wrong,” but a housewife in the neighborhood testified that she had seen Ms. Baisho many times.

The two met when they co-starred as husband and wife in the film version of Renjo Mikihiko’s Naoki Prize-winning novel “Koibun. According to his memoir “Shoken” (published by Kodansha Ltd. in 2008), it started with a phone call from his girlfriend on Christmas Day of the previous year, “How are you doing for Christmas? The phone call was the beginning of the story.

I asked her, “Mr. Baisho, don’t you have a family? She replied, “I’m separated right now,” and Shoken replied, “Okay then. Shoken then said, “Well, that’s fine. Come over to my house.

The movie’s attention was surely heightened by these reports of their love affair, and some people wondered if it was all a race. The film’s attention was surely heightened by the news of their love affair, and some people even wondered if it had been a race. Even so, I, an eighth grader, did not think of going to see the movie. I thought it was an abominable film.

In early May of the following year, her husband, Inoki, was also shot at 3 a.m. when he came out of a hostess’s house at a club in Roppongi. The scene was perfectly captured in the May 30, 1986 issue of “FOCUS” (Japanese magazine). Taking responsibility for the scandal, he called it “a man’s cleavage,” and his decision to shave his head completely was the talk of the town. Perhaps the couple’s relationship had already broken down by this time.

In the fall of 1987, they officially divorced. They had been married in the fall, but they separated in the fall.

Last fall, when Inoki was reported to be battling an illness, the author watched “Koibun” (Love Letter), which was screened as a special feature at the Jimbocho Theater. I was only aware of the film as “the film that led to Inoki’s divorce from Mitsuko Baisho,” but I thought, “I can watch it now,” and “I should.

As for the details of the story, you can read the reviews of the experts, but I will note that it was a romance that “it is no wonder Mitsuko Baisho is so emotionally moved. I spontaneously burst into tears several times. There was an adult love story there that made me cry.

I regretted that I should have gone to see the movie when I was in the eighth grade when it was released. I think you should watch this kind of film when you are in a sensitive period of your life.

Now that I have finished watching it, I think again, “This was another Inoki-ism.

This too was an Inoki-ism.

  • Text Masashi Hosoda

    Nonfiction writer, born in Okayama City in 1971. Born in Okayama City in 1971 and raised in Tottori City. After working as an anchor for Samurai TV, he became a broadcaster. Contributed to magazines and websites while working on TV and radio. Author of "Sakamoto Ryoma wa Nai wa Nai" (Sakamoto Ryoma was not there) (Saizusha) and "Why Musicians Abandon Their Wives" (East Shinsho). His recent book, "The Man Who Let Sawamura Chu Fly the Vacuum / Showa Promoter Osamu Noguchi's Review" (Shinchosha) won the 43rd Kodansha/Honda Yasuharu Nonfiction Award.

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